Archive for February, 2009


Posted in NEWSLETTER on 27/02/2009 by D

Complaint to UN
Two Week Intervention Experiment in Sydney
National Apology – One Year On
Alcohol Laws
Welfare Trials
Housing & Leases
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News



NIT: The Big Read: A world of trouble
19 Feb 09: “A group of Aboriginal residents affected by the
Northern Territory intervention have joined forces with a
legal team to take Australia to the United Nations. CHRIS
GRAHAM reports on Australia’s latest embarrassment on the
world stage. … Labor has also promised it would reinstate
the Racial Discrimination Act as part of the NT
intervention by the Spring 2009 sitting of parliament…
about a year after the report was handed down, and almost
two years since Rudd took office. It’s all come too little
too late for a group of Northern Territory residents
affected by the intervention. They have teamed up with a
group of lawyers from Sydney and formulated a complaint to
the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination.” Chris Graham

NIT: The Big Read: A detailed complaint – what’s in the UN action
19 Feb 09: “The specific objections to the NT intervention
measures contained in the UN complaint are:
* Exclusion of the Racial Discrimination Act from the NT
intervention legislation …
* Compulsory income management …
* Compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land …
* Powers over Aboriginal community councils …
* Removal of consideration of Aboriginal customary law: …
* Coercive powers of the government Task Force …
* Abolition of Community Development Employment Projects … “

NIT Forum: Another policy to be sorry for
19 Feb 09: “So deeply frustrated are a group of senior
Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory with the
indignity imposed by the Northern Territory intervention
and their inability to be heard, that they have requested
‘urgent action’ from the United Nations Committee for the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination (’CERD’). Their
request to CERD is not a complicated one. The complainants
simply ask that the Racial Discrimination Act be reinstated
and, importantly, that the Australian Government enter into
discussions with the Aboriginal people of the Northern
Territory to develop solutions that comply with its
international obligations.” Alison Vivian

NIT: Your Say: International focus on the Northern Territory Intervention
19 Feb 09: “Let’s petition the South African Government to
ban the upcoming Australian’s Cricket Tour.” Trevor Robinson


New Matilda: Two Week Intervention
Feb 09: “The Northern Territory Intervention is taking
place out of sight of the majority of the population. What
would happen if similar restrictions were imposed on
someone [Scott Mitchell] living in Sydney’s inner-city
suburb of Newtown?”


Media Release:

Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG):
Prime Minister fails first year’s test
27 Feb 09: “The Intervention Rollback Action Group, based
in Alice Springs and working closely with the Prescribed
Area People’s Alliance, says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s
report 12 months after the National Apology to the Stolen
Generations is nothing but rhetoric and a repetition of the
same stock phrases that the government has been using for a
year. “The gap is widening, not closing,” says Barbara Shaw
from Mt Nancy Town Camp. “Life is harder now for me and
many others living under the Northern Territory
Intervention.  Rudd is using information being fed to him
by Jenny Macklin, and her evidence about what is working is
flawed.” “


NIT: The Pointed View: Sorry a year on
19 Feb 09: “The national apology was an historic day.
However with the Racial Discrimination Act still suspended
in the NT, Prof LARISSA BEHRENDT* says while we should
celebrate the sorry, we must not forget the challenges
ahead. … The third issue that highlights how much still
needs to be done in achieving social justice for Aboriginal
people in a post-apology Australia are aspects of the
Northern Territory intervention.”

NIT Forum: Another policy to be sorry for
19 Feb 09: “Quoting the national apology in defence of the
intervention… now that’s irony, writes ALISON VIVIAN*.
… The irony of Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families,
Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs invoking
the national apology made to the Stolen Generations when
announcing the continuation of the Northern Territory
Intervention is particularly poignant.”



Age: Editorial: Alcohol curbs alone won’t end indigenous abuse
26 Feb 09: “But restricting the supply of alcohol, whether
through outright bans on takeaway alcohol in some towns, or
limitations on the hours during which it can be bought, is
only one part of the solution. There needs to be a more
comprehensive management plan that involves a range of
interventions and includes reducing the motivation for
excessive drinking, education about alcohol’s dangers and
consequences, more consistent liquor laws, improved housing
and policing and better provision of welfare services such
as detox and rehab programs. As has been shown, involuntary
restrictions on the supply of alcohol will only result in
those who want to drink moving elsewhere. This is not an
effective or sustainable strategy in the long term.”


Age: NT may tighten drink laws
26 Feb 09: “THE Northern Territory Government is
considering tougher restrictions on alcohol to stop drunken
violence that a Supreme Court judge says is devastating
indigenous families.”

Australian: Tennant Creek awash with drunken violence, says Northern Territory judge,,25099656-2702,00.html?from=public_rss
24 Feb 09: “TENNANT Creek is awash with drunken violence
and in need of alcohol restrictions, says a Northern
Territory judge.”


Media Release:

Greens: Time for a different approach to school truancy
17 Feb 09: “The Australian Greens today called on Federal
Minister Jenny Macklin to cancel punitive truancy welfare
trials in the Northern Territory, following indications
that the Western Australian Government might not go ahead
with trials in selected suburbs of Perth. “I welcome WA
Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney’s comments this
week that her Government would not support the trial
because they are concerned it could increase crime and
leave children hungry,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel
Siewert said.”

Radio Interview:

ABC AM: Income management to roll out across the Kimberley
24 Feb 09: “The Federal Government is rolling out an income
management scheme across the Kimberley after successful
trials elsewhere in Western Australia. The scheme allows
Centrelink to quarantine welfare payments, to ensure that
parents are spending money on their children and not on
drugs or alcohol. As David Weber reports, the majority of
people on the scheme have signed up voluntarily.”


ABC: Territory teachers fear attacks under welfare trial
23 Feb 09: “A Northern Territory teacher says a new trial
cutting welfare payments for indigenous parents with truant
children could lead to attacks on education staff. … The
teacher, who can’t give her name because she’s signed a
public service gag order, has told the ABC she’s worried if
teachers report truancy, they’ll be blamed for the dole
docking and face attacks by angry parents.”



NIT: Communities will not be rushed on leases: CLC
19 Feb 09: “One of Australia’s most powerful Aboriginal
land councils says Indigenous people will not be rushed
into signing land lease agreements, despite hopes it could
provide a much-needed boost to the economy. The Rudd and
Northern Territory governments want remote communities to
surrender some control of their land for up to 80 years in
exchange for new houses and repairs. The Central Land
Council (CLC) on Monday said it was unfair to pressure
Aboriginal communities to abandon their own interests.”

SMH: NT Aborigines waiting for new houses
24 Feb 09: “Not a single house has been built in the 18
months since the Northern Territory government announced
its $286 million plan to tackle Aboriginal disadvantage.
… The federal government has been negotiating new 40-year
lease deals with the communities, which only receive their
chunk of the $637 million set aside for housing once they
have signed over partial control over their land.”


Media Release:

Greens: Time for a real revolution in Aboriginal education and employment
18 Feb 09: “The Australian Greens today called for a
renewed push in Aboriginal education and employment. …
“At the same time as radical improvement is needed in
schools, there also needs to be a change of focus in
employment areas. “There is growing concern about the
ill-thought cancellation of the Community Development
Employment Program (CDEP) scheme as of 1 July which will
see the transfer of workers from that scheme onto
Newstart,” said Senator Siewert. “It makes no sense, at a
time of rising unemployment, to be moving Aboriginal people
out of CDEP jobs, where they are gainfully employed
building infrastructure or delivering community services,
and onto the dole queue.” “


NIT: CDEP rethink needed in tough times: Greens
19 Feb 09: “The Rudd government should reconsider its
decision to move urban and regional Aboriginal people off
Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) in the
wake of the economic crisis and rising unemployment, the
Australian Greens have said. … Reinstating a reformed
CDEP in the NT prescribed communities was an ALP election


Radio Interview:

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM
Let’s Talk – Australia’s only Indigenous presented talkback:
23 Feb 09: “Karen Dorante spoke with Professor of Law &
Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of
Learning at UTS in Sydney, Larissa Behrendt.”
[includes discussion of the Racial Discrimination Act and
the extension of the Northern Territory intervention]
Listen to this interview on-line:


Solidarity: NT health worker: ‘We demand back our rights’
Feb 09: “In the last 18 months Sunrise Health service has
seen the disturbing evidence of a decline in health of the
people in all ten remote communities that it services. We
have seen increasing anaemia rates, an increase in the
presentation by young girls in the third trimester of
pregnancy and tragically, youth suicides. Under the
intervention government has failed to engage with our
people. The evidence of community-based successes has been
ignored in favour of a top-down bureaucratic response that
is doomed to failure.” Irene Fisher, Jawoyn woman & chief
executive of Sunrise Health in Katherine

Stop the Intervention: And the Intervention goes on…
Feb 09: “Almost two years of the Northern Territory
Emergency Response – the “Intervention”, has turned
racially discriminatory legislation (shocking and alarming;
implemented with Army tanks and Riot squads; a departure
from equality), into what now seems an established status
quo that the Australian public is ready to forget. The
affected communities themselves are far from forgetting,
this month presenting a 60 page formal complaint before the
United Nations.” Keri James, Canberra Working Group for
Aboriginal Rights

NIT Forum: A racist intervention
19 Feb 09: “Aboriginal Territorians were left with no
alternative but to go to the United Nations, writes PROF
JON ALTMAN*. Justice Kirby, long-standing champion for
human rights, retired from the High Court on February 2,
2009. In his last judgement, he provided the sole
dissenting point of view in the case Wurridjul and Others v
The Commonwealth of Australia. This case challenged the
constitutional validity of the Commonwealth’s compulsory
acquisition of traditional owners’ freehold land in
Maningrida, central Arnhem Land, a prescribed Aboriginal
community, under the Commonwealth’s Northern Territory
Emergency Response (NTER) legislation.”

Australian: Intervention a failure on the ground,25197,25064107-5015664,00.html
17 Feb 09: “BARACK Obama’s inauguration speech reminds us
how far the US has come from the stain of segregation and
racial discrimination. How insulting, more than 40 years
after racist laws were repealed in the US, that the
Northern Territory intervention laws have had the effect of
forcing Aboriginal Australians into segregated queues in
Centrelink and in some supermarkets and shops in the NT.”
George Newhouse


Solidarity: Convergence strengthens anti-Intervention campaign
Feb 09: “Held at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the Canberra
Convergence was set to coincide with the opening of Federal
Parliament for 2009. The Convergence brought together
Indigenous rights activists and union members from around
the country. A strong delegation from NT communities
fighting the Intervention was joined by representatives
from Aboriginal communities facing similar attacks in other
states.” Jasmine Ali

ABC: Indigenous group says gap is still a gulf
25 Feb 09: “A Darwin Aboriginal corporation, Larrakia
Nation, says there is little evidence so far that the
Closing the Gap initiative is working in the Northern
Territory. … Ms Jackson says there has been a 30 per cent
increase in people needing to use the services her
community organisation [Larrakia Nation] provides since the
Federal Government’s intervention began.”



Posted in NEWSLETTER on 17/02/2009 by D

Anniversary of the Apology
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News
Other News re NT
Other News


Media Release:

Greens: One year on from apology: what has changed?
13 Feb 09: “The Australian Greens say the Apology to the
Stolen Generations rings hollow on its anniversary today
because of policies which continue to penalise Aboriginal
people. … [Senator Rachel Siewert said] “The racist
Northern Territory Intervention continues, and we have seen
expansion of its punitive welfare quarantining elements
into the Kimberley and the roll-out of school truancy
trials.” … “We are deeply concerned that the Government
is axing the Community Development Employment Program
(CDEP) at a time where jobs are being lost across the
economy. It simply makes no sense to cut thousands of
useful jobs in Aboriginal communities and force people
onto welfare benefits.” “


Canberra Times: Sorry okay, but Act needs ‘to be reinstated’
14 Feb 09: “It’s been one year since Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations, but the process
of healing is just beginning. … Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma said
the efforts of the Rudd Government were ”auguring very
well”, but questioned its reluctance to reinstate the
Racial Discrimination Act, set aside in 2007 when the
Howard government’s Northern Territory intervention was
rolled out. ”There’s no reason for it not to be
reinstated,” Mr Calma said.” Louis Andrews

Crikey: Sorry day anniversary: One year on, mind the gap
13 Feb 09: “What these statistical gaps and indeed the
Apology fail to take account of is what might be
identified as the racism and human rights gap, a gap that
underpins the NT Intervention and appears to have been
retained by the Rudd government in its support for the
continuation of the intervention measures. This gap has
been recently commented on by Justice Kirby and forms the
basis of a complaint to the United Nations Committee for
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” Jon Altman

Canberra Times Editorial: Rudd must also close rhetoric gap
13 Feb 09: “In the NT, … there are few outward signs of
the promised new houses, schools and clinics for indigenous
communities, and many residents of those communities feel
their concerns about other aspects of the exercise the lack
of consultation, the unilateral acquisition of townships,
emasculation of the permit system … quarantining of
welfare income, dismemberment of the Community Development
Employment Projects and sidelining of the Racial
Discrimination Act have been overlooked or dismissed. The
Rudd Government’s failure to respond officially to the
report of the board set up to review the intervention …
has heightened such suspicions.”

New Matilda: The Apology – Sorry About That
14 Feb 09: “On the day of the Apology the whole country
heard a lot of stories like that of Kutcha Edwards. A year
later, Kutcha, like many other members of the Stolen
Generations, can’t see what’s changed … When we talk
about whether he sees any of this shifting since the
Apology, his frustration emerges. “Obviously [Rudd] wanted
to make that step of acknowledgement, but then at the same
time, he still maintains the status quo with things like
the [Northern Territory] intervention. So he still has
that welfare mentality.” Rachel Maher


ABC: One year on: Historic apology ‘falls short’
13 Feb 09: “Today marks a year since Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd delivered the Federal Parliament’s formal apology to
the Stolen Generations. … The Australian Greens say the
apology rings hollow on its anniversary today because of
the Commonwealth’s Northern Territory Intervention. … Ms
Siewert says at a time where jobs are being lost across
the economy, it is morally wrong of the Government to cut
thousands of Community Development Employment Project
(CDEP) jobs in Indigenous communities. “We are deeply
concerned that they are getting rid of CDEP,” she said.”


Open Letter:

Stop the Intervention: Open Letter to the Prime Minister,
the Hon Kevin Rudd – from Yolngu of the Laynhapuy Homelands
3 Feb 09: “Yolngu clans of the Laynhapuy Homelands support
the Rollback the Intervention message to the Prime Minister
and Parliament this 3rd of February 2009. While we support
the Government’s elevation of the issues of chronic
Aboriginal disadvantage in remote communities, and welcome
investment to address years of neglect, we cannot agree
that the continuation of the Intervention is the best way
to move forward. … “

Media Release:

Greens welcome WA Government’s cooling on truancy trials
14 Feb 09: “The Australian Greens today welcomed signs that
the Western Australian Government may not implement a
punitive Federal Government truancy trial in Perth schools.
“The program, which has been widely criticised by teacher’s
unions and welfare groups, allows Centrelink to halt
payments to parents whose children fail to attend school
for 13 weeks,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert
said. “Such a punitive program fails to address the
underlying causes of non-attendance and only further
undermines families in need of support.”


New Matilda: NT Intervention: Let’s Try That In Sydney
13 Feb 09: “The Northern Territory Intervention is taking
place out of sight of the majority of the population. What
would happen if similar restrictions were imposed on
someone living in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Newtown? has set out to test the Northern Territory
Emergency Response (the Intervention) in an urban
environment. Over the coming fortnight
journalist Scott Mitchell will be going gonzo to find out
what it’s like to have half your income “quarantined” by
the government (or in this case, the
Department of Social Intervention). We’ll be publishing
Scott’s daily diary over the next week.”

New Matilda: Two Week Intervention – A Day On The Road
16 Feb 09: “On day three of his two-week intervention,
Scott Mitchell discovers that even Howard voters think the
Northern Territory Emergency Response is dodgy”

Crikey: UN still smarting from Howard’s bullying on black affairs
11 Feb 09: “And in relation to our treatment of black
Australia, the UNHRC sought further responses in relation
to four issues: … But it is the fourth indigenous issue
that will be the most difficult matter for the government
to adequately respond to. That issue concerns the findings
of the Wild/Anderson “Little Children are Sacred” report of
2007. … Australia’s written response to the UNHCR Issues
of Concern of 21 January 2009 fails to answer the question
as to why the NT Intervention was “adopted without adequate
consultation with the Indigenous communities”.” Bob Gosford

NIT: The Big Read: Big Kev’s crazy ALP patriot sale!
5 Feb 09: “THE first promise to Indigenous Australians in
the ALP’s national Platform is this:
“Labor is committed to supporting the international human
rights instruments to which Australia is a signatory,
including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The Northern Territory intervention – which Labor supported
unanimously in Opposition and has continued unaltered in
government, despite the recommendations of its only review
panel – is in breach of almost half of the 30 articles of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically
articles 2, 7, 8, 10, 12, 17, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30.”

Stop the Intervention: Frank Hytten, CEO Reconciliation Victoria
“The responses that the government is sticking to so far
are focused on control – especially taking control of land
away from Aboriginal people and returning it to government.
There seems to be no coherent reason for this move. In
addition these policies are very, very disempowering, not
least in relation to foreclosing on real self-determined
development of policy and delivery of programs.”

Radio Interviews:

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM
Let’s Talk – Australia’s only Indigenous presented talkback:
10 Feb 09: “Karen Dorante spoke with the Editor of The
National Indigenous Times, Chris Graham.”
[includes discussion of the NT intervention and the
complaint to the UN]
Listen to this interview on-line:

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM
Let’s Talk – Australia’s only Indigenous presented talkback:
3 Feb 09: “Karen Dorante spoke with Australians for Native
Title & Reconciliation (ANTaR) National President, Janet
Hunt.” [includes discussion of the NT intervention]
Listen to this interview on-line:


ABC: Grocery sales increase since welfare quarantining
14 Feb 09: “Outback Stores says the Federal Government’s
quarantining of welfare payments in remote Indigenous
communities is not the main reason behind increased food
sales. … Outback Stores has been given $29 million by the
Federal Government to redevelop failing community stores.
Chief executive John Kop says redeveloped stores typically
increase sales by 100 to 400 per cent, but that is not due
to welfare quarantining.”


NIT: 40yr leases signed in four NT communities
11 Feb 09: “Traditional owners from four remote communities
have agreed to give up control of their land for the next
40 years under a lease agreement with the federal
government. In exchange, the communities will get about 300
new houses and 250 existing houses will be refurbished.”



NIT: Aboriginal tent embassy plan to save rebel church
12 Feb 09: “Aboriginal people will establish a tent embassy
at a rebel Catholic church in Brisbane and resist any
attempts to move it. Activist Sam Watson said the tent
embassy would be set up under the terms of a treaty signed
in November between St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane and
local Aboriginal people. … Mr Watson said St Mary’s had
tended to the needs of Aboriginal people for decades. “We
have declared that land upon which St Mary’s has been built
is sacred land and we assert the fact that as Aboriginal
people we have never ceded sovereignty to the British
Crown,” he said.”

NIT: Jesus also unorthodox, says rebel priest
16 Feb 09: “Rebel Catholic priest Father Peter Kennedy has
defended his church’s social activism, telling a packed St
Mary’s church in South Brisbane that Jesus also was harshly
criticised for unorthodox behaviour. … Meanwhile, a plan
to establish an Aboriginal tent embassy on the site has
been postponed until next week, said Murri activist Sam
Watson. Mr Watson said many groups had asked to participate
in a broad coalition to save the St Mary’s community and it
was decided to start the tent embassy on the day Fr Kennedy
has been told to depart.”

Courier-Mail: Archbishop John Bathersby may call police on
parish priest Peter Kennedy over ‘unorthodox’ practices,25197,25043291-5006786,00.html
12 Feb 09: “BRISBANE Archbishop John Bathersby has warned
that police will be brought in and St Mary’s Parish priest
Father Peter Kennedy forcibly removed if necessary. …
Brisbane’s indigenous community will set up a tent embassy
at St Mary’s on Sunday, claiming a treaty between them and
the church gives shared custody of the land and that Father
Kennedy’s liberal practices should stay. Indigenous leader
Sam Watson is calling on Archbishop Bathersby to “sit down
and have a cup of tea” and take part in a sacred circle
with elders to resolve issues surrounding the controversy.”

Radio Interview:

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM
Let’s Talk – Australia’s only Indigenous presented talkback:
12 Feb 09: “Tiga Bayles caught up with Sam Watson.”
[includes discussion of the Aboriginal tent embassy at
St Mary’s Church in South Brisbane]
Listen to this interview on-line:


Posted in NEWSLETTER on 12/02/2009 by D

Complaint to UN
Canberra Convergence
High Court
Intervention Opinion
Intervention News
Other News re NT



SMH: Rudd must act if race complaint upheld
10 Feb 09: “There is little in the eyes of the international
community more serious than a nation being found to have
racist laws and policies. This was the claim made last week
against Australia by 20 Aborigines. Their complaint to the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination about the Northern Territory intervention
has a strong prospect of success. If this proves correct,
enormous pressure will be put on the Rudd Government to
reform the intervention.” George Williams, Anthony Mason
professor of law at the University of NSW

Crikey: An intervention intervention: Rudd dobbed into the UN
6 Feb 09: “It took almost three years for the Howard
government to get a “please explain” from the United
Nations on its treatment of Aboriginal people. Kevin Rudd’s
administration looks like achieving it less than two.
Earlier this week, a group of human rights lawyers lodged a
complaint against the Northern Territory intervention with
the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. It’s a comprehensive document. … “
Chris Graham, Editor of The National Indigenous Times

Crikey: From Alice to Canberra: the gang behind the UN complaint
6 Feb 09: “Barbara Shaw and a group of friends from the NT
chucked their money together, hired a small bus and set off
to Canberra to make their voices heard about the NT
Intervention, reports Bob Gosford.”


Open Letter:

Open letter to Jenny Macklin MP regarding the Northern Territory Intervention
from the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance delegation to Canberra
3 Feb 09: “Enough is enough. You talk about ‘closing the
gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. But we
want to close the Gap our way, on our terms- not like past
assimilation policies. Self-determination has been
shattered and abused by the government. They change laws
every year, every time they come into power. …
We demand:
– Repeal of the Northern Territory Intervention laws
– Immediate reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act
and the NT Anti-Discrimination Act
– That you organise a series of day long meetings across
the NT before March 21, 2009 to come and listen to all
Aboriginal woman who want to meet with you.
– Funding for housing and essential services for all
communities without having to sign leases
– Provide us with a list of all of your advisors on the
– Provide access to all evidence provided to you from
advisors regarding the NT Intervention
– Immediately remove all Government Business Managers and
resource properly funded Aboriginal community councils
– Endorse and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous People
– Stop the promotion of genocide. By the UN Genocide
Convention, one definition of genocide is; Conditions of
life set to destroy the group in whole or in part.”


NIT: Hundreds turn out to protest a year of failed ALP pledges
5 Feb 09: “As federal politicians flocked to Capital Hill
for the first parliamentary session of the year on Tuesday,
hundreds of activists – black and white – gathered on the
lawns in front of Parliament House to protest the Northern
Territory intervention. It’s been almost a year since the
last ‘Convergence on Canberra’, staged a day before Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd fulfilled one of his first election
promises – an apology to the Stolen Generations. But the
protesters who gathered on Tuesday sent a clear message
that the Rudd government had still not delivered on the
rest of its promises, particularly in relation to the NT

NIT: Arnhem clans back protesters, send PM a letter
5 Feb 09: “Aboriginal people from a remote corner of Arnhem
Land have sent a letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd,
calling on him to stop the intervention and “lay to rest
the ghosts of the past”. Activists and Indigenous people
from the Northern Territory this week converged on Canberra
to mark the start of the parliamentary year with a string
of protests against the controversial intervention,
launched by the Howard government. … In a letter from
Arnhem Land’s Yolngu people, made public by Laynhapuy
Homelands on Wednesday, the clans came out in support of the
protest action.”

GLW: Stop the intervention! Human rights for all!
7 Feb 09: “Canberra was the site of an historic four days
of Aboriginal rights activism in Australia. From January 31
to February 3, hundreds of Aboriginal activists and their
supporters converged on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for
workshops, a large public meeting and culminating in a
protest on the first sitting day of parliament. … Taking
place 12 months after PM Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen
Generations, a focus of the four days was the Labor
government’s continuation of racist policies of the previous
government — most notably the NT “intervention”.”


Perth Indymedia: PICTURES: NT Intervention Rally, 3rd Feb, Canberra by InterventioNoMore
5 Feb 09: “Hundreds of people converged on the lawns
outside Parliament House on Tuesday protesting the racist
NT Intervention, Rudd’s failure to reinstate the RDA
(Racial Discrimination Act) and cuts to CDEP (Community
Development and Employment Projects). People walked from
the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at Old Parliament up to
Parliament House chanting “Always Was, Always Will Be,
Aboriginal Land”. On the lawns of Parliament speakers
expressed their outrage and told their stories of how the
NT Intervention impacted on them.”

Compilation by STICS:

Stop the Intervention: Canberra Convergence 09



Deccan Chronicle – India: Clashes over Aboriginal land ruling in Canberra
3 Feb 09: “Australian protesters clashed with the police in
the high court in the national capital Canberra after a
land rights challenge by Aborigines was dismissed on Monday.
… The case stemmed from an intervention programme to
tackle social problems in which the government took control
of township leases in outback towns of the remote Northern
Territory. … Australia’s original inhabitants, Aborigines
were marginalised after the first British settlers arrived
in 1788.”


Canberra Times Editorial: ‘Equal’ treatment can be inequitable
9 Feb 09: “The departure, last Monday, of one of the High
Court’s most remarkable judges, Michael Kirby, somewhat
overshadowed some of his last judgments, one of which
caused visible annoyance to the Chief Justice, Bob French.
The case involved the Commonwealth’s intervention into
Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory in the dying
days of the former Howard government.”

ABC Unleashed: The ‘activist’ judge
4 Feb 09: “On the basis of constitutional and international
human rights law, Justice Kirby argued against abolishing
or reducing property rights without ensuring, through
positive legal measures of protection, that those affected
are included in the decision making. Far from being
outlandish, one of the main concerns with the Northern
Territory Intervention was precisely this; a lack of
consultation with Indigenous Australians in the development
and implementation of an intervention which deprived people
of their rights.” Phoebe Knowles and Emily Howie


Sydney Indymedia: Statement on the NT intervention from
indigenous man [a Yolngu man from North East Arnhem Land]
11 Feb 09: “With all the tragedy currently occupying the
media and our thoughts, it’s easy to forget that the
intervention into indigenous communities in the NT
instigated by the Howard government goes on unimpeded. This
intervention has been continued by the Rudd government, the
NT Racial Discrimination Act remains disabled, indigenous
people have lost the right to their own land, they continue
to be refused access to welfare survival money and they are
suffering as a result. … “

Solidarity: Plan to spread intervention
Jan 09: “There are worrying signs from the Council of
Australian Governments (COAG) that policy measures
associated with the NT intervention will soon be imposed on
Indigenous communities around the country. … The Rudd
government has taken up with renewed vigour the Howard
government’s agenda of assimiliation. We need to push back
the racims of the intervention to head off the attacks on
Aboriginal rights and self determination that are brewing
across Australia.” Paddy Gibson

Solidarity: Discontent with intervention policies widening
Jan 09: “The intervention is more than a policy about what
happens within 78 “prescribed communities”. It is a radical
new ideology that combines a fierce new push for
assimilation of Aboriginal people with a rapid pro-market
economic agenda. Through the intervention the government is
trying to bury the ideas of Aboriginal self-determination
and meaningful land rights.” Jean Parker

Wall Street Journal: ‘Tough Love’ in the Outback:
Australia’s Push to Help Aborigines Is Upending Tribal
Customs — And Giving Women an Unlikely Boost
17 Jan 09: “Australia’s government has proclaimed the
upsurge of violence, child abuse and alcoholism among
Aborigines a national emergency. It is responding with
controversial new policies that critics decried as racist,
such as restricting welfare payments to Aborigines but not
to whites or other Australians. Those policies, however, are
starting to show early results, the government says. They
are also shaking up the Aborigines’ ancient social
structure. In Yuendumu, for example, the policies have
unleashed a nascent feminist movement which is threatening
to erode the vast powers of male tribal elders.” Yaroslav


GLW: Rudd’s apology: one year on, a sorry record
7 Feb 09: ” “Rudd is dangling the carrot of hope before us
and it is a lie”, said Les Coe at the Aboriginal
convergence in Canberra on February 3, at which 500 people
protested the continuation of racist Howard-era policies by
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The convergence coincided with
the first day of parliament and called for the abolition of
racist policies, in particular for the abolition of the
Northern Territory intervention — a policy that, among
other discriminatory practises, “quarantines” 50% of
Aboriginal people’s welfare payments in “prescribed”
communities in the NT.”


NIT: Marion Scrymgour quits NT cabinet
10 Feb 09: “Australia’s highest ranked Aboriginal
politician has quit the Northern Territory cabinet, saying
her battle with depression means she can’t continue as
deputy chief minister. … Ms Scrymgour said she had been
suffering from post-traumatic stress depression, along with
other medical issues, since the death of her elderly
father. … Ms Scrymgour denied her decision to retire to
the backbench was prompted by a cabinet reshuffle last week,
in which she was stripped of the high-profile education

Age: Marion Scrymgour quits cabinet
10 Feb 09: “MARION Scrymgour, the highest-ranked Aboriginal
leader in any Australian government, has quit as deputy
leader and senior minister in the Northern Territory Labor
Government. … For 18 months, Ms Scrymgour had faced
sustained criticism over her handling of the education
portfolio, including low school attendance rates in remote
indigenous schools. Indigenous educators had attacked her
instruction that children be taught in English for the first
four hours of every day in bilingual schools.”

ABC: Indigenous politician Scrymgour stands down
9 Feb 09: “Australia’s highest-ranked Indigenous
politician, Marion Scrymgour, has announced she is standing
down from all ministerial duties for health reasons. Ms
Scrymgour will remain the Member for Arafura, but will no
longer be in charge of any portfolio. … Ms Scrymgour has
been embroiled in controversy in recent months in her
former role as Education Minister, over the departure of the
head of the Territory Education Department and her policies
on bilingual education.”

Business Spectator: New cabinet for Northern Territory
10 Feb 09: “Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul
Henderson has announced a new-look cabinet after his deputy
Marion Scrymgour quit cabinet. … Member for Macdonnell
Alison Anderson has taken over indigenous policy.”

Australian: Minister quits to deal with illness,,25032719-2702,00.html?from=public_rss
10 Feb 09: “A TEARFUL and drawn Marion Scrymgour has
resigned as the Northern Territory’s deputy chief minister
and attorney-general, saying she was seriously ill and
would need long and intensive treatment.”


Posted in NEWSLETTER on 05/02/2009 by D

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



NIT: Protesters clash with police after High Court NT intervention ruling
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]
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

Canberra Times: High Court intervention: Aborigines dissent
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
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

ABC: Indigenous elders say intervention decision protest understandable
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
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
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
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,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 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
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
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.”


NIT: Protestors to converge on Canberra for opening of Parliament
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
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
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

NIT: Protestors to converge on capital for new Parliament
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

NIT: NT delegation to challenge welfare quarantines in ACT
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.”


Media Releases:

Howard and Rudd’s NT Intervention to go before 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
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. … ” “


NIT: Intervention to go before the United Nations
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
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.” “


ABC Opinion: Could racial discrimination ruin the promise of a beautiful friendship?
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
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


Radio Interview:

ABC AM: Indigenous groups criticise welfare trial
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


ABC: Indigenous school attendance program ‘discriminatory’
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
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
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.”


NIT: BLACK&WHITE: The right to be treated equally
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
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


ABC: Building body urges Aboriginal communities to sign land leases
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
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
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

ABC Alice Springs: Community store awaits quarantined payments decision
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