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Anger, fear and ignorance drive Australia's political direction



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' ? Media Release H H Embargo: 2000 hrs 28 July 1998

Embargo: 2000 hrs 28 July 1998

Anger, fear and ignorance drive Australia’s political Ol direction

By se n d in g o u t m ixed sig n als on in d ig e n o u s affairs an d pro m o tin g a false d e b a te a b o u t a c c o u n ta b ility , th e federal governm ent is feeding th e O ne N ation a g en d a , ATSIC Ch a irm a n G atjil D je rrk u ra told a n in te rn a tio n a l g a th erin g in G eneva today.

“A u stra lia is a g re a t c o u n try a n d we love o u r m o th e r la n d ,” Mr D je rrk u ra said .

“H ow ever, A u stra lia h a s lo st its political w ay a n d direction. Evil h a s c re p t in to th e body politic. It is bein g fuelled by a cocktail of anger, fear, a n d ig n o ran ce.

“The O ne N ation a g e n d a is a b h o rre n t b u t very clear. There is evidence, th a n k fu lly , th a t th e m o re ra c is t e lem en ts in O ne N atio n ’s p latform are only im p o rta n t for a m in o rity of th o s e w ho s u p p o rt th e p arty .

“R egrettably, I h a v e little positive to re p o rt in te rm s of th e a c tio n s of th e n a tio n a l g o v ern m en t in th e face of th is new rig h t w ing a g e n d a .”

Ivlr D je rrk u ra delivered h is “review of d ev elo p m en ts” sp eech to over 7 0 0 in d ig e n o u s d e leg a te s a t th e 16th S essio n of th e U nited N a tio n s’ W orking G roup on In d ig e n o u s P o p u la tio n s (WGIP). O ne of only two UN fo ru m s th a t specifically a d d re s s th e is s u e s of in d ig e n o u s p eoples, d eleg ates from a ro u n d th e w orld g a th e r a n n u a lly to

advise W GIP e x p e rts on econom ic d evelopm ent a n d social is su e s .

T his y e a r ’s th e m e a t WGIP is education a n d language. ATSIC is re p re se n te d by a sm all d e leg a tio n in c lu d in g Mr D je rrk u ra , th e ATSIC Portfolio C o m m issio n er for E d u c a tio n , Mr D avid C u rtis, a n d th e A cting C hief E xecutive Officer, Mr G lenn Rees.

Mr D je rrk u ra sa id th e la s t twelve m o n th s have b e e n difficult for A u stra lia ’s A boriginal a n d T o rres S tra it Isla n d e r peo p les w ho a re n o t only th e m o st d is a d v a n ta g e d people in A u stra lia n society b u t a re am ong th e chief sc a p e g o a ts ta rg e te d b y a n in cre asin g ly vocal m inority.

One N atio n is “ta p p in g into a seem ingly ric h vein of d is c o n te n t w ith th e p o licies of ra p id c h a n g e b e in g p u rs u e d by o u r m a jo r political p a rtie s ,” h e said .

“M any A u s tra lia n s —p a rtic u la rly in th e ru ra l a n d rem ote h in te rla n d s —a re h u rtin g from th e policies o f econom ic ra tio n a lism a n d g lo balisation. M any of o u r o u tb a c k to w n s w a n t n o p a r t of th e global village. M any of th e ir re s id e n ts , fearfu l a b o u t

th e ir ow n fu tu re , re s e n t p ro g ra m s for in d ig e n o u s p eoples. T hey w rongly see th e m a s e x tra b e n e fits a n d privileges w h ich th e y d o n ’t have.

“The fe d e ra l g o v e rn m e n t s e n d s o u t m ixed sig n a ls on in d ig e n o u s affairs. It c o n tin u a lly u n d e rm in e s ATSIC a n d th e p rin cip le of self-em pow erm ent w hile p u b licly p ro fe ssin g its c o m m itm en t to th e p rin c ip le s of th e C om m ission

“R ecently th e ta b lo id p re s s m is-re p o rte d th e c o st of a conference o rg a n ise d by th e K im berley L an d C ouncil in W est A u stralia. The g o v ern m en t d id n o t w a it to c h ec k th e fa c ts, w h ic h sh o w ed th e c o st w a s w ith in in d u s try guid elin es.

“It seized th e o p p o rtu n ity to publicly ju s tify a S pecial A udit of all c o n fe ren c e s, s e m in a rs a n d m eetin g s re s o u rc e d by ATSIC over th e la s t two y e a rs.

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ATC I C A B 0 R IG IN A L A N D TO R RES STRAIT ISLANDER C O M M IS S IO N /Λ I 3 1 V - M IC TOWER BUILDING, PHILLIP, ACT 2 6 0 6 . PO BOX 17, W ODEN, ACT 2 6 0 6 . TEL: (06) 2 8 9 1 2 2 2 FAX: (06) 281 0 7 7 2

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“The S pecial A udit is a d a n g e ro u s a n d costly a c t of d iscrim in atio n a g a in s t o u r people. No m a tte r th e findings, it will p e rp e tu a te th e m yth th a t every b la c k d o llar som ehow e n d s up in th e re d .”

Mr D je rrk u ra said o th e r governm ent m oves in clu d e th e q u a ra n tin in g of tw o th ird s of ATSIC’s b u d g e t from th e d iscretio n of th e ATSIC B oard a n d ta k in g v ital re s o u rc e s from ATSIC to fu n d its ow n Office of In d ig en o u s Policy. It h a s p re sid ed over a m e n d m e n ts to n ative title legislation, re su ltin g in su b sta n tia lly re d u c ed in d ig e n o u s com m on law p ro p e rty rig h ts, a n d is th re a te n in g to step b a c k from n a tio n a l le a d e rsh ip in th e p ro tectio n of in d ig e n o u s heritage.

B u t w hile its reco rd in re s p e c t of in d ig e n o u s rig h ts is poor, th e federal g o v e rn m e n t h a s ta k e n few in itiativ es to a c t on its ow n p rio ritie s—h o u sin g , em ploym ent, e d u c a tio n a n d h e alth .

“I acknow ledge th a t som e M inisters—n o tab ly D r Kemp, D r H erron a n d Jo c e ly n N ew m an—h av e fo u g h t h a rd a g a in s t th e o d d s to p ro te c t e x p en d itu re on th o se in d ig e n o u s p ro g ra m s for w hich th e y are re sp o n sib le ,” Mr D je rrk u ra said.

“D r W ooldridge is to be c o n g ra tu la te d on th o se im p o rta n t in itiativ es h e h a s b e e n able to ta k e in th e h e a lth a re a .”

M eanw hile, ATSIC is p u rs u in g several reform s—in clu d in g a new a p p ro a c h to econom ic d ev elo p m en t b a s e d on p a rtn e rs h ip s w ith th e p rivate sector.

“We n e ed to com bine in d ig e n o u s policy m ak in g w ith th e skills of th e p riv a te se c to r in e n s u rin g th a t we m ax im ise th e u s e of th e re s o u rc e s ,” Mr D je rrk u ra said .

“We h av e e m b a rk e d on a n a m b itio u s p ro g ram for th e reform of A boriginal legal serv ices w h ich h a s received governm ent su p p o rt.

“We h av e review ed th e o p e ra tio n of th e ATSIC Act. Im p o rta n t re c o m m e n d a tio n s have b e e n m a d e to s tre n g th e n th e o p eratio n of ATSIC a t th e reg io n al level in c lu d in g th ro u g h reg io n al a g re e m e n ts a n d reg io n al a u th o ritie s. We a re w orking c o n stru ctiv ely w ith g o v ern m en t to im p lem en t th e review w ith a view to e n s u rin g a

positive a n d tim ely re sp o n se .

“In d ig e n o u s p eo p les in A u stra lia have b een fighting for 200 y e a rs for o u r rig h ts. In th e early 1 9 9 0 ’s we seem ed a n ace aw ay from achieving ju s tic e .

“W hile th e re is evil in th e body politic th e re is also good in th e m ajo rity of A u stra lia n s.

“M any h u n d re d s of th o u s a n d s of A u stra lia n s to o k p a r t in N atio n al S orry D ay on 2 6 th M ay th is y e a r to m a rk th e s e p a ra tio n of in d ig e n o u s c h ild re n from th e ir fam ilies. T here h a s b e e n a n im m en se g roundsw ell of s u p p o rt from th e c o m m u n ity for th e p ro te c tio n of n ativ e title rig h ts.

“The p e o p le ’s m o v em en t for reco n ciliatio n is grow ing in stre n g th . Its g row th d e m o n s tra te s th e re is still a stro n g se n se of com m on decency ru n n in g th ro u g h A u stra lia n society.”

Look for the full text of this speech on www.atsic.gov.au from 2 9 /7 /9 8 .

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