More Hypocrisy for First Nations in Australia

Anthony Albanese and Joe MorrisonPM Anthony Albanese (left) and Joe Morrison Group CEO Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation
Media Release

1 December 2023

Professor Ghillar Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union, last surviving member of the founding four of the Aboriginal Embassy and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic highlights the hypocrisy exposed by PM Albanese’s refusal to legislate the UNDRIP, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, into Australian domestic law, and questions the Indigenous Land and sea Corporation’s (ILSC’s) ability to promote self-determination through economic independence.

It has come to my attention that Joe Morrison, Group CEO of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC), and others have traveled to Canada seeking to negotiate a MOU with First Nations in Canada regarding economic development. Like the Voice campaign there are no details that could reassure First Nations people in Australia that the ILSC will work with grassroots communities to improve our economic status. Whilst it is a welcome objective, there is no indication that it will secure grassroots participation with beneficial outcomes for the people, not the statutory corporation.

The ILSC has a track record in Australia of strangling economic development of First Nations participation by the terms and conditions imposed upon grants of land, including caveats, that render land use and economic development ineffective.

We know from the ILSC Act 1995 as amended that the ILSC has a right to establish itself as a monopoly for economic development in the name of First Nations Peoples in Australia. The primary concern is that the ILSC is a statutory corporation established by legislation which means it is NOT accountable to First Nations Peoples, but instead to the Federal Minister of Finance, Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Executive Government of Australia.

My question is: Was the ILSC delegation truthful to the Canadian First Nations representatives by admitting the ILSC is a government institution and not a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) and so is not answerable and accountable to their own people.

The question that also must be asked is: Who gave the delegation the authority to represent themselves as representatives of all First Nations in Australia, because Canada has a very different structure in terms of representation of Canadian constituent First Nations. I should remind the Australian public that the ILSC is top heavy with white bureaucrats as opposed to First Nations people. They may have appointed Black faces to the Board, but they are answerable to Ministers of the Crown, and the bureaucrats who operate the machinery beneath are primarily non-Aboriginal. First Nations representatives participating in overseas who have a habit of claiming their organisation is administered wholly by First Nations people, when in fact there is no structure here equivalent to the Canadian Grand Council of Chiefs.

I wonder whether the ILSC delegation was honest enough to tell the Canadian authorities that the public of Australia did not reject the recognition of First Nations Peoples within the Constitution,but rather no-one was informed of the details of the Voice in terms of its roles and functions.

These were the fundamentals that were missing and now the ILSC seeks to look overseas for new ideas.

Mr Morrison and his delegation must accept that they are highly paid public servants employed by the colonial state. I say this simply because they do not have a grassroots constituency and I have never known anybody to bite the hand that feeds them. It is a mockery to think that the ILSC, as an instrument of the colonial authorities, has the ability to effect any substantial economic independence leading to First Nations becoming economically independent with an absolute right of self-determination to govern themselves. I say this because the ILSC is not honest enough to tell the public that it has policies that lead to the ILSC taking legal action against First Nations people to recover lands for the ILSC, having acquired them for the purpose of redressing dispossession.

We have had enough of top-down approaches to dealing with ‘the Aboriginal problem’. The objectives of the 1970s Black Power movement have never changed. The Black Power movement was not about covert operations to dominate white power, it was about acquiring the power to be self-determining. The Whitlam regime~ worked to assist us to achieve self- determination but people like Morrison and his cronies were satisfied to accept self-management, being guided by the white bureaucracy, which wanted to maintain control and continues to do so against the will of the First Nations people – welfarism.

The current political policies of the Labor government highlight why PM Albanese refused to provide an explanation to the public during the referendum debate about how a Voice would operate and function. Albanese’s current rejection of Senator Lidia Thorpe’s Private Senator’s Bill, which proposes to legislate into Australian law the UNDRIP, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, helps us understand the dictatorial approach Albanese took not to support First Nations’ right to be self-determining, a far cry from his political rhetoric about a need for a Voice.

The solutions that we seek are ours to decide on. Canada has a very different regime and Australia is so far removed from the pace of Canada. Morrison and his cronies are better served spending their money working with grassroots First Nations in Australia to make our objectives to be economically independent of government conditional handouts, a reality.

It is time for a proper legal inquiry into government expenditure on First Nations issues in Australia. It cannot be right that $30 billion is being spent annually to address our Peoples’‘disadvantage’. How many non-Aboriginal people are benefiting through job security from this funding because it certainly is not getting down to where it’s needed?

During the Howard administration, Bill Heffernan MP was alerted to the fact that only 8 cents in the dollar reached Aboriginal organisations on the ground to assist in First Nations’ disadvantage – this knowledge was well known to the Howard government at that~ time and they chose to do nothing to change course.

The time has come to end the ‘Aboriginal industry’. The beneficiaries are not First Nations Peoples, but instead overpaid consultants, exorbitant infrastructure contractors, highly paid members of think-tanks, and advisory bodies to government, subsidies for multi-national corporations who seek government funds to train First Nations tractor and truck drivers in the mining industry etc., and an unnecessary overwhelmingly huge bureaucracy to administer the distribution of more than $30 billion.

In conclusion, I put this to the Australian people and our mob: How do we as First Nations Peoples hold governments and the bureaucracies accountable when we do not have the mechanisms to enforce accountability?

We do understand that the ten Black politicians in the federal parliament, except Senator Lidia Thorpe, must adhere to their party policies and machinery. They do not have independence and we cannot expect them to be able to hold the parliament and the bureaucracy accountable.

Don’t be fooled.

It might be a good idea for everyone to read Peter Garret’s memoir Big Blue Sky. He wrote that he went into parliament believing he could effect positive change but was quick to learn that would not be the case, because he had to remain within the mainstream of party policies. Our Black politicians in the major parties are now in the same position. We do not expect these politicians to effect change because we have learnt from the past that goodwill has never been enough. We, as First Nations Peoples have been and continue to call for the seemingly impossible, because what we seek as Peoples are changes on a magnitude that is well above the ‘pay-grade’ of all politicians currently sitting in the Australian parliament.

Senator Lidia Thorpe’s Private Senators’ Bill to incorporate the UNDRIP, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, into Australian domestic law is a classic example of the falsehood of Labor Party policies and highlights their duplicity when they were promoting the benefits of a Voice to parliament. The federal Labor government’s campaign for the Voice was shallow and highlighted the true definition of double-speak.

Ghillar, Michael AndersonContact: Ghillar Michael Anderson
Convenor of the Sovereign Union,
Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic
Contact Details here