Archive for January, 2014

ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY the way Forward

January 30, 2014

 

ABORIGINAL SOVEREIGNTY AND THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION

The ideal of a Bill of Rights for all Australians, the need for a treaty between the Australian government and the sovereign people of this land and the need to revisit our constitution are issues that are long overdue for transparent and educated debate.

Treaties and other forms of agreements are accepted around the world as the means of reaching a settlement, between indigenous peoples and those who have settled upon their lands.

Treaties can be found in countries such as the US, Canada and New Zealand. Indeed, in other nations such as Canada, new treaties are still being debated.

Australia is the exception. We are now the only Commonwealth nation that does not have a treaty with its indigenous people. We have never entered into negotiations with them about the taking and occupation of their lands or even attempt to define their place in this nation’s past or present.

Rather than building our country on the idea of a partnership with Aboriginal people, our laws have sought to exclude and discriminate against them, for over 200 years.

This is reflected in the text of our constitution, which in 1901 created the Australian nation. That document was drafted at two conventions held in the 1890s. Aboriginal people were not represented, nor were they consulted in the drafting of the constitution.

Even though the constitution protected against discrimination, those protections were and have never been applied to the aboriginal people, a clear fault in the preparing of our founding documents.

The idea that Australia was terra nullius, or no man’s land, when white settlers arrived in 1788, for the purposes of our laws, was nothing more than a vain attempt to hope the problem would go away, it was as if they could close their eyes and Aboriginal people would simply no longer exist, or just maybe they thought they could wipe them out completely.

Hence:

•     While the preamble to the constitution set out the history behind the enactment of the constitution and the notion that the constitution was based on the support of the people of the colonies, it made no mention of the prior occupation of Australia by its indigenous peoples. Australia’s history, it seemed, began in 1788.

•     Section 25 recognised that the states could disqualify people from voting in the elections on account of their race.

•     Section 51 (xxvi) provided that the Parliament could legislate with respect to “the people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any state, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”. This was the so-called, “races power”, and was inserted, in the words of our first prime minister, Edmund Barton, to allow the Commonwealth to “regulate the affairs of the people of coloured or inferior races who are in the Commonwealth”.

•     Section 127 provided: “In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a state or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted”.

Some of these things were fixed with the 1967 referendum. It:

•     Removed the prohibition on the Federal Parliament making laws for Aboriginal people.

•     Deleted the prohibition in section 127 on the counting of Aboriginal peoples.

On the other hand, the referendum did not change the preamble or section 25.

Today, we have a constitution that ignores the existence of Aboriginal people and recognises that people can be denied the vote on account of their race, and that laws can be passed that discriminate against people for the same reason.

Given this history, it should come as no surprise that the white settlers never entered into one or more treaties with Aboriginal people.

Even from a stand point of English precedent law, the Queens own orders to work and trade with the original people for the use of their lands, was ignored by the first fleet.

The question today is how we can end this pattern of exclusion and discrimination. Constitutional change is certainly part of the answer but so is a treaty. These are separate debates but they represent two things that must be achieved.

The application of a bill or rights is also worthy of debate, because in the past 20 years, even Australian settlers or the children of, are now facing similar exclusion and protections by their own government.

In more recent times, a call for a treaty was made at the Corroboree 2000 convention, and the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation identified a treaty as unfinished business of the reconciliation process. It recommended:

That the Commonwealth Parliament enact legislation . . . to put in place a process which will unite all Australians by way of an agreement, or treaty, through which unresolved issues of reconciliation can be resolved.

By a treaty, I mean nothing more than an agreement between governments and Aboriginal peoples. Such an agreement could involve three things:

1.     A starting point of acknowledgment.

2.     A process of negotiation.

3.     Outcomes in the form of rights, obligations and opportunities.

A treaty about such matters could recognise the history and prior occupation by the Aboriginal people of this continent, as well as their long-standing grievances. It could also be a means of negotiating redress for those grievances and helping to establish a path forward based upon mutual goals, rather than ones imposed on Aboriginal people.

At the heart of the idea is the notion that a place in the Australian nation cannot be forced on Aboriginal people. It needs to be discussed and negotiated through a process based on mutual respect that recognises the sovereignty of Aboriginal people.

The international evidence is compelling in showing that listening to indigenous people is, by itself, insufficient to bring about real change. Change must be built on the genuine partnership between indigenous people and governments that can arise through the making of a treaty.

The evidence in the US and Australia shows time and again that redressing disadvantage over the longer term depends on indigenous people having the power to make decisions that affect not only their own people, but the use of their lands in general.

They must be responsible for the programs designed to meet their needs, and must be accountable for the successes and failures that follow.

At present much of Australian land is held in trust of the crown, and payments are still paid to the crown, just maybe that land should be held in trust of its original owners, and the income of leasing said land where the owners find it appropriate, could be a pool of resources for the sole use of the Aboriginal community’s for their country.

I can see nothing in our laws, nor the original letters patients that show valid reason for the crown to maintain ownership of Aboriginal lands, or why we would be paying any benefits from their use to a what could be considered a foreign power.

Another worthy debate would be to address representation in the Australian parliament, not in a token seat or an advisory role, one chosen for each parliament by the aboriginal people themselves.

It may be worthy of empowering the chosen representatives to control and destiny of their electorates resources and income, giving the power of destiny to the Aboriginal people themselves.

The “Harvard project’s” headline finding is that when Native Americans make their own decisions about development approaches, they consistently out-perform external decision makers, on matters as diverse as governmental form, natural resource management, economic development, healthcare and social service provision.

Positive change in Australia depends on Aboriginal people having more control over their lives. Improvements in education, employment and quality of life must be achieved by policies and programs owned and developed by the very people affected.

Success cannot be imposed from Canberra. The hard work must be done by Aboriginal people, and in saying that they must have the resources and support to ensure they can.

The problem in Australia is that we lack the laws and institutions necessary for Aboriginal people to make such decisions.

Unlike nations such as New Zealand, Canada and the US, agreements such as treaties have not been reached that recognise a measure of indigenous sovereignty. Instead, in Australia, decisions have often been imposed on Aboriginal people by parliaments and governments lacking even a single indigenous member.

In most cases the government prefers to deal with those who hold the same government’s position, rather than those who are considered leaders in their own community.

A negotiated treaty with Aboriginal people would mark an important break from a system that for many decades has disregarded the views of Aboriginal people, and reinforced their feelings of powerlessness. A treaty could give rise to stronger, and more capable, institutions of Aboriginal governance.

This is not to suggest there is any quick and easy fix. It is simply to say that fair and transparent dialogue is one piece of the puzzle. It is something that needs to be done both to achieve reconciliation and underpin long-term Aboriginal prosperity.

“We have to acknowledge that pre-1788, this land was Aboriginal country, and until we have acknowledged that, we will be an incomplete nation and a divided people.

“We only have to look across the Tasman to see how it all could have been done so much better. Thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand where two peoples became one nation.”

My time recently spent at the Tent embassy in Canberra made it clear that all I had been taught over the past 35 years had been flawed and with that so had my ideals on what drives both the aboriginal community and indeed our parliament.

I grew up believing the 26th of January was a day of celebration, the day our fine nation was born, for the aboriginal people this day holds a different significance, the day they were invaded, just like we as Australians morn the losses on ANZAC day, the original people of these lands morn the beginning of an invasion that resulted in the rape, murder and destruction of their people and their country.

So many settled Australians continue to say “leave it in the past” and unite to celebrate Australia day, without truly understanding what this day means to the aboriginal people, something I feel is the direct result of we as settled Australians having very little knowledge of our nation’s true history and foundations.

Saying sorry may be a fine gesture, but it will never have any true meaning until we can honestly embrace our past and use its lessons as a driver to understand the way forward.

While you are reading this, Aboriginal children are still being taken from their families, the land is still being destroyed, and governments are still telling our sovereign people where to live, how to live and how to spend their money.

So this is not just about the day the tall ships landed, it is about the treatment and persecution over the next 200 years or more that have been left out of the history books, the stories that would have brought about the genuine understanding and empathy needed to unite us as a nation.

The Aboriginal people can receive apologies for the slaughter of their people, the theft of their children, and the destruction of their lands, but that will do nothing to heal the past or improve the future, while we continue to deny their sovereignty or refuse their right to self-determination.

Let us as a nation hope and pray that the time will come where we can create a new date that can be celebrated by a united Australia, one that respects and honours the rights of liberties of every person living in this great country.

Mark Aldridge

Independent Candidate

08 82847482 / 0403379500

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South Australian March 2014 election fails before it starts.

January 17, 2014

URGENT NOTICE TO ALL SOUTH AUSTRALIANS

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN MARCH 2014 ELECTION “FAILING ALREADY?”

 

The very fact the electoral commission themselves do not appear to know what new laws are in place, whether or not any new electoral laws are assented to, or even what the costs for candidates will be, the looming state election in March 2014 appears from the onset to be a failure.

The government and the opposition recently passed new electoral laws in a deliberate attempt to take control of the upper house, to ensure minor parties and Independents will not be able to run or compete at any level.

The changes include;

  • A huge increase in the amount of nominations required up from 2 to 250.
  • To exclude Independents from being able to preference
  • A massive increase in costs up from $450 to $3000
  • Other changes to empower the 2 party system at the expense of the free and informed vote of the electorate.

Questions to the electoral commission; Are these new laws legal, have they been assented to, when will they be in place, when we there be access to the nomination forms, are all remaining unanswered, only weeks out from when nominations must be lodged.

So let’s look at what I have to do to nominate;

To have my name on the ballot paper, with the right to be involved in the preference deals, I will need to run with a friend, 2 candidates will be needed.

The nominations needed (signatures with names addresses and dates of birth) will be a minimum of 500, yet I can’t start getting nominations until forms are made available, what if I only get 24 hours?

It is known that the electoral rolls are faulty, missing around 100,000 names, so I will need to get around 750 nominations to ensure I comply, but it gets worse, as each elector can only nominate one candidate.

So if an elector signs my nomination form, but has signed another’s as well, because all the minor candidates will need hundreds, both will seemingly be invalid, so how many will a candidate have to get?

Two candidates running together will need to raise $6,000 in the next few weeks, a massive imposition, when it is already near impossible to compete with the huge funding of the major parties, these changes are to wipe out the minor player ability’s to field candidate and produce electoral materials.

The other nasty change hiding in the new legislation is that Independents are no longer allowed in the primary ballot draw, so the ballot papers are now designed to promote the major parties, this does not support the concept of a fair go.

While these issues are indeed massive in their own right, one must question how the electoral commission can police the new rules, because with thousands of nominations to go through, where will they find the time, let alone ensure just accounting?

All of this because the government elected want to own the upper house, the house of review, they don’t want pesky Independent thinkers either questioning or exposing their legislative agenda, leaks to me expose the government are intent on undermining our civil and human rights, by the introduction of draconian laws akin to those coming out of QLD.

Now all of this may just piss everyone off, but they are the least of our problems, because the whole electoral conduct will in the most be totally dodgy.

The 2010 state election was found to be dodgy and to be honest totally invalid at law, yet no changes have been made to ensure all the dodgy practices exposed in 2010 do not happen in March.

Over 16,000 ballot papers simply went missing, thousands of postal ballot applications were found to be dodgy around 77,000 names were missing from the electoral rolls and the major parties handled tens of thousands of postal ballot applications, will this all happen again, or even get worse?

The Labor party were caught dressing up as another party and handing our dodgy how to vote cards, they were caught intercepting electoral mail and also ballot paper applications.

Polling booths were absent of important information and ran out of ballot papers, in fact the complaints were massive and so where the allegations of corruption.

I risked my own home to take these issues to the court of disputed returns, fighting for “Your right” to a just election process, only to find out that general elections cannot be invalidated at law, regardless of the count or the conduct, which is absolutely appalling.

The only way to overcome all these issues is to elect genuine representatives of the people, who will fight for democratic reforms, but these changes and dodgy practices are all about ensuring that does not happen.

The results of these electoral changes are to further empower the major parties, which will only result in increased attacks on our civil liberties and our once fine system of democracy.

I for one need your help and support, I have never asked for money in my 15 years fighting for your rights, but without your help, I will be out of the race, as will many other patriotic candidates.

Please consider my hard work over the past years in fighting for your rights, with a small donation to allow me to run as a candidate, even if I am not your preferred choice, because having a choice is an important part of democracy.

Commonwealth Bank Salisbury, Mark M Aldridge BSB; 065122 Account number; 10326657, please mark donations as “Political donations” in case I am unable to raise sufficient funds, because if that is the case, all moneys will be refunded.

In the best interests of democracy, please share this post, text or link with every South Australian, and consider visiting my website www.markmaldridge.com and continue reading up on the governments attack on democracy.

Mark Aldridge

Independent candidate and National spokesperson for the Australian Alliance.

08 82847482 / 0403379500