4 December 2013
Statement by Pangarte Rosalie Kunoth-Monks and Ghillar Michael Anderson, head spokespersons for the Sovereign Union:
The Sovereign Union Gathering of Nations in Canberra on 23-24 November 2013 raised the bar higher for the political agenda, than at any other time in the Aboriginal struggle.
Our discussions with senior Lawman Murray George of Pitjantjatara/Yankunytjatjara Nation (APY Lands) and Senior Lawman Harry Nelson, Alyewarre Nation and Lawman Ray Loy of the Atnatjere Nation confirmed that the Aboriginal sovereignty movement has its genesis and its foundation within ancient Aboriginal Law.
This was confirmed when senior Lawman Harry Nelson presented the Gathering of Nations with his most sacred Law symbol that he had brought from his Country, where it was united with the sacred Law symbol of the Euahlayi Nation.
This swelled the pride and dignity of all those who were in attendance and created a spiritual and emotional time in history, that all those present felt deeply. It was spiritually uplifting.
As Murray George said at the beginning, Aboriginal Law must sit on top of whiteman's law, because our Law is the Law of this land.
The fact that two ancient sacred symbols were on display gave absolute authority to the discussions and decisions that were made.
The most poignant aspect of the Gathering of Nations was the fact that this all happened inside Old Parliament House, Canberra, in the old House Representatives chamber, where some of the most oppressive laws against our Nations and Peoples were debated and passed, permitting Australia to get away with genocide.
The fact that we have now brought our Law into the first Commonwealth Parliament building radically changes the way we do business from here on in.
It is significant that these sacred symbols were made public, because as the High Court decision in Mabo said, Aboriginal proprietary rights in land, that is Native Title, comes from within Aboriginal Law, not common law. The High Court described it as 'sui generis', which means 'unique'.
The twist that has now occurred, which white lawyers hate to admit, is that Aboriginal Law, in respect to land title, burdens the Crown title to land. In other words, the Crown has an encumbered root title to land, because Aboriginal title to land is the ultimate radical title.
Mabo confirmed that the British never held absolute root title to land, because in 1888 Britain's Privy Council confirmed, in the St. Catherines Milling & Lumber Company Case, that Aboriginal title is presumed to have survived the change of sovereignty unaffected.
Many of our people are yet to understand what this truly means.
The white lawyers, who are engaged by Native Title representative bodies and Land Councils, coerce our people into signing away their inherent rights. Lawyers place Native Title applicants and claimants under a great deal of duress by asserting that the white way is the only way and coerce our people into signing up to John Howard's 'bucket loads of extinguishment' strategy, through Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs).
The Australian government, the legal system and all development in this country will find real problems when Aboriginal people find it within themselves to withdraw unreservedly from the Native Title process and stand their ground by asserting their sovereignty over all their lands and waters, under Aboriginal Law. Any actions by mining companies, developers and governments who proceed without Aboriginal input and engagement, will have a Constitutional dilemma that they will have to deal with in the future, because any dealings without Aboriginal engagement will be void of Aboriginal free, prior and informed consent.
The Land Councils and the Prescribed Body Corporates in the Native Title Representative bodies, that are being funded by government, are all about extinguishing Aboriginal rights and interests through prescription, without informing the people of the unnecessary loss of their inherent rights.
For example, lawyers within the Native Title Representative Bodies and land councils refuse to argue that under Aboriginal Law and custom every native plant, tree, shrub, herb and all the animals, fish, birds etc are part of our Law and culture through totemism. On the other side, the flora and fauna are part of our economic sustainability as well as being used for medicinal healing. For example, the fat of the emu and the fat of the goanna have sacred medicinal properties; native shrubs and bushes are used for sacred ceremonies and smoking; all of which have a cultural, spiritual and economic value under our Law. So those who have freehold title or perpetual pastoral leases to use the land do not own the native flora and fauna, as all these are reserved by Commonwealth, State and Territory law to the Crown.
Even without declaring our continuing sovereignty and independence, we have a right to everything the Crown has an interest in and we must assert our rights in demanding that our rights to the native flora and fauna are not extinguished by the Native Title Act. Furthermore, our rights to the aquifers, groundwaters and surface waters have never been extinguished by the Native Title Act. Under our Law a lot of our sacred spirits travel beneath the ground in the connecting aquifers, and they come out and cross Country from the waterholes.
This is our Law.
Don't let the invader tell you that your rights have been extinguished.
Under Native Title, for every plant and animal that has been displaced, even on freehold and perpetual pastoral leases, we must be compensated for their interference into our Law and culture, based on our sovereign inherent right.
Our sovereign inherent entitlements go well beyond the Native Title Act. So do not sign away your sovereign inherent rights in an ILUA for the sake of a few dollars. But if you choose to go down the road of signing Indigenous Land Use Agreements ask the question:
Who controls the benefits that are supposed to flow from an ILUA? Ask, as you are the owners, do you own and control the royalties and other benefits, or do governments' Native Title Prescribed Bodies Corporate control it?
Under the Native Title regime, the Crown is trying to take our lands, waters and inherent rights off us by prescription, in a cunning and conniving way.
In addition, where we already own land under Australian land title, e.g. in the Northern Territory, the governments of Australia are trying to confiscate our lands through the proposed 99 year leases on our own land. Our people are being held to ransom for the delivery of services Australians are automatically entitled to, buildings and some money. This is a huge threat to the security of our communities as our people fear more of the assimilation agenda.
Our sovereign inherent rights are now in great danger from the Native Title regime. We have said that the invasion by the British involved grand theft of our lands and resources, but the act of the First Fleet in 1788 pales into insignificance compared with what is happening now.