05/02/09: NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION: HIGH COURT PROTEST, CONVERGENCE

Contents:
High Court Protest
Convergence on Canberra
International Attention
Punishment for School Non-attendance
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News

HIGH COURT PROTEST:

News:

NIT: Protesters clash with police after High Court NT intervention ruling
http://www.nit.com.au/breakingNews/story.aspx?id=16975
3 Feb 09: “Protesters stormed inside the High Court and
clashed with police yesterday after the court dismissed a
challenge against the federal intervention into Northern
Territory Aboriginal communities. Dozens of
anti-intervention protesters, both Indigenous and
non-Indigenous, pushed through the court’s front doors
minutes after it rejected the case brought by traditional
owners from the Arnhem Land community of Maningrida.
Carrying banners and clapping, the protesters chanted,
“Always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” as they moved
into the court’s main foyer.”

ABC: Protesters storm High Court over NT intervention ruling
[Link includes video clip of the scuffle with police]
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2480147.htm
2 Feb 09: “About 50 protesters have invaded the High Court
in Canberra to protest against its decision to reject a
legal challenge to the Northern Territory Intervention. The
High Court has ruled against the group of Indigenous
leaders from Maningrida in the Northern Territory who
argued the takeover of their community was not
constitutional. Dozens of protesters angered by the decision
have stormed the building, chanting slogans and waving
banners.”

Canberra Times: High Court intervention: Aborigines dissent
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/high-court-intervention-aborigines-dissent/1422901.aspx
3 Feb 09: “The High Court rejected claims from the
traditional owners of the Arnhem Land community of
Maningrida that aspects of the intervention, including land
acquisition, were unconstitutional. Barbara Shaw from Mt
Nancy town camp in Alice Springs, who is in Canberra to
petition the Federal Government at today’s Parliamentary
sitting, said the decision was a blow but had been
expected. … Retiring Justice Michael Kirby, dissented in
his final judgment in the court, saying the case should go
to trial. He said it would be hard to imagine such an
argument failing if any other Australians experienced a
similar imposition on their property rights.”

SMH: Protesters storm High Court as case dismissed
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/protesters-storm-high-court-as-case-dismissed/2009/02/02/1233423124774.html
2 Feb 09: “A police officer takes signs off a patrol car
during the protest today at the High Court in Canberra. …
Maningrida traditional owners Reggie Wurridjal and Joy
Garlbin took on the commonwealth over its compulsory
five-year takeover of their land. The land, measuring
10.456 square kilometres, includes a township, four sacred
sites, an outstation, a sand quarry, a billabong and a
ceremonial site. The elders, along with the Bawinanga
Aboriginal Corporation, argued the commonwealth failed to
acquire the land on “just terms” as required by the
constitution.”

ABC: Indigenous elders say intervention decision protest understandable
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2480503.htm
2 Feb 09: “Indigenous elders say the angry reaction to the
Federal Court’s decision to throw out an appeal against the
Northern Territory intervention is understandable. … One
Indigenous elder, Valerie Martin, says the intervention is
hurting local communities. She says the protesters feel
that no one is listening to their concerns.”

Age: Kirby’s last dissent: my fellow judges racially biased
http://www.theage.com.au/national/kirbys-last-dissent-my-fellow-judges-racially-biased-20090202-7vr7.html?page=-1
3 Feb 09: “JUSTICE Michael Kirby has retired from the High
Court in a blaze of controversy, accusing fellow judges of
exercising racial bias against Aborigines in the Northern
Territory intervention case. … Justice Kirby sparked the
ire of Chief Justice French by suggesting that the
Aboriginality of the applicants influenced their decision.
“If any other Australians, selected by reference to their
race, suffered the imposition on their pre-existing
property interests of non-consensual five-year statutory
leases … it is difficult to believe that a challenge to
such a law would fail as legally unarguable on the ground
that no ‘property’ had been ‘acquired’,” he said.”

ABC: Intervention case lost, but compensation owed
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/03/2480932.htm
3 Feb 09: “Northern Territory Indigenous claimants say
they’ve won the right to fair compensation for land taken
over by the Federal Government as part of the Indigenous
Intervention. Two Maningrida traditional owners and the
Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation yesterday lost a High
Court case in which they argued the Government taking
control of their land for five years was unconstitutional.
But the claimants say despite the court’s ruling they’ve
improved the situation for Aboriginal communities taken over
by the Federal Government because compensation can now be
sought. The chief executive of the Maningrida-based
Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation, Ian Munro, says until the
court’s ruling he had no confidence that fair compensation
would be paid.”

ABC: Maningrida owners to be compensated: Macklin
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2480493.htm
2 Feb 09: “Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny
Macklin says she is planning to fairly compensate Northern
Territory traditional owners who have lost a court case
against her over their land. The traditional owners had
argued it was unconstitutional of the Federal Government to
take over their land at Maningrida for five years as part
of the federal Indigenous intervention. But the Federal
Court ruled in Canberra today that the Government was
justified in taking over the land if it offers just
compensation and Ms Macklin said she was already planning
to offer compensation.”

Australian: Protests greet High Court ruling on NT intervention
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25000225-5006790,00.html
3 Feb 09: “In his last day on the court, Michael Kirby
offered a robust dissent, saying “the law of Australia owes
the Aboriginal claimants nothing less” than for the case to
proceed. He accused the rest of the court of abandoning “an
expansive” view of the terms acquisition, property and just
terms in the Constitution. “This court should be specially
hesitant before declining effective access to the courts to
those who enlist assistance in the face of legislation that
involves an alleged deprivation of their legal rights on
the basis of race,” Justice Kirby said.”

CONVERGENCE ON CANBERRA:

Photos:

Convergence on Canberra Rally
http://rachel-siewert.greensmps.org.au/content/gallery/convergence-canberra-rally
“On February 3rd, crowds gathered at Parliament House,
Canberra, to protest the continued racism of the Northern
Territory Intervention.”

Media Releases:

DARC: Top End Aboriginal leaders travel to Canberra to call
on the government to Stop the NT Intervention
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/top-end-aboriginal-leaders-travel-canberra-call-government-stop-nt-intervention
3 Feb 09: “People from across the country are this week
converging on Canberra for the opening of Parliament, to
once again protest the ongoing racist NT Intervention into
Aboriginal communities. Senior leaders and community
members from prescribed areas across the Top End have lent
their voice of support to those who have travelled to
Canberra, including a delegation of dozens of “prescribed
area people” from across the NT. … On Tuesday, the
Convergence will take Aboriginal concerns all the way to
the front door of Parliament. Their voices were ignored in
February last year, they were ignored following the Review,
yet their strength continues. The rally will call on Rudd
to repeal the Intervention measures, reinstate the Racial
Discrimination Act (1975) and support community controlled
development.” Darwin Aboriginal Rights Coalition

‘the Gap’ is widening through Intervention
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/gap-widening-through-intervention
2 Feb 09: “A major demonstration against the NT
Intervention and for Aboriginal rights will protest the
opening of the federal parliament in Canberra on Tuesday
February 3, meeting 12pm at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
Demonstrators include a large contingent of people who have
travelled from areas affected by the Intervention and
Aboriginal activists from around Australia. Representatives
from the Northern Land Council, Central Land Council and
NSW Aboriginal Land Council are also joining the
demonstration. Protest leaders have criticised Kevin Rudd’s
renewed commitment to “closing the gap” as hypocritical.
They say social conditions are deteriorating due to the
Intervention and racism is increasing with the ongoing
suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.”

News:

NIT: Protestors to converge on Canberra for opening of Parliament
http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=16968
2 Feb 09: “Hundreds of protesters against the NT
intervention are expected to rally as Parliament opens for
its first sitting tomorrow. The convergence on Canberra
will bring together Aboriginal people affected under the
controversial NT intervention, which was launched in 2006
under the Howard government, together with Indigenous
activists, community groups and trade unionists from all
around the country. The main rally will be staged at the
Aboriginal Tent Embassy, beginning at midday tomorrow.”

NIT: NT intervention disrupt federal parliament
http://www.nit.com.au/story.aspx?id=16976
4 Feb 09: “At least a dozen protesters interrupted the
first Question Time of the year by screaming, “Stop the
intervention, human rights for all” from the public gallery
of the federal parliament yesterday. Security guards
surrounded the protesters with one man placed in a headlock
as they tried to remove him from the chamber. The protest
was in relation to the federal government intervention into
Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. The protesters
also chanted the slogans, “Shame ALP” and “Reinstate the
RDA”, referring to the Racial Discrimination Act. Security
guards took several minutes to remove the protesters from
the public gallery.”

Canberra Times: Intervention protest disrupts question time
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/intervention-protest-disrupts-question-time/1424162.aspx
4 Feb 09: “At least a dozen protesters disrupted
Parliament’s first sitting of the year yesterday, railing
against the Northern Territory intervention. … The
protesters were among several hundred who marched from the
Aboriginal tent embassy on the Old Parliament House lawns
earlier in the day, chanting ”always was, always will be
Aboriginal land”. … Barbara Shaw, of the Mount Nancy
town camp near Alice Springs, used yesterday’s protest to
formally launch a written complaint lodged with the United
Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination.”

NIT: Protestors to converge on capital for new Parliament
http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=16918
22 Jan 09: “A National protest convergence against the NT
Intervention and for Aboriginal Rights will greet the
opening session of the 2009 federal parliament in Canberra
on February 3rd. The convergence will also include two days
of workshops at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, on February 1
and 2. … A major forum at the Albert Hall on Monday night
will hear from strong speakers living under the NT
Intervention.”

NIT: NT delegation to challenge welfare quarantines in ACT
http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=16917
22 Jan 09: “A Northern Territory Aboriginal delegation is
planning to legally challenge the controversial welfare
quarantines imposed under the NT intervention… but not in
their own Territory. The Intervention Rollback Action Group
(IRAG) has written to the ACT Human Rights Commission and
is taking legal advice over whether it can challenge the
quarantining under ACT law, specifically the Human Rights
Act 2004. The move would coincide with their arrival in
Canberra at a protest to mark the first sitting of day of
parliament in 2009.”

INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION:

Media Releases:

Howard and Rudd’s NT Intervention to go before United Nations
http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/story/howard-and-rudds-nt-intervention-go-united-nations
3 Feb 09: “A group of Aboriginal people from the Northern
Territory are taking their complaints about the Federal
Government’s NT Intervention regime to the United Nations.
They claim that the Intervention is illegal under
International law and is a breach of Australia’s human
rights obligations. The group (representing the Prescribed
Areas People’s Alliance (PAPA)) has lodged a Request for
Urgent Action to the United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Legal team for
PAPA is led by former federal court judge Ron Merkel QC,
who has been briefed by human rights lawyer George Newhouse
with the assistance of Ben Schokman from the Human Rights
Law Resource Centre and researcher Alison Vivian.”

Greens back UN challenge to ALP’s racist policies
http://rachel-siewert.greensmps.org.au/content/media-release/greens-back-un-challenge-alp%E2%80%99s-racist-policies
3 Feb 09: “The Australian Greens today welcomed a challenge
to the United Nations on the discriminatory nature of the
Northern Territory Intervention. “Having exhausted all
efforts at the Commonwealth level to reinstate the
application of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) to the
Northern Territory Intervention this is the only avenue now
open to address this ‘serious, massive and persistent
racial discrimination’ against Aboriginal people in the
NT,” said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.
… “Being dragged before the UN Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is a serious
international embarrassment for Australia. … ” ”

News:

NIT: Intervention to go before the United Nations
http://www.nit.com.au/story.aspx?id=16973
3 Feb 09: “Aboriginal people from the town camps of Alice
Springs and nearby communities are preparing to take their
fight against the federal intervention to the United
Nations. Sydney-based human rights lawyer George Newhouse
says the Australian government, in its treatment of his
clients, would not want to be seen in a place which makes
determinations about third world despotic regimes that are
repressing Indigenous populations. Former Federal Court
judge Ron Merkel QC is also working on the case, to be
taken to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD).”

ABC: UN to field Indigenous intervention complaints
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2479539.htm
2 Feb 09: “Mr Newhouse says the complaint should worry the
Government. “I would have thought that it would have an
enormous impact,” he said. “This is a world body making
recommendations to an Australian Government about racism
inherent in our legislation. “I would have thought that the
Government would be taking note.” ”

Opinion:

ABC Opinion: Could racial discrimination ruin the promise of a beautiful friendship?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2479644.htm
2 Feb 09: “The first telephone conversation between Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd and United States President Barack
Obama augurs well for Australian-American relations. This
first discussion focused on establishing a basis for
cooperation in international events, including the global
economy, climate change and the war in Afghanistan, all
spheres in which the two leaders take a common approach.
It is only when discussions get closer to home that serious
differences could emerge, especially around the issue of
racial discrimination. … Given this remarkable confluence
of policy, it seems that the Australia-US alliance will be
as strong under Mr Rudd’s Prime Ministership as it was
under that of Mr Howard. What could possibly get in the
way? The answer is the Northern Territory Emergency
Response and Australia’s continued suspension of the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975.” Claire Smith

Guardian UK: Look at poverty and prejudice, not race:
The Australian government’s intervention in Aboriginal
communities is discriminatory and dehumanising
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/03/australia
3 Dec 08: “But with no constitutional protection,
indigenous Australians find themselves with no other
recourse than to complain about their government to the UN
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
(CERD). CERD has the power to urgently respond to problems
which require “immediate attention to prevent or limit the
scale or number of serious violations of the convention”
and Aboriginal Australians like Barbara Shaw of the
Prescribed Area Peoples Alliance has every intention of
placing the world’s spotlight on the Australian
government’s policies in prescribed areas in the Northern
Territory.” George Newhouse

PUNISHMENT FOR SCHOOL NON-ATTENDANCE:

Radio Interview:

ABC AM: Indigenous groups criticise welfare trial
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2008/s2476906.htm
29 Jan 09: “Indigenous groups say they were left in the
dark on the first day of a Federal Government trial linking
school attendances to welfare payments. The trial began in
Katherine yesterday and it’s being rolled out in six
Northern Territory communities to boost attendance rates.
But the education union says it’s a punitive approach that
won’t address the real reasons why children don’t go to
school.”

News:

ABC: Indigenous school attendance program ‘discriminatory’
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/27/2475663.htm
27 Jan 09: “The Northern Territory Education Union says a
Federal Government trial program linking school attendance
to welfare quarantining is discriminatory. The program, to
be trialed in six schools across the Northern Territory
over the next two years, will suspend the welfare of
parents who fail to enrol their children or ensure they
attend school. Union spokesperson Adam Lampe says the
policy does not take into account many reasons why
Indigenous students do not attend school.”

NIT: Indigenous school attendance program starts in NT
http://www.nit.com.au/news/story.aspx?id=16955
29 Jan 09: “A trial program linking school attendance to
welfare quarantining is being rolled out in the Northern
Territory, despite concerns it’s discriminatory and bound
to fail. The Rudd government hopes the controversial new
approach to parental responsibility will boost school
enrolment and attendance. Under the scheme, parents on
welfare from six remote Aboriginal communities will be
required to tell Centrelink where their children are
enrolled. If the child fails to attend school, the
government can suspend their income support payments.”

Northern Territory News: Welfare denied in crackdown
http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2009/01/29/30031_ntnews.html
29 Jan 09: “WELFARE payments will be withheld from parents
in several Territory communities who fail to send their
children to school. The new rules linking income support to
school attendance will be trialled in Hermannsburg,
Katherine and surrounding town camps, Wallace Rockhole,
Wadeye and the Tiwi Islands.”

INTERVENTION OPINION:

NIT: BLACK&WHITE: The right to be treated equally
http://www.nit.com.au/community/story.aspx?id=16873
22 Jan 09: “GRAHAM RING has a yarn with the Northern
Territory’s Anti-discrimination Commissioner, Tony
Fitzgerald. … The controversial Northern Territory
Emergency Response legislation not only suspended the
federal Racial Discrimination Act in prescribed areas, it
also suspended the operation of the NT Anti-Discrimination
Act in respect to matters associated with the intervention.
“The suspension of the Act strikes at the heart of the
human right to be treated equally.” Fitzgerald’s submission
to the NTER Review recommended the restoration of both
pieces of legislation. He called for the scrapping of the
NTER in favour of long-term initiatives designed to
overcome remote disadvantage, particularly in relation to
housing, health, education and employment.”

GLW: Welfare quarantining and NT town camps
http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/781/40243
4 Feb 09: “In December 2008, Green Left Weekly’s Emma
Murphy and Peter Robson spoke to William Tilmouth about
mandatory welfare quarantining — a feature of the federal
government’s Northern Territory intervention — and its
impacts on the Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs.
Tilmouth is the executive director of Tangentyere Council,
the umbrella service delivery agency for the town camp
Aboriginal housing associations.” Peter Robson & Emma Murphy

INTERVENTION NEWS:

ABC: Building body urges Aboriginal communities to sign land leases
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/02/02/2479628.htm
2 Feb 09: “The Northern Territory Construction Association
is calling on Indigenous communities to quickly sign the
land lease agreements the Federal and Territory Governments
are requiring before new houses are built. The two
governments want communities to sign over some control of
their land for between 40 and 80 years as part of the
Northern Territory Intervention, in exchange for new houses
and repairs.”

ABC: New NT safe house compared to detention centres
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/31/2479142.htm
31 Jan 09: “The first safe house for women has been opened
in the Northern Territory as part of the federal
intervention and the ongoing fight against the high rates
of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. Although it
has been welcomed, the safe house has also been criticised
for looking like a detention centre.”

ABC: Darwin Council, intervention reps to discuss dry laws
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/29/2477795.htm
29 Jan 09: “Darwin City Council will invite federal
intervention representatives and police to address concerns
about continued anti-social behaviour in the city. At the
first council meeting for 2009, aldermen relayed complaints
from community members about continued public drunkenness
and groups of homeless people congregating on Nightcliff
foreshore.”

ABC Alice Springs: Community store awaits quarantined payments decision
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/28/2475891.htm?site=alicesprings
28 Jan 09: “One of central Australia’s oldest community
stores will know within the next three weeks whether it can
process welfare payments quarantined under the Commonwealth
intervention.”

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