"One of the vilest racist acts we've seen"

Ghillar Michael Anderson

A draft law before the Australian Parliament to amend the native title act in relation to Indigenous Land Use agreements has been described by a veteran  Aboriginal rights campaigner as "one of the vilest racist acts we've seen".  Ghillar Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union, says the proposed amendments are a complete violation of the First Nations’ laws and customs, because each clan makes its own decisions about its own land and what happens on and within those territories. He says if this bill becomes law he will challenge it in Australia's supreme court.


Mr Anderson has argued his criticism on Australia's largest Aboriginal media organisation, Alice Springs based CAAMA Radio, which reaches communities across Australia in about a dozen languages. You can listen to the interview here.


Originally offering music and programming in Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara, Luritja and Warlpiri, CAAMA now broadcasts in half a dozen more Indigenous languages.


CAAMA says it plays a major role in maintaining indigenous language and culture in central Australia.


Listen to their live programming here


Mr Anderson's contact data: Email: ghillar29@gmail.com, mobile: 0499 080 660, website: www.sovereignunion.mobi, Post Office Box 55, Goodooga, NSW 2831.


​The issue has become hot because of a landmark ruling by the full bench of the Federal Court that an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) cannot be registered – that is, become valid – unless it is signed by all native title claimants over the land in question, who are so-called "named applicants".


ILUAs allow agreement between native title groups and other entities about the use of land and waters, such as for mining or infrastructure building.


On Friday, the National Native Title Tribunal confirmed it was freezing all new land use agreements across Australia because of the ruling.


In 2010 just one Federal Court judge ruled that ILUAs could be made with just one named applicant.


There is often acrimonious dispute among Aboriginal people between those who want agreement, often about mining, on their country and those who don’t. It has made it easy for investors to pick out a few willing people to make agreements happen.


The full Federal Court has just rejected a land use agreement connected with a $1.3 billion native title deal between the Western Australian government and the Noongar people in the state's south-west.


The mining-addicted federal government says it will swiftly move to change the Native Title Act after the landmark court ruling.


Mining lobby Queensland Resources Council chairman Ian Macfarlane welcomed the government's announcement, saying the court's decision made foreign investors "extremely nervous". The Reserve Bank of Australia says most estimates suggest that four fifths of Australian mining operations are effectively owned by foreign interests.


"I call on all politicians from all sides of politics to raise up above politics and work to solve this problem that has the potential to affect hundreds of mining leases in Queensland and cost thousands of jobs," he said.


Adani’s planned $16 billion coal project in central Queensland has stalled after its land use agreement with a selected group of Wangan & Jagalingou people could not be legally registered because of the nationwide freeze.


Although the 12 formal native title applicants of the Wangan and Jagalingou were split — with seven to five supporting Adani — a formal “authorisation meeting’’ last year of clan members voted 294-1 to endorse the agreement.


Opposing members of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council, led by Adrian Burragubba, allege Adani hosted crowds to vote in its favour and used other dishonest tactics and attempts to exclude opposition voices.


Speaking in favour of the deal, Elder Irene White, one of the 12 registered native title applicants of the group, said: "This is about a future for our people. We want the opportunity to get a job, earn a living, buy a car and save up for a house just like any other Australians. We have heard the arguments about climate change, but that should not be our concern, that is for others.''


The W&J Council say any attempt by the federal government to do the bidding of Adani and the mining industry to engineer an amendment to Native Title laws, will be vigorously challenged by them and other Traditional Owner groups and supporters.


At least a further 126 indigenous land-use agreements — ­already registered and covering mines, gas fields and infrastructure projects — are now also in doubt.


Adani’s Carmichael project — set to be Australia’s largest ever coalmine and one of the biggest in the world — is among at least 40 proposed or ­operating resource projects in Queensland alone that are hit by the decision.