Aboriginal and community organisations have called for a National Convergence on Canberra
for the opening of Parliament on 12 February 2008. "We want to send a
strong message to the new government. The NT Intervention is an abuse
of power by the previous government. We as Aboriginal people need to
stand together to be heard as one." writes Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy
Camp near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
"As a resident of a prescribed area and an active member of the
Intervention Rollback Working Group, I am trying to raise funds and
encourage as many people as possible to travel to Canberra for this
important event" she said.
She criticised the Government for so far failing to ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
"I am asking all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations to
please try and send representatives to this important gathering. There
will be workshops in Canberra on 11 February to inform people about the
impact of the intervention on people’s lives and about the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." she said.
Details from a leaflet on the convergence follows:
Details on Why you should join the convergence
Howard’s racist intervention must be rolled back!
John Howard’s ‘Emergency Intervention’ in the NT, introduced in the
final months of his government, was a package of punitive, racist and
paternalistic measures aimed at controlling the lives and land of
- The intervention suspended the Racial Discrimination Act and
ignores ‘Aboriginal Land’ as described in the Aboriginal Land Rights
- Despite claims that the intervention was a response to
‘rampant child sexual abuse’, 700 pages of emergency bill legislation
did not once mention ‘child’ or ‘children’.
- There has been minimal investment in providing new
community-based services and instead, $88 million of the promised
funding has been spent administering the welfare quarantining.
- The federal election revealed overwhelming opposition to the
intervention nationally, with the ousting of both Howard and Mal Brough
from their seats, and among Territory Aboriginal communities. When
Labor MPs in affected areas emphasised political differences to the
Coalition they consistently received over 80% of the vote; with 95% in
the town of Wadeye.
- Aboriginal communities are calling for an end to the racist
military and political intervention and for the creation of Aboriginal
controlled services designed through extensive consultation.
Let’s push Labor to improve their policy!
Federal Labor has pledged some improvements. They have promised
to restore a ‘reformed’ CDEP (Community Development and Employment
Program) and permit system. Despite this, the ALP’s policy is
disturbingly similar to the Liberals:
- Discriminatory measures such as mandatory welfare quarantine,
compulsory land acquisition and the presence of non-Aboriginal
"business managers" with extraordinary powers are not opposed.
- There has been no commitment to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act.
- The demand for immediate review of the legislation from across the NT and Australia has been ignored.
Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs!
A vibrant, mass convergence on Canberra at the opening of
parliament will be an important step in challenging the lingering
legacy of Howard's racism. We can send a strong signal to the Rudd
Government to acknowledge the rights of Aboriginal people, to increase
the resources and services available to communities across Australia
and to respect Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs.
Initiated by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Sydney