The dominant discourse in native title amendments is that of … coal?
In June 2015, the Australian Law Reform Commission handed down its final report into the Native Title Act. Amongst its recommendations was the amendment of provisions for the process of authorising Indigenous land use agreements (‘ILUAs’).
Coinciding with the ALRC Report, the Northern Development White Paper proposed a fund to settle all native title claims within a decade.
There has been no response to either the Report and the White Paper that might indicate just how native title processes might be improved, let alone settled, in the short or medium term. All of a sudden however, native title reform is back in vogue. But the heat of debate over proposed changes to ILUA authorisation masks what is at stake.
The story of peaceful community activism to prevent baby Asha from being returned to detention on Manus Island has been celebrated. It is right and good that the outpouring of community – and professional – goodwill has at least delayed the return of the infant to what are reported to be the terrible conditions of the detention centre on Nauru.
Despite individual ‘wins’ – such as the baby Asha decision – Australia’s asylum seeker laws (and policies) involve unresolved systemic issues. As happy as I am for the temporary reprieve for the infant Asha and her family I cannot help but wonder if wins for individual cases, as important as they are, fail to gain any traction on the central issues.
Mining company Adani wishes to build an airport, power station and accommodation for its Carmichael mine on leasehold land it owns in central Queensland. ABC now reports that the Queensland Coordinator-General has proposed that the government convert Adani’s leasehold land into freehold land. The effect of this conversion would be to extinguish native title over the land, held by the Wangan and Jabilingou people. While the government has extinguished native title this way in the past, this is apparently the first time that it will be done without the agreement of the traditional owners.
This move calls into question the Queensland government’s commitment to human rights – notably the right to free, prior and informed consent. This post explores the implications of this decision, and the precedent it sets for land dealings – notably against the backdrop of the pro-development approach of the Northern Development White Paper.
I have rarely seen such a retweeted story in my timeline as Guardian Australia’s story about the secret repatriation to Nauru of the asylum seeker known as ‘Abyan’. This Somali refugee is pregnant, allegedly as a consequence of rape on Nauru. She begged to be brought to Australia for a termination and in the face of a widespread campaign, the Australian government did bring her here.
According to her lawyer, George Newhouse, she sought counselling before consenting to any medical treatment. Guardian Australia reports that in doing so, the Australian government took her failure to consent immediately as a refusal of treatment. While her lawyers were bringing an application for an injunction before the Federal Court, the Australian government chartered a flight and flew Abyan back to Nauru.
Abortion is illegal in Nauru.
This is not a story of the Australian government’s victory against deaths at sea. Nor is it a story about a ‘“racket” among refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru seeking to come to Australia for medical care’. This is a story about institutionalised violence against women and the responsibility of all citizens to act to stop it. It is a story about the hollow ring of ‘gender equality’ where violence against women is left to flourish.