Treaty of Union between Sovereign First Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin

Signing of an historic Multilateral Treaty by delegates of Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, 10 May 2017 at Aboriginal Embassy, Canberra
Enlarge Image  Enlarge Photo

Signing of an historic Multilateral Treaty by delegates of Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations
10 May 2017 at Aboriginal Embassy, Canberra
Media Release

Ghillar, Michael Anderson 11 May 2017

Yesterday was an extremely historic occasion with the signing of the Treaty of Union between Sovereign First Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The moment, however, was marred by misinformation and a lack of an holistic understanding of the Multilateral Treaty, which is only between Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN). Our Facebook warriors have managed to pick one article, without understanding its proper context.

Fred Hooper
Fred Hooper (Murrawarri Republic), Chairman of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN).

Signing Treaty between Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations
Enlarge Image  Enlarge Photo

L-R Euahlayi delegates Ghillar, Michael Anderson and Alan Lamb supported by Euahlayi Elder George Fernando sign the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations Treaty of Union before Fred Hooper, Chair of NBAN.

The article that has been identified deals with ASIC, Australian Securities Investment Commission, through which an administrative and organisational arm of NBAN had to form an identity with an ABN in order to receive 'fees for service'. In no way does this clause 'apply their Corporate laws over the Sovereign Jurisdiction of the Nations hence an IMPACT On SOVEREIGNTY!' as claimed on a Facebook page. The reverse is true.

Let's put the Euahlayi Nation case in perspective within Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN).

The Commonwealth government, with the aid of 'native' collaborators altered the gains, which were hard fought and won by the youth of the 1970s, which saw us achieve a form of Land Rights, albeit through a warrior called Eddie Mabo. The win in Mabo shocked the Australian nation to its foundation, but the issue of ownership by Sovereign First Nations was never answered, because the question was never asked in the Mabo case.

The questions not attended to were such questions as: Who owns the water? Who owns the natural resources? On the question of sovereignty the High Court correctly ruled that this question is not justiciable within the existing legal system of the occupying power. The one question of continuing sovereignty of Aboriginal/First Nations cannot be dealt with within the Australian legal or political system for that matter.

For a long time now Aboriginal people have reached the conclusion that the time has come when we must fight for the ownership of the natural resources, where we assert 'permanent sovereignty over natural resources' which includes water.

In the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin the First Nations in Victorian, South Australia and Central Southern New South Wales formed a body corporate themselves called MILDRIN, Murray Lower Darling River - Indigenous Nations, more than a decade ago to negotiate and demand their sovereign entitlements to the waters of all the rivers and intersecting streams that flow through their Nations.

Murray-Darling Basin Nations Treaty

Eight years ago First Nations of the Northern part of the Murray-Darling Basin in southern Queensland and northern and western New South Wales formed a united group called the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN). Its primary functions were to assert permanent sovereignty over waters and natural resources within the northern part of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Having achieved the establishment of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations (NBAN) group the people, who were chosen by their respective Nations to be unpaid delegates to the Northern Basin union, informed the Murray-Darling Basin Authority of the formation of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, and its purpose and function. In making themselves known the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations group negotiated with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority a 'fee for service', that is, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority will pay for any advice that they receive from the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations as a collective. The Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations chose to speak as one voice.

In order to receive any 'fees for service', albeit from government or other agencies, there is a requirement to establish an administrative arm under the occupying power's current regime in order to receive their funds and payments. The Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations had to have an ABN, Australian Business Number, and so NBAN incorporated a business arm in order to receive 'fees for service' from the occupying power's corporate regime, just as all other Aboriginal organisation have done in this country, be they Land Councils, medical services, legal service or other.

In the case of NBAN the incorporation of a business arm with ASIC was conditional and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations created a caveat of their own on this arrangement. This caveat was written into the constitution of Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations for registration with ASIC. The caveat is that the incorporation of Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations with ASIC is not, nor should it be construed in any way, as ceding or acquiescing our sovereignty to the occupying power. The instrument of incorporation has nothing to do with the sovereign overall political and legal arm of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations. They are distinctly different units with very different functions and purposes. This structure is born out of necessity, but should never be misinterpreted in the way has been in the last 24 hours.

The Treaty of Union between Sovereign First Nations of the Murray-Darling Basin that was signed yesterday at the Aboriginal Embassy site is an initiative of those Nation States when we decided that it is time for us to be proactive, by entering into a process of affirming our individual sovereign status as Nation States on the island continent now known as Australia. This is a Multilateral Treaty between Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations and no-one else. This is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Each First Nation based on our linguistics and within our boundaries are independent sovereign States in the past and now, just like the European Union some years ago created a union to deal with common issues that would be of benefit to their security and wellbeing.

In order to address the recent concerns circulating on Facebook, the Euahlayi delegates have spoken with other NBAN Nations' delegates in the last 12 hours to request that, at the next Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations full gathering of delegates, we clarify the purpose of the Article on page 5, which has caused so much angst to the Facebook warriors. As a union of Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations we needed to be transparent and refer to the fact that we have formed a corporate wing under ASIC to receive 'fees for service', which enable us to gather regularly as delegates of the Nations and do other works. The necessity to refer to the corporate jurisdiction in the Treaty of Union can clarified in a separate Article, that takes away any implied accession to the jurisdiction of the occupying power. To our critics: How else can we go forward without an administrative wing to receive 'fees for service'?

Now maybe the Facebook Warriors can turn their attention to the black organisations and institutions, who receive funding for their organisational structures and existence on the condition that their funding requires them to support and promote the Recognise campaign! These organisational networks are dangerous in their actions. Our Facebook Warriors need to become innovative thinkers and not just destroyers of ideas and assertive positive action.

It is important for the public to understand that the people who stand up and 'have a go' and are innovative should not be deterred. Many community-based leaders have died of a broken heart and in many cases others have given up trying to do anything, because the armchair critics find it easier to be destroyers. Many people ask: Where are our leaders? I can say that many people no longer want to lead because of the very thing that is currently going on with Facebook over the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations treatying with each other, through a Multi-lateral Treaty.

OK. So people be warned, if we cannot treaty with each other without condemnation and criticism, then what hope have we got when we put out a call for a national treaty or a state treaty with our Union of First Nations, such as the Victorian initiative.

Another smack in the face and back to the drawing board or do we maintain our ground-breaking progression? After all this is Nation business, not an organisational business, so any political disenchantment is a problem that has to be dealt with by the Nation itself. Nation business belongs to individual Nations, because it is a rule under our Law, culture and custom that one Nation cannot speak for another Nation and, internally within the Nations, one family clan group cannot speak for another family clan group in respect to their lands, waters and natural resources.

The Elders and delegates present from the different Nations were shocked at the disrespect shown by the young critics yesterday and the complete disregard for the autonomy of the Nations to make their own decisions. This is not culturally acceptable and cannot be tolerated in the future. There's always a right way and a wrong way to air concerns.

The right way is to understand the full context first and sit and negotiate, not to run to Facebook on misunderstanding and emotion. Our younger generations have to learn to listen first before making judgements.

First Nations Peoples on the ground are beginning to make significant headway in the Sovereignty Movement.

Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic

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

Related Article

ABC Treaty Report

Murray-Darling Aboriginal nations sign treaty, hoping for a stronger voice on Indigenous rights
Sixteen Aboriginal nations from across the northern Murray-Darling Basin have signed a treaty between themselves to have a united voice on Indigenous issues.
The Nations: Bidjara, Bigambul, Budjiti, Euahlayi, Githabal, Gomeroi/Kamilaroi, Gunggari, Jarowair, Kooma/Guwamu, Kunja, Manandanji, Mardigan, Murrawarri, Ngemba, Ngiyampaa, Wailwan. READ MORE