More sit-down money, fewer answers, as millions accumulate


It’s all very neat: footage from a meeting of Aboriginal people, close-ups of attendees’ pensive faces, speakers “speaking strong”.
A suave moderator, Noel Jampintjinpa Heenan from Yuelamu, presenting in English, urges viewers: “Have your say on how you money is spent.” Elisabeth Ross voiced the Warlpiri version.
A generator? A renal dialysis chair? Swimming pool? A guitar? Footy boots?
It sounds like a 24/7 Santa with a $3m a year stocking.
A few Toyotas hurtling through the bush and we’re at a different community in the Tanami Desert. There are nine of them in all with an interest in the Granite Mines Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC). The number of representatives in the group, occasionally represented in the video by stick figures,vary with the size of the community, ranging from Yuendumu (pop about 950) to Tanami Downs (just a few houses).
The launch screening is in the meeting room of the plush Central Land Council (CLC) building in Alice Springs.
The 17 minute video had actually already been shown at the Yuendumu Sports Day a few weeks earlier. It was the battle of the bush bands that got the rave reviews that night from the audience, but the video was a neatly put together and informative piece.
For PAW Media, the Yuendumu-based production company, it was a well-done addition to their portfolio over many years (they started as Warlpiri Media) which also includes involvement in Francis Kelly’s and Dave Batty’s Coniston and Bush Mechanics.
So what is the Granite Mines Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC)?
The Granite Mines, (above right) some 600 kms north-west of Alice Springs, are owned by Newmont, one of the world’s largest gold producers with significant assets or operations on five continents. The Granites employs some 600 people.
This is how it all hangs together (in a simplified version): Newmont mines on Aboriginal land > this obliges them to pay a royalty to the land owners (via the Australian Government) > no such obligation exists vis-a-vis non-Aboriginal land owners > the royalties are paid to GMAAAC > it’s about $3m a year > GMAAAC invests roughly half in businesses and real estate > it does so usually via Centrecorp in which the CLC has a three-fifths holding > GMAAAC’s accumulated funds at June 30, 2012 amounted to $26.8m > the CLC gets part of its operating costs from mining royalties > the CLC supports GMAAAC’s operations > these are mostly to decide who gets what from the royalty cake > no-one needs to lift a finger to get that money > it’s the law.
Neat, isn’t it?
But hold on, isn’t there a missing link somewhere? Isn’t this just another variant of sit-down money becoming further institutionalized?
How about people in the affected areas getting a job at the mines, for example?
Isn’t that an issue at the heart of the barney that Adam Giles and Delia Lawrie are having right now, or Senator Nigel Scullion commented about in these pages: When will Aboriginal assets – including land – finally become a device for lifting Aborigines out of their misery?
I sat down with Norbert Jampijinpa Patrick after the video launch to explore these issues. He is a middle-aged man of tall and dignified bearing, chairman of GMAAAC as well as a councillor for Lajamanu on the Central Desert Shire and its former president.
How many Lajamanu people work at the Granites?
Three, he replies: one is an Aboriginal liaison officer, one a truck driver and one an exploration worker.
I had already found out from senior man Harry Nelson that no-one from the GMAAAC region’s other major Aboriginal town, Yuendumu, works at the Granites.
Would Mr Patrick like to see people from his community work there?
“Yes, from every community. That’s my grandfather’s country,” says Mr Patrick.
Why does he think not more people are working at the mine?
“Maybe because it is very remote. Sometimes there is a loneliness, too, when you are without your family.”
The mine would pick people up by plane, wouldn’t it?
“Plane, or they drive down to pick you up.”
How many people are unemployed in Lajamanu?
This was one question too many for the CLC’s principal gatekeeper, media officer Jane Hodson, who’d been hovering close to Mr Patrick and me during the interview.
“This is about GMAAAC, not about employment at Lajamanu. Let’s stick to GMAAAC,” she declared.
I asked Mr Patrick: “Are you happy to talk to me about unemployment?”
“I guess this is about GMAAAC,” he replied.
And so the question at the core of it all remained without an answer.  See above, as the circle neatly closes.


  1. I am at a loss as to what this article is aiming to achieve. Is it the intention of this article to highlight a system that may need improvement or is it to raise questions of inequity between indigenous and non indigenous peoples?
    A whole range of groups have a responsibility to foster greater opportunity and prosperity for indigenous people not least indigenous leaders and their people.
    Having said that the big end of town are quite happy to pay royalties to get their hands on the bounty mines bring.
    Further, governments have lauded themselves as supporters of royalties and the systems that provide said payments.
    Governments are quick to bathe in the sunshine as champions of the indigenous peoples by ensuring compensation is paid by the miners.
    There should be no question as to the legitimacy indigenous people have to collect royalties. It is rightly their land and they have every right to seek compensation.
    Other land holders could legitimately argue the same right. The royalty amounts are considerable but let’s not get carried away here because what is traded in return is also considerable. The profit mining companies and their shareholders leave the royalty payments looking like spare change.
    I suggest that both indigenous people and non indigenous people would agree there is room for improvement. However, there are also some great examples of indigenous enterprises which are successful financially and are providing great outcomes for their people.
    This article seems unbalanced and biased and serves no other purpose than to inflame already ignorant views.
    Please do better.

  2. So people are giving royalty money (that they are entitled to as owners of that land) to community projects such as renal dialysis, swimming pools or football teams rather than keeping it for themselves as an individual? Sounds like a very good idea to me.

  3. @ Peter. Posted 27 Nov.
    “Those who believe in diversity as an end in itself may hope that concepts such as justice or human rights can regulate the conflicts that ensue,” says John Scriven in his new book ‘Belief and the Nation’ (Wilberforce Pub. UK. 2013:90.)
    He reflects on the universality of human nature as a foundation for political theory, quoting Philip Allot, “The unity of the human condition, of human nature transcends the diversity of socially organised ideas.” (p.96).
    It seems to me that the AS News is questioning State support for unemployment benefits in a region where diversity exists within the guise of cultural difference.
    This difference is revealed in the laws of the State allowing mineral royalties on land to accumulate to a group of people, while those who contribute to that group’s uemployment support by their taxes are denied similar royalties on their land.
    The fact is that royalty money on land owned under a communal title overseen by Traditional Owners through the law of the Dreaming is in conflict with laws outside those boundaries and this is where Scriven suggests that human nature is transcendent as a foundation for political theory and the formulation of State law.
    I should say that he is well aware of totalitarian government and is pointing out the nature of conflict resolution.
    The concepts of justice and “right” is applied under State laws, including Human Rights legislation, but cultural diversity operates within social parameters that apply to all citizens, regardless of cultural difference and belief.
    It may be, as suggested, that there are inequities that could be, as you say, subject to improvement.
    Scriven’s book reflects concerns in the UK, including secular / Christian conflict and Sharia law in a country founded on the political theory of freedom mandated by absolute truths of Common Law under natural principles enshrined in Christian Scripture.
    These freedoms are being challenged by conflicting belief systems exercised through cultural diversity.
    What the AS News article purports, in my opinion, is to examine the law that applies to one group in a different way than it does to another.
    Perhaps, the social conflicts found in the NT may be ameliorated if these areas were more closely examined and debated.
    We are free to express our views, but it may be that you are contributing to the racism that you appear to oppose.

  4. I wonder if there’s a connection between the 50% of GMAAAC royalties distributed to and fought over by familes – untaxed, not quarantined, and not counted as income in assessing benefit entitlements – and the ‘rivers of grog’.
    Does someone from PAAC have the time and the necessary data to do the analyses of this royalty payment stream and all the other royalty payments?

  5. Thank you Russell for an informative response. You make some valid points and the philosophy you refer to may work in an altruistic society.
    However, it negates to mention dispossession.
    Further, there are many examples where indigenous lore is in conflict with statute law. Yet in some jurisdictions Lore is and can be used to supplement the law.
    As you suggest, this may be an area for further debate. I disagree that my comments may contribute in someway to a racial argument.
    As I inferred with my previous comment, Indigenous peoples have a right to compensation.
    This in no way suggests pastoralists / other land holders do not have a claim to similar recompense for their loss.
    As I stated previously the article is not balanced. Again I thank you Russell for your response.

  6. @ Peter. Nov. 28.
    Thanks for your response. I urge you to post your correct surname, while this controversial subject is at an early stage.
    It would be reassuring to know that the person to whom I consider a reply is genuine. Paul asks a reasonable question, but the same nomenclature applies.
    Unless you can give a reason for anonymity, you risk not being taken seriously and that would be a shame, because the outcome of some of these issues is that people are dying in alcoholic-induced poverty and violence. Please advise.

  7. Russell, perhaps he is wary of revealing his name out of concern that he may be accused of contributing to racism.

  8. @ Bush Teacher.
    I can’t see how you can contstrue that, based on a sensitive reading of my post, but to clarify the issue, complexity exists within oppositional forces and sometimes fuel can be added to a fire instead of water, making conflict resolution more of a challenge.
    The Australian government response to the Indonesian spy scandal is an example.
    I presume your anonymity is to do with your position as a “bush teacher” able to present an insider’s view. I can’t see any other claim being valid, but if that is the case and we have to assume it is, then we also have to assume that you’re not being facetious.

  9. It looks like it’s just you and me using both our names, Russell.
    So what? And who, really, cares? Ian usually does. Bob sometimes does. Any others?
    Argue the point, not the person. Otherwise it’s ad hominem, and if I remember my first year logic correctly, that’s a logical fallacy.

  10. Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) royalty monies relate to activities upon lands where ownership has the title held under a corporate entities known as Land Trusts. Land Trusts operate and are overseen by their shareholders using their own internal rules, which remain lawful except where they are found to conflict with laws upheld in various senior judicial jurisdictions.
    Most confusion around Land Trust operations arises where Land Council agents fail to provide their shareholders with written documentation, agenda and minutes, for their meetings and their decisions.
    Whether, why, such records may not be held by shareholders is a matter these shareholders need to raise; First with their corporate Land Trust management boards, then perhaps by seeking judicial decisions concerning what they are entitled to.
    Whether is possible some shareholders may leak contents to the media is largely irrelevant, as such leeks are separate unrelated issues to their right to know what their corporate entity does.
    In the end any and all laws, rulings, decisions, of these Land Trusts need comply with dominant law of the land – or be found invalid.
    Our High Court may find either way, or both ways, rather than surrender to Scriven’s suggestion that human nature is transcendent as a foundation for political theory and the formulation of State law.
    If natural law theory is irreconcilable with social justice theory, then perhaps neither will ever agree.
    Perhaps each is to the extreme (left or right) side from a possible equilibrium point, the location of such equilibrium point likely what is disputed to save face or protect position in the argument.
    Towards such an equilibrium point perhaps are decisions by the United Nations, the International Court, and our High Court.
    Our High Court has clearly upheld that some Australian legal decisions must comply with various International Agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nation’s adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December, 1948 particularly the points ratified by Australia.
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights appears to remain superior to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly on 13 September, 2007.
    We remain more human than racially different.

  11. @ Hal Duell.
    Thanks for the advice, Hal, but I find it difficult to reconcile an ad hominem argument with a pseudonym. There is a point in supplying a correct surname as a means of identification and it’s listed in the AS News policy, but apart from that, there are many other reasons, mainly to do with ethics, rather than logical fallacies.
    @ Paul Parker.
    Thanks for your informative post, Paul. There are many threads to this story. Where society disagrees is brought to a point of law, but we have a free discussion and that’s something worth protecting.
    I read a report about the late US President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address, which began: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
    The Australian (22.11.13) reported ‘Lincoln spoke of the hallowed ground “consecrated” by the living and the dead who had “struggled” there. He asked that those still living continue the “unfinished work” and dedicate themselves to “the great task remaining before us.”
    “That this nation,” he said, “under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
    We have a multicultural society as did the USA at the time of the American Civil War. Scriven’s book reflects the concern that freedoms once taken for granted in the UK are under threat, which is why an essential thread of conflict resolution flows through his book, based on the proposition that we are more human than racially different and created equal.

  12. This appears to be a very emotive subject and one I am finding very interesting.
    The comments I post respresent my veiws and beliefs. What others make of them is a matter for them. As for being taken seriously, this is of no concern to me. That assessment is for others to make.

  13. @Russell Guy
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 6:04 am
    So someone wants to retain some anonymity? How again does this impact on the validity of their comments?
    Some examples of ad hominem from The Free Dictionary:
    Fallacious argument that attacks not an opponent’s beliefs but his motives or character (for example questioning one’s ethics?)
    Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason (for example your apparent dislike of pseudonyms?)
    Attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering an argument (ethics, again?)
    It’s interesting to note that in a recent thread in the On Line Opinion, one of the regular essayists made a similar complaint to yours. Of the 20 of so replies, mine was the only one containing two names, although one respondent did use both names, but in the text, not in the signing.
    On the basis of that and the current argument, pseudonyms seem to be the order of the day in our online debates.
    I can’t see it really matters as for legal reasons, should any ever occur, the website has the particulars of the origin of every comment.

  14. Re: Russell Guy Posted November 29, 2013 at 6:04 am
    Admit to enjoying each re-read of the late US President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address, even better some representations by good orators.
    Find myself less dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, given simple observation of life, physical and mental disadvantage, along with historical divisions by gender and wealth, do suggests otherwise.
    My dedication is more to proposition all people are created with an entitlement to equality of opportunity, our challenge being to ensure each person receives such opportunity, and learns is their responsibility to put in the effort to take advantage of such opportunity.
    Free discussion is worth protecting, though dismayed at the numbers who confuse blinkered discussion with free discussion.
    Remains my view all racial measurements and racial rights create barriers towards righting past wrongs, barriers towards providing reasonable compensation for losses, and particularly a barrier to the equality of opportunity for all in life today.
    The Commonwealth through the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) is committed more towards apartheid than equality of opportunity, their intransigence, along with the Central Land Council, continue to prove this and the consequences each day.

  15. Re Hal Duell Posted November 29, 2013 at 9:04 am
    Some seek some anonymity, because in large areas of the NT persons employed can be ordered from their place of employment and residence at extremely short notice with little opportunity to seek redress.
    Protecting such coercion, with threats available, along with corruptive practices thus enabled, is IMHO principle reason Central Land Council so opposed, so obstructive, towards issuing leases to residents.
    Elsewhere reasonable leases are regarded as basic rights, but not within ALR(NT) lands.
    Despite the area of 750,000 square kilometres over which Central Land Council was appointed by Australian Government to be statutory authority, standard tenancy leases continue to be obstructively opposed.

  16. @ Hal.
    You refer to “Ian” (presumably Ian Sharp) and “Bob” (presumably Bob Durnan) in your earlier post as postees who “usually” and “sometimes” give their full names.
    As far as I’m aware, both always post full names. The point being that your “Bob” may be anyone. There are several “Paul” postees. This leads to confusion.
    I’m not questioning anyone’s ethics so much as positing ethics as a foundation for debate. Perhaps, this is naive, given that no ethical code can ultimately survive moral ambivalence.
    It’s not that I dislike pseudonyms. I make the point within the context of your ad hominem proposal.
    I’m not attacking a person’s character. It’s not clear whether you’re making a point or an accusation, either way, as you have written in defence of many of your posts, re-read the post, but let’s not make a meal out of this.
    I’ve already attempted to answer the question you put about validity of an anonymous argument.
    @ Peter.
    I don’t see this as an emotive argument. I support one of the central thrusts of this article in following the royalty trail from payments made by arrangement with Traditional Owners, making it taxable and accountable.
    I believe that this will resolve conflicts to do with chronic employment benefits and alcohol-abuse, leading to productive outcomes for NT society.
    Now, if we can encourage the NTG to review the Licensing legislation in its current zest for reform … have a good day.

  17. @ Russell Guy
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    No, I refer to both Ian and Bob as postees who usually, in Ian’s case, and sometimes, in Bob’s case, growl other postees for not using their full names.
    I only mention it now to avoid any possibility of a misunderstanding arising on either of their parts.

  18. Oh and the intelligent chairman of the CLC wants to increase the mining royalties from 4% to 25%-50% for Aboriginal people. CHAOS, here we come if that happens!

  19. As a former employee of a certain entity, I can verify what Paul has written here. And yes, I am using a pseudonym for obvious reasons.
    The ALRA has indeed created ‘apartheid’ in the NT, and the CLC rules over, promotes and upholds this apartheid. The CLC has come a long, long way from the grass roots advocacy body that it began as in the early 1970s. It is now little more than a self-serving bully, controlling Aboriginal people by throwing them scraps, whilst amassing huge wealth in its financial entity, Centrecorp, in order to keep itself functioning should the Federal government do to it what Howard did to ATSIC.
    I have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars of money wasted on creating documents on ‘intellectual property rights’ by the CLC, which few TOs could understand, or even wanted. I have seen lease meetings where lawyers strut around with microphones, spewing legal talk to people whose fourth language was English, who had no idea what the meeting was about other than ‘lease meeting’ (BTW, CLC DO NOT USE interpreters … have you ever wondered why? To keep Aboriginal people in the dark).
    I have been at internal meetings where NOT A SINGLE Aboriginal person was present and lawyers made the decisions for them, without any consultation with TOs (so much for Section 23 of ALRA!).
    I have seen the CLC bully, harass and threaten NT government agencies, pastoralists, small businesses companies behind closed doors, over and over again – and no, this was NOT Aboriginal people – it was white CLC staff bullying people in a way in which most Aboriginal people would have been ashamed of.
    The agency has a culture of internal bullying and flaming, and when you start work there, you’re taught that every white / mainstream organisation is the enemy, out to rip off, disempower and destroy Aboriginal people. You’re taught that no other agency should be representing Aboriginal people (thus the AAPA / CLC stoush I’ve written of previously), and you learn a way of being arrogant when speaking to others outside of the organisation. You’re taught that only CLC ‘understands’ Aboriginal people and has the right to speak for them.
    It is high time this disgusting ‘gatekeeper’ of Aboriginal people was gutted, its massive corporate assets seized, and its lawyer-driven, self-serving culture exposed for what it is: [spending] Aboriginal people’s money and voices.
    Seriously, it needs to be broken up, its functions taken over by government and ALL of its jobs relocated to communities and Aboriginal people employed in them.
    In almost 40 years, not once has anyone held this bully accountable. Governments are scared of them, because people on the East Coast think this is an ‘Aboriginal’ organisation. What a joke.
    It’s a whitefella lawyer organisation nowadays, only interested in its own continuation and quest for governance over all of Central Australia.

  20. Lot of useless and irrelevant comments here as you would expect normally from the people of NT.
    Anyway, mining royalty monies don’t go (and can’t go) to individuals’ bank accounts (even if they are “Traditional Owners”).
    Money can only be distributed to and spent on community projects and for running Aboriginal organisations (administrative costs).
    But as usual the ignorant rednecks have ignorantly linked royalties to unemployment and rivers of grog.
    I really think ignorant whites should be given compulsory Aboriginal affairs education for the betterment of all in Australia.

  21. And Erwin Chlanda, what about welfare money received by white “Aussies”? Do you call that sit-down-money as well or may be that is “income”?
    Just asking, that’s all :p

  22. @ Truth is Bitter.
    “Irrelevant”, “ignorant”, “rednecks”, “compulsory” education, “Truth is Bitter”. Couldn’t post your real name because some of the descriptors could be self-applied if you were inclined to truth, so we’re treated to an incredible pseudonym and a lesson in accounting that’s equally incredible.
    Truth is far from bitter or even irrelevant. It’s not even compulsory. That just leaves ignorant redneck.

  23. Truth is Bitter declines to be named in this thread whilst claiming special insight into the issues discussed.
    He / she would benefit from reading (amongst other pieces he / she can google here) this report in the Alice Springs News Online
    It deals with with royalty distributions to individual Aborigines.

  24. @ Paul Parker. I understand that you were evicted from a community you helped to create in the first place BECAUSE you successfully created an income and job providing enterprise.
    So on one hand the CLC claims to promote enterprise on Aboriginal land but is just as likely to evict anyone who tries to do that.

  25. @ Truth is bitter. Clearly you have no idea how royalties are distributed. Only a few are paid into benefits accounts for community projects. The vast number of them end up as cheques to individuals, with the CLC skimming off a healthy ‘admin’ fee. Members of land trusts actually vote / instruct CLC how to disperse the money – unless CLC attempts to make up their minds for them.
    You should have been at Ali Curung today, you know, and you would have SEEN this with your own eyes: individual Traditional Owners do indeed get ‘money paid into their bank accounts’ – via cheques from the CLC royalty office made out to individuals. You could have seen the fuss it caused, firsthand.
    I recommend that you actually spend some time in the NT, living on an Aboriginal community, before commenting again.
    You might understand why more than a few of us are tired of the apartheid that keeps Aboriginal people marginalized and impoverished.

  26. Oh Erwin – so you don’t like it that ‘Truth is Bitter’ declines to be named but you think its OK for ‘Sacha’ who also claims “special insight into the issues discussed” (your quotes).
    Perhaps it’s just that Sascha’s special insight happens to coincide with yours in that it is is bitter and twisted and completely opposed to the CLC for some peculiar reason. Either a former disgruntled employee or perhaps it is you dear Erwin posing as Sascha?

  27. @ Jane Hodson:
    Hi Jane … no, I am not posing as Sascha. My comments always have my full name. Erwin.

  28. Around August 1991 the Central Land Council’s Jonathon Rodd (solicitor) attended our home at Kintore during which Jilau and I refused to pay cash. We did offer a not negotiable cheque made out to Land Trust which Haasts Bluff Land Trust (HBLT) then was free to distribute as it wished. This offer rejected by Jonathon Rodd CLC.
    CLC Lawyer Jonathon Rodd advised that a lease must be taken out with the CLC and HBLT if trading was to continue.
    Jilau and Paul Parker were prepared “without admission” to discuss entering into a lease and asked Mr Rodd for the HBLT or CLC to provide a copy of their draft lease.
    Central Land Council, ignoring advice concerning “Traditional Owner” status of Jilau Parker and children ordered our family to cease business and depart Kintore.
    At time we filed matter in NT Supreme Court, received admission from CLC as to “Traditional Owner” status of Jilau Parker and our children.
    CLC argues because I refuse to answer racial questions – other than to confirm I am Australian by birth, CLC argued our family has then no right to live together at Kintore as a family.
    After CLC admitted my wife and children were “Traditional Owners” but they had no right to live in a house, they returned to the community, and eventually obtained another house to live in – without a lease.
    CLC maintains its argument a “Traditional Owner” has no right to have their family or friends reside with them or visit them, except with permit through the CLC, or obtaining a lease.
    Despite repeated requests our family is yet to receive any form of draft lease to consider.
    To date the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney-General has not been prepared to provide legal assistance to our family.
    The NT Supreme Court believed essential was our being provided legal assistance to enable the courts to fully and properly consider serious legal issues with full legal argument when the matters proceed to trial.
    These include several Constitutional issues which need be referred to the High Court for decisions.
    So NTSC ordered a “stay of proceedings” until we obtain legal representation.
    One of the Constitutional issues concerns interpretation of the 1967 Referendum which amended Constitution s.51(xxvi) concerning whether s.51(xxvi) needs be considered, needs be interpreted, in accordance with clear will of Australian Voters for there to be absolutely NO discrimination between Australians on the grounds of race, or, whether Commonwealth’s current interpretation that the Commonwealth is free to discriminate between all Australians on grounds of race whenever it chooses.
    This Commonwealth’s current interpretation of s.51(xxvi) contradicts Australia’s original signatory position and status in relation to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris by a vote of 48 (includes Australia) in favor, 0 against, with eight abstentions.
    Commonwealth continues to deny us legal assistance.

  29. I often hear people complain that while unemployment is high in Yuendumu, very few people seek jobs at the mines.
    Yes, there is more than one mine operating on Warlpiri land, and there are in fact a few people from Yuendumu who have jobs at the Granites gold mine. The thing people need to realize is that these jobs are not suitable for most people.
    Actually a tiny percentage of Australians would enjoy the isolated and tightly controlled work environment at the mines in remote parts of Australia. Warlpiri people are also very diverse, and some people that have worked at the Granites found the long periods away from their families to be unbearable in particular.
    For most of them it is the first time working full-time, and the first time living at a place with no other people that speak their language, or who can understand their cultural commitments.
    Because there has been very little sustainable economic development in Warlpiri communities, the combination of low incomes and high expenses has led to a poverty trap that few Australians have any comprehension of.
    In fact mining royalties have done a lot to alleviate the poverty over the years, but the majority of people are still too busy dealing with over-crowding, anger and frustration, and getting their daily needs to be available for full time work.
    I have spent most of my life in Yuendumu, and I keep hearing criticism from people like Erwin, who will never understand what the effects of poverty are.
    In fact the poverty that Warlpiri people experience is a form of torture that was deliberately imposed on them when they had the best portions of their land stolen from them.

  30. @ Joseph. It’s good to see a contribution from someone who is as grounded in remote community life as you are.
    To play the foil here, you say that mining jobs are not suitable as some people that have worked at the Granites found the long periods away from their families to be unbearable.
    That’s a good point, but don’t you think that royalty money is also rather unsuitable for alleviating poverty in a society where it is difficult and anti social to horde money and goods and where family is considered wealth? Just a thought.

  31. Re: Joseph Baarda Posted December 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm
    The poverty Warlpiri people experience may be a form of torture, such a torture largely they impose upon themselves.
    Like it or not the world changes.
    Like it or not, few wish to live old-world way.
    Most try to improve their circumstances within the world around them.
    Loss of relatives is not unique to Warlpiri, is common thread within all our shared histories.
    Claiming some Warlpiri land were lost is a distraction, to divert attention from today’s concerns.
    Warlpiri land is largely title-owned by corporate Warlpiri for the “Traditional” share-owners.
    Are Warlpiri adapting to changes occurring so they prosper, or doing nothing whilst they fade away?
    Do corporate Warlpiri and their “Traditional” share-owners just waste their incomes (actual and potential) from their land-ownership, hide it away to avoid spending, or spend these their own monies to build and improve their own homes, thus improve their lives, like most landowners need do?
    Many if not most houses owned by corporate Warlpiri were constructed with government grants or non-repayable loans, with ownership retained by corporate Warlpiri.
    Are Warlpiri corporate landowners charging (nominal, reasonable or excessive unimproved capital land rate) rents for lands leased to government?
    Government reasonably pay to improve public services and public resources, even in Warlpiri communities, but not private services.
    Where Warlpiri corporate landowners failed to issue leases, did they charge reasonable rents, sufficient to maintain previously publicly funded houses they gained, or just seek others to pay for such which were their repairs?
    What are corporate Warlpiri and their “Traditional” share-owners doing to help themselves, provide development, improve their opportunities in their communities on “their land”?


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