Solidarity Action Melbourne: Protest compulsory acquisition of Indigenous town camps

Solidarity Action Melbourne: protest compulsory acquisition of Indigenous town camps (more info below)

Jenny Macklin's office
Thursday May 28
149 burgundy st, heidelburg

see you there

PLS pass on

Dear all,

Please consider endorsement of the following statement. Stop theIntervention Collective in Sydney is working with town camp
representatives, including Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy camp, to build opposition to the federal government's draconian takeover policy.

Pasted below is also a media release from the Intervention RollbackAction Group in Alice Springs and media articles which give more detail of the takeover.

Endorsements are requested from individuals and organisations. Please circulate amongst your networks. Please reply to this address or
stoptheintervention@gmail.com before 5pm on Thursday 28th of May to
indicate support.

In Sydney, the statement will be delivered to the federal Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek, at her office, 111-117 Devonshire Street Surry Hills this Friday May 29 at 12:30pm. We will hold a protest at the office and encourage supporters to join us. Protests are also being planned in Alice Springs and around Australia.

in solidarity
Paddy Gibson
Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney

Statement Opposing the Commonwealth’s Proposal to Compulsorily Acquire
the Alice Springs Town Camps

We recognise the right of Tangentyere Council and town camp residents to self-determination. Town camp residents have called upon governments to address overcrowding and poverty in their communities over several years. More often than not, their demands have been ignored.

We support the recent decision by the Council to reject the Commonwealth’s proposal that would transfer control of housing and tenancy management to the Northern Territory Government. Representatives from all town camps voted to maintain community control. This is vital because of a long history of neglect and indifference to the needs of Aboriginal people by Northern Territory Housing. People rightly fear eviction and rent-increases that are beyond their capacity to pay. It is critical that Aboriginal people have the power to shape their own destinies.

We condemn Minister Macklin’s proposal for the Commonwealth to compulsorily acquire the town camps of Alice Springs. We call on the Commonwealth to respect the independence of the Tangentyere Council and to act in good faith in all of its negotiations with the Tangentyere Council.

We recognise the long struggle for land by both town camp residents and Aboriginal land holders throughout Australia. We condemn the Federal Government’s policy of withholding funding for desperately needed housing in Aboriginal communities, before Aboriginal people relinquish control of their land.

It is disgraceful that the party who championed the first land rights legislation in Australia is holding impoverished Aboriginal
communities to ransom. This Government has lost its moral compass. We offer our full support to the Tangentyere Council in their struggle.


Media release *For immediate release 24 May 2009* Media Release

Takeover of Aboriginal Land marks Opening of Reconciliation Week

Today Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin marked the opening of Reconciliation Week by announcing that Alice Springs town camps will be compulsorily acquired. The announcement has been met with outrage by town camp residents. The move comes after Tangentyere Council, acting on behalf of town camp residents, rejected a 40 year lease deal which precluded all Aboriginal control and management of camp housing which would put decision-making and resources into the hands of
Territory Housing.

The community housing model proposed by Tangentyere Council and the ability of residents to have input into housing management has been flatly rejected by the government. The community housing model was to be run by the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company, which Minister Macklin helped establish in March last year but has now been
rejected in favour of a government takeover.

Residents represented by Tangentyere are opposed to Territory Housing management of the camps due to the high rate of evictions and predicted rent increases under government management. Many Aboriginal people who have been former residents of NT Housing, have already experienced evictions, with the most common reasons being for cooking
kangaroo tail in the backyard or for having relatives from the bush visit. People are concerned they will have nowhere to go if evicted from town camps under Territory Housing, which already has a three year waiting list for new occupancy.

“This is an appalling decision by the federal government. It marks the start of a takeover for all Aboriginal communities who reject government leases. If the government were genuine about consultation with communities it would not be blackmailing people with long-term leases and the threat of compulsory acquisition” said Hilary Tyler from the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs.

“You can’t take someone’s land without free, prior and informed consent. It is very hypocritical of the Government to endorse the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when the Intervention contravenes at least 26 articles. By keeping the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) in place it goes to show the Government of Australia is in fact racist.” says Barbara Shaw from Mt Nancy town camp.

A rally of town camp residents targeting both the NT government and federal government over its announcement of outstation closures and the compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs towncamps will take place later this week in Alice Springs.

Contact: Barb Shaw on 0401 291 166, Hilary Tyler on 0419 244 012 or
Lauren Mellor on 0413 534 125

Or visit www.rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com


Town camps takeover illegal: lawyer

The Commonwealth's threat to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs breaches international law, a prominent lawyer says.

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, says "the time for negotiation is over" after the Tangentyere Council rejected a $100 million Government bid to lease the camps for 40 years in exchange for new infrastructure development.

There are up to 3000 Aboriginal people living in the 18 town camps, with 188 houses and 72 tin sheds accommodating them.

Ms Macklin has given the council an ultimatum: sign the lease by July 5 or have the town camps compulsorily acquired.

"There is a period of notice of just over a month and during that notice period Tangentyere can reconsider their position, come back to the table," she said.

But lawyer George Newhouse, who is representing several town camp residents over a separate matter, says the forced resumption of leases would go against the Government's commitments to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

"The Government can correct poverty without resuming people's land," he said.

"There is no other group or people in this country that has to give up their land to get basic government services.

"You don't have to give up your land to get an education. You don't have to give up your land to get social services. You don't have to give up your land to get basic healthcare."

Mr Newhouse has warned forced acquisition will have a massive impact on the Budget. "This action is going to cost the Government hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The Government's been talking about paying rent to Indigenous land owners or lease owners, but since the Warrigal case, the Government's going to be required to pay just terms compensation.

"And that's more than just rent and it's more than just the unimproved land value."

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