Media Releases & Statements


WGAR News: Takeover of Aboriginal Land in Alice Springs (26 May 09):

WGAR website: http://wgar.info/


Joint Statement re Tangentyere Council
28 May 09: ” … We the Indigenous Peoples Organisations of
Australia attending the eighth session of the United Nations
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues decide as follows:
* We strongly oppose the proposal by the Government of
Australia to compulsory acquire leases over Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander lands or territories without their
free, prior and informed consent.
* We call upon the Government of Australia to comply with
its international obligations to respect the rights of the
Indigenous Peoples of Australia by ensuring that the
representatives of the Aboriginal people in the region of
Alice Springs are able to make an informed decision
regarding the provision of adequate housing and services for
their populations.
* Specifically, we urge the Australian Government to re-open
negotiations with Tangentyere Council, in concert with other
relevant representative Aboriginal organizations, and
facilitated by the Australian Human Rights Commission, with
a view to concluding as soon as possible an agreement for
urgent funding for suitable housing to meet the needs of the
Aboriginal people of the region.
* We ask the Australian Government to withdraw their decision
to compulsory acquire the lands held by the Tangentyere
Council. … ”

Greens: Positive outcome on town camp leases still achievable
28 May 09: ” “I am extremely concerned by the breakdown in
negotiations between the Minister Jenny Macklin and
Tangentyere Council over housing leases for Alice Springs
town camps,” said Senator Rachel Siewert today. “I believe
that a positive resolution to the current impasse can still
be achieved, and I have written to the Minister suggesting
a way forward. I am calling for the appointment of an
independent mediator, someone with the standing and
experience in Aboriginal affairs who commands the respect
of both parties, to finalise the details of an agreement
that delivers certainty to the camp families and tenancy
reform,” she said. “I do not believe that compulsory
acquisition of the town camps is either desirable or
necessary, it would be a dreadful outcome for everyone
concerned.” … ”

Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement:
ALRM at United Nations calling for change in Australia
28 May 09: “ALRM is party to a joint statement by the
Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Australia (IPO) that
expresses concern about:
* The level of understanding in Australia about human rights;
and the need for human rights training on how human rights
apply to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in
the areas of non-discrimination and civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights.
* Attempts to compulsory acquire leases over Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander lands or territories without their
free, prior and informed consent, as demonstrated by the
Australian Government in its dealing with Tangentyere
Council in Alice Springs over town camps.
* The Northern Territory Emergency Response measures and
lack of adequate consultation with the Indigenous peoples,
as well as suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act

Stop the Intervention:
Media Release in Support of the Tangentyere Council
28 May 09: “Tomorrow: 12.30pm Friday 29th Sydney supporters
of the Tangentyere Council will protest the government’s
moves to acquire the Alice Springs Town Camps, and will
present the below statement to Federal Minister Housing
Tanya Plibersek at her office – 117 Devonshire Street Surry
Hills. This emergency statement already has a long list of
endorsements including ANTaR (Australians for Native Title
and Reconciliation), SA Unions, CFMEU (National Office), The
Bahtabah Local Aboriginal land Council and The Illawarra
Local Aboriginal Lands Council.”

Statement Opposing the Commonwealth’s Proposal to
Compulsorily Acquire the Alice Springs Town Camps:
[for list of endorsing organisations and individuals see link]
Initiated 26 May 09:
“* We recognise the right of Tangentyere Council and town
camp residents to self-determination. Town camp residents
have called upon governments to address overcrowding and
poverty in their communities over several years. More often
than not, their demands have been ignored.
* We support the recent decision by the Council to reject
the Commonwealth’s proposal that would transfer control of
housing and tenancy management to the Northern Territory
Government. Representatives from all town camps voted to
maintain community control. This is vital because of a long
history of neglect and indifference to the needs of
Aboriginal people by Northern Territory Housing. People
rightly fear eviction and rent-increases that are beyond
their capacity to pay. It is critical that Aboriginal people
have the power to shape their own destinies.
* We condemn Minister Macklin’s proposal for the
Commonwealth to compulsorily acquire the town camps of
Alice Springs. We call on the Commonwealth to respect the
independence of the Tangentyere Council and to act in good
faith in all of its negotiations with the Tangentyere
* We recognise the long struggle for land by both town camp
residents and Aboriginal land holders throughout Australia.
We condemn the Federal Government’s policy of withholding
funding for desperately needed housing in Aboriginal
communities, before Aboriginal people relinquish control of
their land.
* It is disgraceful that the party who championed the first
land rights legislation in Australia is holding
impoverished Aboriginal communities to ransom. This
Government has lost its moral compass. We offer our full
support to the Tangentyere Council in their struggle.”
– Initiated by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney
and the Intervention Rollback Action Group (Alice Springs)
on 26/5/09. This support statement has the approval of the
Tangentyere council.
– To endorse this statement, email <stoptheintervention@gmail.com>

Friends of the Earth Melbourne:
Melbourne Aboriginal rights activists to protest the
acquisition of Alice Springs town camps
26 May 09: “In response to the announcement by Indigenous
Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to compulsorily acquire the
Alice Springs town camps, activists from the Alice Springs
based Rollback the Intervention Group have called for
national protests against the acquisition of the camps and
the closure of homelands communities.”

Tangentyere Council, Alice Springs NT:
Tangentyere Supports Open and Transparent Tenancy Reform
25 May 09: “Tangentyere calls on the Australian Government
to continue towards reaching a negotiated outcome with the
Town Camp Communities rather than resort to compulsory
acquisition. Tangentyere refute comments made today by the
Minister about how housing is managed across the Town Camp
Communities. All residents currently pay rent at 23% of
their income, have signed tenancy agreements, and are
allocated their house based on need. Tangentyere maintains
waiting lists for each Town Camp Community, with close to
90% of all current tenants in the lowest socio-economic

ALP: First steps on Alice Springs town camps
25 May 09: “Today I am announcing that the Australian
Government is taking the first step towards compulsory
acquisition of the Alice Springs town camps.” Jenny Macklin


ABC Online Indigenous – Your Voice
“Poll: Should the Federal Government compulsorily acquire
Aboriginal town camps around Alice Springs?”


(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
28 May 09 [includes comments by Walter Shaw & Paddy Gibson]

CAAMA Radio Evening News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
27 May 09: “* Tangentyere Council Predicts long Out Drawn Battle”

CAAMA Radio Morning News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
26 May 09

CAAMA Radio News
(Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association):
25 May 09: “* Government going against UN declearation..
Regarding Alice Springs Town Camps * Residence are against
Territory housing taking over Town Camps * NT Government
Fully Supporting Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny

Indigenous radio station 98.9FM Brisbane
Let’s Talk – Indigenous presented talkback:
27 May 09: “Tiga Bayles spoke with Tasmanian Aboriginal
leader, lawyer and Land Rights Campaigner, Michael Mansell
and Northern Territory Indigenous elder and activist,
Barbara Shaw. They spoke about Indigenous housing issues …”
[Includes discussion of Alice Springs Town Camps takeover]
Listen to this interview on-line:

ABC PM: Tangentyere Council stands firm
25 May 09: “LISA MILLAR: The council that governs town
camps surrounding Alice Springs is standing by its
rejection of a Federal Government deal for the camps. It
calls the deal a “land grab”. The Federal Government’s
threatened to take over control of the camps after a
breakdown in negotiations with Tangentyere Council.”
[Includes comments by Minister Jenny Macklin and Tangentyere
Council’s Walter Shaw]

FaHCSIA: Transcript –
ABC Radio National Breakfast: Alice Springs Town Camps
25 May 09: “FRAN KELLY: Why this move to compulsorily
acquire these camps? JENNY MACKLIN: The Tangentyere Council
really have left me with no other choice.”


Australian: Own home truths
29 May 09: “It is a fear of success, of changing an old
identity for a new one, that lies behind much of the
concern about federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny
Macklin’s announcement on Sunday that she intends to
compulsorily acquire the town camps of Alice Springs.”
Paul Toohey

Socialist Alliance: New government, same old racism
28 May 09: “When she was shadow spokesperson for Indigenous
affairs, Macklin said “We do not want land tenure reform
being made a condition of funding for basic services.” Yet
this is precisely what Macklin is now enforcing in Alice
Springs, where she is threatening with compulsory
acquisition unless Tangentyere Council signs away the land
for 40 years. Aboriginal people have been fighting for
their land and housing in the town camps within the
boundaries of the township for decades.” Sam Watson

From Cannes to camp life, with love, for Samson and Delilah star
27 May 09: “The young male lead in the film Samson and
Delilah doesn’t see it as incongruous that after visiting
Cannes, Sydney and Melbourne, he should return to his life
in one of the town camps that Indigenous Affairs Minister
Jenny Macklin considers so appalling she has given notice
to compulsorily acquire them.” Paul Toohey

New Zealand Herald:
Shantytown takeovers ignite fury of Aboriginal leaders
26 May 09: “Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin’s
decision to compulsorily acquire 15 town camps in Alice
Springs has met with strong condemnation despite unanimous
agreement that urgent action is needed to relieve their
Third World lives.” Greg Ansley


SBS World News: Turning camps around ‘will be tough’
29 May 09: “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has conceded it will
be “tough” to turn around the town camps of Alice Springs
but says he’s determined to see it through.”


Koori Mail: Sydney activists express solidarity with Tangentyere
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/
29 May 09: “Sydney supporters of the Tangentyere Council
will today protest the Federal Government’s moves to
compulsorily acquire the Alice Springs town camps. They say
the plan is a blatant attack on Aboriginal
self-determination and are preparing to attend the Surry
Hills office of Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek at

National Indigenous Times:
Town camp seizure threat sets dangerous precedent: activist
29 May 09: “Plans to seize control of Alice Springs town
camps set a dangerous precedent and could lead to more
compulsory acquisitions of Aboriginal land by the
commonwealth, an activist says. … Hilary Tyler, from the
Intervention Rollback Action Group based in Alice Springs,
said moves to compulsorily acquire the camps, announced
last Sunday on the eve of Reconciliation Week, rang alarm

Age: Aborigines denounce camps plan
29 May 09: “A COALITION of indigenous groups has condemned
the Federal Government’s proposal to acquire Alice Springs
town camps compulsorily. Attending the United Nations
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York, the
Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Australia issued a
joint statement.”

ABC: Town camps takeover the right move: Rudd
29 May 09: “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admits it is going to
be a challenge delivering his $100 million housing and
infrastructure package for town camps in Alice Springs
without the support of the local Aboriginal council.”

SMH: Town camp turnaround will be tough: Rudd
29 May 09: “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has conceded it will
be “tough” to turn around the town camps of Alice Springs
but says he’s determined to see it through. … Mr Rudd
said Ms Macklin “knows what she’s doing”. “This is the
right course of action and I back her fully,” he said.”

Koori Mail: Call for change at United Nations forum
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/
28 May 09: “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
have raised the NT intervention and Federal Government
plans to take over Alice Springs town camps as concerns at
the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in New York.
The Indigenous Peoples Organisations of Australia (IPO)
also called for an independent process to determine land

ABC Alice Springs: Federal Intervention Mark 2
27 May 09: “A takeover of land where Aboriginal people are
living? Does it sound familiar? I’m not referring to the
Federal Government Intervention of June 2007, but rather
the final move in the transformation of the Alice Springs
town camps in suburbs.”

Age: Housing ‘urgently needed’ in Alice camps
26 May 09: “AN EMERGENCY plan is urgently needed to
alleviate the “atrocious conditions” faced by indigenous
residents living in the violent and poorly serviced town
camps of Alice Springs.”

Australian: Alice Springs camps go their own way on $125m offer
26 May 09: “DEFIANCE, relief and uncertainty were in
evidence in the town camps of Alice Springs yesterday as
the implications of the Rudd Government’s plan to
compulsorily acquire the camps began to sink in.”

ABC: Friction over town camps deal snub
26 May 09: “Several residents of an Aboriginal town camp in
Alice Springs say they would welcome a Federal Government
take-over to improve their living conditions.”

ABC: Sign Alice camps leases: former minister
26 May 09: “A former Northern Territory minister and
longtime campaigner on reducing Indigenous disadvantage has
appealed to the Tangentyere Council to lease its Alice
Springs town camps to the Federal Government.”

Australian: Tangentyere Council urged to end squalor in
Alice Springs town camps
26 May 09: “NORTHERN Territory Indigenous Affairs Minister
Alison Anderson has urged the Tangentyere Council to
relieve women, children and disabled people from a “life of
squalor and violence” in Alice Springs’ town camps.”

Koori Mail: Tangentyere refutes Minister’s comments
[scroll down page] http://www.koorimail.com/
25 May 09: “Debate on Alice Springs town camps continues,
with Tangentyere Council today refuting claims it has
mismanaged housing in the camps. Council president Walter
Shaw says all residents currently pay rent, have signed
tenancy agreements, and were allocated houses based on need
– not nepotism, as suggested by Federal Indigenous Affairs
Minister Jenny Macklin.”

Brisbane Times: Council urges talks over town camps
25 May 09: “The council which oversees the troubled town
camps of Alice Springs has implored the Rudd government not
to walk away from the negotiating table.”

SBS World News: Town camps takeover under fire
25 May 09: “Lawyers are threatening to go to the United
Nations if the Rudd government goes through with plans to
take over Alice Springs town camps.”

ABC: Town camps dismayed at ‘land grab’
25 May 09: “The President of the Tangentyere Council in
Alice Springs says he is dismayed at Federal Government
plans to compulsorily acquire town camps. … Its
president, Walter Shaw, says town camp residents do not
want to lose control of their housing.”

Canberra Times: Alice Springs camp move attacked
25 May 09: “The Rudd Government is facing criticism from
all sides over its threat to take over Alice Springs town
camps, but for diverse reasons.”

Australian: Rudd takes control of Alice Springs camps
25 May 09: “THE Northern Territory Government has backed
federal moves to seize control of the troubled town camps
of Alice Springs, saying it will “mean a better future for
the entire community”.”

ABC: Time for negotiating over: Macklin
25 May 09: “The Northern Territory Government is imploring
the organisation that provides services to Aboriginal town
camps in Alice Springs to accept a Commonwealth lease offer
and avoid the prospect of the camps being taken over by

Age: Macklin cites camp horrors
25 May 09: “ALICE Springs’ notorious Aboriginal town camps
will be compulsorily acquired by the Rudd Government after
Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said she could no
longer tolerate the “appalling living conditions” and
endemic violence some 2000 residents are forced to endure.”

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