Aboriginal sovereignty to go to the Senate

Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia) - WGAR
Canberra, 1st February 2010 - Report Day 3

The Aboriginal assertion of sovereignty is to be put to the Federal Parliament by the Greens Senator Rachel Siewert at the request of the New Way Summit convened here.

Senator Siewert made the pledge to about 120 Aboriginal delegates from across the continent.

Sovereignty was the main issue at the gathering, convened in the Australian National University by Michael Anderson.

The summit elected a task force to examine options like international and domestic sovereignty.

Paul Coe, former barrister, and an expert who has studied the issue for decades said a lot of explaining has to be done in the communities on what sovereignty could mean.

Representatives of the Gidthabal nation of northern NSW and southern Queensland won a lot of attention with sovereignty plans that have attracted international support.

Relying on research of British documents the Gidthabal affirm their sovereignty by complete rejection of British law in Australia. "Queen Elizabeth has no writ over our country," said Mark McMurtrie.

Summit - Day 3 Barbara Shaw, a member of the taskforce and campaigner for her people in Alice Springs town camps, told the summit that their conditions have worsened since Kevin Rudd's apology. Barbara said, "Nothing is being done. All they want is the land for mining."

She also expressed deep concern about more uranium mining and the future dumping of nuclear waste on a known fault line in her country.

Marianne Mackay, also a taskforce member who spoke on WA Deaths in Custody, said that her people argue that nothing has changed in the state since the death of a respected Elder from Laverton. Marianne also expressed grave concerns for the over representation of Aboriginal people in custody - 83%. She said that was totally unfair and change has to occur immediately.

The summit demanded the resignation Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin and for her to be replaced by an Aboriginal person selected by Aboriginal Peoples. Advice from Les Malezer, UN advocate, confirmed that this is possible and he added that the person selected needs to find a parliamentary seat within 45 days.

"Sovereignty will be the major issue of the second New Way Summit to be held in Sydney over the Easter weekend," Michael Anderson said.

The Canberra summit has set a preliminary agenda for the taskforce to deal with:

  • Deaths in Custody
  • Over-policing of children and youth
  • Institutional racism
  • Review of child protection laws in consultation with the Aboriginal nations
  • Sustainable Aboriginal economic development
  • Respect for Aboriginal religion and spirituality
  • Cultural tourism
  • Ownership of all Aboriginal programming

Where requested the taskforce is to assist in convening state and regional meetings across the continent.

It is to publish the 'New Way' agenda through all media forms including the internet.

Summit Image The taskforce is to develop an Aboriginal Charter of Rights and establish protocols for inter-nation relations.

It is also to establish joint working plans and relationships with external organisations, such as ANTaR, Oxfam and Amnesty International.

An issue that received a lot of attention was possible need for people to be enrolled as members of their nations.

Criticism of black people in important positions who block grassroots aspirations highlighted a need to establish who owns and controls the institutions that deliver Aboriginal services.

New Way Summit delegates unanimously reject government sponsored Rep body

Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)
Canberra, 3st January 2010 - Report Day 2

Michael AndersonThe New Way Summit of 150 Aboriginal people has unanimously opposed the proposed Rudd government sponsored national Aboriginal representative body to be known as ‘The First Nations Congress’ being organised by the former Human Rights Commissioner, Tom Calma.

The summit heard angry comment that it would be just a perpetuation of white government control of Aboriginal lives.

The summit heard that this so-called representative body will have the power to deny Aboriginal people the right to determine their leaders.

There was strong objection to a so-called 'Ethics Council' having been hand-picked and putting candidates through highly stringent character checks that do not apply to non-Aboriginal politicians.

The summit heard much anger expressed at elitist Aboriginals in important government jobs blocking Aboriginal aspirations and supporting assimilationist policies.

Michael Anderson, the convenor of the summit said, “The participants, who came from across the continent, urged in the strongest way that the Aboriginal collaborators and traitors be named and shamed through the internet for all to see and this will be done through a descriptive biography.” This was loudly acclaimed.

In a Skype linkup to the conference room from the Northern Territory, Richard Downs, who led the Ampilatwatja walk-off away from the controls of the NT intervention, strongly backed the proposal. He said that these people have done irreparable harm to Aboriginal Peoples across this country and must be cut down in their tracks.

Lez Malezer, UN advocate, informed the summit that Australia is in breach of every UN human rights covenant and must be held accountable. Many delegates were surprised at how many rights international law recognises.

The conference participants established a taskforce to take this New Way radical movement forward on behalf of the grassroots communities.

One of its first major tasks is to examine and educate the nations about sovereignty options.

Aboriginal Nations should make inter-nation treaties in sovereignty quest

Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)
Canberra, 30th January 2010

New Way Summit The hundreds of Aboriginal nations in Australia should start making treaties with each other in a process leading ultimately to full sovereignty, former barrister Paul Coe told a meeting here of Aboriginal Elders and young people.

Mr Coe's advice to the summit was that Aboriginal people need to learn what sovereignty is.

He noted there are two forms of sovereignty that Aboriginal people must examine. The first is whether they want to be domestic sovereign nations, that is a state within the Australian Commonwealth or, secondly, to become a confederacy of Aboriginal nations recognised in international law.

The summit of about one hundred people from across the continent heard a lot of raw pain and anger on various issues, from continuing deaths in custody to the Northern Territory intervention.

The conference was told by the convenor, Michael Anderson, that we need to become proactive and not just talk about government controls but wrest control away from the government.

The summit heard people say that Aboriginal independence has been usurped by state controlled welfare slavery. The summit acknowledged that drug and alcohol dependency is symptomatic of oppressed Peoples.

The conference also heard that we must address the high incarceration rate that Aboriginal adults and youth suffer across this country. Human rights defenders reported how Aboriginal Legal Services are being starved of funding and are being referred to as Aboriginal Lock-up Services.

The Ambassador of revolutionary Venezuela, Mr Nelson Davila-Lameda, spoke of the strong rights given his country’s Indigenous Peoples since President Hugo Chavez came to power, for example, they have secure representation in the national parliament. He pledged Venezuelan support for the Aboriginal sovereignty pursued in international forums.

The New Way Summit continues on Sunday 31st and Monday 1st. It will set an agenda for the way forward. “One key suggestion is to send an Aboriginal delegation to Britain to claim restitution and reparations for the violations since British colonial occupation,” summit convenor Michael Anderson said.

Proceedings at the summit can be followed live on the internet at www.wgar.info.

Contact: Michael Anderson 0427 292 492 ngurampaa@bigpond.com Ph 02 62896355

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WGAR: Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia)