Terra Nullius, the theft of a land

firsta

I live in a land that has been populated for close to 60,000 years. Recently the Prime Minister of our country denied this https://newmatilda.com/2014/11/14/tony-abbott-says-nothing-bush-australia-white-settlement, an act he continues to do even though he is the self appointed representative of the people who have inhabited the land for this time. Our Country, Australia is the only western country that does not recognise the indigenous native in their Constitution, in fact the words “other than the aboriginal race” were contained in up to 1967 when 94% of the population voted to have it removed in a referendum. I am ashamed that prior to this under the White Australia Policy of the government our Indigenous brothers and sisters, The First Australians had been considered less than human.

Terra nullius is a Latin expression deriving from Roman law meaning “land belonging to no one”, which is used in international law to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state, or over which any prior sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished sovereignty.

We are showing the inspirational SBS series The First Australians at the place that I work at Darebin Intercultural Centrehttps://www.facebook.com/DarebinInterculturalCentre?ref=hl ,a series created by First Australians to belie some of the myths that have been put across as the history of our land http://www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/. Facts I have learnt from this series are that there were over 250 Tribal groups populating the country when whites first arrived and that genocidal actions were taken against them to steal their land such as the 5 pound bounty put on an aboriginal in Tasmania and the hiring of  professional hunters to complete the task by the government of the day.

This made me think that families who first settled the land in the early days probably saw or took part in some horrendous actions to claim their lands if they were all populated by an aboriginal tribe. I grew up in the bush so somewhere in our distant past who knows what occurred.

massacre

On the night of the 12 February 1965, 30 university students from Sydney boarded a bus and set off to campaign in the country towns of New South Wales. Officially called Student Action for Aborigines, they were led by Charles Perkins, a young man who would become one of the most important Australian Aboriginal activists, as well as a leader in the Aboriginal community through his work as a politician and bureaucrat, as well as through his sporting achievements as a soccer player, coach and administrator.http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-56_u-490_t-1335_c-5130/tas/sose-history/australia-after-1945/an-era-of-protest/charles-perkins-freedom-rides

Charles Perkins and his ilk were willing to fight for the rights of Indigenous people and their actions led to the referendum of 1967 and allowed people like Vincent Lingiari to lead his fellow stockman and families off the Wave Hill cattle station where their civil rights had been being abused by the Vestey family, a wealthy British family who had run the station since the 1880’s. In 1975 the land was handed back to the Gurindji people by then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam , the first such case and the beginning of the land rights movement in Australia.

Finally, to give back to you formally in Aboriginal and Australian law ownership of this land of your fathers. 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 this piece of the earth itself as a sign that we restore them to you and your children forever.—Gough Whitlam, August 16th 1975 [4]

This opened up actions to be taken by several governments to either crush or support land rights http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_title_in_Australia , the most famous case being Mabo vs. Queensland over the period of 1988 to 1992. Eddie Mabo took the government to task about the right his Murri people had  re owner ship of Mer, his home island. Unfortunately Eddie became ill and died several months before the victorious decision was handed down http://www.abc.net.au/tv/mabo/biography/eddie-mabo.htm.

eddie

So why will the government of a supposedly civilised land not recognise the first 40,000 years of their lands history in their constitution? If you look at these statistics it could be assumed that the will of the people is not there and the government are listening to the unspoken racism that exists in  our country http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/racism-in-aboriginal-australia#toc6

Terra Nullius is an abomination and belittles the people of our great country and we should be taking all steps we can to have it reversed and call out to our elected head of government to stop making statements that suggest he supports its existence. The fight for land rights has also risen again as the premier of Western Australia intends to  close 150 settlements http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-12/indigenous-communities-closures-will-have-severe-consequences/5886840. I believe we are better as a nation in recognising our indigenous brothers and sisters, the First Australians than some of the actions occurring seemingly in the name of the money barons who wish to mine without having to ask anyone. Say no to Terra Nullius and the fold back of land rights.

Namaste until we meet again my friends.

Namaste

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