BURRAGA GUTYA (KEN CANNING), 22nd AUGUST SPEECH AT CINEMA POLITICA FUNDRAISER/LAUNCH PARTY
I’ll start with a poem. This is called ‘Advance australia what?’
Who is going to sing?
Come let us all rejoice
for we are young and free —
To the young mother
sitting in red dust
beside a dry river
in 4th world conditions
in a nation
apalled by the 3rd world
Who will tell her,
advance australia fair
as her dying child
a malnourished breast.
Is this fair?
The death toll increases.
Will this child
as a victim of war
by a nation obsessed
with remembering the dead!!
At the going down of the sun
we will remember them.
lest we forget.
How many more
before we stand as one
and demand —–
Our babies be given
a chance to live.
She will mourn alone.
of a child
whose only crime
was to be born
in a country
Refusing to acknowledge
he or she ever existed
aussie aussie aussie
BLAH BLAH BLAH
What’s been happening in australia for the last couple of years? We’ve been working together for the last couple of years with regards to a lot of things that have been happening. We knew for some time about the decision to remove communities in Western Australia, it was to follow the illegal Intervention.
Although the public wasn’t aware, we had our ideas through the Aboriginal grapevine that this was going to happen. So we started using social media to get a collective of like-minded people together. When I got back the rallies started, and we started demonstrating – at first with the March in March people that went around Australia. The genesis of our own demonstrations against the forced removals was also what was happening in Redfern. So just over a year ago, we set up a Tent Embassy, Jenny Munro and the grandmothers set up a Tent Embassy – Cherly and I were there. Quite a funny story – Jenny said, “we’re setting up a tent Embassy today” and she turned around and said “Oh, but I forgot the tent” *laughter*. Cheryl and I went and bought the tent and so that was the start of the tent embassy.
And so it’s grown and grown and some of the students who’ve supported it are here tonight so I might be preaching to the converted. But, basically, a corrupt organisation called the Aboriginal Housing Company jumped into bed with Deicorp and they wanted to build businesses there with student accommodation on top. And possibly further down the line, when they can afford it from the profits they make with the businesses build on the land, they’d then build Aboriginal housing. It was found out that this would’t happen for another ten years.
To their credit, people occupied their land and they’re still not off. We’ve got another court hearing on Monday, to see whether we’re going to get evicted. But if we get evicted we’ll disobey that law anyway. The only evictions that’ll happen off that land will be forced evictions. Again. Forced removals. The way I look at it, it’s all the same thing. Whether it’s in Redfern, or West Australia or South Australia – it’s not a new issue.
People might remember ten years ago the Gordon Estate was shut down in Dubbo. I went down there to give a talk last year, and all the Aboriginal families were gone, moved. They had been moved there from other places before – some of them had been there for twenty years – and they’d been moved again. I asked the locals if they knew whether they were and they said ‘no’.
Mount Druitt – a lot of people have been moved out of there. Where I live in Glebe, a lot of Aboriginal people have been moved to of the top end of Glebe Point Road. I don’t know where they’re being moved to.
This is not a new issue, and it’s happening to non-Aboriginal people too. If you look down to Millers Point, whole communities are being moved. They didn’t want that land when it was all industrial, but now that it looks beautiful and they’ve got parklands planned, they want to move out all the people who’ve grown up there. This is symptomatic of the super-conservative government that we’ve now got.
I won’t mince with words. If you look at the Northern Territory intervention – it’s not an intervention, it was based on lies. Based on the lies of Howard, using one of his staffers who went on Tony Jones’ Lateline to say that there were pedophile rings running out of Central Australia, which became the genesis of the Intervention.
Step back from that. Howard had tried to bribe communities to sign over their land to mining companies on 99-year leases so they could get good access. Now we’re looking at what’s happening in modern times, and we see that they’re cutting off water, electricity. John Howard did that in the 1990s to communities who were refusing to sign over their land. In fact, he cut off their food supply. These are not new tactics – it’s not coincidental that the person he mentored, who is now the prime minister, is hell bent on driving people off their land with the same tactics. Cut off their water. Cut off their electricity. Move the people out. We’re not hearing the full story in this country. We have people who go over to Western Australia and are in the ground in the northern Territory constantly, and things are not pretty.
What’s the first thing Abbott did as he came to power? $14 million out of the Aboriginal legal service, straight away. And $534 million out of Aboriginal affairs. The difference between those fund cuts and others, were that most of the others were argued about in Parliament, and some didn’t make it – for the Dole and pensions, for instance. The Aboriginal affairs fund cuts went straight through parliament without an argument from Labor or the Greens. And that’s something I’ve been very hostile about with the Greens. We’re sitting down to try and talk some peace at the moment, but I’m very hostile that they’re pretending to be a different party yet they haven’t spoken out enough about what’s happening in Aboriginal communities.
Some Greens members have been out to remote communities and they know very well what’s happening out there. There are nightly raids on communities; and the police are dressed as something out of Desert Storm. They come into the communities, put guns to the kids’ heads and ask them, “Does your father smoke marijuana? Does your mother drink alcohol?” This is terror going on in our own land, this is happening in Western Australia as well.
Howard brought up the lie, that was later completely disproven, about pedophile rings being run out of the Northern Territory – every Aboriginal male in the country was vilified over that. It’s not coincidental that the West Australian media are now coming out with the same story. Let’s say, for arguments sake, that some of these communities are dysfunctional, and that the biased Abbott media could somehow tell some semblance of truth. Moving a community from one area to another, larger community, does not solve the problem. It hides the problem. If there were perpetrators, wouldn’t you think hiding them in a larger community would give them more targets? SO this is not about dysfunctionalism in communities, it’s about getting people off land to mine it. That’s all it’s about. You don’t want to fix dysfunctionalism by cutting out half a billion dollars from Aboriginal affairs.
We’re seeing the fallout now in Western Australia, in many many places which had suicide prevention centres – they’ve been shut down. When we had the rally recently here in Sydney, ‘Eight Years of Intervention’, Gerry Georgatos, who’s been instrumental in trying to reopen them, was in tears. He said, “how do you think I feel when one of our centres closes down and shortly later an eight year old boy kills himself?” The media is not telling you of the whole horror that is happening in this country. He said, in the same speech, “we’ve lost count of the amount of children between the ages of eleven and thirteen, who’ve killed themselves.”
Surely, as a country, we’ve got to do more. Make a commitment to the First Nations people in this country. There are a lot of good people in this country (when I was younger, I was a little anti-White. I can’t see why, I was brought up in segregation…). But we don’t want good people living in country known internationally as one of the most racist places on the planet. We organised a national march on the 1st of May, we had 96 marches around Australia and overseas. The American and Canadian Indian movement staged six or seven marches there, two in Hong Kong, two in London, we had a two page story in the Bulgarian newspapers, and we’ve now got two Facebook pages that are against the removals. We’re winning the battle with the overseas media, but the local media does not report the truth of what is happening.
This is why I say we’ve got no friends in politics. Does anybody remember Peter Garrett the great activist? *Laughter* One of the first things he did in the Labor party was to reopen the Zinc mine on the McCarthy river, right through the Borraloola peoples’ lands, which had been shut down because it was toxic. His signature is on the document that reopened the mine. Young children now run around the mine and contract spasmodic nosebleeds, ear and eye infections. They’re very sick. Older people are dying. These people are refusing to sign over their land to the federal government, which has surrounded them and is now simply waiting for them to die or leave. We’ve got documentarians working in that community who’ll hopefully bring to light what goes on there.
I can’t reiterate hard enough, how, as a community of good-willed people to allow this to happen. We can’t allow Abbott and his rubbish media to distract the community with constitutional recognition. Why would you want to recognise people in the constitution when they’re the same people upon whom you’re committing genocide.
Tony Abbott’s policies are genocidal. Mike Baird’s policies are genocidal. The cuts to the custody notifications services (CNS) are murderous. It’s not longer people dying; it’s murder at the hands of government policy. The CNS was the recommended outcome of a royal commission of deaths in custody. It states that t when an Aboriginal person is arrested, a family or community member has to be notified and come to the cell. For some reason, Aboriginal people get very depressed their first hour in custody. And they commit suicide. The CNS effectively stopped these deaths. There’d been none since it was put in place.
Baird defunded the CNS. We protested, and he’s reluctantly agreed to extend it by six months. Reason tells us, if you’ve got something that saves lives – which is not a costly service- and you remove it, you want to kill those people. So I accuse the state government of murder by policy.
The government is committing genocide and murder, and they have blood on their hands. The only way to get at this government is to tell them who they are. They’re not an inept, racist government – they’re a gang of murderous thieves. You look at Labor and see the same thing. When Bill Shorten came out to speak about the half a billion dollars cut from Aboriginal services he was about effective as a wet tissue.
We are way off the political radar. If people think constitutional recognition is the answer, you’re way off. When you’ve got children as young as eight killing themselves, you shouldn’t be having this debate – we should be fixing these material problems that exist. That should be our priority. All Abbott’s trying to do with constitutional recognition is to distract people from the truth of what’s happening.
There’s been almost a billion dollars put into advertising for constitutional recognition. He cuts half a billion from our funding and puts a billion into recognition. We debated the pro-recognition people last Friday night at Town HalI. When asked about their funding, one representative told me they operated on a budget of five million. I prodded them on this, and they admitted they had sponsorship. I asked him about his sponsors, Telstra was one, he said. Name the rest? Transfield. Transfield as one of their sponsors.
Why would these major companies support constitutional recognition? Once we’re in the constitution, we’ll lose all sovereign rights. We’ll lose native title, we’ll lose land rights. This is one of the biggest frauds the government has tried to pull on the public. Once we’re in there, we’ll become assimilated. Any of our sovereign rights are completely gone. This is why the big companies are pumping money into it: because we cannot then claim on these big companies’ land.