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Wednesday, 11 March 1998
Page: 956


Mr CAMPBELL (12:14 PM) —I rise to speak as the parliamentary representative of a very large number of Aboriginal people. Certainly, the Aboriginals in my electorate have the power, if they so wish, to sweep me from office. At the outset, I must say that I do not think there is anything that can redeem the Labor Party's position on this legislation. It is an unprincipled position of absolute hypocrisy. There is absolutely no doubt that, in the Keating legislation, the firm belief was that pastoral leases extinguished native title. In fact, in the 1993 Native Title Act there is a clause which says that the act will, in fact, recognise those leases which would otherwise not be legal and grant them full legal status. That refers to those leases which were granted after the Racial Discrimination Act came into being. So they were quite happy to validate those leases which would otherwise have been invalid. They did not bother with the great bulk of the pastoral leases because they obviously thought they were invalid. There could be no other explanation for that. They obviously thought that all the other pastoral leases were valid.

At that time, this was the view of people such as Noel Pearson and Peter Yu. They rushed off to do deals with the pastoral industry which, very foolishly, sold out. It is associated with the mining industry and they thought that they could protect themselves. It was a very foolish position and I said so at the time. The position now is that the Labor Party is simply trying to re-write history, and I do not think there is any excuse for that.

I listened to the member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Holding) lamenting the problems that Aboriginal people have faced. The member for Melbourne Ports was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for many years. He had the opportunity to do something about it but, of course, he never did. Nothing tangible was done in the time when Clyde Holding had the Aboriginal affairs portfolio. You might ask why. I put it to you that the reason is this: he, like the great bulk of this parliament, has no understanding of the philosophical concept of freedom.

At the end of the day, there are only two sorts of freedom in the world; that is, economic freedom and political freedom. The difference is this. Economic freedom will buy political freedom but political freedom can never buy economic freedom. From 1967, we granted Aboriginals complete political freedom but without any economic base, and that is the great tragedy. People on this side of the House and on the other side are talking about the importance of land to Aboriginal people when all the indicators say that those Aboriginals who have been dissociated from their land for the longest period are, in all the measurable and quantifiable terms—length of life, health and wealth—better off. There is no doubt about that.

I can remember when Utopia in the Northern Territory was one of the first places in Australia to be granted ownership of their land. If you go back to Utopia 30 years later, there is nothing there that we can be proud of. Ownership of land has done very little for them indeed. There are lots of Aboriginal people who understand this.

Another myth: we have talked about reconciliation. I want to quote the words of Billy King, who is the central law figure and leader of the community at Mount Barnett. Mr King has a very interesting history. For many years he was head stockman at King Ranches where his work force was mainly white. When he retired, he decided he would get his own station going. He said to me, `Reconciliation stopped in 1942.' I said, `Why's that, Billy?' He said, `I think that was when Japan entered the war. We know what the Japanese would have done if they'd got here. They'd have killed us all. We know that from the documents we got 50 years after the war. The Japanese said Aboriginal people weren't even fit to be slaves. They'd have got rid of us all, just like they'd done in Asia. Who fought the Japanese? The guddia, the white fella. He fought that battle for us. All debts are paid.' That was the view espoused by Billy King.

Concerning the hypocrisy of the Labor Party and the Aboriginal leadership, the member for Melbourne Ports and the member for Banks (Mr Melham) talk about Aboriginal leadership. What is this Aboriginal leadership? It is largely an overwhelmingly self-appointed leadership. The Kimberley Land Council is a closed club. It has about 120 members, many of them dead, and most of whom do not even know that they are members. Peter Yu is elected by a little coterie of his mates to a very expensive job. This government maintains him as deputy chairperson of the Indigenous Land Corporation. If they had any brains, they would sweep him away, along with Mr Ross, and put somebody in there who had a mind-set to do something to advance the welfare of Aboriginal people, instead of building up a vast ownership of land—an empire—out there. In the ILC, there is no consideration of economics. They buy stations to close them down. No matter what they say, the experience is exactly that.

There is no doubting the veracity of Alan Ramsey and I think the country owes him a great debt for his article in the Sydney Morning Herald where he reported verbatim letters that he had. Father Frank Brennan was of the view that the Racial Discrimination Act could not be made paramount over the 10-point plan because it would lead to a hopeless mess and be simply unworkable. There is no doubt that this is the case because that is what these people want. Brennan knows that, if this act is made subject to the Racial Discrimination Act, it will be totally unworkable. So he published this view in the Jesuit paper Eureka Street and received a letter from Peter Yu saying, `Please don't mention this. We are doing quiet negotiations with the Labor Party and we don't want this mentioned.' So what did Brennan do, this man of integrity who knows, and has said in his reply, that it is a minefield fraught with great dangers? He said, `Okay, fellows, you don't want me to mention it. I will not say another word. I'll go on holiday.' What integrity is there in that? I think there has to be some re-evaluation of this whole argument.

I was approached by Aboriginal people in my electorate who said that they wanted me to organise a meeting with Senator Harradine because they thought he was wrong and they wanted to put to him a view which he was not hearing from the Aboriginal industry, this self-appointed leadership. I said to them, `I cannot help you. If I organise a meeting with Harradine, he will say it is organised by me and that will downgrade you. The meeting will not be given any substance. You must do this yourselves.'

They went away and I must say that I thought, `Well, that's the end of that.' But they did it themselves. They got together and agreed that one would write the letter which they would all agree on. That letter was written by Rodney Rivers. It was a very reasonable letter asking Senator Harradine to come across to Western Australia and discuss with them their views on native title; that the 10-point plan should go ahead.

Harradine was too busy. He wrote back eventually and said, `No, I'm too busy to come and talk to you.' So then they started to ring him. I also got involved at that stage and provided some facilities to enable Aboriginals to go out and collect signatures. In one trip to the south-west of Western Australia, where I was hoping to get the Rodney Rivers letter signed, the Aboriginal people said, `No, we don't do that. We will sign it as family groups. We will consult amongst ourselves and the head of our group will sign it.' I have got these letters back now, representing probably 2,000 or 3,000 Aboriginal people; and that is on a very small sampling.

It is nonsense for the Labor Party to come in here and maintain that they are supporting Aboriginal people. They are not. They are supporting the Aboriginal industry, and they are not the same. It is quite clear. Aboriginal people in my electorate say, `We're all Australians. We're going to go forward together.' They think reconciliation is a nonsense. As Dickie Cox said to me, `Reconciliation—that's about the past, isn't it?' I said, `Yes.' He said, `The past is gone.' It was very profound. He said, `We've got to think about the future. We're all Australians. We've got to go forward together.' That is the view of a lot of Aboriginal people and it is the one I support.

We have come to an interesting scenario. Friar Brendan Walters, who is both a Catholic priest and a lawyer, recently published a paper, Catholic Church, Native Title versus Tribal Law. He pointed out that in Mabo 2 the courts found—and I must say they looked very hard, because I think Dawson was the only one who got it right—a reference to native law in the common law. He went on to say that native law was the law of Aboriginal people; that once you were diluted by interbreeding with whites, there was no native law for you.

This is borne out in my electorate by the Ngaanyatjarra Council. The Ngaanyatjarra Council has put a land claim over its entire area, called the central reserve, for which they sought a 99-year lease with all the regulations and all the general conditions of a 99-year lease. That is all they wanted, but that got swept away with the advent of native title. So they put in a native title claim. The Native Title Tribunal has gone to them continually and said, `Look, we've got all these claims over the edges of your area by Aboriginals in Kalgoorlie. We would like you to incorporate these in your claim.' They say, `No way. They can't come in with us. They are outside the law.' If the native title law applies only to traditional Aboriginal people, there is no problem because these people are overwhelmingly cooperative and overwhelmingly they want advancement.

That is what I want; I want for Aboriginal children what I want for my children, not the apartheid which is being forced on them by this parliament—principally, but not entirely, by the Labor Party. There are people in the Liberal Party going down this road. I recall that, when the Liberal Party first got into power, I went to see Howard and I said to the Prime Minister, `John, I think you should bring legislation into this parliament putting beyond doubt that pastoral leases extinguish native title.' He said, `I can't do that; it's too controversial.' Controversial to whom? It is controversial to the leafy suburbs of Sydney—not to the western suburbs, but the leafy suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. That is where the principal problem lies. You see it here in this parliament. You see people like Simon Crean, who knows nothing about Aboriginal people at all. He is part of this unholy alliance with the member for Banks (Mr Melham) trying to ram this legislation through.

These people said to me yesterday, `No, we don't want a double dissolution. But as a matter of principle there's a point beyond which we cannot go.' What a lot of nonsense! The thinking people in the Labor Party—and I believe there are some—know that a double dissolution will be a disaster for them, and I believe that to be the case. But they are still going down this road, being led down there by Hocus-Pocus in the Senate, Senator Bolkus, and the member for Banks. It is an absolute nonsense. It is a sham.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you have seen articles in the papers where Noel Pearson makes the most outrageous, provocative statements. I have asked Noel Pearson to stand for preselection for the Labor Party and then stand against me. The Labor Party hasn't preselected anyone yet. He will not come there. The reason that he will not come to my electorate is that there are too many Aboriginals in it. And he knows that he has no respect from the great majority of those people.

Noel Pearson has, in my view, an extraordinary conflict of interest. He works for the firm of Liebler & Bloch, which, for the last so many years, has been getting half a million dollars a year out of ATSIC and land rights associated funding. What a conflict of interest that is. He has a vested interest in perpetuating the problem. This is the man who signed off on the Keating legislation—the Keating legislation which believed absolutely that native title was eliminated on pastoral properties.

I believe the Howard legislation is weak and wishy-washy for this reason. He does not extinguish native title and therefore he offers no protection to the mining industry. It is the mining industry that is the target, not the pastoral industry. These people—the Aboriginal industry—know that the pastoral industry is under enormous pressure. It is not viable, there is no money there. We will see in a very short time the new green agenda, supported by that side and this side of the parliament, which will seek to close down the pastoral industry. This is in line with the aspirations of the Indigenous Land Corporation. They do not want the land to be productive; they just want to control land. That is the agenda. They know that if they get at the pastoral industry, they would then want to be able to get at the mining industry, which is a source of so much wealth and employment in the cities of Australia.

That brings me to a point that I have made many times in this House: the great Wik Stickers—so beautifully put by Peter Walsh in the Financial Review. He described accurately the sort of people that they are. You saw them prancing around this parliament. Conveniently, their numbers were reported as being up to 1,500. If you took the trouble to go and count them, it was barely six. The other thing you noticed was that there were very few Aboriginal people there. They were of the exact profile that Peter Walsh had identified as the Wik Stickers—people from `the leafy suburbs of the eastern states' who do not understand the problem because they do not have to live with it.

I have said this before in this House and it is worth saying again. A woman came into my office when I was still in the Labor Party and said to me, `Mr Campbell, I feel so ashamed of myself, I've always loved our Aboriginal people but since I have been in Kalgoorlie I hate them.' I said, `Where do you come from?' She came from Applecross, a leafy suburb of Perth. I said, `But you never see any Aboriginals in Applecross.' She said, `No, we didn't see very many.' I said, `When you get accosted in the supermarket for money and get abused when you say no, and when you see people defecating and urinating in the street, that's a different picture.' That is not racist; their behaviour is socially unacceptable. That is understood by a great many Aboriginal people. When Aboriginal people in state houses trash them, making life intolerable for the neighbours, the people that come and complain to me are other Aboriginals. They say, `You've got to do something about that, because they're giving us a bad name.' That is exactly the case. Nowhere do we see any respect or any thought given to responsibilities.

We are now faced with a document: the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a United Nations document. Australian Aboriginals—pseudo-Aboriginals, I might add—were, courtesy of the Australian taxpayer, able to go off to Geneva to provide input for that document. There is not one mention in any of the 49 articles of any responsibilities; it is all rights, no obligations. Until there is an acceptance of obligations in the Aboriginal community there will be no advancement for Aboriginal people, no matter what this parliament says or does. Until there is an economic base there will be no advancement.

We are seeing education go backwards in Aboriginal areas. I went to the minister when the government changed. I said, `Minister, under Dawkins's very foolish policy in the previous government, we took Abstudy away from the schools and gave it to families. As a consequence, the schools no longer get the funding. The breakfast programs have collapsed. Aboriginals don't go to school because there is no financial incentive. I think you should replace this.' I got back the same letter I got from the Labor bureaucracy, suggesting that I was mildly racist. But I am bringing this forward because I have Aboriginal people coming to me saying, `You must do this because without education there is no future.' That is not recognised.

There is a formula for advancement, and it goes like this: hygiene, housing, health, education, training and employment. But you cannot tackle them as individual items; they have to be tackled together. They have to be tackled at the same time because, if you leave one out, the wheel falls off the whole wagon. Until that is recognised, until this parliament is prepared to do something about it instead of grandstanding and playing in those leafy suburbs of the eastern seaboard, there is no future for Aboriginal people.