Appalled at the people on the constitutional committee

Michael Anderson

Commentary by Michael Anderson, last survivor of the four founders of the Aboriginal Embassy and leader of the Euahlayi Nation.

Goodooga, northwest NSW, 18 January 2011

I am appalled at the announcement of the people who are to sit on this farcical constitutional committee to consider a proposal for the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Australian constitution.

Patrick Dodson led a movement against the former National Aboriginal Conference, who were negotiating a treaty with the Fraser Government between the Parliament representing white Australia and the democratically elected National Aboriginal Conference representing the Aboriginal people.

Dodson joined forces with the former super bureaucrat, the late ‘Nugget’ Coombs, together with Marcia Langton, Peter Yu and others to shut down the treaty process in favour of their Federation of Land Councils negotiating a land rights regime. They gave us the Native Title Act and the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). The rest is now history.

The Panel


Professor Patrick Dodson
Mark Leibler

Panel members

Graham Bradley
Timmy 'Djawa' Burarrwanga
Henry Burmester
Fred Chaney
Associate Professor Megan Davis
Glenn Ferguson
Lauren Ganley
Professor Marcia Langton
Bill Lawson
Alison Page
Noel Pearson

Parliamentary members

Rob Oakeshott
Janelle Saffin
Senator Rachel Siewert
Ken Wyatt

Now we have an addition to these collaborators, Noel Pearson, who argues that the problems of his people are of their own making and works in concert to further demoralize them while at the same time increasing his personal wealth through deals with mining companies and rightwing politicians. Then there is Sam Jefferies, with no other ambition than raising his personal profile. This is a person who denied his Aboriginality in his home town of Brewarrina and had to go to live in Lightning Ridge to get himself a signed paper for his Aboriginal identity paper as an Aboriginal, as no one in Brewarrina would have done it.

I might also add that my fears of being sold out come from the fact that Pat Dodson, when making an oral submission to the federal government’s Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs at their hearing in Alice Springs, submitted the notion that ‘sovereignty is not an issue that we want to deal with. Land rights is our fight’. This statement can be found in the oral submissions to that Committee’s transcripts (1983).

It would also be a very good idea for Marcia Langton and Pat Dodson to inform the Aboriginal people of the purpose and outcomes of their private meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in London 1999. This was a meeting, I understand, organized by the hierarchy of Rio Tinto. How can we place or have any trust in these sorts of people?

I once heard the former prime minister of Australia, Edward ‘Gough’ Whitlam, say at the Aboriginal Embassy, “What you young people have done is great but we know that you do not represent all the Aboriginal people around this country”. Similarly, the late High Court judge, Lionel Murphy, addressed a statement to Paul Coe in his Sovereignty case 1976, “you do not represent all the Aboriginal people” and advised him that should he choose to re-submit his case, he should only lodge the claim for those with whom he belongs.

So why then do we have to accept these chosen golden children of the British Empire and our oppressors?

A reminder that Aboriginal people pushing for sovereignty will gather in Canberra in late February for the fourth New Way Summit on a date to be announced soon.

I can be contacted at 02 68296355 landline, 04272 92 492 mobile, 02 68296375 fax,

Australian Government
pdf 'The Path to a Referendum' pdf file

Australian Government
pdf Expert Panel Terms of Reference pdf file

Indigenous Law Centre 'Research Brief No 2, 2010'
pdf Constitutional Reform and indigenous Peoples pdf file

University of New South Wales (Indigenous Law Centre)
Constitutional Reform and Indigenous Peoples - Links

Michael Anderson (Nyoongar Ghurradjong Murri Ghillar) is an Aboriginal rights activist, clan leader of the 3,000 Euahlayi peoples of north-western New South Wales and Native Title claimant to their traditional lands on their behalf.

From 1969 Mr. Anderson has been one of the leaders in the Australian Black Power movement and was appointed by his peers as the First Aboriginal Ambassador to white Australia after he and two other comrades established the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the front lawns of Australia's parliament house in 1972.

He was taught his customs and traditions through his people's sacred ceremonies. In 1979 he was appointed to the Office of the Public Prosecutions in criminal law as an instructing officer (the equivalent of a solicitor) in the state of New South Wales.

Mr. Anderson has been a lecturer at several Australian universities, writing and teaching units in Aboriginal studies that were inclusive of traditional Aboriginal society. He is the National Convenor of a new political movement in Australia that is promoting worldwide the continuing sovereignty of indigenous peoples.

Mr. Anderson is also involved in connecting the sacred songlines of the ancient traditions of Aboriginal peoples around the world in an attempt to prove that they have a Dreaming that links them to the original creation.

Mr. Anderson has also played professional Rugby League football. He also paints in the dot technique.

Bio source:
Michael Anderson - Interview with an Aboriginal leader


The Consent Principle

As far as I can see it, the ongoing yet unceded sovereignty of our first nations requires recognition from our sovereign. Certainly, the officialdom of her subjects cannot do so without being in contempt of their official status.

Thus far, the Queen of Australia (and other places) has fully endorsed the structures and instruments of the UN (July 2010). One such instrument, which has almost globally unanimous support, is for the recognition of "the fourth world" peoples, ie indigenous peoples.

Unlike the self detemination of former colonies into independent nations that has occured since the advent of the UN, some 370 million indigenous peoples live in mostly third world conditions, without recognition of their collective rights, many within first world nations, eg. Australia. Thus the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is now widely recognised.

"Consent of the natives" was a standard requirement from Britain when founding colonies, from Navigator Cook,(1768) to the colony of South Australia,(1837) and the Consent principle is also intrinsic to The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet here in Australia, it is yet to happen. Indeed, the Intervention in the Northern territory, (still ongoing) with the federal Race Discrimination Act suspended, is anathema to the UN Declaration. So too, the WA Premier's threat of Compulsory Acquisition of land for a gas hub, and the Queensland Wild Rivers Act, all contrary to the consent principle, and unacceptable to the global community.

It seems to me, that the best way to gain the "consent of the natives", for decisions henceforth, that effect their lives, is for our first nations to be the "sovereigns" who give royal assent to all new legislation in our parliaments.

Unlike in NZ, Canada and the US, no Treaties (a form of forced consent) were ever developed by The Crown when claiming and settling here. Treaties, which are a legal contract, offer recognition of there being differing peoples, who each have cultural and other collective rights. Not here though.
A not quite right Colony of Britain, formed by the federation of six settled contrary to british instruction, colonies, called the Commonwealth of Australia is what I was born into. As a fifth gen. settler Australian, I find the current situation offensive.

If you can think of another way to make Australia "authentic" with some ethical and moral basis at law, and with widespread recogniton. across the world, please let me know.

Otherwise, sack the windsors and install our First Nations as the ongoing sovreigns.

Graeme Taylor

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