Aboriginal treaty in time for the Federal election?


p2327-Braedon-EarleySir – The promise of a treaty for Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory was first made in 1988, 30 years ago, by the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
The Federal Government has the jurisdiction to make such promises; it can amend the Constitution to recognise a treaty, but it did not. The Federal Labor Government of the day lied to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory and they did it at Barunga in 1988.
At Barunga on the weekend, the promise of a treaty was made again, this time by the Northern Territory Labor Government led by Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
Neither he nor the NT Government have the Federal jurisdiction to make such an agreement or memorandum of understanding,  nor jurisdictional powers to offer the same.
This time it is the Gunner Labor Government lying to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory about changing the Constitution of Australia to recognise a treaty.
Why? Why now? What’s it all about and why would Labor want to do something about a treaty now? The answer is quite simple. The Gunner Labor Government is on the nose and the Shorten Labor Opposition needs more runs on the board for a Federal election.
Here is a breakdown: 86% of Territorians polled in the bush are against fracking; a large percentage of those are Aboriginal. The Gunner Labor Government and the Shorten Labor Opposition are pro-Fracking.
The Gunner Government lifted the moratorium on fracking, against the will of the Territory community and now they are in damage control.
If those people vote against Labor and the Country Liberal Party, then a Lower House seat and a Senator’s seat will go to another party or independent candidate at the next Federal Election.
Both major parties know this. Both are willing to follow each other on subjects such as a treaty if it means keeping a foothold in the electorate.
Why hasn’t Warren Snowdon in his nearly 27 years in office done something about a treaty until now?
He was in Barunga in 1988; he witnessed the promise by Hawke, so how come he hasn’t raised his head till now?
A nice new Warren Snowdon office in Katherine opened in the week preceding the Barunga Festival – what a coincidence?
So Warren has managed to open three offices for one elected Member of the Lower House, for himself, but hasn’t been able to follow up on the promise of treaty in 1988 until now?
Everyone in his electorate is watching; even his own faction in the Labor party is over him. Warren is fighting for his political life and relevance is his objective.
The Gunner Government does not have the power to enact a treaty for Aboriginal people, but it will pretend it does with the aid of the Labor sub branches – the land councils of the NT.
It will make promises, employ people, conduct community consultation, create false hope and mislead the Aboriginal people of the NT. They will create smokescreens and lie to the people in order to secure their votes. Such is the Labor way.
But even if Labor is elected Federally, this is what the next potential Labor Prime Minister said about a treaty over the weekend: We “would be open to a discussion about a Federal Treaty”.
Who said history doesn’t repeat itself? The perspective of the latte sipping eastern seaboard voters will again be: “Shorten is looking after the Aboriginal people, what a good bloke,” whilst nothing could be further from the truth.
Alternatively, is this whole re-invention of a treaty just a smoke screen by the Gunner Labor Government to engage with the Northern Land Council (NLC) and the Central Land Council (CLC) in order to gain increased access to Aboriginal land for hydraulic fracturing? Who could tell with Labor?
There are examples of successfully functioning land councils in the NT not run by the NLC or the CLC: The Tiwi Island Land Council and the Andilyakwa Land Council come to mind.
But what of other Land Councils? In 2013 Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin rejected the Jawoyn peoples’ application for a land council.
That’s a Labor Federal Minister, but five years later we have a Territory Chief Minister claiming to construct a treaty for Aboriginal people, without the appropriate authority and without the political will of his Federal counterparts.
Who is pulling whose leg here? And what did Senator Nigel Scullion say at the time: “That is the problem with the Gillard Government, they just don’t listen to the Aboriginal people.”
Well guess what Nigel, neither do the Country Liberal Party, because there has been no new treaty or land councils on either the Labor Party or the Country Liberal Party watch for the last 20 or so years, and there won’t be going forward.
1 Territory would recommend the disbanding of the land councils.
Their hundreds of millions of dollars of accumulated wealth will be evenly distributed between the Aboriginal people it was originally intended for.
Secondly, 1 Territory would recommend that each different Aboriginal tribe or moiety be given the same corporate governance and statutory powers (as a land council) to take control of their own destinies and the economic and social well-being of their own people.
Braedon Earley (pictured)
President, 1 Territory Party


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