Macklin's plan is paternalistic and racist: Aboriginal leaders

Marcia Langton said yesterday after delivering the annual Mabo lecture, the plan for stronger financial oversight of native title organisations, combined with a possible 4 per cent tax on native title compensation, sounds like "the black Tampa".

Patricia Karvela The Australian, 4 Aug 2009

Jenny Macklin
Jenny Macklin

Aboriginal leaders have savaged as "paternalistic" and "racist" Jenny Macklin's plan to have a commonwealth officer oversee native title agreements to ensure they create benefits for the whole community involved.

The Indigenous Affairs Minister yesterday said the government was considering the scheme under which all native title agreements would have to be registered centrally with a new statutory officeholder charged with making sure the deals were sustainable and provided "intergenerational benefits".

She said dramatic action was needed to guarantee "this once-in-a-generation opportunity, offered by the mining boom, is used to build economic and social independence in indigenous communities".

"We are considering these initiatives because it is essential these agreements are negotiated, structured and administered around a single goal, to build a platform for economic and social development for the long-term benefit of traditional owners," Ms Macklin said in a speech to a native title conference in Canberra.

Kimberley Land Council executive director Wayne Bergmann condemned the proposal, describing it as "racist" because it sought to tell Aborigines how to spend money collected from their own lands.

"We have enough bureaucracy as it is," he told The Australian.

"This is the government creating another super-department and is more paternalism.

"We don't need another layer of bureaucracy telling Aboriginal people what to do.

"We need the government to give us the tools to take care of our own wellbeing. Nobody is saying to Twiggy Forest, 'We are going to set up a statutory body to see how you spend your profits from your royalties'. It's not just paternalism, it's racist."

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton, who was one of 10 people hand-picked by the government to suggest changes to the current native title system, said Ms Macklin's plan was "surveillance".

"Everything that we as the Native Title Payments Working Group recommended unanimously has been ignored and the minister has gone off on a completely different track altogether, and we advised against it," Professor Langton said.

She said having a new body playing an "oversight" role into agreements "is not going to work."

It is understood the new plan will stipulate that only agreements lodged with the new body would be able to receive favourable tax treatment, which Professor Langton described as "offensive".


Oversight a grab for 'redneck' votes

Paul Cleary The Australian June 04, 2010

Marcia Langton
Marcia Langton

If we weren't a few months away from an election, the proposals unveiled by the Rudd government for stronger regulation of indigenous finances might be good policymaking.

But as Marcia Langton said yesterday after delivering the annual Mabo lecture, the plan for stronger financial oversight of native title organisations, combined with a possible 4 per cent tax on native title compensation, sounds like "the black Tampa".

With the election approaching, Canberra plans a discussion paper on how it might require these organisations to incorporate and appoint independent directors. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin told leaders yesterday at a native title conference that they needed to look after future generations.

Macklin even quoted an estimate for Australia's iron ore reserves of just 70 years. This is where the hypocrisy starts, because Canberra is demanding a higher standard for indigenous people than it adheres to. Macklin is a member of a government that has no policy for preserving, for future generations, the benefits from our diminishing resources.

Beyond the politics of picking on Aborigines, in an election year, is a grab for revenue.

One option for reform is tax exemption, another is for a 4 per cent tax on compensation payments relating to native title claims. Don't be fooled - any paper developed by Treasury has the sole purpose of grabbing more revenue.

Native title claims are soaring, and Canberra says it has no idea how much these claims, and the compensation paid by mining companies, is worth.

Indigenous Australians have secured at least 92 successful claims under the Native Title Act 1992, and another 430 or more are in the pipeline. Indigenous Australians have title to more than one-fifth of the Australian land mass.

This is seen as another river of gold for Canberra, even if it means taking money from some of the poorest people found on our planet.