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Issue #1780      June 7, 2017

Editorial

One Voice

Last week the Uluru Statement by representatives of Indigenous Australians gave expression in one voice to the demand for Recognition.

The statement said in part: “This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”

With the election of the Rudd government in late 2007, a new sense of hope developed among Aboriginal people. Responding to an overwhelming demand, expressed in the intense and broad struggle which swept him and the Labor Party to office, Prime Minister Rudd made a full apology to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Federal Parliament on February 13, 2008.

However, there is a growing sense of disillusionment among many in the Aboriginal community about the effectiveness and intent of government policies with commitments that will remain empty promises without united people power to force real change.

Central to the fulfilment of Aboriginal rights is the possession by Aboriginal communities of communal and inalienable title to their land, including the minerals and other natural resources on and within it and in adjacent seas.

Conservative forces, above all the big pastoral and mining concerns, refuse to recognise the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders as the original occupiers and owners of the land. For the ruling class of capitalist Australia private property is sacred, not concepts of justice or what is right. This is the central contradiction in the campaign to win recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the original occupiers and owners of Australian territory and their right to own and control their land and resources.

The Communist Party recognises that the issues confronting Indigenous Australia are complex, resulting from a long history of colonisation, dispossession and injustice and require long-term policy solutions.

This includes programs under Aboriginal control to upgrade Aboriginal health, employment, housing and educational standards.

More specifically the CPA supports:

  • Communal and inalienable land rights for Aboriginal communities.
  • An immediate review of the effectiveness of the Native Title legislation with a view to strengthening the powers of Aboriginal communities wishing to oppose developments such as the Kimberley’s natural gas project.
  • The immediate rescinding of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act and its discriminatory provisions for Aboriginal peoples and the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT.
  • The restoration of the Community Development and Employment Program (CDEP) program to all Indigenous communities that request it.
  • The establishment as soon as possible of a genuinely representative national Aboriginal advisory body to be elected by registered Aboriginal voters at the same time as each federal election.
  • The ongoing campaign for the restoration of unpaid wages to Aboriginal peoples as a result of previous protection policies.
  • The establishment of a Federal Ombudsman with sole responsibility for investigating complaints by indigenous people of their treatment by the criminal justice system of the states, territories and Australian governments.
  • The abolition of the current celebration of Australia Day and its replacement by a more meaningful, respectful and relevant national day that can be celebrated by all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
  • The introduction of compulsory Aboriginal Studies programs in teacher training courses and in the school curriculula and the introduction of Aboriginal language programs in schools.

Many of the planks of this program would see the Commonwealth finally using the powers given to it in an overwhelming vote by the people of Australia in the Referendum of 1967.

Action is needed now.

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