Wednesday, 3 January 2007

NSW has a weird view of land rights.

The Sydney Morning Herald has a poorly written piece today. Are all SMH journalists as uncritical as Andrew Clennell? His piece was entitled "Native title deal after 11 years". Look at the whole article before proceeding.


Here is an annotated version of this article - which I was sent by a friend. I think it warrants being published in its own right. (The comments in red are not from the original published article - but that will be self-evident.)

Native title deal after 11 years
TWO native title deals - including the biggest ever settled in NSW - are to be announced by the State Government before the election in March.

Depending on your point of view:- this is an announcement so you will be ready and waiting when we do make an announcement, or - the more likely reason - we want two bites at the PR cherry, the now and the photo opportunity later when everyone is back from the beach/Thailand/Bali/New York

The Government confirmed yesterday that it would approve the biggest native title claim, with the Githabul people in an area north of Tenterfield, next month.

We want every blackfella in NSW and all members of ANTAR to recognise what we are doing for Aboriginal people

It is also about to settle a claim with the Arakwal people, near Byron Bay.


The native title claimants gave up the fight for freehold title to make the deals possible.

We didn't teach the A Team to negotiate like Keating did, so if they don't like the deal they only have themselves to blame.

The Premier, Morris Iemma, is expected to attend a ceremony at Toonumbar dam in the state's north-east on February 28 to settle the Githabul people's 11-year-old claim.

We have looked up the SOI and consulted Phil Koperberg and decided that there will be neither rain nor bushfire in the vicinity so have decided that this will be the best day and the best light for the aforesaid photo opportunity. The date is probably as close as we can get to Election Day and still allow time for the good news of our good deed to sink in and to allow the voting public to study Morrie's picture so they can identify him.

Settling the claim will give the local Aboriginal corporation about 120 hectares of land, allow Aborigines to hunt for turtles and give them a say over the handling of national parks and state forests. It should also provide job opportunities for Aboriginal people with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Read aforesaid comments on negotiating skills and techniques. Haven't checked to see if there are turtles there. EPA keeping its fingers crossed that turtles do better in the vicinity of Toonumbar dam than Sydney Rock Oyster farms have done. And, yeah, the blackfellas will get a say over how to open the gates to the national parks and state forests but we'll decide how much money and to whom the money flows from aforesaid national parks and state forests. For job opportunities for Aboriginal people with the National Parks and Wildlife Service see aforesaid sentence.

The deal is largely restricted to 70,000 hectares of national park and state forest land and will not affect farmland.

We are not putting up with the aggravation from all those rural whingers in the Western Division like the Feds did with Mabo. And of course, we - the government, ahem, the people of NSW actually control the national parks and the state forests so no one will notice anything different. All photo opps and no aggravation.

The director-general of the NSW Department of Lands, Warwick Watkins, said yesterday a final settlement was also expected before March with the Arakwal people. In 2001, the Government announced that it would negotiate with them about how the national park there would be used, but there has been a further claim, which is about to be settled.

Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.

Trevor Close, the native title claimant for the Githabul land, which extends from Tenterfield to Kyogle, said Aboriginal people got "very little" out of the deal other than the right to hunt turtles and a say in how the national parks were run.

Please note above.

However, he was happy to see it resolved after 11 years of negotiations.

Wasn't getting anywhere anyway, so we are trying to walk away from the lack of negotiating table with some dignity still intact.

"A lot of people think it's a great deal," he said, "but they don't actually see how much the Githabul gave up - we moved a hell of a lot to get this deal."

Some of us thought some sort of deal signed, sealed and delivered to-day would be better than nothing and might let us have an opportunity to try again another day.

Mr Watkins agreed the deal was largely symbolic, but said it was important spiritually to Aboriginal people and similar to a native title agreement reached over Crown land covering Perth several years ago.

See above and ditto. We don't really believe in this spiritual stuff but they reckon they do so there's nothing in it for us and doesn't cost us much so we're letting 'em, have a bit of a dreamtime.

The National Party leader, Andrew Stoner, said that the native title agreement was an "obvious vote-buying exercise in the lead-up to the March state election".

How dare they pinch our template for doing deals with blackfellas if and when we get to government.

He said greater involvement of Aboriginal people in the management of the areas was "likely to result in a more commonsense approach than the extreme green approach taken by the NSW Labor Government".

And you say I'm colour blind if I think Morrie Iemma and the socialists are extreme green. I'll have you know that green is my favourite colour but only the green on the National Party website and election posters and advertising - and, of course, when we are wearing it with our Irish Catholic neighbours at the various St Pat's Day races around country NSW.

PS: Just remember this is democracy in action - there are plenty of dictatorships and one party governments that you can live under where this doesn't happen at all, and some of them are at war or killing their own!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

The real cost of the "War on Terror"

Jeff Sparrow has written an article about the obsession with capital punishment in The Age, 1 January 2007. "Delivering convenient death shrinks all our souls". It starts out with a predictable question, along the lines of: "Why do people want to watch the death throws of Saddam Hussein" - which he refers to as "digital necrophilia".

But then, he switches tack, and comes up with these statistics - OK, he has borrowed them from "The Independent" in Britain.

"the Global War on Terror, ... according to Britain's Independent, has already taken the lives of 62,000 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the US more than the sum needed to pay off the debts of every poor nation on earth..."

There you go - they could have paid off world debt - but instead chose to fabricate a reason to invade Iraq - so that they could steal the resources of a sovereign nation. OK, not many people think kindly of Saddam, but he was as legitimate a ruler as many others I could name. And don't forget the Americans worked with him, when it suited them, (because of Iran).

It also shows that continuing world poverty is a choice made by powerful Governments.

The people who campaign to "Make Poverty History" must be spewing over these statistics.