Monthly Archives: March 2007

Native Title boss quits because native title is stuffed!

The head of Australia’s native title agency says he is quitting his position because the system is too concerned with legal technicalities to provide real results.

Full story from ABC online  http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1871020.htm

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First Post from Palm Island

I am writing this post from the contraversial Palm Island Police and citizens Youth Centre (P.C.Y.C), the only community access internet on the Island.  It was not until the PCYC was built that broadband internet came to Palm Island. 

I still have a number of technical hurdles to overcome, I still cant get photos up on the posts, but that should change before too long.

Over the last week my partner, Theresa  and I have had several meetings in Mt. Isa (Theresa’s traditional country – Kalkadoon) and here discussing sustainable housing options as well as a range of other issues including substance abuse, employment and mental health issues.  The good side of these discussions has been an affirmation that our ideas are very relevent and welcome in Mt. Isa and Palm Island but the downside is that there still seems to be no apparent strategy to manifest these ideas.  We had hoped to begin a housing resource centre early this year but it does not seem like that will occur for a range of issues which I shall not whinge to you about at this stage but may well do in the future.  But the plan is still solid and perhaps later in the year we can begin. 

I will write a series of posts in the near future about these issues to thrash them out a bit more, but in the meantime please check out the following link to see what we are on about.  http://www.kalkadoon.org/index.php/out-of-the-box-housing-vision/

A recurring theme in discussions here and in Mt. Isa has been the questions of hope and hopelessness.  Whether it be alternative housing strategies or healing strategies for alcoholism, family violence and mental ill health, I continue to ask myself – Without hope, can any of these strategies work?  An obvious answer that smacks me in the face every time I consider it is – of course it won’t!   But then the question arises, what can bring hope? and I wonder if any of these strategies can bring hope.  So I perceive a catch 22 situation where change will not occur without hope and hope will not occur with out change. 

 There is still a deep despair amongst many Aboriginal people, especially here on Palm Island.  Suicides continue and many people still try to escape the pain of life through substance abuse of one form or another.  People are trying to survive from day to day and make the most of the hand that has been dealt them, they have little capacity for political or social action to bring about change.  For all its flaws the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) provided a forum and overview to discuss possibilities for change and as such provided a glimmer of hope.  Now that it has been disbanded there appears to be no capacity for Indigenous people to articulate or explore new policy agendas and have no choice but to succumb to the blow-in-the-wind policies of ignorant white bureacracies of the federal and state governments and their programs.

Anyway, more about all of this in future posts.  As mentioned previously, the former Mayor of Palm Island, Erykah Kyle, has agreed to write for Paradigm Oz occaisionally.  I met with Erykah yesterday and recorded an interview with her about some of her reflections on the situation here.  I will transcribe it soon and present it in a number of sections (It was a long interview). 

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Fire!

Bushfire is a very destructive thing, obviously.
As our forests burn around the nation we see on the T.V. images of destruction to homes, farms and of course animal habitat. Many people see, hear, smell and feel the fire as it comes into their neighborhoods. In this time of water shortage, fire is indeed a massive drain on limited resources as tanks and dams are emptied fighting fires.
But not all fire is destructive. It is fire that boils a billy and powers a car. When fire is managed it is useful to us homo-sapiens. Fire demands respect. If given the proper respect it will perform an infinite number of tasks. If fire is disrespected it will engulf the fool in its rage and destroy anything and everything until there it can find no more to destroy, or until the heavens open with a solid enough rain to extinguish the beast’s anger.
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Palm Island charges update

The following is a message distributed by ANTAR Qld.

for more info antarqld.org.au 

Dear friends,

After the announcement of the pathology reports on the death of Mulrunji, there were protests from the Islanders and the police station burned down.  A large police force was sent to the island and many many people were arrested and given very harsh bail conditions.Five men, accused, I believe, of being the ringleaders of the protests, are being tried in Brisbane, starting on Monday 5th March.Many of you will have heard one of them, Lex Wotton, talking at the Rally in Brisbane on 26th January and also at the Towards Indigenous Self Determination Workshop on 27 January.I think that some of the families of the accused men will also come to Brisbane to support them. I believe that it is helpful to the men and their families to feel support from the wider community so, if some people can come to the Court and be there, in the public gallery, it would be great.

The best information I have is: It will probably be court 7 in the District Court Complex (on George St), beginning at either 9:30am or 10:00am. But we can’t confirm that until Friday afternoon. I have been told that T-shirts with strong messages are probably not very helpful .. 

The trial is likely to last for several weeks, so no worries if you cannot get in on the first day – it is really good to have ongoing support.

Also, I believe that the men may be having financial problems, especially those who have had to take leave from their paid employment, to be at court. I hope to know more about this, and whether their accommodation is being paid and they get a living allowance from ????  next week. So when we do know more we will let you know.

It could also be very helpful to keep a watch on the medial reporting of the trials – if you think that the reporting is biased or distorted, do let them know.

antarqld.org.au 

(end of ANTAR message)

also from ABC Online

Two more men have been sentenced for their part in the 2004 Palm Island riots in north Queensland.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1861363.htm]

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Trees and stuff.

This week the “Landcare” organisation launched a program to enable farmers to be paid to plant trees by way of carbon trading.   This is, literally, a breath of fresh air as the way the carbon trading discussion has unfolded in Australia seems to be towards imposing a carbon tax on “clean coal” technology to subsidise nuclear power.  This seems to be the preffered option of John Howard and his mates in the industry.  This seems to me to be a recipe for eco-disaster and not a real solution to greenhouse emissions.  The debate has had another side also with proponents of solar, wind and geothermal energy generation drawing attention to the obvious ecological benefits of this sort of technology.  However, in the polluted haze of the climate change debate we seem to have forgotten the central role of plants in our biosphere, in particular their capacity to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.   There can be no doubt that carbon emissions since the industrial revolution are a key factor increasing greenhouse gasses.  But the other side of the story is massive landclearing around the globe in the past few thousand years, in particular in Europe but the rest of the world has caught up quickly.   Plants are the biosphere’s respirotory system, inhaling co2 and exhaling O2, coincidently the opposite of us animals.  

The landcare program is not the first of it’s kind.  Some Aboriginal traditional owners in Arnham land are already being funded through carbon trading to manage their land in traditional ways, including traditional burning regimes that significantly lowers carbon emmissions through avoiding superfires of unmanaged forest litter.

It seems sensible to me to fund things like planting trees and developing wind, solar and geothermal technologies is an obvious and basic purpose for carbon trading.  The whole idea will be corrupted if it is just a way of charging higher electricity prices from consumers to subsidise nuclear power.

Lest we forget; land clearing is a greenhouse issue.

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