Aborigines take coalmine worries to United Nations bodies and corporations

Spokesman for the Wangan and Jagalingou People,Adrian Burragubba

Aborigines whose ancestral country lies along the Great Barrier Reef have taken their worry that a planned coalmine will destroy it and the Reef to several United Nations bodies and business corporations. The month-old right-of-centre Australian government has just re-approved the Carmichael mine the Indian Adani company, which has an appalling environmental and human rights record, wants to operate alongside the Reef in central-western Queensland. It would be Australia’s biggest coalmine and one of the biggest in the world. The Wangan and Jagalingou people are asking the UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Working Group on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises to help them resist the mine.



They wrote to Special Rapporteur, Ms. Farida Shaheed, at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva: “Our traditional lands, connection to country and cultural identity are under imminent threat of irreversible destruction from the proposed development of the massive Carmichael Coal Mine by a private company, Adani Mining, with the support of the Australian government.


"The … mine… (will) cover a vast swathe of our land and cause extensive disturbance and devastation. It is simply not possible to build a mine consisting of six opencut pits, five underground mines, a coal handling and processing plant, rail infrastructure, and all other necessary associated infrastructure without causing massive alteration of the environment and significant environmental harm.

"If the Carmichael Mine proceeds, it would tear the heart out of our country, our culture and our people. It would permanently destroy vast swathes of our traditional lands and waters, including a complex of springs that we hold sacred as the starting point of our life and through which our dreaming totem, the Mundunjudra (also known as the Rainbow Serpent) travelled to form the shape of the land.

“We exist as people of our land and waters, and all things on and in them – plants and animals – have special meaning to us and tell us who we are. Our land and waters are our culture and our identity. If they are destroyed, we will become nothing. We have never consented to the development of the mine, and we never will.”

For the complete letter click here. The Wangan and Jagalingou people are appealing for signatures to a petition to Adani: Don't destroy our land and our culture.

The federal and Queensland state governments’ approval for the mine has caused broad outrage.

When he gave his approval last week, the environment minister Greg Hunt said it is “subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history”.  That’s rejected by the Australian Conservation Foundation. “Scrutiny of those conditions shows the plans that must be developed to mitigate the project’s environmental impacts can be changed by the company without getting the minister’s approval. Adani is required merely to ‘notify’ the department of changes.

“These changes significantly weaken the environmental conditions put on the proposal," said the ACF. "The company could potentially alter wildlife protection and habitat rehabilitation measures, choose not to publish monitoring data or shift the locations at which it is supposed to monitor the mine’s impact on groundwater. Far from being strict, these conditions give too much discretion to the company.”

"You have to wonder, was it the Environment Department or Adani who wrote these conditions?" said Australian Greenpeace. "Minister Hunt's conditions …. are the same as handing the company a blank cheque and hoping they'll do the right thing. This is the biggest coal mine proposed for Australia, yet there is a complete absence of scrutiny by Minister Hunt, since Adani no longer needs ministerial approval to re-write their plans.”


Queensland Senator, Larissa Waters, deputy leader of the Greens, said she would ask in the Senate whether this the first time the environment department is letting a company effectively rewrite their management plans without the minister needing a tick-off, and was this their interpretation of a strict condition.


"I don't trust the companies to self-regulate. It’s outrageous for Minister Hunt to say this is a strict condition when actually it looks like he's taking a very hands-off approach."

Waters derided as “deranged” and “a sick joke” Hunt’s suggestion that there was “a strong moral case” for the mines because the Carmichael coal “can help lift hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty in India”. Waters responded: “Four out of five people without electricity in India are not connected to an electricity grid so can’t access coal-fired power.”

The Australian Marine Conservation Society sees the Great Barrier Reef in peril. The mine would require a mega port along it and contribute to global warming.  


There would be more dredging, more ships passing through the Reef and more mining of coal, which, when burned, contributes to global warming,

the biggest threat to the future of the Great Barrier Reef.


 “This mine requires millions of tonnes of dredging in the Reef’s waters, which will be dumped on the adjacent port site next to the internationally significant Caley Valley wetlands that support 40,000 birds in a good wet season. The Great Barrier Reef will also be put at risk by hundreds more coal ships every year ploughing through the Reef’s waters.”

Environmental groups are considering another legal challenge to the mine, first approved in July 2014. That approval was set aside by the Federal Court in August this year after a local environment group highlighted concerns that an endangered lizard and snake had not been properly considered.

Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert

Indigenous call to Australian authorities: “Our communities and families have the capacity to care for our children”


Aboriginal talks next month on declaring independence from Australia


Gathering of Aboriginal Nations, Canberra, 21 and 22 November 2015


Deal struck to end removal of Aboriginal children


Oppression is the cause of the majority of the suicides (or murders)


An Aboriginal Artist’s Dizzying New York Moment


Massive pain inflicted on Aborigines to steal their land rights


Threatened traditional Aborigines again seek global activism


Pregnant from being raped in camp, Somali refugee is denied medical care by Australia


Call for global action to save Aboriginal communities


Aborigines and foreigners complete 450-kilometre anti-uranium walk in Western Australia


Australia Redefines Hypocrisy And Human Rights In Bid For UN Position


Keeping place for stolen Indigenous remains should take priority over Anzac centre


Massive Aboriginal misery focus at Bonn conference


First Australians – Die unbekannte Geschichte von Australien


Indigenous suicides “Australia’s worst crisis”


30 who oppose gay marriage claim to speak for 700,000 Aborigines


Indigenous imprisonment in Australia is getting worse


Tribal leaders meet in Alice Springs to hammer out treaty with White Australia


Fat cat and activist Aborigines fighting over prime Sydney land


Police power to arrest an adult or child without charge, paperwork or representation


Great Barrier Reef toxic paint with banned substance will cost $50m to remove

The highly toxic paint still on the Great Barrier Reef five years after an oil tanker spill five years ago contains a substance called tributyltin, formerly commonly used as "bottom paint" on ships until it was discovered to leach copper into the water and banned. While court action seeking damages from the Chinese ship’s owners is ongoing, Australian governments are arguing over the $50 million cost to remove the paint. It became embedded on coral rock when the oil carrier Shen Neng 1 ran aground in April 2010. A Senate hearing has been told there is an urgency to clean it up, because each storm season there is a risk that the material will be distributed more widely by wave action than it is at the moment. In the Federal Court action the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, a Commonwealth Government agency, is seeking damages. The Queensland government has asked for Commonwealth government money to go the authority immediately to begin the clean-up, but has been rejected.

David GulpililWhite fella versus black fella in Another Country 


In north-east Arnhem land in the Northern Territory, around five hundred kilometres east of Darwin lies a small Indigenous community isolated from the rest of Australia called Ramingining. There are just two schools, one convenience store and one police station to cater for the one thousand that live there. A new documentary called 'Another Country' looks at how the way of life in Ramingining was derailed by white settlement. The film is narrated by legendary Indigenous actor and Ramingining born David Gulpilil who provides a first hand insight into the clash of cultures.  



Conference in Germany offers interesting new perspectives on the Northern Territory intervention



By Berlin Aboriginal Solidarität Netzwerk



On October 9 and 10 about 20 people met at the University of Bonn for the conference “The ‘intervention’ and its consequences”. Whereas in Australia the media and the general public mainly stay silent about the ‘Intervention’ and the subsequent Stronger Futures legislation, German academics think it important and necessary to have a closer look at the radical, discriminatory actions that were taken by the Howard government in 2007.

After an introduction from Lindsay Frost, in which he presented a very well researched overview of the facts and dates regarding the ‘Intervention’, a broad range of lectures followed that gave different perspectives.

Dr. Victoria Grieves, a research fellow at the University of Sydney, referred to Giorgio Agamben’s concept ‘state of exception’. A state of exception is a process by which the government allows the rule of law to be dismissed in the name of a specific cause or issue. Individuals that are in a state of exception no longer have the specific rights granted them by the laws of their country. The governments of such countries state that these individual rights are suspended in the best interest of the country. Dr. Grieves presented evidence for the Aboriginal people to be seen as existing in a ‘state of exception’ to the modern Australian settler colonial democracy.

A central question during the conference was how western images of Aboriginal Australians and western laws and concepts shaped the narrative of the ‘NT Intervention’. The legislation and the public and political debate around the ‘NT Intervention’ have together shaped the only valid story about what happened in the Northern Territory. Because of their voicelessness, for example through the ignorance of the media, Aboriginal people are denied means to challenge this story.

Finally, another perspective on the ‘NT Intervention’ was given in a couple of lectures about Aboriginal literature, film and art. Dorothee Klein from the University of Freiburg explored the concept of normalcy on the basis of Alexis Wright’s novel The Swan Book. She explored the fact that the dominant population of Australia defines what ‘normal’ behaviour is and therefore has the power to characterize and treat Aboriginal people as abnormal. Also lectures about the novels of Bruce Pascoe (Earth, The Chainsaw File and Fog a Dox) and essays from different Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians in the new book ‘The Intervention: An Anthology’, as well as the movie Charlie’s country and art works from Teena McCarthy (Terror Nullius), Jason Wing (Criminal) and Adam Hill (Abuse of Power) gave new perspectives on the ‘NT Intervention’.


Co-organiser of the conference, Elisabeth Baehr, says writing their report about the workshop is deadlined December 10. Most of the talks would be published as a book. Click here for the programme of the workshop and the abstracts of the talks.



Celeste Liddle


The news that activist group Grandmothers Against Removals had successfully negotiated a deal with the NSW Government to ensure that elders are consulted in cases of children at risk was a story that gave me hope.



Formed in January this year, a collective of Aboriginal women across various regions in NSW stood together and challenged the government to serve our communities and our children better. What prompted action by these women was news that there has been dramatic increase in the number of Aboriginal children being taken into care. Since Rudd's 2009 apology, numbers have increased every year to the point where Aboriginal children now consist of 35 per cent of all children in care. Additionally, fewer children are being placed within their communities than ever.


The safety of children must be paramount. Where children are at risk, their wellbeing must inform the decisions made on their behalf so they have a chance to settle down and thrive. Yet the idea that it is always best to remove Aboriginal children from their families and communities is one rooted in institutional racism. It has chilling parallels with assimilation programs of yesteryear – programs which, in many cases, led to the abuse of children in institutions. 


Click here for the full story, originally published by Fairfax Media.









Aboriginal child'We Are At The Crossroads Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Peoples'

By Tauto Sansbury, an Aboriginal leader in South Australia

I believe that we are at the crossroads of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' survival. The impact of current government policies of forced removal and closure of communities, of deregistration of thousands of Aboriginal sites, will be absolutely catastrophic for us. It will also make Australia poorer as a nation.

Traditional Owners from around the country met in Alice Springs recently to partake in AWAKEN: Talking Country -- a forum to discuss matters of great concern regarding what's happening on traditional lands throughout Australia. This was at the heart of the words of all who spoke.

We talked about the removal of people from country against the will of the original custodians of the land and the total lack of understanding of, or care about, connection to country that is constantly demonstrated by governments -- national, state and territory.
Everything that they are doing is against our will. True consultation and negotiation simply does not take place. It flies in the face of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in this instance, Article 10, with regard to Indigenous peoples not being forcibly removed from their lands.

And in a cowardly act to ensure that people leave their communities, which have been their traditional homelands for thousands of years, the government removes essential services; this started in Oombulgurri, where houses were bulldozed with possessions still in them.

Whether there is real lack of understanding, or whether it's just a pretence on the part of those who wish to take our lands, the result is dispossession that will lead to cultural genocide.
To some of the people in these targeted communities, English is a second or third language, yet they are being thrown off their lands and are supposed to assimilate into white communities, where they are basically aliens in their own country.

The deregistration of Aboriginal sites in Western Australia, taking place under flawed legislation, is another example of cultural genocide. The WA government is steamrolling over the rights, beliefs, cultural values and heritage of Aboriginal people in that state.

Take the Burrup Peninsula, home to between 500,000 and 1 million rock engravings, yet the government wants to see this destroyed for the sake of development. This is nothing short of criminal, and I don't think it would occur in any other so-called developed nation on the planet.

So what does all this mean to the individuals who are affected by removal from country? Basically, our people are having their cultural links and roots, their very identity as Aboriginal people, stolen from them. They are being made to assimilate into the broader community just as in the past, when families were broken up and sent to different parts of the country during the mission days.

Let me share with you my own story as a case in point.

I was born 66 years ago on an Aboriginal mission, Point Pearce on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula. By now, I should be a fully initiated man, speaking my native tongue, telling my stories and handing them down to my children and grandchildren, performing my song and dance and ceremony.

Well, I'm not.

Being born on Point Pearce you were not allowed to speak your native tongue or practise your culture, customs or tradition. The church didn't allow that and neither did the missionaries. So I have lost these aspects of my life, and it has left a great hole in my heart.

Yes, it was cultural genocide.

What is happening today, with the closure of communities, the destruction of our sacred sites, the threats to our heritage areas, is continuing this cultural genocide that has been a daily feature of the lives of Indigenous Australians since the arrival of Captain Cook in 1770 and the invasion of our land.

But we will not be silenced. And we will continue to speak up and fight the fight for our very survival.

Tauto Sansbury features on NITV's AWAKEN: Talking Country, Wednesday 21 October, 9pm on NITV (Ch34/Foxtel144)


Download here the Implementation plan for the


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Health Plan 2013-2023


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 looks to the people who have runs on the board, those in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, to play a key role, and offers further opportunities for our Services to grow and deliver more primary health care to more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We congratulate Minister Fiona Nash on seeing this through – a process started by the former government but broadly informed by the Aboriginal health sector"


Matthew Cooke, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)


New goals to improve Indigenous health

Aboriginal health implementation plan welcomed