Anderson says Act of Recognition is an insult

Tamworth, NSW, 4 December 2012 -- Aboriginal rights campaigner, Michael Ghillar Anderson, slams the Act of Recognition introduced by Minister Jenny Macklin as an absolute insult to First Nations Peoples.

The last survivor of the four men who set up the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra 40 years ago says in a media release that Aboriginal people have been denied human rights since the invasion under military rules in 1788.

Mr Anderson is spokesperson for the Sovereign Union, formed in Canberra in January to campaign for Aboriginal sovereignty.

“By not declaring war the invasion developed into a genocide, in which women, children and non-combatants were slaughtered and they could avoid taking prisoners of war,” Mr Anderson writes.

By ignoring Admiralty orders, “ Aboriginal existence was of no consequence and we were dehumanized”.

“If we advance this argument to the modern day, the Commonwealth government and their State colleagues continue to deny Aboriginal peoples basic human rights.”

“The Act of Recognition submitted by Minister Jenny Macklin in the Federal Parliament has nothing to remedy the genocidal and ethnocidal practices being perpetrated against Aboriginal people.

“Not enough people in Australia are cognisant of the destructive impact the genocide has on people, including the intergenerational trauma that results from genocide and ethnocide.

“If Jenny Macklin and the Gillard government had any decency they would withdraw this Act of Recognition immediately and first consult Aboriginal people nationwide whether they approve of this type of action. On the other hand, recognition of our continuing sovereignty is the most prudent way forward.”

Mr Anderson’s statement in full:

The Act of Recognition introduced by Minister Jenny Macklin is an absolute insult to First Nations Peoples. There are many reasons why this is so insulting.

Let’s look at the most serious of Human Rights breaches against Aboriginal people in this country. When Governor Phillip set foot on Australian soil in 1788 he did so under the instruction of British Admiralty with an order to apply the Rules and Disciplines of War. During the subsequent invading period each and every Governor of the colonies continually ignored the instructions of the British Admiralty and their monarch. By not declaring war the invasion developed into a genocide, in which women, children and non-combatants were slaughtered and they could avoid taking prisoners of war. In ignoring these orders Aboriginal existence was of no consequence and we were dehumanised, even to the point where in 1836, in the murder trial at Windsor, NSW, of Jack Congo Murrell, Murrell argued vehemently through his interpreter that he was not a subject of the reigning monarch of England. Murrell said he was not subject to the laws of England, but rather to his own laws, which were the laws of the land at the time. The full bench of the NSW Supreme Court of the time held that he was subject to the law simply because he was to be protected by the British laws. [R v Murrell and Bummaree 1836]
Being offered protection did not make him a subject of the king at the time. It was argued that if he were to be tried as a British subject, he was entitled to bring a case against the colony and the British for just compensation for the lands forcibly taken from him. But Chief Justice Forbes and Burton J argued that Aboriginal people had no form of governance, nor settled communities and/or farming of the land, which, the court argued, did not permit any recognition that Aborigines had the capacity to be sovereign and self-governing. Consequently they concluded that Aboriginal people lacked any form civility that could be recognized by the invader society, and thereby concluded that the country was unoccupied by a civilized society, thereby making it terra nullius.

If we advance this argument to the modern day, the Commonwealth government and their State colleagues continue to deny Aboriginal Peoples basic human rights. In the Gove Land Rights case [Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd, (1971) 17 FLR 141] Justice Blackburn understood the complexity of Aboriginal society clearly governed by the rule of law and not of men, but still ruled against the plaintiffs. Despite the Mabo decision, which overturned the terra nullius concept, the Commonwealth government, with the assistance of Aboriginal treasonous collaborators, perverted the course of justice by denying our common law right and thereby legislating to codify the type of rights which government wanted to offer us. The late Dr Nugget Coombs commented that the Native Title Act is in favour of white rights and mining company interests.

Now we must look at the Northern Territory intervention. I have commented on this many times. The Northern Territory Emergency Response Act has its origins in the instructions from Governor Phillip and, just like the 1816 Proclamation of Martial Law against the Wiradjuri by Governor Lachlan Macquarie, we see the same thing happening in the Northern Territory. Like Macquarie’s 1816 Proclamation collateral damage is acceptable and we are witnessing a great deal of collateral damage being done in the Northern Territory. The position from the colonial point of view is summed up by Guy Rundle in his essay Military Humanitarianism in Australia’s North when he wrote:
With the creation of a ‘national emergency’ … and the use of the military to occupy towns and communities in the Northern Territory, Australia has become the first member of the Coalition of the Willing to invade itself.

The Act of Recognition submitted by Minister Jenny Macklin in the Federal Parliament last week has nothing to remedy the genocidal and ethnocidal practices being perpetrated against Aboriginal people. Not enough people in Australia are cognisant of the destructive impact the genocide has on people, including the intergenerational trauma that results from genocide and ethnocide.

It is not right that the governments simply tell the Australian public and the rest of the world that they are doing right by Aboriginal people in putting this meaningless Act of Recognition to the Parliament, while maintaining racist and genocidal laws on their books by the same parliament.

The ‘Close the Gap’ campaign is just another expensive publicity stunt by the government in a band-aid attempt to give the impression the government is serious about dealing with Aboriginal under-privilege. It is sad that we have an anti-discrimination body which is impotent in influencing the government to change course in its racist and demeaning policies and laws.

If Jenny Macklin and the Gillard government had any decency they would withdraw this Act of Recognition immediately and first consult Aboriginal people nationwide whether they approve of this type of action. On the other hand, recognition of our continuing sovereignty is the most prudent way forward.

Everything being done by the government now is being done without our free prior and informed consent. We must let the world know that this is happening.

Contact: Michael Ghillar Anderson 0427 292 492

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Michael Anderson and Mick Gooda disagree on this

Michael Anderson and Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner on the Australian Human Rights Commission, disagree on Act of Recognition.

Hear their comments to The Wire, a current affairs service offered to 270+ community and Indigenous radio stations: http://www.thewire.org.au/storyDetail.aspx?ID=9939

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