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Issue #1678      March 25, 2015


Racist land grab

In November last year Wangatha Elder, Pastor Geoffrey Stokes, journeyed 600 kilometres from Kalgoorlie to speak at a rally on the steps of Parliament House in Perth to call for the protection of remote communities in WA. This was in response to Premier Colin Barnett’s announcement that his Coalition government intended to close down up to 150 of 274 remote communities.

Barnett had resorted to scaremongering and lies about child abuse and substance abuse to justify the closures. Elders and advocates pointed out that 90 percent of the communities are not affected by suicides or by substance abuse or any pronounced social dysfunction. The vast majority of the communities are poor and are neglected by government.

The move is hand-in-glove with the Abbott government’s savage cuts to funding for Indigenous services, including cutting agencies back to a bare minimum of five.

“It’s just all lies by Premier Barnett about what is happening in our communities,” said Pastor Stokes. “Kick the people out of the communities and they will finish up homeless. Kick the people off their Country and you will break them further.

“For nearly two centuries here in Western Australia the Black man and the Black woman have been trodden on, smashed, even had the white man trying to bleach out the Black from us. It does not stop. They drag us off Country in chains, relocate us, dump us, then move us again and they see the impacts, the despair and suicides and now they are going to do it to us again.”

In concert with this strategy is mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s report “Creating Parity”, announced last year. The report, commissioned by the Abbott government, is a recipe for wiping out Native Title, clearing Indigenous communities off their land and the continued historical push for assimilation.

The report – produced the mining magnate and his head office team – proposes a radical overhaul of the whole social security system and the introduction of a “Healthy Welfare Card” to replace cash payments.

The larger scenario is the plan for a new state, Northern Australia, which will be a cheap labour and low tax haven for mining companies, with a big part of the workforce imported from the Asia/Pacific. “The focus is on building priority roads, developing water resources, attracting more investment and reducing red tape,” said Abbott.

The blueprint for what is being described as the “next frontier” for economic development, is nothing less than a racist-based land grab. Billionaire miners such as Forrest and Gina Rinehart stand to rake in more billions. It will be a land thrown open for plunder.

Workers will be flown in and flown out of this union-free territory. Land rights will be the first item of “red tape” to be torn up, along with regulation and oversight of safety and environmental standards. Union awards would be stripped bare.

The so-called “Creating Parity” is a blueprint to drive those already doing it tough into deeper poverty. Said WA Narrunga Elder Tauto Sansbury: “This is ugly racism, not just deplorable; it is evil and cruel, murderous. It is treachery, betrayal, connivance. We, the first people, are betrayed at every turn”.

Next article – Residents pledge to defend Bulga from Rio Tinto

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