A First Peoples’ Voice Silenced in NAIDOC Week

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Nick G.                   12 July 2019  

A First Peoples community in SA has had its voice on a proposed radioactive materials dump silenced in the same week that politicians and others pay lip-service to “Voice, Treaty, Truth” during NAIDOC Week.

The Barngarla First People of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula had claimed in the Federal Court that a poll of residents planned by the Kimba District Council to gauge local support for the dump was unlawful because it excluded native title holders.

The ballot was subject to a Supreme Court injunction following representations by lawyers for the Barngarla.

However, the Federal Court today upheld the Kimba Council’s decision to restrict the poll to ratepayers, saying that it was not a denial of the Barngarla because of their Aboriginality.

Federal Court Judge White offered the lame excuse that including the voice of native title holders would be difficult for the Council.
“An enlargement of the franchise for the purpose of the ballot would have required a number of subjective judgments about the extent of the enlargement and raised issues concerning the proper identification of those within the expanded franchise,” the judge said.

An excuse is an excuse is an excuse. Even the process of polling, where a majority ratepayer consensus can easily outvote a First Peoples’ voice, is an insult to traditional owners.

Kimba has two possible sites for a radioactive waste dump. A third possibility is a property near Hawker in the Flinders Ranges. Any council area considered for hosting the dump is rewarded with substantial financial sweeteners ahead of polling.

In Kimba’s case, several million dollars are believed to have been made available to local authorities for roadworks, footpath paving, upgrading of sporting and other community facilities. It is bribery, old-fashioned pork-barrelling, on a grand scale. Kimba currently has the appearance of an old house with a brand-new coat of paint. 

One hand of the “system” duchesses the local council while another hand silences traditional owners.

Unlike a Federal Court of capitalist class rule, our Party has no hesitation in supporting First Peoples’ right to Voice.  Our Program, recently adopted at our 15th Congress states:

We acknowledge that First Peoples have never ceded sovereignty over their lands, and that colonial oppression and attempted dispossession everywhere occurred through force and violence, or the threat of force and violence. Resistance to that force and violence is the inalienable right of First Peoples.

Sovereignty comes out of their Law and is held in their Country. It is the heart of First Peoples’ struggles.

Sovereignty means First Peoples’ control over their affairs.

We support the right of First Peoples to actively assert their sovereignty, choosing their own strategies, tactics and demands.

We support the Barngarla First Peoples just demands for Voice over developments in Country.


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