Warren Mundine calls for cultural genocide of First Nations Peoples

Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council chairman Warren Mundine called for an end to the requirement to establish a continuous connection with land to establish native title, arguing it 'discourages Indigenous people from moving away'.

Warren Mundine The Australian 1 May 2014
Warren Mundine verbally attacks green groups for holding up Indigenous development because First Nations people couldn't possibly run enterprises, develop business models or commercial ventures. It appears that in his view, First Nations people are only capable of handing over their land to mining companies. (Image source: Tracker 'adapted')

Dr Woolombi Waters, May 8th, 2014a

So I am sitting at home, it's Sunday night and I'm pretty happy with the second draft of my article for this week's paper when someone sends me an e-mail with the heading "You won't believe this". So I read the e-mail and it has a link to a story from the Australian newspaper which opens with:

"Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council chairman Warren Mundine calls for an end to the requirement to establish a continuous connection with land to establish native title, arguing it discourages Indigenous people from moving away".

Well, there goes my article for the week! This instead needs to be addressed as it defies belief. There is no one living in Toomelah, Moree or Saint George (my own mob but I am sure it is the same everywhere) who wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, "better not leave, this might jeopardise our mob's Native Title claim".

OK, Mr Mundine you have once again just confirmed how out of touch you are with our people on the ground - you really have no idea. Either that or you have another agenda because otherwise such statements just make no sense.

As you read on you discover the comment was made during an address to the West Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy, well, no surprises there. Why is it the only industry or economic development these people suggest we are capable of is in selling out to mining companies?

Mundine then goes on a verbal attack on green groups for holding up Indigenous development. Why? Because we couldn't possibly run enterprise, develop business models or commercial ventures because all we seem to be capable of is handing over our land to mining companies.

The trouble with that is the monies we do get from the mining companies is a pittance compared to the overall profits these companies make and as to a career industry choice studies confirm our people generally last for about three years in the mining industry. And then there is the idea that such land was once considered untouchable because of its significance to our Dreaming. What an absurd notion that has become! It's disgusting!

The reason why traditional society doesn't work properly today is only because it needs resources. Past resources prior to colonisation, such as food has been taken away by the invaders ... (Image source: David Gray/Reuters)

Mundine goes on to say: "I'm not aware of one new development project in mining energy or infrastructure that has been supported by green groups. Yet those groups enjoy the benefits of those industries and even depend on them to get their message across - they operate websites, fly in aeroplanes to their conferences and protest destinations, use their smartphones to spread their message of protest on social media. There would be no petitions without mining, energy and infrastructure."

What? It's like what I wrote about last week. Why does it have to be one or the other? Does Mundine really expect us to believe that without mining there would be no technology, social media, phones? It's ridiculous, beyond ridiculous, it's crazy-talk you would expect to hear from some kid who has no idea in the playground after he's been told by his parents to hate on greenies.

The stupidity of the argument over and over again just wears you down. Mundine then goes on to condemn the statutory bodies which have been set up over the last 30 years to protect our rights, questioning the authority in Indigenous communities as "gatekeepers" to power over traditional lands and cultural rights.

These are claims coming from a man who holds the highest political position of any Aboriginal person in this country without receiving one single vote coming from his mob. So who are the real "gatekeepers" here, Mr Mundine?

He goes on to say in the article: "People can go forum shopping or attempt to bypass the bodies altogether by putting ads in the paper calling for community members to attend meetings". God forbid, Mr Mundine!

The audacity of people who feel they have a right to contact community members outside of governing structures in getting the word out to grass roots people on the ground! It's bloody anarchy!

I should apologise for being sarcastic, it's not ideal journalism but Mundine's sentiments are so far removed from what we fought for in the 70s and 80s it has the potential to do more damage to our Culture, in remembering our history and values, than any other period I can remember in my lifetime.

(You must) work harder and smarter to create the revenue to be able to pay that bill. Something has to give,
We can't do it all
- Gina Rinehart

Any other response could get us in legal trouble, unless they were to do away with the racial discrimination act and then I could truly write what I am thinking.

When will they get it? Our people are hurting and they need healing, post-colonial stress, trans-generational violence and neglect and alienation from successive governments have taken their toll.

We know this. I could quote from 30 years of research both here and abroad that states we are not well and are in need of caring and putting back on our feet. We need to improve our self-esteem and reliance and to feel connected before we begin to deal with the many complex issues within our communities and these latest attempts to extinguish whatever fires remain in remembering our true identity will only continue to harm rather than heal.

The call to end established continuous connection to country is another step in the cultural genocide erasing what fires remain. I have lived, in total, three of my 45 years on Country and yet my connection remains. I respect and continue the Storylines and Dreaming Paths that took my family from Saint George to Boomi to Euraba to Old Toomelah to Toomelah back to Saint George, Toowoomba and Brisbane.

I regularly go home for ceremony and to see family. When asked where they come from my children will tell you they come from Saint George, having never lived there - this is continuous connection to Country, Mr Mundine.

If we were to spend resources to heal rather than punish, to improve the agency in social and cultural capital of our mob, in being able to better gain entry to education, we could look beyond mining as a way out and our capacity as a people would grow.

Yes, I am saying it again and again and again - education remains the key and not the quick fix, sell the land, deny the relationship of your ancestors through the Country being raped by mining companies that hand you loose change compared to the profits these people make.

Plain and simple. There has been enough mining already occurring on our traditional homelands to ensure our people are benefiting, commercially, economically and emotionally but we are not and at the same time look at the profits made from this mining. Gina Rinehart is Australia's richest woman and used to be the richest woman in the world only moving back into second place in 2012 according to Forbes Magazine.

The richest woman in the world and we, the First Peoples continue to live in Third World poverty.

I'm sorry and I apologise to our readers but this is the only type of response you can give to people who are killing our Culture intentionally. You have to let them know 1) you are aware and 2) you are not happy. Silence and polite etiquette has only allowed such persecution to continue and now we find ourselves fighting for our very survival. Speaking in video posted on the Sydney Mining Club's website Gina Rinehart stated in reference to a signed enterprise migration agreement which will allow her to import 1,700 foreign workers for her Roy Hill Iron Ore project, that: "Australians should not be complacent about the investment pipeline given that African labourers will work for less than $2 a day".

Gina Rinehart also stated Australia's battlers simply have to "work harder and smarter to create the revenue to be able to pay that bill. Something has to give, we can't do it all," she said in writing a column for the Australian Resources and Investment magazine.

"We can't do it all" she said, as if she was carrying us all and we should be thankful. This is a woman who has made all her money from taking minerals from lands that never belonged to her. There is no thought that perhaps paying Africans $2 a day is morally wrong, it actually makes good business sense and in her own words, as Australians, we need to stop believing we live in an "Age of Entitlement".

Wow ... and this is where Mr Mundine believes our future stands?

No wonder so many of our people are still living in Third World conditions where much of this mining has already occurred? Because what Mundine is preaching is not about truth, was never about truth and will never be about the truth. It's simply about profit and he is profiting from what he is saying. Think of the audience he was addressing at the time, the West Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy ... he is simply cementing his position as "THEIR man for the job".

Australian Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council chairman, Warren Mundine (centre) with Andrew Forrest (left), a well known employer and manipulator of First Nations people for mining profits and the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
(Image source: The Australian)

And his job is the ongoing cultural genocide and erasing of memory and history of the oldest living Culture in the world and then replacing this cultural amnesia with opposing values that justify material wealth and personal gain over all else.

We are finding ourselves in a spiritual war that has no problem with killing off the Indigenous values of the world and Mundine is their chief executioner. And he thrives on the power.

Now that is the truth. Don't believe me?

Then just consider what you did not question as an Aboriginal kid growing up 40 or 50 years ago. Land was sacred, mining was evil, people were families, community was everything and stories were history ... and old people were respected.

And over and over again the Warren Mundines in this 40-year period have been telling us traditional Aboriginal societies don't work and hold us back. Just look at what's happening in the Northern Territory they say.

The reason traditional society does not work today is only because, like any society, it needs resources and these have been taken and without any staple food or industry, which we had in abundance prior to colonisation, any society and particularly Western capitalism would fail.

The monies made by the mining companies would have provided the resources to build traditional societies based on our own forms of permaculture and biodiversity, building industry and profit but we have never been given the resources or responsibility instead only being enabled in ways that continue to suit our oppressor. As domestics, canecutters, fencers, stockmen, gatekeepers and now subservients in mining.

In our history before European occupation there was intellectual trade and commerce for thousands of years. But you cannot survive without means and the same people who have taken the means are now saying Traditional societies can't work because they can pay African workers $2 a day! This is why our Indigenous struggle is a global fight and we need to light the fire as Indigenous Australians in leading the way.

We have an ancient genetic memory that is opened through ceremony, that enables us to remember our old people but you can't do that if the land, water and forestation has been changed and you are denied access to your stories.

It's now or never. You know I am speaking the truth because you can still close your eyes and remember what it meant to be Black, Indigenous, Aboriginal 40 years ago. Well guess what? If we don't act today your kids and grandies won't.

Previously published in The National Indigenous Times & The Stringer

Dr Woolombi Waters is a Kamilaroi language speaker and writer and is a lecturer at Griffith University. He writes a weekly column for the National Indigenous Times.