Protest Against the NT Intervention

by anzya

If you’re in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, hop along to this national day of action against the NT Intervention, organised by the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective. Their media release is below:

No to Forrest’s GenerationOne, Yes to Aboriginal ‘Jobs With Justice’

Aboriginal people deserve decent, well-paid and meaningful jobs – this is a basic human right. But these jobs won’t be delivered by the GenerationOne billionaires’ project.

On Friday at 5.30pm outside the State Library, The Greens Member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, will be speaking in support of the campaign for ‘jobs with justice’ against the NT Intervention. Mr Bandt will be joined by veteran Aboriginal rights activists Gary Foley and Robbie Thorpe, as well as union representatives, including Kevin Bracken from the Victorian Trades Hall Council, at the Melbourne event, part of a National Day of Protest.

Spokesperson for the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), Sharon Firebrace, said “Andrew Forrest’s GenerationOne project has been a failure in the past.  And it will continue to be the pernicious smokescreen it was set out to be. Jobs for Aboriginal people will be delivered through fighting against the interests of the people like Andrew Forrest and challenging this government. The launch of this campaign, with the support of Adam Bandt, Aboriginal elders, and unions, is a challenge to business and this government.”

There are old platitudes in the GenerationOne project about education and employment, which are indicators of disadvantage, not the cause of it. Aboriginal rights activists are challenging this project.

Ms Firebrace says “There is no mention of land rights on the GenerationOne site, not one mention of the dispossession, racism and ongoing genocide that lies at the heart of Aboriginal disadvantage.”

A statement – “Worse than WorkChoices” – to be launched this Friday as part of a National Day of Protest against the NT Intervention, outlines the cruel lie of both the Labor Government’s “Closing the Gap” policy and the ongoing NT Intervention.

When the NT Intervention was introduced in 2007, it promised to deliver “real jobs” for Aboriginal communities. Instead, thousands of waged jobs have been lost and Aboriginal organisations have been crippled as Community DeveAlopment Employment Projects (CDEP) close down.

Ms Firebrace, said “There is no such thing as justice when it comes to jobs for Aboriginal people in the top end. Vital services such as rubbish collection, school bus runs, sewerage maintenance, construction and aged care, these are being done by Aboriginal people in exchange for quarantined Centrelink payments.

“Aboriginal workers have described the BasicsCard as a return to the “ration-days” when they were paid in food instead of cash. It is exploitative and dehumanising. And it all fits in with renewed 1930s-era ‘assimilation’ policy that is being flogged by the Government, and the billionaires like Andrew Forrest.”

The protest in Melbourne, will be joined by actions in Alice Springs, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. In Alice Springs, Aboriginal CDEP workers will be making the trip from the towns associated with the 1966 Gulrindji walk-off [the strike which inspired the Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’].

Last Wednesday, more than 200 Gurindji people joined a stop work meeting at Kalkaringi, to protest the NT Intervention and endorse the ‘jobs with justice’ statement. The crowd was addressed by veterans of the 1966 Gurindji walk-off from Wave Hill station such as Bernard Jalyirri. A new era of Gurindji workers like Peter Inverway are now speaking out, “Our people walked off Wave Hill station for getting paid in flour, tea and sugar. Now we are getting paid on the BasicsCard. We need to continue with this strike action.”

The rally voted to endorse a statement demanding an end to the Intervention and ‘Jobs with Justice’ for Aboriginal workers, which will be published in the Australian newspaper and launched with national protest rallies on October 29. A Gurindji delegation will travel to Alice Springs to join the protest.

Reflecting on the rally, walk-off veteran Jimmy Wave Hill said “There is too much humbug from this government…We need to follow in Vincent Lingiari’s footsteps with our fight today.”

MELBOURNE RALLY – National Day of Protest against the NT Intervention – Jobs With Justice now!
Friday, 29 October 2010, 5.30pm
State Library, cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts, Melbourne

RALLY: Friday, 29 October 2010, 5.30pm, State Library, cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts, Melbourne

Speakers: Gary Foley, Robbie Thorpe, Adam Bandt (Greens – Member for Melbourne), Adam Frogley (Indigenous Coordinator, NTEU), Kevin Bracken (Victorian Trades Hall Council), Stephen Jolly (Councillor, City of Yarra)

For more on Melbourne’s campaign:
For other actions in Australia: