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Issue #1549      30 May 2012

WA law plan sparks fears

Noongar people have protested against proposed anti-association laws in Western Australia, declaring them a grave threat to justice. Traditional owners and Elders of the Whadjuk people united with motorcycle clubs, unionists, civil libertarians, church and community groups outside Parliament House in Perth on May 3 to rally against the Criminal Organisations Control Bill.

A Noongar tool kit.

Glenys Collard welcomed protesters from a range of groups to Noongar Whadjuk country, saying it was time for Noongar and Wadjella people to work together.

She said she hoped that, together, the group could achieve a good outcome.

Robert Eggington, of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, started the rally by observing a minute of silence for all those who had died “as a result of a brutal and a violent system”.

After reading a list of those who had died in custody, and colonial massacres suffered by Noongar people, Mr Eggington described the impact of the 1905 Native Welfare Act. “The Act consisted of many laws that gave the government the right to forcibly remove Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and disinherit our people from their religious and cultural practice,” he said.

“It forced Aboriginal people to denounce tribal customs to ascertain citizenship rights. It legally allowed the diabolical and evil legalities to forcibly remove the children from their parents and place them in Christian-run missions across the south-west.”

Mr Eggington went on to cite a list of WA laws that he said had had a disproportionate and unjust effect on Aboriginal people in recent years and had been enforced by police in a discriminatory and degrading manner.

“The Djida Boodjar Aboriginal People’s Movement, with the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation, stands in solidarity and unity with the UMCWA (United Motorcycle Council of WA) to fight strongly against the proposed Bill ... known as the anti-association laws,” he said.

“These laws ... will ultimately be used aggressively and assertively against the Aboriginal community as are all the laws that control and disempower the human rights of our people.”

Mr Eggington expressed concern the laws would be used arbitrarily – and target Aboriginal people – to deny requests to attend funerals and to prevent attendance at rallies, protests and cultural events. “These laws have the power to divide and separate our families as did the previous laws of the Stolen Generations,” he said. “We must not let these laws pass into legislation.

“If these laws of anti-association were directed at white collar crime there wouldn’t even be a Parliament to pass them, and there is no doubt that the bigger the politician, the bigger the lie.

“The real crimes of society thrive in the halls of these Parliaments ... there are many Aboriginal traditional people incarcerated in prisons across the south-west who do not even know or understand the laws which have imprisoned them.”

Several of the speakers and protesters at the rally have experienced first-hand anti-association restrictions enacted through bail conditions or control orders issued under last year’s exceptional Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting law.

Despite claims the restrictions were intended for “bikies”, the people subject to anti-association-type restrictions so far in WA have almost exclusively been activists, and the 160-page bill does not mention organised crime or motorcycle clubs once.

Koori Mail  

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