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THE COUNTRYMAN

NEWS

 

Selwyn Johnston

INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES'

ADVOCATE

(Cairns... Far North Queensland)

 

Thank you for visiting my on-line office. 

I appreciate your interest in the issues that effect not only Queenslanders, but all Australians. 

Please let me hear from you about your views on the issues that matter to your Family, your Community and your State.  

Sincerely,

Selwyn Johnston

 

One person, with the support of the community, can make a difference

 

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Australia's Native Title

INDEX

Ambit Claims

ATSIC 1996 Election Results

ATSIC

Facts on Indigenous Land Ownership

Freehold Land - Native Title Claims

Indigenous Population - 2001

Native Title

Native Title - Sea Claims

Unbelievable High Court Ruling

WIK - The Harradine Compromise

 

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Native Title

Australia is home to more than 20 million people, of various ethnic origins, and of whom about 2% are indigenous. Of that 2%, at least half are now so urbanised and divorced from their origins that they are unlikely ever to have legitimate access to the native title process.

In effect, therefore, the current native title process benefits roughly 1% of the population and gives them the right to mount claims over approximately 79% of Australia - notwithstanding that about 15% of Australia's land mass is currently under some form of native title control, including some 40% of the Northern Territory

The settlement of Australia is an irrevocable historical fact and non-indigenous Australians are here to stay, not as 'guests' but as bona fide citizens and residents with the same rights as everybody else.

The current native title process is highly discriminatory in that only a tiny proportion of the population has access to it - and the process itself delivers to this tiny group, rights to land, and the use of that land, that no other section of the Australian community enjoys. Every other Australian who wants land must either buy or lease it, with governments still retaining the rights to any minerals found on it, as well as imposing numerous other restrictions upon how the land can or cannot be used.

If the aboriginal activists truly believe in equality and equity, the only solution is total extinguishment of native title - except that over existing indigenous owned land and proven legitimate sacred sites. Until native title is legally extinguished in Australia, except over the approximate 15% of the nation already controlled by indigenous groups, there will continue to be massive instability and uncertainty in land tenure and development.

The current native land title objective will not serve the process of reconciliation. Indeed, it is extremely divisive and will only harm reconciliation, especially in the years ahead as our population grows and the non-British component that has not even a tenuous link to the original settlement and dispossession of aborigines - and therefore feels no moral or otherwise obligation to apologise for anything - increases.

It should be noted that governments make laws by an act of parliament, courts administer such laws. The WIK high court decision reflects the reluctance of a government to do what it was elected for, to make some hard, and in the case of some minority groups, unpalatable legislation, which however, would be for the benefit of the wider community. The government instead chose to take the easy way out and assigned it to the court system assuming a favourable result for the government would be the outcome.

Why? 

The answer is quite simple! 

The government, the opposition and other political parties, were unwilling to accept the risk of a potential loss of votes at the next election. The political party's place enormous values on POWER, and the holding of POWER ultimately leads to political parties pandering to minority groups.

It is unfortunate that successive governments did not introduce legislation to eliminate the possibility of the current debacle, which serves the best interest of nobody.

Within the framework of the original native title legislation, there have emerged obtrusive, unscrupulous and disturbing characteristics.

Traditional indigenous Australians of remote Australia, the majority, have not, evidently, been consulted by the ATSIC aboriginal activists, seeking their input on their future, who, after all, are the people of discussion.
(see ATSIC 1996 election results)
Mixed-race Australians, the majority, are jeopardising the indigenous Australian’s processes by their outrageous land, sea, compensation and numerous other claims. This group can only at most claim 50% aboriginal parentage, which consequently, removes them from any discussion process, as they are using one parent's heritage to denounce the other’s for personal gain, at the expense of the Australian taxpayer.

It is obvious, that the most vocal advocates of native land title
are those who have the most to gain!

The Government must take the initiative by establishing a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee, headed by the Prime Minister, and conduct a National Conference with traditional indigenous Elders to pursue an amicable resolution to the current untenable debacle.

As part of the preamble to the Native Title Act 1993 (No. 110 of 1993) it states:

Quote:

"The people of Australia voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution so that the Parliament of Australia would be able to make special laws for peoples of the aboriginal race."

Unquote.

The question must be asked, with reference to the Native Title Act 1993,

"WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?"

Our politicians may care to read '... section 128 of the Australian Constitution.

It should be noted that as of November 15th, 1997, there were 667 native title claims lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal. There are now THOUSANDS of claims registered with more being lodged DAILY.

As at February 28th 1998, over $200 million of taxpayer funds had been spent - this includes FREE legal aid to aboriginal claimants, but paid for by the Australian taxpayer - to resolve only two (2) claims. In Western Australia, the WA government has spent in excess of $1.25 MILLION (as at 30/6/98) defending just ONE claim with the legal bill still rising.

The Native Title Act and the WIK MESS are direct results of the High Court's MABO decision, which referred to the Murray Islands, with absolutely no reference to mainland Australia, let alone mainland aboriginals.

Do not be misled!

There are TWO different issues:

Aboriginal welfare
Native land title

Any non-indigenous person who has seen the living conditions of remote aboriginal communities first hand, would agree that genuine traditional aboriginal are NOT receiving the estimated $3 billion of Federal and State funds allocated to them - annually. The majority of these funds are being absorbed by ATSIC and the aboriginal industry, for non-welfare related expenses.

The announcement made by the Prime Minister (7/12/97) that an extra $1.3 billion has been allocated for aboriginal who do not have legitimate land claims, is another blatant abuse of taxpayers money.

Successive Australian governments have conveniently neglected to inform the Australian people of the United Nations "Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"; a document that MUST be read by all concerned Australians.

NO Australian government will EVER obtain a mandate from the Australian people, to be a signature to a document that has the capacity to threaten Australia's National Sovereignty and undermine the Australian Constitution. The United Nations document must be seen for what it is, just another attempt at establishing world government by stealth and deception.

 In August 1997, the aboriginal coalition movement issued a document called "Précis of Demands from Draft Treaty 88". This literary gem must be seen to be believed, assuming that there is a tooth fairy.

Conclusion - The ONLY solution is total extinguishment of native title, the establishment of a reconciliation fund, accessible on a once-only basis by aboriginal Australians whose both parents were direct descendants of an alleged dispossessed aboriginal.

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Ambit Claims

Judging from the number of letters to newspaper editors, and the number of callers to radio programs around Australia, it is obvious that the majority of Australians ARE concerned about the ramifications of the Native Title Act.

The September 1997 edition of the Delta Electricity and Access Economics Investment Monitor shows that 21 projects worth $13.7 billion are subject to aboriginal land claims. This will have major effects on all Australians, whether they live in urban city areas, or farmers, graziers and miners in rural Australia. The uncertainty of land tenure will stifle development and will have a devastating effect on Australia's economy.

Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson, of the Cape York Land Council, stated on the ABC's 7.30 Report (24/11/97);

" that all aboriginal people wanted was access to land for traditional purposes."

He put it in terms of collecting some wood to make didgeridoos. When challenged on that and asked about ambit claims - the claims that seek EXCLUSIVE possession to the exclusion of all others - he said that these claims were:

"... not very intelligent and not helpful to the native title process."

Yet, in claim C0065 lodged (October 1997) in Cape York, a parcel of land was claimed in an 'ambit claim', which has the following clause attached. No matter that they are leases in transition where the pastoral leaseholders are still on the leases involved, this is the first clause of claim C0065 lodged and signed by Noel Pearson and other signatures:

"…the right to possession of the land, the waters and the resources and attributes of the lands and waters to the EXCLUSION of all others."

"It is an area 1.5 times the size of the ACT, an area of 4000 square kilometres." 

Source: Federal Hansard - 26/11/97 - Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tim Fischer.

So much for Pearson's credibility.

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FREEHOLD LAND - NATIVE TITLE CLAIMS

Lawyers representing aboriginal groups are seeking avenues to make native title claims over freehold land proclaimed after 1975 - when the Racial Discrimination Act came into effect.

Liberal West Australian MP Wilson Tuckey has confirmed that the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) had recently accepted native title claims over freehold residential blocks in Exmouth and Bremer Bay - forcing the owners to go through native title mediation.

Mr Tuckey said the West Australian blocks had been freehold for many years, but because they were "handed back to the Government for a nanosecond" to have new forms of tenure issued on them, lawyers acting for aborigines had seized this "window of opportunity", as native title had for that nanosecond, been allowed to potentially exist over the properties.

The claims, if successful, means that tens of thousands of Australian freehold properties registered after 1975 could be subject to Native Title claims.

Mr Tuckey gave two examples where NNTT president, Justice Robert French, had declined to stop freehold land from Native Title claims.

"People are spending money hiring lawyers and their banks don't want to lend them money to build houses because they don't know who owns it".

"There are people trying to mount an alternative argument saying the backyard is not subject to this threat, but that doesn't stop householders eventually having to spend three times the value of their block to find out if they own it".

"I now have evidence that not withstanding what they (the High Court) said, the legal profession is now trying to dissect those words into 1000 pieces".

"Your backyard isn't safe - not because the High Court didn't say it was safe - they did - but because people are checking the past processes used on land and Justice French is registering the claims."

The National Native Title Tribunal has refused to comment on Mr Tuckey's claims.

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download.gif (28196 bytes)     Freehold Land - Native Title Claims

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ATSIC 1996 Election Results

On Saturday October 12th 1996, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia voted to elect representatives on the thirty five Regional Councils of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ASTIC).

ATSIC estimated that there were 172,305 Aboriginal and Torres Strait people eligible to vote, if enrolled, in the election.

A total of 49,550 of the estimated 172,305 eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people voted at 123 pre-poll voting centres, 520 static polling places, 43 hospitals and 51 prisons. There were also 449 mobile polling stations visited.

Of the 49,550 votes received, 5,981 votes were rejected and 1,243 votes were informal, leaving a total of 42,324 formal votes. The results of this election revealed that less than 25% of the ATSIC estimated eligible aboriginal voters, elected 375 Regional Council candidates.

ATSIC can not claim to represent indigenous Australians, when over 75% of indigenous Australians obviously do not recognise ATSIC.


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ATSIC

The impossibility of allowing native title to exist alongside Australia's legal system of land tenure is as absurd as ATSIC itself. This "industry" devours billions of Australian taxpayers dollars each year. The majority of Australians have "had a gutful" of this bureaucratic octopus.

Conclusion - ATSIC MUST be abolished, in part to eliminate the divisive two sets of rules, one for white Australian's and one for black Australian's. The abolishment of ATSIC would also allow Federal and State funds to reach remote aboriginal communities, to where they were allocated, for the establishment and maintenance of essential services, such as housing, health, education etc.


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Facts 0n Indigenous Land Ownership - 1996

The 1996 Census counted 352,970 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (2% of Australia's population). The population breakdown per State/Territory is as follows:

                                     

New South Wales: 101,485

Queensland: 95,518

Western Australia: 50,793

Northern Territory: 46,277

Victoria: 21,474

South Australia: 20,444

Tasmania: 13,873

ACT and Jervis Bay: 3,106

Information provided by the Office of Indigenous Affairs.

15% of the Australian land mass - approximately the size of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania combined - is owned or controlled by indigenous Australians.

Since 1980, $121 million has been spent purchasing 341 properties for indigenous Australians.

To date, over 670 Native Title claims have been made covering around 50% of the Australian land mass, but only two determinations of native title have been made on the mainland.

Under the Governments Native Title amendments, 79% of Australia would still be open to Native Title claim - the Senate rejected key parts of the amendments.

Over the past 5 years, $210 million of Commonwealth taxpayer money has been spent on native title claims.

In addition, the Keating government established the Indigenous Land fund, which will grow to $1.289 billion by 2004. Indigenous Australians will have $45 million per year forever to buy and manage land.

Under the Northern Territory Land Right Act, aboriginal people in the territory have received $350 million in royalty payments from mining.

The Howard Government is committed to spending $1.6 billion a year on indigenous Australians, targeting health, housing, education and employment.


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INDIGENOUS POPULATION - June 2001


In the 2001 Census, there were 410,003 people (2.2%) (201,988 males and 208,015 females) in Australia, who identified as being of Indigenous origin. This represents an increase of 57,033 people (16.2%) (28,157 males and 28,876 females) since the 1996 Census, and an increase of 144,632 people (54.5%) (70,598 males and 74,034 females) since the 1991 Census.

In the 1996 Census, there were 352,970 people (2.0%) (173,831 males and 179,139 females) who identified as being of Indigenous origin, and 265,371 people (1.6%) (131,390 males and 133,981 females) who identified as being of Indigenous origin in the 1991 Census.

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Native Title - Sea Claims

The Insanity Continues:

The National Native Title Tribunal has accepted over 130 native title claims to the Australian coastline seas, seabeds and their resources. The Tourism and Fishing Industries have now joined the list of Australian resources to be targeted for ridiculous claims by a minority group, encouraged by the High Court of Australia - WIK decision.

Queensland has become a prime target, with such areas as:

  The Great Barrier Reef

  Fraser Island

  Sunshine Coast

  Gold Coast

having claims lodged with, and accepted by the National Native Title Tribunal.

All Queenslanders - not just land claimed rural Queenslanders - and all decent Australians MUST demand the Federal Government instigate appropriate legislation procedures to eliminate ANY claims, to all or part of the continent of Australia, including its land, water, air and seas or the resources of its land, water air and seas - by ANYONE.

See: The Conclusion

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Unbelievable High Court Ruling

Source: Fraser Coast Chronicle, Friday October 2nd 1998

Aboriginal man did not know why he was in Court

CANBERRA - A hearing impaired aboriginal man should not be tried for murder because he did not know what he was charged with, the High Court has ruled.

Roland Ebatarinja, 20, of Alice Springs was charged with the 1995 stabbing murder of Gregory Jabaaltjari Long, who was angered by Ebatarinja, then 16, embracing his wife.

'He is unable to communicate except by using his hands to ask for simple needs,' Justices Mary Gaudron, Michael McHugh, William Gummow, Kenneth Hayne and Ian Callinan wrote in a unanimous decision.

'He does not know that he has been charged with murder or other offences and is unable to communicate with his lawyers. He is unable to follow legal proceedings.'

Magistrate Cathy Deland asked the Northern Territory Supreme Court whether she should stay at the committal hearing she was conducting but Justice Dean Milden said he had no jurisdiction to answer. When Ebatarinja's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to order the committal hearing not to go ahead, Justice Milden said the hearing would not be unfair or unjust.

End of article.

COMMENT: 

One more example of the changing role of the High Court!

There have been many cases in the past where people with disabilities have been required to answer for their actions under our laws, and have been tried without bias by our Courts. While the disability can be taken into account, offenders MUST be tried, and if found guilty be sentenced to punishment suited to the crime. If mentally defective to the stage where they are not responsible for their actions then they MUST be placed in suitable care to protect the rest of society.

However, numerous examples of differing standards for social groups have been forthcoming of late. The well publicised traffic offence acquittals of Singleton, Renouf and others who occupy a more 'privileged' position in society are well documented through the daily media, while the bias shown to skin colour inn the allocation of public money and land is currently a major political issue.

The precedent set in the above case where charges were dropped for a major crime because the offender was 'unable to follow legal proceedings'  means the majority of Australians, if the law applies equally to all, will be able to avoid action of any kind.

An argument can be advanced that as lawyers are the only people who have any chance to 'follow legal proceedings', then they are the only people that cannot use this precedent to avoid legal action. This seems like a fair trade-off for the total anarchy that must occur if the High Court is not brought back under control.

This ludicrous decision highlights the totally unacceptable heights that 'political correctness' will reach in order to kowtow to minority groups.

This farcical decision also highlights the totally unacceptable position to a majority of Australians, of a somewhat mystic term called 'reconciliation' by a minority group of mixed-race Australians.

 

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