Fat cat and activist Aborigines fighting over prime Sydney land

Jenny Munro, Redfern Aboriginal Embassy leader The Block

Well-to-do and activist Aborigines are fighting over a piece of prime real estate in inner Sydney, Australia, known colloquially as 'The Block'. The land was originally gifted by the government 40 years ago for building affordable housing for Aboriginal people, including many who came to Australia's biggest city from rural areas. The bitter dispute now is between Michael Mundine, chief executive officer of the Aboriginal Housing Company, who has plans to gentrify much of the area with a $70 million commercial and residential development to the detriment of poor Aborigines, and activists who are squatting on the site with an “Aboriginal embassy” of tents.


For example, Mundine wants to exclude anyone who has been to jail from living in the area. Aborigines are the most imprisoned people in Australia, often for trivial reasons like not paying parking tickets. A good overall report is provided by the Sydney Morning Herald (click here).

Mundine has taken the embassy to court for trespass. Embassy supporters rallied outside the courthouse on 14 August at the third hearing.

The Green Left Weekly notes that “Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) has led a successful occupation of the Redfern Block for more than a year, calling for affordable Aboriginal housing to be built on the site.

“In the 1960s and ’70s the Block became a focal point for the modern day urban land rights movement. Protests led to grassroots organisations such as the Aboriginal legal, medical cultural and housing services.


“The Block has political and cultural significance for Aboriginal people, and Wiradjuri 


elder Jenny Munro and RATE have led a courageous fight to resist attempts to gentrify and ethnically cleanse the area. ‘Aboriginal housing on the Block must come first and last,’ said Munro.


"RATE has survived two eviction notices in the past year, with community and union support mobilising people in the early hours of the morning to defend the site against acts of violence and intimidation and potential police acts to move protesters on.


"The AHC claims it has no money at this point to fund Aboriginal houses on the Block, yet a simple search of the company’s returns shows the AHC owns nearly $47 million in assets."

The AHC are seeking to redevelop the area in three stages which will introduce a commercial and retail space, a gallery, and (as yet unfunded) affordable housing comprising 62 units and townhouses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander families, reported the NewZulu website.

“Tent Embassy founder 'Auntie' Jenny Munro, Murri Poet and Playwright Ken Canning, activist and Researcher with Jumbunna at UTS, Padraic Gibson and the Federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion were all in attendance” at the protest on 14 August.

The BuzzFeed News site says Scullion is attempting to mediate. He told BuzzFeed News that he spent two days talking with RATE and AHC in closed meetings in Redfern seeking agreement on the best way forward with what is ironically called the Pemulwuy Project, after an Aboriginal warrior who resisted  European settlement of Australia which began with the arrival of the British First Fleet bringing convicts in 1788.

“The Aboriginal people of Redfern have said we don’t want government housing here, we want to own this land and that is part of the future contract; that is not negotiable and we need to respect that,” Scullion said adding that The Federal Government will commit five million dollars toward the redevelopment project.

The judge sitting on the case intends to deliver a final judgement next week on whether the eviction sought by the housing company would go ahead. Ms Munro say’s she’s exhausted by the process.

The acrimonious dispute started lasted year when protesters, lead by Munro, moved into The Block and set up tents. They are refusing to move until they have a guarantee from the AHC that affordable housing for Aboriginal people will be built first under the Pemulwuy Project, before any commercial or private developments take place.

The AHC have said they do not have the funds to build affordable housing first and need money from private enterprises willing to build there, this would generate the money to build the houses.

Minister Scullion said outside the court that Federal Government money would only be available if there was a guarantee that affordable Aboriginal houses were built first, “My funds are only on the table if they (housing and private business) are to be built simultaneously.”

BuzzFeed News understands that a six-hour meeting took place on 13 August between the AHC, Munro and Scullion. Munro says that despite a productive session the AHC failed to sign.

“Well they effectively yesterday turned their noses up at $5 million for housing so doesn’t sound like housing is a priority does it,” Munro said.

In the 1970’s the then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam granted the AHC funds to purchase houses and land for the Aboriginal community.

The houses were purchased on what is now known as The Block, a historically significant piece of land for Indigenous people in urban Sydney bounded by Eveleigh, Caroline, Louis and Vine streets.

In 2011, the final Aboriginal people living on The Block were relocated and their houses demolished to make way for the Pemulwuy Plan.

Scullion is confident that his intervention can break the impasse before the eviction hearing next week, telling BuzzFeed News that, “The notion that somehow on some morning in the future that police, security or whowever would visit upon the Aboriginal tent embassy and forcibly remove them is something that is unconscionable and I think we should do everything to avoid it, so I am doing everything in my power.”

Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, facebook

Attorney-General alerted as Redfern tent embassy feud intensifies

Redfern tent embassy is 'not laying down'

Background to the Aboriginal Sovereignty Movement

Sovereignty movement and tent embassies

Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert

MurrumuAn Australian Indigenous man who renounced his Australian citizenship to head a self-declared sovereign nation has been remanded in custody several times.


In one instance Murrumu Walubara Yidindji – former Indigenous TV  journalist in the capital, Jeremy Geia – was charged in north Queensland, his ancestral country, after police caught him using car number plates and a licence issued by the unrecognised Yidindji government.


When asked whether he was the man known as Jeremy Geia at Cairns local court, he replied: “I am Murrumu in the appropriate persona.”

He was charged with six offences, including unlawful possession of an article resembling a licence and driving unlicensed and uninsured. Murrumu told the court that as a member of the Yidindji society, he was excluded from the Commonwealth Constitution Act of 1901. Murrumu was a couple of days in jail, but the Judge basically agreed he was not Jeremy Geia, his previous name, before he rescinded all contracts and handed back instruments such as his Australian passport, drivers license, car registration papers and super fund entitlement. The magistrate, Robert Spencer is reported to have said: "I’ll take it on that basis that effectively you are not Jeremy David Joseph Geia" and let Murrumu go free. Murrumu said he will thank him.


Murrumu explains his cause in a 27-minute interview playable by clicking here.

FootballerOne of the most prolific goal scorers in Australian Rules Football,  24-year-old Aboriginal, Michael Walters, is campaigning to reduce Indigenous suicides, at epidemic level in his home state of Western Australia and across Australia generally. His role as suicide prevention ambassador is part of a state government plan to halve the number of suicides in Western Australia over the next 10 years.

Walters will inspire and turn around many young lives, comments anti-suicide campaigner Gerry Georgatos, but he warns that a “tsunami of poverty-related issues” is one of the underlying causes of the high Indigenous suicide rates urgently needing to be addressed. "There are great economic inequalities, racial inequalities."

An increasing number of respected scholars now condemn the pathologisation of distress and unhappiness and advocate considering the social contexts of suicide.

Suicide was unknown to Aboriginal people prior to the British invasion in 1788. Appalling living conditions and traumas have led to a suicide rate that by far exceeds that of non-Aboriginal people.

Background to suicide and self-harm in First Nations communities

Ghillar at Euahlayi meetingA prominent Aboriginal activist, Ghillar Michael Anderson, criticises Aborigines favoured as advisers by the ultra-conservative Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, as being out of touch with Aboriginal roots.

“The so-called leadership for Aboriginal people mostly comes from those educated in various church-based schools. Whereas with the various grassroots Aboriginal leadership, including someone like me, who could barely afford public school education, we maintained a very close association with our Elders' leadership in our communities, but more importantly we maintained connection to country and our culture.”

Anderson (pictured), who grew up in a riverside tin humpy in the rabidly racist New South Wales outback town of Walgett, was one of the four founders of the 1972 Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra, is now Convenor of the Sovereign Union and Head of State of the self-declared Euahlayi Republic.

His media release continues: “Some of us were even fortunate to learn from our last of the true speakers of language and were even ceremonially educated into Law by those Old Ones who out-dated the whiteman's expectation of life expectancy. We learnt from those who were born at the turn of the 20th century and before that period and who were privileged to have grown up in a culture that was not yet fully corrupted by the colonisers. This kept people like me and others grounded, because we learnt from people who were not yet corrupted by colonialism and who kept the integrity of our Law and culture intact. The colonialists of the eastern states had not, and I emphasise not, succeeded in destroying all of the knowledge of our Law and culture along the east coast. It is the anthropologists, like PM Abbott's choice of Aboriginal leadership, who were duped into believing that the culture knowledge had been destroyed.”

Anderson, along with many other Aborigines, opposes the hugely funded government push to include Aborigines in the racist Australian constitution. Prime Minister Abbott recently said he will not allow Indigenous-only local meetings to reach consensus on the proposal.

Anderson’s release continues: “[Abbott’s Aboriginal] leadership choice, like many of the anthropologists, are under this false belief that Aboriginal people can be made into an homogenous society. This is not the case and it will never work, no matter how hard they try. The Abbott government supported by Bill Shorten's [Opposition] ALP are so far off the mark that they can't even see, or do not want to see, the big picture at the end. On the other side of politics, the Greens, I believe, miss the point of Aboriginality because they still put us into the flora and fauna basket, seeing us with the koalas and failing to embrace our assertions of pre-existing and continuing sovereignty as First Nations Peoples.”

Contact: Ghillar Michael Anderson, ghillar29@gmail.com, phone 0427 292 492, www.sovereignunion.mobi

NacchoGovernment needs to cut red tape to improve Indigenous superannuation outcomes – An Indigenous Superannuation Working Group has called on major political parties to elevate Indigenous superannuation outcomes onto the agenda of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Members of the Working Group – which include representatives from across the superannuation sector and Indigenous organisations – are in Canberra this week to present the findings of this year’s inaugural Indigenous Super Summit to key Government Ministers and Senators.

Chronic disease report highlights need for increased investment in primary Aboriginal health care - The Government is talking a lot about the need to reform and improve primary care, but the talk is not being backed up with policy and action – policy and action that is needed right now.

More communities now support cashless ‘Healthy Welfare Basics Card’ - Aboriginal leaders of the East Kimberley have urged parliamentarians from all sides of politics to support a new cashless welfare card, saying refusal to back the trial will condem­n future generations in the region to a “life of poverty and despair”.

Prime Minister announces ‘dob in a dealer’ national hotline to fight ice drug epidemic in Aboriginal communities - Plans to establish a national ice hotline for people to dob in drug dealers and the locations of drug labs across the country have been announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The "Dob in a Dealer" campaign has been given $1 million in funding and is modelled on a similar program run by Crime Stoppers Victoria.

Catastrophic suicide crisis will escalate “unless”…

“If you are an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and aged 15 to 35 years of age, suicide is the leading cause of death – 30 per cent of deaths in this vast age group are reported as suicides – therefore nearly one in three deaths in this 20 year age group are suicides. This is an abomination, indicting this nation and its governments of a humanitarian crisis it has not only failed to respond to as a pressing issue but also of perpetuating this crisis.”