(en) Australia continues its right turn!

Darren Jones (dmjones@arts.adelaide.edu.au)
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 16:56:52 +0900

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Darren Jones History University of Adelaide

In recent weeks Australian politics has continued its charge to the right. Responding to a court decision to grant native title to the Wik Aboriginal people of Queensland, various conservative groups have called for the extinguishment of native title throughout Australia, and the upgrading of all lease-holds held by farmers, mining companies etc. to freehold titles.

At present many of Australia's stock owners operate on lease-hold titles which place restrictions on the lease-holder. Permission must be attained to clear the land and carry out various activities. Many of these leases were never intended to carry into freehold title. In addition the leases were granted in expectation that Aboriginal people would not be excluded from their land. In addition a significant number of leases were granted in extremely dubious circumstances

The National Farmers Federation of Australia (NFF) has been extremely vocal and misleading in its push for the extinguishment of native title. Seeing a chance to get some free federal government land, the NFF has gone about a "Black Scare" campaingn, reminiscent of the anti-socialism of the 1950s. In an attempt to win over the non-indigenous and largely urban population of Australia, the NFF has warned that Aboriginal groups will claim large chunks of urban Australia, taking peoples homes away from them, and brining the Australian economy to a halt. This is patently untrue, as the Mabo land-rights decision indicated that such a thing could not happen. Aboriginal groups have repeatedly made concessions and have even agreed that illegal lease-hold agreements be ratified.

The Australian Liberal government (read right-wing for Americans) has stayed remarkably silent over this issue, as it seeks to keep the votes of NFF members and other right-wingers. It seems likely that whatever happens, it will be the Aboriginal people of Australia who will lose out once again. With the increasing feeling of resentment being generated toward Aboriginal people, it would not be suprising to see the Liberal government extinguish native title. This would begin a long battle in both the courts and the streets, as Aboriginal groups and other concerned Australians have made it clear that they will not stand for such a de facto apartheid.

If all this was not enough, the MP for Oxley, Pauline Hanson, has launched her far-right, One Nation Party and has put her support behind a book which seeks to turn back the political clock to a time of extreme prejuidice against Aboriginal Australians. Now, with the far right becoming increasingly confident, the conservative Liberal Party can make hay while the sun shines passing itself off as a "moderate" party, in the same way that the Labour (read the pseudo-left party of Australia) did with the Democrats and the Greens. Ahh, parliamentary politics at its best!!!


Darren Jones               |Rumours of my intelligence are greatly
History                    |   
University of Adelaide     | A Roomful of monkeys        A tidal wave hits me 
South Australia            | they could type my life     I am thrown backwards
djones@arts.adelaide.edu.au| better than Shakespeare     only to step foward
djones@envirolink.org      | -dj                         -dj

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