Noongar elders slam native title deal 'sham' in WA

Elders so know to peanuts

Colin Barnett is still at it, this time he is offering peanuts to Aboriginal people for wrecking sacred country and stealing the minerals ...

He offers a bit of spare change from the mining companies' billions for Aboriginal people to address the social issues which was caused by the invaders dispossession and abuse in the first place.

Non Aboriginals who do not have the history that Aboriginal people have been forced to endure - can expect their social issues to be addressed without giving away any of their land holdings.

Elders so know to peanuts

ABC News Report

720 ABC Perth February 8th, 2012
Noongar protesters bang on windows to protest against the deal as the Premier Colin Barnett heads downstairs.

There have been angry scenes in Perth's Kings Park where dozens of Aboriginal people are protesting against a billion-dollar native title deal.

Premier Colin Barnett met about 200 Noongar people this morning to answer questions about the agreement for Perth and the South West.

In scenes reminiscent of angry protests in Canberra on Australia Day, Mr Barnett was forced to remain inside for more than 30 minutes after the meeting ended due to security concerns.

Elders so know to peanuts
Noongar elder Richard Wilkes with WA Premier Colin Barnett (left}

Elders so know to peanuts

Noongar elder Richard Wilkes said his people would not give the land away for "chicken feed" and would look at taking legal action against the deal.

Noongar from the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council had gathered to hear Mr Barnett say the State Government is close to signing the deal that would settle native title claims.

But Noongar elder Richard Wilkes says it will not benefit the majority.

"It's a sham. The State Government really, in many ways, is offering us peanuts," he said.

He says it does not offer Aboriginal people anything they do not already have, other than the money, which he says is a pittance.

"We don't want to give it away because it belonged to us for 40,000 years or more and was given to us by the Dreamtime spirits," he said.

"We are the present owners of the land and we cannot cede that land because it's not ours to give away, because it's for our families in the future who are coming along."

Mr Barnett was surrounded by screaming protesters when he eventually left.

There was a heavy police presence although it is believed no arrests were made.

Protesters are setting up a tent outside State Parliament with a sign labelling it as the Noongar Tent Embassy.

Future Funds
Mr Barnett says the deal will provide Aboriginal people with a huge future fund to address social issues.

He says it will take 12 months to bed down the agreement which will provide $600 million in funding and $400 million in land entitlements.

The Premier believes most Aboriginal people will accept it.

"I'm sure there will be some anomalies, there will be some disagreement, but the greater good will overwhelm that," he said.

"And, if this is a chance for elders, senior people in the Aboriginal community to take charge of their people and start to have some self-determination and some pride rebuilt into their communities, it will be worth it."

Opinions divided
Protesters, who say it will sign away their native title rights, clashed with other Noongar people who support the deal.

"I'm not giving up my land for you or any other who's doing a deal with Barnett," said one protester.

"It's my right...not my choice."

South West Land Council spokesman Glen Kelly says Mr Wilkes and his supporters are wrong.

"They obviously have no understanding of what's on offer, I suppose, and his only hope for any customary rights to his country is to agree with this deal," he said.

"A lot of the native title in the South West has been extinguished and what this deal does is it makes sure that the most number of Noongar people secure customary rights to their country and a whole lot of other positive things as well."

Brian Wyatt
Native Title Council chief executive Brian Wyatt says the proposed agreement is a significant milestone.

Native Title Council chief executive Brian Wyatt says the proposed agreement is a significant milestone.

"I think the process of establishing peoples' rights and connection to the South West of Western Australia is so important and I think it's one of the telling factors of our time," he said.

"There's a little bit more of a way to go in terms of acceptance by the broader Noongar claims groups now of the offer and the proposal that's been put forward to them."

Protester Catherine Coomer says the arrangement is unfair.

"A lot of the people within the community of the South West of Western Australia have not been consulted and apparently for the sake of a matter of three people that are negotiating apparently with the Colin Barnett government."

Mr Wilkes says they will keep fighting.

"If the deal goes through, we'll study it and then we may have to take legal action against the Government and the land council," he said.

Mr Wilkes was among a delegation that travelled to London in 1997 to collect the head of Noongar leader Yagan for reburial in Perth.

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Protester defends her stance

Daniel Emerson, West Australian February 9th, 2012

Thirty-three-year-old mother of four Marianne Mackay (pictured at top of page) says she has no problem with being the most recognised activist in WA.

"Anything that benefits my people and our movement, I say bring it on," she told _The West Australian _ yesterday.

Ms Mackay provided a key flashpoint in the Canberra tent embassy fracas last month by throwing petals into The Lobby Restaurant where the nation's leaders were holding an awards ceremony.

She was in the thick of it again at Kings Park yesterday, leading chants and screaming at Premier Colin Barnett as he walked to a waiting car.

Ms Mackay's former partner Evan Charles Slater, the father of her eldest child, hanged himself in Hakea Prison in 2001 aged 28.

A later investigation found no evidence to support claims inmates had reported concerns about his mental health. The death prompted Ms Mackay's involvement in the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committee. She was chairwoman of the committee in 2010-11 but did not nominate to lead again this year in case her activism reflected badly on it.

A protest ringleader at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth last October, Ms Mackay helped form political group the Ecological, Social Justice and Aboriginal Party in 2009.

Ms Mackay said yesterday she aimed to mobilise Aboriginal people to help vote Mr Barnett out at the election in March next year.

"What we've got here is a war, and we will be fighting and fighting and our Premier needs to remember there's an election next year and we vote too," she said.

She rejected any native title deal.

"A billion dollars is nothing, we are not money people," she said.

"We come from the earth. The earth is our mother. We don't want to sell our mother."

Asked whether her brand of activism was harming her cause, Ms Mackay said she had received only positive feedback on the Australia Day protests.

"I will always do it unless my elders tell me not to," she said.