NT parliament march for indigenous rights

A rally for indigenous rights in Darwin has been told that the closure of remote communities equates to the practice during settlement of herding Aboriginal people towards a poisoned waterhole.

杭州桑拿

More than 100 people rallied on Friday in the CBD to protest elements of the newly released white paper on northern development, saying proposed changes to native title laws would erode land rights, and arguing that Indigenous labour plans were unfair.

“When you’re talking about forcing closed these communities, herding people to the last waterhole and poisoning the water… this has happened before,” Anthony Ah Kit told the crowd.

He said people living in remote communities were protected from some of the dangers and vices in towns and cities, and were some of the healthiest Indigenous people in the country.

The Northern Territory government is considering taking a one-off $155 million payment from the Commonwealth to take over the delivery of essential services to remote communities, but has so far said it wants to stimulate economic development in those communities rather than close them, as has been proposed in Western Australia.

“That $155 million (Chief Minister) Adam Giles wants to get his grubby hands on, he can’t deliver a ham sandwich, how can he be trusted to deliver essential services?” said Labor opposition MP Ken Vowles.

He accused the government of “screwing Aboriginal people over”.

The crowd marched on Parliament and handed Mr Vowles signed copies of a letter destined for the government, raising concerns about the defunding of indigenous services and arguing that under a labour plan in the northern Australia white paper indigenous people would be paid less than the award wage with no protections under the Fair Work Act or the Work Health and Safety legislation.

“The community believes there should have been more consultation about what’s in that white paper and we’re very concerned about what’s in it,” said Thomas Mayor, NT secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

“We’re concerned this white paper is trying to leverage to reduce or water down native title rights, we think native title will be eroded by 99-year leases, the positioning towards freehold.”

Uncle Jack Ah Kit said government needed to consult more widely, “not just with a select few”.

“You’re having a lend of us once again and we’re sick and tired of it,” he said.

He said Aboriginal people in the NT had been disillusioned by both the Country Liberals government and the Labor Opposition.

“We’re not as dumb as you think we are, and we’re waking up very fast,” he said.