Australia doesn't deserve a seat on United Nations”

Michael Anderson
Michael Anderson

National Indigenous Times October, 2012

Michael Anderson, the surviving member of the founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, has written to the United Nations urging it reject Australia's bid for a temporary seat on the Security Council because of Australia's treatment of Indigenous Australians.

In his letter Mr Anderson said Australia was a colonial power and in breach of international conventions in its treatment of its Indigenous people.

Mr Anderson also criticised the Federal Government for its policies on asylum seekers.

"Aboriginal nations and peoples in Australia object to any support for Australia to have a temporary position on the UN Security Council," he said in the letter released on Friday.

"The Sovereign Union of First Nations in Australia wishes to advise Aboriginal Nations and Peoples in Australia object to any support for Australia to have a temporary position on the United Nations Security Council," Mr Anderson said in the letter.

"Our objections are founded on the following. Australia is a colonial power.

"Australia's position as a nation State within the United Nations is not founded on a secure position of statehood. In fact, it is well established legal fact Australia has its position within the United Nations by virtue of it being a signatory to the Treaty of Versailles and being a signatory to the founding documents of the United Nations, when it changed its position from the League of nations.

The High Court in Mabo judgement clearly stated Australia's tenure to statehood is a precarious skeletal framework. Australia remains a colonial state of the British because the 1901 constitution remains an Act of the British Parliament and Australia's Head of State is a foreign ruler in the guise of Queen Elizabeth II, the ruling British monarch."

Mr Anderson's letter also highlighted breaches in a United Nations conventions.

"From 1999 Australia has been fighting against the Human Rights Committee's scrutiny of its treatment of Aboriginal peoples," Mr Anderson said in the letter.

"Australia is the only country in the world that has constitutional powers to pass laws for any race for whom it deems necessary. In this regard, the Australian government continues to use its powers to discriminate against its First Nations populations on the basis of race.

"In the past Australia has been found by these treaty bodies to have breached their international obligations and campaigned against the CERD when Australia was put on the early warning and urgent action procedure. "Australia campaigned against the United Nations' treaty bodies' powers and authority by calling for a review of their functions, arguing other nation states of the world should be monitored more closely than itself.

"More recently, the UN CERD called for Australia to negotiate a treaty with its Aboriginal population. This call was influenced by submissions from the First Nations People in respect to the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) legislation. "The NTER law comes from Australia's military authority, as it has the powers to make emergency declarations under the rules and disciplines of war.

"In this regard, it should be noted in order for the Australian Government to establish such a piece of legislation it had to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

"In 1998 Aboriginal people made complaints against the Liberal-Coalition government's Ten Point Plan to amend the Native Title Act 1993, as it was also necessary to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act in order to avoid paying compensation to Aboriginal peoples for extinguishing their right to claim land under the Act.

"The NTER is criminal by virtue of the fact it suspends any and all human rights that Aboriginal Peoples/people may have and this is done while the United Nations watch. The UN appears to have little to no power or will to alter this position by Australia."

Mr Anderson's letter also told the United Nations Australia still had no effective law against genocide. "Australia is a country that purports to see peaceful resolutions throughout the world and supports all endeavours to have tyrannical leaders brought to justice for the crimes committed against their own populations," Mr Anderson's letter said.

"This is in stark contrast to Australia's legal position within its own law. This is demonstrated by the fact in 1999 the full bench of the Federal Court and later the High Court ruled there was no law against genocide on its own soil, nor does it have any effective remedies for crimes against humanity.

"Even worse is the fact the Counsel for the Prime Minister in the case argued the Genocide Convention was deliberately not incorporated.

"The legislation that Australia now has in respect of genocide have two restrictive elements which are: Crimes against humanity and genocide only apply to its armed services abroad and no legal action can be brought against perpetrators of genocide unless it is approved by the Attorney-General and there is no right of appeal if she/he refuses."