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The Forum > Article Comments > Getting down to brass tacks on Indigenous treaty > Comments

Getting down to brass tacks on Indigenous treaty : Comments

By George Williams, published 17/4/2008

Achieving an Indigenous treaty in Australia would be a long, hard process but it could help bridge the gulf between Indigenous people and the rest of Australia.

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Now that the apology to the Stolen Generations addresses one historical injustice, the initial injustice should be tackled through a renewed focus on treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, in a way that builds desired partnerships.

If we agree with the need for action on a treaty, the key question is how to take the next steps.

The model of a national treaty framework and regional or local agreements has been proposed for some time, particularly by Indigenous people, as in the ATSIC/AIATSIS publication "Treaty: let’s get it right!" and George Williams’ own book "Treaty".

There should be a firm commitment to a national approach on these lines, with two strands:

1. Development of a national treaty framework; captured in an amendment to the Constitution, validating regional and local agreements

2. Formation of regional or local agreements within this emerging framework

The balance could shift between these strands over time, with the major initial emphasis being on regional and local agreements, leading ultimately to their ratification within a national treaty framework. The national process might take ten years, with the phases taking perhaps five years in any one region or locality. A grass roots, grounded approach may lead to the right structures for finally negotiating a national agreement.

A process for establishing regional and local agreements should be supported by the Commonwealth and State governments, with facilitation resources and guides to the necessary steps including:
• outlining stages such as: initial MoU, initial agreement, confirmed agreement in the form of a national treaty framework;
• suggesting approaches to identifying relevant parties to develop the agreement and maintaining a respectful process;
• providing background material on the desirability of treaty development, and other issues to be considered and resolved; and
• providing examples of agreement content in relation to, for example, cultural respect, service provision, land and other natural resources, funding.

Starting examples of regional and local agreement processes exist: e.g., Murdi Paaki NSW, Cape York, Glenelg MoU, Shepparton COAG Compact, Yarra Partnerships, Albany Accord (see http://www.atns.net.au).
Posted by John Burke, Friday, 18 April 2008 4:14:29 PM
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When will the soft left stop with the absolutely insane habit of preferring symbols over action. You guys really are leading the band on the Titanic. We need life rafts not goddam mood music.

Aboriginal communities in the remote regions, indeed in plenty of rural shanty towns, are living lives even many third-worlders wouldn’t envy. Aboriginal children are growing up without an education equipping them for life in the real world. They suffer from levels of disease and illnesses which are almost unheard of in the first world. Sexual abuse and violence against women and children make some communities among the most violent places on earth. All this has happened during an unprecedented period of control of Aboriginal policy by the soft-left.

Without significant intervention we will be condemning these children to the fate which has befallen their parents.

And now we hear that the 2020 summit are looking to resurrect the monumental failure that was ATSIC.

We need to ensure that the most competent people are involved in Aboriginal affairs, not people of the right colour. Obviously it is vital to have community involvement in administration, particularly in goal setting. However the day to day welfare of Aboriginal people cannot be left to amateurs any more. Until we have rectified the disgraceful situation which we have caused, symbolic notions like Treaties must take a back seat.
Posted by Paul.L, Saturday, 19 April 2008 11:22:05 AM
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May I slam the door on the righteous rhetoric of these burbling amateurs before they entirely sideline small factors like intelligent definitions, democratic rights and on-the-ground reality.

In a 2006 interactive interview questionnaire of a proven Australian demographic corridor, the question was asked 'Should Australians who are predominently of non-Aboriginal heritage, who are unable to speak an Aboriginal language, and whose culture is essentially the same as the majority of other Australians; be granted land rights or otherwise special status? The response was a resounding 81% who said NO. (The results of the survey were published in the Australian Independent, but were ignored by the mass media; as usual. Copies are still available).

Democratically, therefore, we can reduce the Aboriginal percentage from the 2.5% cultural pretenders, down to the genuine Aboriginal language-speaking 0.5% who have genuine disadvantages. Of these, recently outspoken people like NT MLA Alison Anderson have told these pretenders and their groupies to cease trying to represent the real people.

The reality is, for 230 years, the Australian Government has forced genuine Aborigines to negotiate in a foreign language. They have never been permitted to present their needs as they identify these. In fact, they know the answers. People who do not speak Aboriginal languages should be disqualified from the arena.
Posted by Tony Ryan oziz4oz, Saturday, 19 April 2008 12:01:49 PM
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"The reality is, for 230 years, the Australian Government has forced genuine Aborigines to negotiate in a foreign language. They have never been permitted to present their needs as they identify these. In fact, they know the answers. People who do not speak Aboriginal languages should be disqualified from the arena."

Language was a problem when the British were negotiating treaties in NZ, wherein elders did realise they were giving sovereignty to the British Crown. Yet, English is likely to be the most understood language.

he aborigines of days past had clans and no nation, and various languages [a nation is by sociological definition ethnicly diverse].

Also, while tera nullius was an irrational concept, treaties regaining land I have seen involving North American indigenous peoples do not claim "ownership" of land, rather life-lines are drawn totem animals, the land and the reconciling peoples. The reconciliation is animist not economic.

Indigenous peoles, whom claim "ownership" of the land are breaking from traditions thousands of years old. Rather aboriginals and invaders/settlers would have been seen as parties making settlement with/through the land.
Posted by Oliver, Sunday, 20 April 2008 11:01:32 AM
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Oliver

"terra nullius" had absolutely nothing to do with the settling of Australia. It is yet another of the Big Lies peddled by bourgeois Left Luvvies and their race-baiting pals in university Law faculties. It does not surprsie one bit that the like of George Williams are beating this divisive drum. After all it is white bourgeois Luvvie males - like himself - who drive the Aboriginal Industry. And it is they who stand to gain the most financially from all this ahistorical race-baiting rubbish.

It is time the rest of us told him and his cabal "Enough. Put a sock in it already!"
Posted by John Greenfield, Sunday, 20 April 2008 3:50:51 PM
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John Greenfield,

How do you we get past the All Indigenious People Victim Industry and move-on to Some Indigineous People Need Help Solutions.

Overseas, I was watching US conservative Glenn Beck, interview a prominent Black Minister becrying the globally sufferings of the poor black people in the US. Beck, a watch collector, pointed out the Minister was wearing a $13,000 Rolex. I am not saying an African American should not have six Rollers in his/her gargage; but some of Black leaders are more like CEOs than people genuinely helping all the downcast and needy.

One frequent contributor on OLO writes thousands of word on indigenous peoples, but does say a word about, say, street kids. Some of the economic solutions proposed would be foreign to an aboriginal clan back in 1600.
Posted by Oliver, Sunday, 20 April 2008 4:13:24 PM
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