Category Archives: Politics

Greens Select Indigenous Candidate for Inala – #QldPol

Michael Quall is the 2012 Queensland Greens Candidate for the Queensland Electoral District of Inala

Born in the Queensland regional centre of Toowoomba, Michael has lived in the western Brisbane Suburb of Forest Lake since 2005.

Married 15 years, with 8 children, Michael is a family oriented man, and a former bureaucrat turned community sector manager with an extensive background in social policy and community management. He has worked for the federal, ACT & Queensland public sectors, after commencing a distinguished career at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra in 1993.

Greens Candidate for Inala - Michael Quall

Michael has lived in the ACT, Western Australia’s magnificent East Kimberley region, the Northern Territory and is now back home in Queensland where his eldest son has this year commenced studies at the University of Southern Queensland in Springfield.

Michael has served as the CEO of Aboriginal corporations in Western Australia and Queensland, and has sat on the boards of several NGOs in both Canberra and Brisbane, including Volunteering Queensland and the Youth Coalition of the ACT which he chaired. Michael has also chaired two Ministerial Councils reporting to the ACT Government.

With a career-long passion for politics and a long history of activism in areas as diverse as multiculturalism, Indigenous affairs, disability reform, mental health welfare, employment and community development, and volunteerism, Michael has a wealth of experience to offer the District of Inala.

As well as his work domestically, Michael’s career has also seen him travel overseas – to Canada, where he addressed school groups and other young people on his experiences as an Aboriginal young person growing up in Australia; Germany, where he contributed important debate to a delegation of young people attending the World Conference Against Racism in 2000; and Japan, where he gave a keynote address to the World Youth Volunteering Summit during the International Year of Volunteers. Michael is also a former Young Canberra Citizen of the Year, ACT NAIDOC Young Aboriginal Person of the Year, and a recipient of the Centenary Medal.

Michael’s lifelong passion has always been, and remains, social justice and human rights.

A man dedicated to family, community and social justice.

At the forefront of Australia’s Reconciliation and anti-racism movements for many years, Michael knows it is time to step up and make a significant contribution to politics in his home state of Queensland. A former ALP member, he now passionately believes in the message of the Australian Greens, and strives in his own life, and to encourage others around him, to live the ideals of a compassionate, caring, and sustainable existence.

On his father’s side, Michael is a descendant of the Larrakia people, traditional owners of the region around Darwin, in the Northern Territory. His mother’s family are several generations of regional Queenslanders – former naval sea men and women; pig, cattle and cotton farmers; publicans; mining and transport workers; sunshine coast retirees.

For more information:- https://www.facebook.com/inala.greens.2012?sk=info

And follow him on Twitter:- @InalaGreens2012 or email:- inala@qld.greens.org.au


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Climate Change – Is there two sides to the story?

Bill Maher lays waste to Climate Change Deniers and questions the need for two sides to every story.

Lessons from Liberia – The Women Who Ended a War!

As war ravaged Liberia, Leymah Gbowee realised it is women who bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. She began organising Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee’s part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil back to Hell.

The Movie chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.
Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

This is a film you must see! “The film is inspiring, uplifting and is a call to action for all of us” – Desmond Tutu

And now Leymah Gbowee has released a must read book. As a young woman, she was broken by the Liberian  civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of  countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered  Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of  domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action,  propelled by her realisation that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and  that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force.

Gbowee is a Nobel Peace Prize winner who earnt her award the hard way!

In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the  Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian  and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting   Liberia’s  ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international  leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle  of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of  a better world.

To purchase a copy of the book or donate to the cause please visit – http://leymahgbowee.com/

#OccupyWallSt – Not the first, wont be the last!

As the protests grow larger by the day on Wall Street and news of nearly 1000 arrests in New York City emerges it is important to remember this is not a new movement.

Protests come and go, rent-a-crowd is a tactic that never works and as MPs have pointed out online petitions are often ignored. But Occupy Wall Street is more than any of those things. It goes back to the days of anti war protest, civil rights rallies and brings in people of all political persuasions, colours and creeds. Occupy Wall Street represents the 99% of the population who are victims to the greed of 1% who hold the vast majority of the wealth and seem unwilling to share it.

But the point I want to make is simple, this is not a rent a crowd, this is not a group of people who are there for a day and gone tomorrow. This movement has a history, even in popular culture, that gives it the grounding to survive for the entirety of the fight.

26th January 2000, Wall Street meets Rage Against the Machine.

While for years social commentators and comedians like Dave Chappelle, Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Al Franken and many others have encouraged protest on Wall Street and fostered an idea that this is a long term problem that requires immediate action.

And the Movie you MUST see that explains the way Wall Street works, the global financial collapse and who is responsible.

We don’t know how this movement will end, what we do know is that until the issue of the expanding divide between rich and poor is redressed a movement on Wall Street is inevitable. Where it expands to is up to you!

A Week That Needs Perspective – Eatock v Bolt/HWT

The editorial space is overwhelming, the Twittersphere and Facebook walls have gone feral and talk back switchboards have strained under the pressure as the Eatock Vs Bolt decision came in. But why the fuss…?

There is nothing I can add to the debate that hasn’t already been said on the verdict and the fall out for those involved on both sides and the legal implications. However what has been missing this week is some perspective. Andrew Bolt a man not known for his moderate views wrote two columns that should never have seen the light of day. Not because he doesn’t deserve free speech or he doesn’t have a right to express his opinions. But because the pieces were so full of factual inaccuracies that they do not belong in any major newspaper in this country. If Bolt has an editor and I assume he does, they simply did not do their job. Clearly he is hired to be controversial, a flame thrower and partisan zealot whose success comes from driving people apart and polarising opinions.

In short he is a Bully in the written form and this time he seriously overstepped the mark. He was pulled into the principal’s office, given a dressing down and like every other Bully before him came out of the office the victim, the martyr who just wants everyone to get along. “I argued then and I argue now that we should not insist on the differences between us but focus instead on what unites us as human beings,” Bolt said. Until of course he got back to the safety of his computer and once again the keyboard warrior took aim at all and sundry.

So let us step back, have a cuppa tea and gain some perspective on all of this. Bolt is NOT the victim. He named many very high achieving Indigenous Australians and the only way he could sully their names was to make things up. The end! But what has followed shows just how little perspective Bolt and many of his colleagues in the media and politics have. Life in Australia for middle to upper class journalists is not a tough one. They very rarely get sued, they never get thrown in the clink for urging greater democracy in their nation and the vast majority don’t have to leave their desks and head into war zones, refugee camps or famine ridden slums to get a story.

A bombed and burnt child is a front page story, Andrew Bolt is not!

Therefore it comes as no surprise that a decision like this has turned every newspaper and news website in the land into a smorgasbord of opinion, feigned outrage and overnight expert legal opinion on the issues of racial vilification and free speech. All of it wildly missing the mark that Bolt was wrong, his punishment will be extra light with skim milk, the complainants vindicated and the world still just as complex as before the decision. If only these same newspapers dedicated as much editorial space to positive Indigenous stories or the real success of Multiculturalism. If only as many lawyers with a comprehension of migration law had been called upon during the opening days of the “Tampa” crisis, “Children Overboard” and the “Malaysian Solution”.

When are we going to get full-page stories on the disgraceful life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians? Any chance we could have a week of outrage at the fact that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused in this country before they are 18? Or what about the fact we are STILL IN A WAR! Yes media men and women, ladies and gents we are still in a war in Afghanistan, longer than our involvement in Vietnam, WW1 or WW2 and yet it barely rates a mention. Or the fact that a very preventable famine is killing a child every few seconds in the Horn of Africa. Dead………., Dead………., Dead……. and from the media, SILENCE!

The media in Australia have it very easy, Andrew Bolt is not a victim and the complainants in the case should NEVER have been vilified in the way they were. All of them have shown themselves to be brilliant Australian’s dedicated to many of the causes I have mentioned. The issue here is not one of free speech or the tweaking of any law that may impact on that. The real issue is that the Australian media has been asleep at the wheel and on a very simple issue of right and wrong that could have been reported by a nine year old we’ve been forced to endure a Blitzkrieg.

Next time the media wish to roll out the big guns, call in an air strike or a naval blockade I for one hope it is on an issue that really is about uniting and not dividing or an issue like famine, war and child abuse that we simply cannot as a nation afford to ignore. The story this week is that Andrew Bolt is an idiot, but so are we if we allow the issue of a national debate to be him and his ignorance.

Fasting For Troy, in Solidarity – I am Troy Davis

UPDATE @ Bottom re: Fasting.

Despite all the evidence, numerous appeals and support from around the World for his cause it now looks almost certain Troy Davis will be executed for a crime he did not commit.

On Wednesday 21 Sept. 2011 the State of Georgia will summon Troy Davis from his cell, wait till 7pm, forcibly strap him down and inject his body with a lethal cocktail of drugs and wait the unknown time it takes until he is dead. With the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles having yesterday rejected his final appeal all legal avenues for clemency have now been exhausted. It did not sway them that the majority of witnesses have for a variety of reasons pointed out in my previous story changed their minds. It did not sway them that there is no DNA or physical evidence linking Troy to the crime and it did not sway them that the real killer has confessed. The Board stated previously they would only approve the execution if there was “NO DOUBT”. There is considerable doubt, not just in the evidence but in the way previous trials and appeal have been conducted and in the way at no point has a panel of judges been united in their decision.

In solidarity with Troy Davis

So much doubt that former President Jimmy Carter, Members of the European Parliament, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Tutu, Jesse Jackson, Marthin Luther King III and former FBI Director under three Presidents William S. Sessions have all called for clemency for Troy. But nothing, these factors and many many others failed to convince the Board that there was even a microcosm of doubt in the case. We know with the help of DNA evidence that many Americans have been executed when they were in fact innocent and many more spared at the last moment by the work of The Innocence Project and other groups with the same DNA methods. Best selling crime author John Grisham for the first time wrote a nonfiction book based exactly on the tales of men waiting to be murdered by the state for crimes they did not commit. The main focus of the book, The Innocent Man, is Ron Williamson a one time Minor Baseball league star who spent 11 years on Death Row for a crime he did not commit.

But because Troy’s DNA was not even present this scenario is an impossibility and he will be executed based on the word of people who have now changed their story and a system that refuses to mend its own error. This is the fourth time an execution date has been set. At the time of the most recent execution date in 2008 Troy refused to accept his “last meal” from the Warden. He would not accept that as an innocent man it would be the final meal he ate. And while I am now resigned to the fact that Troy Davis will be executed by the State of Georgia in solidarity with his courage and conviction I will not eat for what is likely the final 24 hours of his life.

Solidarity is Universal

I do not do this as a protest but simply as an act of solidarity with a man whose faith in his innocence is unwavering. Having been involved in the anti Death Penalty movement for a decade of my young life I know that at these final hours it is rare that any change is made. I have worked on the cases of men I knew the evidence showed their innocence but who were put to death because the machinery of the justice system could not stop itself from killing. I have been involved in the good side of the issue where innocent men have been spared the fate of death because decent human beings decided to exercise sound judgement and vindication was sweet.

I join the NAACP and supporters of Troy Davis in marking the time of his possible execution as a moment to reflect on Troy, the Death Penalty and what we must do around the World to end this most abhorrent of dark age rituals. If a man who has spent the past 20 years on death row can have such courage and conviction then the least we can do is take the time to acknowledge the greater human rights issue this world still grapples with. As an Australian I am disgusted by the silence of the media in our nation. Reprinting general press releases is not journalism! We share a very close alliance and friendship with the United States, but friends must also point out the errors of each others ways.

As Troy sleeps for the final time in this body, as he faces the Warden and guards and refuses to consume his last meal and as he allows them to take his body, but never his innocence or spirit I ask that you remember his words, commit yourself to the advocacy of ending the death penalty and say in your heart or out loud.

“I AM TROY DAVIS”

“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.” Troy Davis

UPDATE: I have been flooded with emails of people wishing to join me “Fasting in Solidarity With Troy”

Troy Davis as he has done in the past will refuse to eat his final meal. He does not believe it should be or will be his last, as he has utter faith in his innocence. So we join with Troy fasting in solidarity with him and act as an echo to his courage and conviction. In fasting we say to the world, “I am Troy Davis” and we unite behind a man who in his suffering has united us against injustice.

Most people can safely go without food for 24 hours, but there are a few people who shouldn’t try it — including kids under 12, the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, and people with certain medical conditions.

If you have any concerns about fasting, be sure to check with a doctor first.

Advance Australia Fair – It’s all in Verse 2

On Friday night  Australian’s were unwinding from the week that was, settling into the AFL & NRL finals, catching a game from the Rugby World Cup, enjoying a concert, a meal with the family or a night out with friends. Some were still working as the weekend drew near, Hospitals never stop, trains keep on running and night shifts about to start. In Canberra they were working too, the Minister for Immigration and his Department used the night to release their controversial changes to the Migration Act.

Maybe it wasn’t a cynical move, simply an act of a Department and Minister under pressure and burning the mid night oil to have it ready for the weekend press and the monday morning sell. But most, rightly in my view, saw it as a cynical attempt to slip it in under the radar. It’s no secret that the Government, despite being stopped by the High Court, are desperate to restart their “Malaysian Solution”. So while the amendments make no mention of Malaysia, they would allow the Minister to pick and choose the offshore processing destination of his choice. One of the more disturbing aspects of the amendments is that which would allow the Minister alone to choose a country for offshore processing even if that Nation’s domestic and International law protections for Asylum Seekers are zero.

Minister Bowen must be taught the Anthem's 2nd Verse!

So what does all this have to do with our National anthem, Advance Australia Fair? We all grew up singing it at school, we listen to it belted out at sporting events and we expect new citizens to know the words. But most of us have rarely heard the second verse and clearly the current crop of Australian politicians aren’t aware of the lyrics. “Toil” makes a return, while “Girt” doesn’t get another crack but the end of the verse solves once and for all the true National position on Asylum Seekers.

“For those who’ve come across the seas. We’ve boundless plains to share”

That’s right, the Australian national anthem singles out in particular those who come across the sea that we here in Oz have a huge country to share with them. It doesn’t say you have to come by plane (because you don’t) and it makes clear it is us, not Malaysia, Nauru or PNG that will be sharing our land.  And if somehow predicting the current debate the next two lines give us the guidance for this struggle.

“With courage let us all combine. To Advance Australia Fair.”

Yes indeed, with courage let us one and all unite, new Australian’s and old, so that we can share a future that is better than our past, together! Perhaps those of us advocating for onshore processing have been doing it all wrong. First we pointed to Australian law and appealed to the “fair go” attitude. Then we reminded our Government that if they wished to ignore or change our laws there was still International law that they couldn’t circumvent. When that failed a brilliant group of lawyers took the case to the highest court in the land and won! Again it appears even the High Court cannot persuade this Government or those in opposition that offshore processing is wrong.

But the answer was there all along, it was in one of the first things they taught us at school. So important it was deemed that we had to stand in sun, wind, rain and snow to belt it out or fear the wrath of the principal’s scorn. So we must stand tall once more, sing it like we care and make the new Immigration policy, Advance Australia Fair!

ALP MPs must cross the floor on Asylum Seekers!

Walk the Walk if you want to Talk the Talk.

A politician’s job can be a complex thing, who really wants to speak out of both sides of your mouth to keep your job? But what really counts is the way they vote on the Parliament floor.

The Asylum Seeker debate is still going strong in Australia. It is an issue we’ve grappled with as a nation since white man arrived. But it is relatively easy to argue that 200 years on our politician’s are handling the matter more disgracefully than at any other time in our history. At times in the past public opinion was in favour of harsh treatment of those seeking asylum on our shores. Public opinion also once supported the fact that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had WMD’s, something that even Dick Cheney admits was wrong. But for what it’s worth public opinion does support the onshore processing of asylum seekers, 53%. But then you have the other swaying factors to process onshore, legal, economic, humane, health and just the down right decency of doing the right thing.

Crossing the floor means cutting the fence!

For the ALP this is a tricky issue only because they made it that way. Under John Howard the ALP took damage at the polls for supporting onshore processing, the Tampa and children overboard had major impacts on their electoral success or lack thereof. So it seems strange that a party who took a massive hit on an issue would turn around and jump to the other side of the fence to be hit again. Either they believe it will give them electoral success (it wont) or they believe they are doing this in the National interest (it isn’t). On the first issue polls quite clearly show this is a Government in trouble and the “Malaysian Solution” is on the nose. In terms of a National interest how is something that costs more, is illegal under International law and Australian law (hello High Court), costs a fortune and is downright inhumane considered the best thing to do?

It isn’t and they know it, so the Labor left faction has been rolled out to show us the party still has a heart. Doug Cameron has  taken to the airwaves and caucus to appeal for onshore processing, Steve Georganas has hosted Welcome2Australia at Parliament House and others have reminded us that “we have to remember these are human beings”. We have to remember? Us? No,we know perfectly well who they are and we also know why you were elected. Not on a platform of offshore processing and a plan that makes the brutal Pacific Solution and TPV’s look down right pleasant.

Government MPs and Senators don’t get to tell us about humanity, International law and what is in the National interest unless they do the one thing they were sent to Canberra to do. Vote! If they honestly believe in International law, fair and just treatment of Asylum Seekers and actually welcoming people to Australia then they will cross the floor and vote against any and all offshore processing legislation. The very poorly named “Malaysian Solution” is no solution at all. Tony Abbott’s Lib/Nat coalition doesn’t have an acceptable policy either so any gloating on his behalf is for political chest beating only. But the ALP is the Government of the day and the responsibility rests with those ALP members who do believe what the majority of Australian’s believe and voted for them to deliver.

The only thing that counts is their vote on the floor of the parliament. If they want to talk the human rights talk, they have to walk the political walk. And cross the floor!

Broome families say No!

This video gives a voice to Broome Families, please watch.

“Mr Barnett, Woodside, Shell, Chevron, BP, BHP this is the voice of the families of Broome who do not want the proposed Gas Hub at Walmadan-James Price Point – we want you to look at the other alternatives that are viable: Piping to the Pilbara or the off shore processing floating hub.” Mitch Torres

www.savethekimberley.com

 

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this website contains images of deceased people.

Gather round people let me tell you a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiari
Were opposite men on opposite sides

You probably know these as the opening lyrics to the 1991 Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song, From little things big things grow. It is one of Australia’s most important songs and most Aussies will know it if not from its radio play or performances from Paul and Kev around the nation, but also from its use by grass-roots movements around Australia and in advertising campaigns.

Two of our finest, Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly

“Paul Kelly and I had gone away on a camping trip in about ’91 or something and we just kind of pulled it out around the campfire. Paul had a good chord progression and I thought it would be good to tell a little story over it. So, by about 2 o’clock in the morning, we had a six-minute song.”—Kev Carmody, 2008
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The story told by the song is one of the greatest this wide brown land has known and one that sadly too few Australian’s know. It’s a story that is everything we lionise in Australia, mateship, courage, the battler, a fair go, the under dog getting one over the powerful and a happy ending where the hero wins. This is the story of the Gurindji Stike! The hero; Aboriginal man Vincent Lingiari as he led the Gurindji, Ngarinman, Bilinara, Warlpiri and Mudbara peoples on a long, courageous battle for justice.
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The Hero's we must know!
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In the late 1800’s the lands of many Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and Western Australia were being forcibly taken over (invaded) by pastoralists eager to exploit the large areas of grazing land the Indigenous Peoples had called home for thousands of years. In the 1880’s Gurindji land was taken and Wave Hill cattle station was establish with huge numbers of cattle brought into the area. A police station was built and Mounted constable  W.H. Wilshire began a process of killing the Aboriginal people who dared to stand up against the invasion of their lands. In 1914 the Vestey Brother’s group, a large British food production company, took over Wave Hill station and used Aboriginal labour to increase the size and capacity of the station. The term labour is not as we know it today, the Aboriginal people were used as slaves on the land and they only received rations for their work.
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Over the next 50 years the Gurindji were treated appallingly, the women often used as sex slaves, men who would not bow to the command of the land owners beaten or killed and no wages ever provided to the workers. Throughout this period the people were often isolated from the change taking place in the rest of the nation by the geographical distance and the dictatorial manner in which the area was managed. However through meetings with visiting anthropologists, union officials and the message coming from other Indigenous people the Gurindji began formulating their plan to free themselves from Vesteys.
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After the second World War and the collapse of centuries of colonialism the fight for independence, civil rights and rights to traditional lands was well under way for people around the world. Gandhi in India, Mandela in South Africa, Martin Luther King in the US and many many more took their fight for justice and equality to the streets and the courts. Many believe no such fight took place in Australia, but this is far from true. In 1965 the brilliant Aboriginal Activist, Sports Star and Public Servant Dr Charles Perkins led a brave group on a bus trip around NSW known as “The Freedom Ride”. The main focus of the ride was to protest the discrimination Aboriginal people faced in rural and regional NSW, but the significance of the journey and the leadership of Perkin’s meant the Freedom Rides became a driving force for awareness and a campaign for Indigenous rights across Australia.
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In American they had Dr King and Malcolm X, in Australia we had Dr Perkins and Vincent Lingiari (pictured)

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A year later, On 23 August 1966, led by spokesman Vicent Lingiari, the workers and their families walked off Wave Hill Station and began their strike. A report by the Northern Territory Government had found about Vesteys “It was obvious that they had been … quite ruthless in denying their Aboriginal labour proper access to basic human rights.” Billy Bunter Jampijinpa, who worked on Wave Hill Station – “We were treated just like dogs. We were lucky to get paid the 50 quid a month we were due, and we lived in tin humpies you had to crawl in and out on your knees. There was no running water. The food was bad – just flour, tea, sugar and bits of beef like the head or feet of a bullock. The Vesteys mob were hard men. They didn’t care about blackfellas.”
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Vincent Lingiari, The Gurindji and other Aboriginal Peoples from the area left the station and formed a new settlement at nearby Wattie Creek (Daguragu). Many believed the action by the Aboriginal people would not last and was simply an attempt to gain slightly improved workers rights. There were many cynical attempts by Vestys, other pastoralist companies and those in Government to convince the people back to work. But they wouldn’t be moved and the price they sort was and would be nothing more than the rightful return of their lands. During the years of the strike, conditions were not easy for the Aboriginal people, but they did not waver. Vincent, Billy and others toured Australia with the assistance of a number of workers unions to educate the broader Australian community on the issues they faced and lobby politicians for changes that would improve the lives of all Aboriginal people. So impressed by a speech given by Vincent Lingiari one man who had never met an Aboriginal before, was moved to give $500 to the cause. This was a very sizeable donation at the time, that donor was a young Dr Fred Hollows.

Gurindji elder Billy Bunter Jampijinpa, with grandson Selwyn, at the site where he and other stockmen camped before they walked off Wave Hill cattle station on August 23, 1966.

During the period of the strike the cause of Aboriginal people was becoming, for the first time in the nation, an issue of national significance in politics. There was the 1967 Referendum in which 90.77% of all votes cast were in favour of the question on Aboriginal people, while the other question on the ballot raising issues on the composition of parliament was soundly defeated. Aboriginal people and many students, unions and other groups began large protests in the Southern States, not only to raise awareness of the strike in the North, but on broader issues facing Aboriginal people.
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Many in the political establishment would ignore or go out of their way to sabotage these efforts and heavy-handed police tactics were used. With the election of the Whitlam Government Aboriginal people for the first time had a Prime Minister interested in their cause and willing to make changes. There was the 1972 Woodward Royal Commission, 1973–74 Gove land rights case in which the Yolngu people fought the mining of their land through the courts and finally the passing of the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
But it was on 16 August 1975 when victory for the Gurindji arrived in the form of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. After nearly a decade of strike action, facing down one of the World’s largest land owners at the time, police brutality, Government interference and the ignorance of much of the broader community on the issue…, victory was won!
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The rightful return of land

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The Government had struck a deal with Vesteys to give the Gurindji a portion of their land back and in front of a crowd at Kalkaringi then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam rose to speak.
On this great day, I, Prime Minister of Australia, speak to you on behalf of all Australian people – all those who honour and love this land we live in. For them I want to say to you: I want this to acknowledge that we Australians have still much to do to redress the injustice and oppression that has for so long been the lot of Black Australians.

Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever.

Now please take a few minutes to listen to the song and ponder the lessons we can learn from this tale of the Gurindji, from all Aboriginal people and from the legacy of one of our true Nation hero’s to both Black and White, Vincent Lingiari.

This year celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Walk Off. For more information please visit:- http://www.gurindjifreedomday.com

And for an interview with Brenda Croft – a Gurindji woman and one of the organisers of the event http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2011/08/24/3300918.htm?site=darwin

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