Jun 28, 2012

Aboriginals of Australia: Despair at ‘Stronger Futures’ Bill

Aboriginals leaders call for a delay in the halving of a ‘Sunset Clause’ that, they believe, will create their own apartheid in the Northern territory. 

Below is an article published by The Australian:

The Federal Government's Stronger Futures draft laws are before the Senate and are expected to pass this week [27 June 2012].

Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, who represents 8000 Yolngu people of east Arnhem Land said the laws would cause great suffering in the hearts of his people.

"Should this Stronger Futures legislation pass through the Senate and become law, it will be a day of mourning for all Aboriginal peoples," he said.

"For those of us living in the Northern Territory the anguish of the past five years [2008-2012] of intervention has been almost unbearable."

Dr Gondarra said many Aboriginal people had given up hope.

"We have been burying people who can no longer live with the pain and despair," he said.

Central Australian indigenous leader Rosalie Kunoth Monks who lives in the Alyawaar community of Utopia near Alice Springs, echoed his sentiment.

"We will never accept this racist legislation that separates us from other Australians and creates its own apartheid in our country," she said.

The duo want the Government to allow Aboriginal people more control over the decision-making process in communities.

Indigenous groups and welfare campaigners have called for the vote on the legislation to be delayed until Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin subjects the draft laws to a human rights test.

Last week, the parliamentary human rights committee requested Ms Macklin provide a statement of compatibility for the Stronger Futures laws against Australia's international obligations.

The committee confirmed yesterday [26 June 2012] it has not received a response from Ms Macklin.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has the power to refer the laws to the human rights committee, but a spokeswoman said yesterday [26 June 2012] Ms Roxon had still not seen a request made by the National Congress of Australia's First People.

Australian Greens senator Rachel Siewert urged Ms Macklin to respond to the committee before the vote.

"The lack of proper consultation around the laws was clearly identified as a concern during the recent senate inquiry and a review of the compatibility statement would be a good starting point to rebuild lost trust," Senator Siewert said.

Earlier on Monday [25 June 2012] it emerged attempts to cut the sunset clause of a decade to five years was likely to fail.

Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Nigel Scullion has previously raised concerns about the 10 year-sunset clause attached to Labor's Stronger Futures Bills.

A spokesman for Senator Scullion said yesterday the Opposition had been unable to negotiate with the Government to reduce the sunset clause.

Instead, an Opposition amendment to ensure the laws are reviewed within three years rather than seven is likely to pass, he said.