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Anti-Genocide Bill 1999

CHAIR —I am giving you five minutes to put your remarks to the committee. There is another person coming in after you.

Ms Wadjularbinna —I object to you giving me five minutes, but I will do my best to say what I want to say. Genocide is a serious criminal offence and I want to be given the opportunity to say what I have to say. I have not put in a submission. I found out too late because I travel around the country and I was not aware that submissions had to be sent in. But as I am the person who has initiated the charge against the Prime Minister and parliamentarians on genocide in this country, I would like to make it clear to the committee where I am coming from as an indigenous person, and what I am saying, and what I am going to say, when I go out of the country in continuing this fight for justice for my people.

I want you to know as I sit here—and I sit here in the name of my ancestors—of the great laws and religion of my people that date back many thousands of years. We are all Australians, but we belong in two different categories. One are descendants of the First Fleet of illegal boat people. Me and my people are the sovereign people of this land. I want you to know and understand that, when I am charging the government with genocide, I am coming from that perspective. The Aboriginal people are forced. We have had a law, a religion, a culture and a spiritual connectedness to everything in creation. I am sitting here today in front of a Senate who come from the First Fleet of foreign boat people, illegal boat people. You are all here illegally and you have the hide to tell me that I have five minutes to say what I want to say. We are saying very clearly that the time has come for white Australia to wake up and this genocide has to stop. Enough is enough.

Today, my people—I come from the Doomadgee Aboriginal community—have laws in place and yet we have this foreign rule. A white Australian rule is foreign to us and it conflicts with our laws, and that is number one genocide on my people. I am very concerned as to how you are going to turn it around. I am concerned that this bill is not going to even take into consideration what we are saying. That is why I want to let you know up front that the system—the legal system, the health system, the housing—everything within this country conflicts with our laws.

In Doomadgee we are burying young people nearly every second or third week. There are suicide attempts and there are people who commit suicide and who are dying because of mental trauma because they are not allowed to practise their own laws, their own religion. We are suffering cultural genocide in our own land. And all the millions of dollars of taxpayers' money cannot put it right, and you all know that. You all know that, with all the dollars that are put in that area, we are going from bad to worse. So we have to come to terms with the sovereign right of my people in this land; there has to be a treaty. We have to be given back our unique identity in this land. It is different, but nobody is accepting that we are different, with different values and different laws. This is the situation we find ourselves in.

Our women in Doomadgee are going to hospital. And while they are under, while they are put out to have their babies, for some of them their tubes are tied, some of them have hysterectomies while under that, without consultation with these black people. They go back to Doomadgee and they find they cannot have any more children. Then we have the white health system that is saying to our people, `You have many options. You do not have to have that baby if you do not want it.' Abortion—that is evil, within our law and our religion. Homosexuality is an evil in our law and our religion. Divorce is an evil in our law and in our religion. But this is all A-okay for white Australia, as you all heard from the talks today, protecting the rights of these people. White Australia can do that. We are not here to judge white Australia—you do what you want to do. Please, do not impose that way on our people. Please allow us to have our spirituality, our laws and our religion. We have a right. We all belong to the human race first, all of us.

This Anti-Genocide Bill that you are pushing through is not going to help our case, so why do it? You are going to push it through and at the end of the day it will be more of the same. We are still under this foreign rule that allows all of these evil things to take place. It is certainly not in our law and in our religion. We are not even respected as having a different religion to anybody else. We are expected to go along to all of the other churches. We are Aboriginal people with a spiritual belief, and our sovereign right is under the sovereign rule of a power that is greater than the Queen on the throne and greater than any prime minister in this land or anywhere else. That is who we are answerable to, not to anybody else. But we are being crucified for being different. We belong to this land, we are the people of this land and we abide by the laws of this land and of the great spirit creator that created us all—you and me—and we are sick to death of hearing we are the minority in this land.

Gentlemen, I have to remind you that once upon a time we were in the majority, and you all know that if you know the history of this country. We were the First Nation's people in this country all over this land. But we have been brought down to a minority. How? You all know how. Laws have been passed in this country to destroy us, systematically and deliberately, because we have documents stating it very clearly. We have taken it to the court and white Australia is in chronic denial of its part in genocide. Look, we are the minority in this land; that speaks volumes. How can a group of people sail into this country illegally, and there were many peoples and nations in this country then, so that now we are the minority after 212 years. It speaks volumes for what you guys and your ancestors have been doing to us. Enough is enough!

I know I am an old lady and I will soon be passing from this scene, but I am going to finish up with this. When I started this genocide case I asked myself where I was going and what I had done. Have I done everything that is humanly possible to stop this genocidal act on my people? I found myself short; I did not measure up. I could not stand before my creator and say I had done everything humanly possible. That is why I took the genocide case against the Prime Minister.

This 10-point plan is giving us the same rights as white Australians. But we are very different to white Australia. You guys see land as a commodity to be bought and sold. We have a spiritual connection to this land that is the very essence of our being. We can't sell it, we can't walk away from it, but we have been driven off it and put into Aboriginal communities in concentration camps. We remain there today. Laws have been passed for 212 years, to this very day, that go against us and destroy us. Abortion, homosexuality, divorce and all of that stuff is your business. You do it, but don't impose it on us. We want our sovereign right recognised, not answering to kings and queens or prime ministers; we want our spiritual sovereignty, our religion. We want to be the people who God created us to be in this land. We want it back, and we want to walk side by side with you. We want to put balance into this confused topsy-turvy white Australian society.

Our laws and religion have been made over many thousands of years. They have not changed to this very day. We have a system in place that is far superior to yours, and I think the time has come for you to learn about it. Look at it. You might learn something from it and you might start to respect us as fellow human beings. Let us walk side by side in this wonderful land. Thank you for listening.

CHAIR —Thank you. As we have no further questions, thank you for appearing before the committee today.

[3.15 p.m.]