'Close the Gap' and 'Apology' are just band-aids

'Close the Gap' and 'Apology' are just band-aids

SU Media Release

12 February 2018

Close the Gap and Apology are band-aid measures
- a far cry from treaties & decolonisation

I don't believe a modern treaty process will get any further than the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC) did, unless Sovereign First Nations declare sovereign independence through UDIs and force decolonisation through a united front. Understandably, First Nations' assertions of sovereignty have been honed in the intervening 30 plus years. I constantly remind our people that our reality is we hold the continental Common Law, but are occupied by a foreign power ruling in right of the British Crown. Until this changes through decolonisation, Close the Gap, Apology and other government policies remain as band aid measures.
 

- Ghillar, Michael Anderson
Statement

"So long as a Rhodes Scholar is running this country the vested interests of the British Crown are paramount and remain in line with mining magnate Cecil Rhodes' legacy of educating scholars to run and exploit a country for Britain's benefit. PM Malcolm Turnbull, a Rhodes Scholar with a Bachelor of Civil Law from Brasenose College, Oxford is the latest agent of the coloniser to ensure First Nations' inherent sovereign rights to lands, waters and natural resources are quashed.

Albert Wiggan - Dear Prime Minister

This is consistent with Turnbull's continuing fiasco of the Closing the Gap agenda, which has clearly failed, despite minor improvements announced today. In reality, the Turnbull government wants to either abandon the Close the Gap program, or water down the targets, despite recent recommendations from the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), to do otherwise and properly engage with 'Indigenous people'.

Turnbull may talk about 'refreshing' Close the Gap to appear in line with the 'Committee on the Elimination of Radial Descrimination' (CERD) recommendations of 2017, but fails to provide the requested 'disaggregated data' for a proper evaluation. In fact, the Turnbull government is belligerently ignoring the CERD's 2017 findings, which were strategically released on Boxing Day, 26 December 2017. CERD was highly critical of Australia's treatment of First Nations and Peoples and failure to address remedies.

At para 19 the CERD states:

  1. … despite statements by the State Party that it rejects the principle of terra nullius grounded in the "discovery discourse", the State party continues to conduct its relations with indigenous peoples, in a manner that is not reconcilable with their rights to self-determination and to own and control their lands and natural resources.
1978 NAC meeting includes John Newfong, Charles Perkins, Kath Walker, Lois O'Donoghue, James Berg, Chicka Dixon and Joe Croft
Background Image: Hobart Invasion Day Rally, 2018 - Inset image: The National Aboriginal Conference (NAC), Inaugural Meeting Canberra 3rd April 1978. Among them are John Newfong, Charles Perkins, Kath Walker, Lois O'Donoghue, James Berg, Chicka Dixon and Joe Croft. (Source: www.kooriweb.org )

Once again the CERD recommends Australia 'enter into good faith treaty negotiations' [para20]. This is, in fact, a recognition of First Nations' pre-existing and continuing sovereignty because the only meaning of treaty in modern international law is an agreement between sovereign Nations.

The CERD also recommends 'that the State party move urgently to effectively protect the land rights of indigenous peoples, including by amending the Native Title Act 1993, with a view to lowering the standard of proof required and simplifying the applicable procedures. It also urges the State party to ensure that the principle of free, prior and informed consent is incorporated into the Native Title Act 1993 and into other legislation, as appropriate, and fully implemented in practice.' [CERD/C/AUS/CO/18-20] (emphasis added)

To break the current impasse and to locate a constructive pathway forward for First Nations Peoples and the State and Federal Governments, they would be best placed to start from the National Aboriginal Conference (NAC) platform, which underpinned the Treaty negotiations, in the early 1980s. Logically, it is the appropriate launching pad from which to commence a future program to negotiate a Comprehensive Deed of Settlement. The work has been done. A framework had been established by the NAC on numerous fronts.

The assertion of First Nations sovereignty reached the point where former PM Malcolm Fraser's legal team realised that by recognising Aboriginal sovereignty, all the colonial laws would be invalidated. This resulted in the Commonwealth government attempting to re-brand the process from 'Treaty' to 'Makarratta' in order to remove the contentious issue of sovereignty and to deal with a framework more in line with a domestic treaty, compact or agreement.

Malcolm Fraser did clarify that we don't need to Treaty to do what is fundamentally right and are basic Human Rights. As a result of the NAC's efforts, some basic services were delivered to our people, e.g. Home and Community Care (HACC), return of skeletal remains; return of cultural material from museums, just to name a few.

With the experience of being the Director, NAC Treaty Research for four years, I am witnessing now a regurgitation of what was already done and people are still trying to understand it. This historical repetition and regurgitation is what makes our people angry at the grassroots, because, as they have said over and over, our Peoples have been researched to death to establish progressive thinking and future planning, but it seems every time we get a new generation they want to start it all over again.

As the Yuin Elder, Ossie Cruse, said, "We've passed this post twice before!'

This is why our communities disengage - because they've already been past that post.

As the Yuin Elder, Ossie Cruse, said, 'We've past this post twice before!'

This historical repetition and regurgitation is what makes our people angry at the grassroots, because, as they have said over and over, our Peoples have been researched to death to establish progressive thinking and future planning, but it seems every time we get a new generation they want to start it all over again. But as the Yuin Elder, Ossie Cruse, said, "We've past this post twice before!'

The NAC's reports and Treaty research that were done well over 30 years ago now need to be gathered up and revised to suit this modern day, but the majority of the foundational principles are still the same.

I don't believe a modern treaty process will get any further than the NAC did, unless Sovereign First Nations declare independence through UDIs and force decolonisation through a united front. Understandably, First Nations' assertions of sovereignty have been honed in the intervening 30 plus years. I constantly remind our people that our reality is we hold the continental Common Law, but are occupied by a foreign power ruling in right of the British Crown. Until this changes through decolonisation, Close the Gap, Apology and other government policies remain as bandaid measures.

In 1983 a draft National Land Rights framework was put to the Fraser government during the NAC negotiations on a Treaty or Treaties. By 1984 the NAC had resolved to change from the re-brand 'Makarratta' back to the word 'Treaty', which could embrace the individual sovereignties of First Nations. Having done this, it was also resolved by the NAC Treaty Sub-committee that the national framework that we were developing must not usurp the right of each Nation to negotiate their own individual Treaty. To take away this right would make the NAC no better than the British invaders. It was not the NAC's right to negotiate a single national Treaty, because one-size shoe does not fit all. To do otherwise is to commit a major wrongdoing against our Nations and their Peoples.

The reality is we hold the continental Common Law, but are occupied by a foreign power ruling in right of the British Crown

Now to address one key historical issue - shutting down the NAC Treaty process.

 
Prior to the Federal election of 1983, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, instructed his Cabinet to go through this proposed National Land Rights framework, after which he supported it in principle. He recommended that the NAC now take this to the State and Territory governments for their consideration. This was a major achievement at that time, but two events derailed the process. One, Fraser lost the election and the resources promised for negotiations with States and Territories to advance the Treaty process never eventuated. (By the way the late Malcolm Fraser was not a Rhodes Scholar!)

Secondly, it was Fraser's support for the National Land Rights framework that caused the late Nugget Coombs to set up opposition through the establishment of the Federation of Land Councils, which was to argue later that it was better placed to advance National Land Rights than the NAC.

Nugget Coombs obstructed the NAC Treaty process and used his Aboriginal proteges in the Federation of Aboriginal Land Councils to shut off the NAC and orchestrated a major political coupe to end the NAC Treaty process.

The late PM Fraser lost the 1983 election to Bob Hawke's Labor party, an election former Labor Opposition Leader, Bill Hayden, said that even the Drover's Dog could have won, after he was railroaded by the Bob Hawke juggernaut.

Interestingly enough, PM Bob Hawke gave tacit support to the National Land Rights framework after his election. This is reflected in a statement by his Aboriginal Affairs Minister, the late Clyde Holding on National Land Rights:

The Government's objective and responsibility are to see a consistent national approach in each of the States and Territories towards the goal of Aboriginal Land Rights. The Government is looking to the adoption of a uniform package of principles, given historic differences and differences in the size of the States and proportion of Aboriginal population in them.
 
I have said that the Government sees five fundamental goals in relation to Aboriginal land rights which I have summarised as being:
(a) Aboriginal Land to be held under inalienable freehold title;
(b) the protection of Aboriginal sites;
(c) Aboriginal control in relation to mining on Aboriginal land;
(d) Access to mining royalty equivalents; and
(e) Compensation for lost land to be negotiated.

Clyde Holding was true to his word, initially, when he, as the Federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and Mr Lyall Munro Snr., Chairman of the NAC, met in one of the New South Wales (NSW) Parliamentary meeting rooms with the late Frank Walker, who was the NSW Attorney-General and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Also present at this meeting were the late Charles Perkins, representing the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs; the late Edward 'Ted' Simpson, who was the NSW NAC Branch Chairman; and myself as the Director, NAC Treaty Research.

We were disappointed that Frank Walker held his position and said that his Land Rights model for NSW was better than what the NAC was proposing, and between the NAC and Clyde Holding a significant confrontation occurred. We stressed that the Aboriginal people of NSW would be the losers under Frank Walker's model.

We walked out of this meeting agreeing to disagree and Clyde Holding made the point that he would raise the NAC framework and model for National Land Rights at the COAG (Council of Australian Governments) meetings in the future and include the NAC in these discussions as formal delegates to COAG, because he saw the NAC as equal to any State government with the same interests and needs as the people of the other States and Territories.

After the shutting down of the NAC, all went quiet for a period, then in 1985 the late Kevin Gilbert, with others, sought to revive the Treaty process as a way of educating grassroots, through the Treaty 88 campaign, on their inherent sovereign rights. Running interference to the Treaty 88 sovereignty agenda was Nugget Coombs' Treaty Committee calling for a 'treaty within Australia by Australians' (not legally possible!). Kevin Gilbert emphasised that Sovereign Treaties are able to affirm sovereignty and are overseen by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, under which treaties are invalid if they breach fundamental human rights.

Despite the fanfare at Barunga, NT, on 12 June 1988 when PM Bob Hawke accepted the Barunga Statement calling for a Treaty, it needs to be said that Bob Hawke had no intention of pursuing a Treaty, because it meant that there was a need to deal with the truth of colonialism in order to settle the First Nations/British conflict. In fact, he betrayed his own Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Clyde Holding, in the process.

Bob Hawke immediately retreated from his Barunga promise to negotiate a Treaty
'... or until the mining magnates move in'. Bob Hawke immediately retreated from his Barunga promise to negotiate a Treaty only one day after making the promise.

Not only did Bob Hawke immediately retreat - the very next day - on his Barunga promise to negotiate a Treaty, but also, he commenced a covert operation that witnessed a rise in Aboriginal opposition to bring down major organisations that were becoming economically strong and which were providing a pathway to true self-determination at the community level.

What can be said is that former PM Bob Hawke was not the true Trade Unionist, the man of the people, that he professed to be. When one studies the role of Cecil Rhodes and the British Crown's power circles, it will be clearly understood as to why Rhodes Scholars, such as Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and now PM Malcolm Turnbull, fight to protect the rights of the ruling class here in Australia for and on behalf of the British Crown.

In the case of Moree and Walgett, the white business opposition lobbied extensively behind the scene and aided and abetted 'Uncle Toms' within the local Aboriginal community to create opposition and major character assassinations, which enabled bureaucrats to question the overall operation and management of those organisations. The 'Uncle Toms' did nothing to replace what they destroyed and they became like the proverbial bird on the biscuit tin - outside looking in on a destroyed community and they benefited in no way whatsoever.

The Hawke administration facilitated the defunding and closing down of hundreds of successful Aboriginal Community-based organisations, which included amongst others affordable housing companies that had vast land-holding interests in those towns - a job former PM Howard finished when he took office and withdrew $400 million from self-determining organisations. Our communities have never recovered.

Treaties will not prevent this from recurring. Only proper First Nations' independent governance will prevent this from happening ever again.

The Land Councils failed all those years ago in advancing what they said the NAC would not be able to achieve. Do they really believe that their current operations as Native Title Service organisations, under the Native Title Act, are truly achieving Land Rights and economic advancement for our people, without any encumbrance by governments?

I think not.

Rhodes Scholars, such as Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and now PM Malcolm Turnbull, fight to protect the rights of the ruling class here in Australia for and on behalf of the British Crown
Rhodes Scholars, such as Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and now PM Malcolm Turnbull, fight to protect the rights of the ruling class here in Australia for and on behalf of the British Crown. They are not interested in Aboriginal peoples rights or the governments responsibilities, and only drop a few bucks in our kitty occasionally to keep the pressures from the UN and Australian human rights groups at arms length.

The irony of the Federation of Land Councils' interference is that it has resulted in these regional Land Councils now being vested with the responsibility of being the representative bodies under the Native Title Act. These Land Councils are now the registered Native Title Services funded by the Commonwealth government to do their people over.

The NSW State Land Council, on the other hand, made a very mature decision to remove themselves from this responsibility, because it was an inconsistent approach to Land Rights in NSW, given the Land Council had its own capacities under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW) to claim all Crown Lands in NSW, also the only land that could be claimed under a Native Title claim. In effect, the NSW State Land Council would have been competing against itself for ownership of these lands, or 'the bundle of rights' under Native Title Act.

The Magnificent Seven and the B-team, who negotiated the Native Title Act with former PM Keating, were clearly oblivious to the medieval land tenure system of the occupying states, where feudalism is a centralised land ownership program, in which all the land is owned by the monarch. Because they did not understand this feudal land tenure system, the Magnificent Seven, through their ignorance, permitted such a legislative system to be put in place in Australia. When we look at these feudal laws, we do not own the land, we only get to access it and in some cases, use it. The ultimate owner of the land under current colonial law continues to be the monarch, through the Australian parliament, which rules in right of that Crown.

Wake up people! Stop being deceived and being treated as a child-like race!

Illustrated as a cartoon by Artist Julie Dowling, highlighting some flaws in the mechanisms of our pursuit for justice and sovereign rights
Illustrated as a cartoon by Artist Julie Dowling, a Badimaya woman, Midwest WA, highlighting some flaws in the mechanisms of our pursuit for justice and sovereign rights (Julie's website: www.juliedowling.net)

It is no wonder that the current Rhodes Scholar in power, PM Turnbull, oversaw $800 million dollars (plus) being spent on a make-believe constitutional reform package for First Nations Peoples, while maintaining a protectionist regime around the British Crown's vested interests in the Federated colonies of Australia.

An 'Indigenous Voice' to parliament that can be ignored and disregarded is meaningless. Congress has shown that! The 'Apology', ten years old in 2018, is only one step in the process of Reparation for gross violations of human rights and currently First Nations children are being removed/kidnapped at an accelerating rate.

I predict that PM Turnbull will now spend many more millions running the moderates around in circles till he finally comes up with the package he wants - a package that appears to be an Aboriginal initiative, but suits the agenda of the colonial aristocracy. I guarantee it won't be acceptable to First Nations and Peoples, who are now asserting their independent sovereignty.

First Nations and Peoples must define our strategy, adopt it and stick with it.

Ghillar, Michael Anderson is the Convenor of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic. Ghillar is the last surviving member of the founding four of the Aboriginal Embassy, Canberra, in 1972.
Contact Ghillar

BACKGROUND DETAILS relating to the above Statement are included in the Media Release PDF
pdf Media Release: 'Close the Gap' and 'Apology' are just band-aids pdf