Sad day for Aboriginal Australia
Central Land Council, 17 August 2007
The Central Land Council said today that the passing of the Government's emergency intervention legislation through the Senate is a sad day for all Australians.
Harry Nelson a traditional owner from Yuendumu and part of the delegation to Canberra last week said he was extremely saddened at the legilstaion passing through the Senate.
"Our dream has been shattered. This is coming from my heart," Mr Nelson said.
"We can't go home from Canberra and hold our heads up. I've got no answer for my people because the Minister wouldn't even meet with us. I feel sad and no good.
"I fought for my land and they can take way all the houses but they can't take my land.
"After all these years of fighting for our land and our freedom this is where we end up. What about our freehold title? Only a handful of people in remote communities even understand what a 'lease' is, the government needs to come out and speak about it slowly. From my point of view the government has taken the major communities.
"It will take years for people to understand these changes."
CLC Director David Ross said the dramatic and hasty move by the Government showed a deep contempt for the very people it purported to help.
"I have no doubt at all that this is going to have deeply negative consequences for Aboriginal people in remote communities. It would be unconscionable to support legislation which pervades and controls every level of Aboriginal people's lives in the Northern Territory .
"When the army and Government business managers are sent in to fix child abuse, one has to wonder at the sheer nonsense associated with the whole exercise.
"The Land Council has tried its best to ameliorate some of the most punitive and regressive measures by putting forward substantive amendments to the three bills. These have been rejected by the government.
However, we will now work to ensure that people in the bush understand the profound changes and are able to maximise any positive opportunities which may arise from it.
While the CLC did give broad support to measures to curb alcohol, increase policing and improve community stores, the CLC opposed compulsory leases, scrapping permits, and far reaching powers for the Minister in communities.