Perth Aboriginal activists continue to push for a fair go

Wed 28th March - Aboriginal rights activists marched on Western Australia's Parliament to demand a compensation deal equal to five per cent of the annual gross domestic product of the state's southwest.

Thurs 29th March - A Perth magistrate has thrown a group of Noongar protesters out of the Perth Magistrates courtroom when activist Herbert Bropho appeared on charges of two counts of disorderly behaviour in public and one count of obstructing a police officer at the aggressive police raid last week.

Thurs 29th March - Another raid took place at Heirisson Island in the morning - with protesters belongings confiscated - again. The protesters call for the public to donate blankets etc

WA Aboriginal protesters demand new deal

AAP Nine News 28th March 2012

About 50 Aboriginal rights activists have marched on Western Australia's Parliament to demand a compensation deal equal to five per cent of the annual gross domestic product of the state's southwest.

Such a deal, according to organisers of the protest, would be worth about $1.3 billion annually, to be deposited in a special fund and distributed equally amongst the Noongar people of the southwest to settle native title.

The protesters, who marched through Perth today before rallying outside parliament, also want an end to mandatory jail terms for certain offences, including assaulting police and so-called "three strikes" laws, which they blame for high levels of Aboriginal incarceration.

"We will agree to absolutely no less than the five per cent perpetuity deal and the changing of the judiciary laws that are inhumane and racist towards our people," organiser Robert Eggington said.

At the heart of the extended protest, which began with the establishment of a "tent embassy" on the banks of Perth's Swan River in mid-February, is a proposed $1 billion native title deal between the state government and South West Aboriginal Sea and Land Council (SWASL).

The protesters are against the deal, which they say was negotiated without full consultation and does not represent the wishes of the state's 40,000 Noongar people.

"The $1 billion will not solve Noongar inequality and will not raise living standards," organiser Iva Jackson-Hayward said.

"It will only support the land council and yet another organisation that will fail in the same manner as others before them.

"Native title must never be signed away."

Independent Fremantle MP Adele Carles stood outside parliament in support of the protesters, saying the WA government had shown a "complete lack of respect for the traditional owners".

She described a recent police raid on the tent embassy that resulted in a number of arrests as "absolutely disgusting", and said the government needed to resolve the issue.

"Government need to get down there and talk face-to-face - these things can be negotiated and worked out," she said.

"But there's a complete failure to communicate."

The protesters also rejected a government offer earlier this month of $2000 ex-gratia payments for victims of the "stolen wages" regime that subjected Aboriginal people born before 1958 to state-sanctioned financial controls up until 1972.

Opposition indigenous MP Ben Wyatt described the offer as "an insult".

"The terms and conditions that are attached to that offer is outrageous, it's obscene," he said.

Premier Colin Barnett said there was "no doubt ... Aboriginal people had part of their money taken away and put into accounts" which they never received.

"But at least this government is recognising that their wages were taken away," he said.

"At the same time many of them were provided with accommodation and food at no charge."

Mr Barnett said the offer was in "good faith", as records on who was owed what were deficient.

Heirisson Island protesters thrown out of court

Aja Styles Sydney Morning Herald March 29, 2012

A protest group arrested over the Heirisson Island camp clash with police have been escorted from Perth Magistrates Court.

Herbert Bropho faced court over three charges including obstructing a police officer and two counts of disorderly conduct.

Magistrate Graeme Calder had to adjourn the court so that about half a dozen security could escort Mr Bropho's relatives and hecklers from the court.

Mr Bropho is seeking legal advice, saying he is not guilty of the charges.

He was one of four protesters arrested at the site last week.

Once court recommenced, Mr Bropho successfully got his bail conditions altered to allow him to return to Heirisson Island.

He told the court that he did not intend to return but his brother Lenny Colbung, who was also charged on the same day with similar misdemeanours, argued that he needed to return to the island for his university course in land management.

Mr Bropho said he had no intention to return to the camp at the island because police had continued to come and "abuse" his people.

"That community's closed down. It was raided this morning," he said.

He said members of his family had been given move-on notices.

"They went back this morning, armed police went down there and arrested my aunty," he said.

Police prosecutor Lance Connop argued against allowing Mr Bropho back to the island saying he had "threatened a member of the public and taken his protest to an unlawful level".

"It's quite reasonable to assume he wants the condition lifted in order to go back to Heirisson Island and continue his protest," Sergeant Connop said.

Magistrate Calder said police could arrest him if he committed any more offences but otherwise he was just "one of many" at the island.

Mr Bropho was advised to seek legal advice to fight the charges before his next court appearance on April 14.

His brother, Mr Colbung, was advised to speak with the Aboriginal Legal Service since his matters were not yet before the court.

Hecklers thrown out of Herbert Bropho hearing in Perth

Katie Robertson PerthNow March 29th 2012

A Perth magistrate has thrown a group of Noongar protesters out of his courtroom after they continually heckled him during proceedings.

Aboriginal activist Herbert Bropho appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court charged with two counts of disorderly behaviour in public and one count of obstructing a police officer.

The charges stem from a clash between police and protesters at the Heirisson Island "Tent Embassy" on March 22, when four people were arrested as police moved in clear the camp.

About 20 family and friends of Mr Bropho piled into the courtroom to support him.

Magistrate Graeme Calder read the charges to him, in which police allege Mr Bropho stood in front of officers and would not allow them onto the island on March 22.

They allege he became increasingly agitated and shouted "this is our land, get off".

As Magistrate Calder read this out, the court erupted in loud clapping and cheers from supporters in the public gallery.

The magistrate told them not to disrupt the proceedings or they would be kicked out of the courtroom.
"I'm endeavouring to give him a fair go," he said.

Magistrate Calder said police further alleged Mr Bropho approached a car parked on the side of the causeway that day and threatened the driver, saying 'If you don't move your car, I will f*** you up'.

About half an hour later, Mr Bropho is alleged to have approached police officers and yelled and swore at them while members of the public were nearby.

As the magistrate read out the charges, the heckling in the court continued, with one person yelling out: "This court has no jurisdiction over us."

About 10 security guards and a police officer were called in to escort the majority of the group out of the courtroom.

Once the court recommenced, Mr Bropho, who did not have a lawyer, told Magistrate Calder he wanted to change his bail conditions, which barred him from entering Heirisson Island.

Mr Bropho said the community on the island had gradually decreased, and police moved in this morning to again clear out the camp.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Lance Connup opposed the alteration, saying it was safe to assume the camp would start up again.

"He's taken his protest to an unlawful level," Sgt Connup said.

"Mr Bropho has escalated his protest to making a threat against a member of the public who is entitled to be there."

Magistrate Calder removed the bail condition and adjourned the case to April 19.

Mr Bropho was released on bail.