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Aboriginal Autonomy and the Galilee Basin Coal Complex

We Suspect Silence

March 10, 2018

By Michael Swifte

 

First published by the Native Title Unit of the Australian Attorney-General’s Department

Submission to Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993: Transparent agreement-making

Submission by:

Michael Swifte

February 2018

Email: mgswifte@yahoo.com.au

Blog: We Suspect Silence

Twitter: http://twitter.com/empathiser

Member: Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective

Sections

1. Motivated by understanding Green-Black relations.

2. Auto-didactics and an unstructured methodology.

3. My key themes and areas where I shine a spotlight.

(a) Theme one: Indigenous Land Use Agreements relating to the crucial Adani rail link to the Galilee Basin.

(b) Theme two: Information giving and oversight of negotiation processes.

(c) Theme three: Non PBCs/RNTBCs making ILUAs

List of acronyms

NNTT – National Native Title Tribunal

NTA – Native Title Act

PBC – Prescribed Bodies Corporate

RNTBC – Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate

ORIC – Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations

ILUA – Indigenous Land Use Agreement

NAIF – Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility

KMYAC – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation

JEL – Juru Enterprises Limited

NGBR – North Galilee Basin Rail Project

NPIC – Non-Profit Industrial Complex

WKOG – Wrong Kind of Green

CSG – Coal Seam Gas

RTI – Right to Information

1. Motivated by understanding Green-Black relations.

I started out as an anti-CSG (coal seam gas) activist in 2011 working with Generation Alpha and Zombie-A-Frack. I then moved on to be a founding member of the Galilee Blockade group. Around that time I was a shareholder activist against Aurizon as part of the Over Our Dead Bodies campaign. These were the earlier stages of the Queensland based environmental resistance against the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex.

As a member of Galilee Blockade I was focussed on strategy and capacity building for future blockades and direct actions in the Galilee Basin. I fell out with the Galilee Blockade group but maintained an interest in good strategy to inform direct action in the Galilee Basin.

My research into native title issues in the context of large scale coal mining development in the Galilee Basin – which I began tentatively in mid 2015 – was focussed on analysis of the ‘means of export’ and the economic position/agency of Traditional Owners in relation to the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex. At this time I was not conscious of the concept of ‘Aboriginal autonomy’ as articulated by Professor Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh from the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. (1)

I have moved from a position of support for stopping the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex ‘at all costs’ to a more nuanced position that takes account of the experience of Traditional Owners and their communities in dealing with the apparatus of the native title system. There is an inherent tension in valuing both Aboriginal autonomy and the prevention of destructive mining developments. It is my belief that in this tension lies the great challenge of decolonisation as it relates to all Indigenous and non-indigenous people. There is no value – in terms of decolonisation – in ignoring particular issues and groups of people when attempting to engage Indigenous and non-indigenous people in support of a particular agenda. Indeed, only thorough and honest assessments of the economic reality of all Traditional Owners as they engage or are excluded from engaging in the negotiation processes afforded to them by the native title system can we properly inform and underpin our fiduciary responsibility to Aboriginal people with regard to the institutions and corporations they are compelled to form and maintain.

Corruption and corporate failure occur in all modern cultural contexts, and as such the expression of these phenomena are a legacy of the post-colonial/colonised era in which our native system operates. Transparent agreement making must be supported by processes and information-giving that allow the general public and more specifically Traditional Owners who have been marginalised from their representative bodies to make assessments about the integrity and effectiveness of the native title system. In the following passages I will make the case that rather than being accountable, accessible and fair, the key institutions that make up the native title system fail to deliver justice through ineffective and poorly defined information-giving, lack of oversight and disclosure regarding negotiation processes, and significant bureaucratic/administrative/institutional failures in attempting to make the native title system navigable.

My involvement with the critical thinking collective Wrong Kind of Green (WKOG) began in 2014 after my first blog post on my blog called We Suspect Silence under my Twitter handle @empathiser. (2) The relationship has deepened since. The non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) critique is at the centre of WKOG’s entirely self funded work. Broadly, the non-profit industrial complex critique contends that through funding relationships with philanthropy, and through networked relationships with a broad range of government, corporate, and non-government institutions, the not-for profit sector effectively captures the efforts of Indigenous and non-indigenous activists for the benefit neo-liberal forces.

2. Auto-didactics and an unstructured methodology.

I subscribe to the understanding of intelligence articulated by anti-war activist Stan Goff in his 2007 essay ‘On Strategy, Tactics & Intelligence’.

Intelligence is information analyzed for its value to develop plans for action. Most of it, even in the world of government intelligence, doesn’t come from breaking codes or running agents — contrary to the media myths — but from information that is readily available to everyone. Basically, that means if we do intelligence gathering and analysis right, then ours is going to be as good as theirs… maybe better, since we don’t have bureaucratic ambitions and political agendas distorting ours as much.” (3)

My journey has been a learning one. I entered into this area only seeking to get to the truth and as such did not have a predetermined or structured plan. I have had to become an investigative journalist and a pundit to compliment my environmental activism, but it has been my determination to never forget or ignore the economic impacts on all Traditional Owners and their communities that has kept my eyes open. The depth and breadth of economic impacts on Traditional Owner communities and the nature of the negotiating processes that lead to key decision making events have only been revealed to me because I make a special effort of digging around to extract information that Traditional Owners are entitled to know but would otherwise be buried. The decision making events I have investigated – voting meetings, ILUA authorisation meetings, execution meetings – fall under the focus of the ‘Transparent Agreements’ proposals contained in the Reforms to the Native Title Act 1993 Options Paper. I will include information not published by the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) but derived from my investigative efforts in the section titled ‘My key themes and areas I spotlight’.

My phone calls to NNTT case workers and other staff helped me get clarification of basic elements of it’s information-giving and information architecture. I was always mindful of the experience of and challenges put before a claim group member who was marginalised from the negotiation process. I routinely asked myself “How much useful information could a blackfella get from calling the NNTT?”.

The process of finding the relevant ILUA documents was haphazard and involved many phone calls to NNTT staff. I encountered issues with information architecture, broken links, and a general lack of guidance for researchers in the online environment. As I outlined in my blog post titled ‘The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?’ some staff who deal with the public need to seek guidance about which non-privileged information in their possession can be provided to a member of the public. As a record keeper the NNTT is inconsistent.(4) Non-privileged information relating to ILUAs that I was told by one staff member would need to be provided in response to an email request, was freely provided over the phone by other staff members.

3. My key themes and areas where I shine a spotlight.

Rather than attend to the elements of the Native Title Act (NTA) and regulations, I will be presenting particular sets of information gathered since mid 2015, much of which is rarely, if ever, discussed in public forums.

(a) Theme one: Indigenous Land Use Agreements relating to the crucial Adani rail link to the Galilee Basin.

The North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR) is the standard gauge rail project which was the subject of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan application. This was revealed to me during the inquiry conducted by the Senate Economics References Committee titled ‘Governance and operation of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF)’. I analysed the revelations presented in this inquiry at length in my blog post titled ‘Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility’.(5)

The NGBR is currently under development by Adani and is the crucial piece of export infrastructure without which the Galilee Basin coal complex could not be developed. As I highlight in my blog post titled ‘Unpacking the Galilee Basin shell game’ the project has been erroneously named the ‘Carmichael Rail Project’ by Adani Australia in the ‘Projects’ section of their website. (6) This is a contradiction of the actual name of the project which appears in the relevant Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) documents and in the Queensland Department of State Development project listings. One notable environmental organisation echoed this nomenclature in relation to the NAIF in December 2016. Greenpeace Australia Pacific published a document titled “OffTrack: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project’. (7)

By capitalising the words “rail” and “project”, both Adani and Greenpeace suggest a formal title for a project which in all official documents has a different name. The actual project name, the ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project’, can be used as a targeted search term to direct researchers and the general public to documents that would show that negotiations, including voting meetings leading to signed ILUAs, took place between Adani and Traditional Owners in the second half on 2014. The absence of this name from popular discourse could be interpreted as a deliberate tactic to confound and mislead. Questions ought to be asked of Adani Australia and Greenpeace AP about their purpose in using a misleading title in this context.

Three key ILUAs relating to the NGBR have been signed without objection by the Juru, Birriah, and Jannga People’s representative bodies. These ILUAs were never discussed in any form, nor were the Traditional Owner representative groups mentioned by name in the New Matilda five part series titled ‘Killing Country’, which ostensibly focussed on native title issues in the Galilee Basin coal complex (though the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council was placed at the forefront of the story). These unreferenced pieces make no mention of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. The authors, Kristen Lyons, John Quiggin, and Morgan Brigg were supported by the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland to write the June 2017 report from which the New Matilda five part series follows on. The report is titled ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL’. (8)

(b) Theme two: Information giving and oversight of negotiation processes.

All the negotiation meetings in preparation for the registration of an ILUA come down to one or two voting meeting(s). After ascertaining that Adani had two rail projects, one of which was rarely ever named in the media or in government business, I was able to track down and identify – with the help of NNTT staff – the registered ILUAs that made the rarely-named (and sometimes mis-titled) rail project possible.

The below list is taken from my February 2017 blog post titled ‘Why is there so much silence around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements?’. (9)

Indigenous Land Use Agreements applying to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project

QI2014/072 – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA (10)

QI2014/080 – Birriah People and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA(11)

QI2014/065 – Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation and Adani Mining Carmichael North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA (12)

When I established through a 2014 Right to Information (RTI) disclosure that these ILUAs were significant to the development of the standard gauge rail project that is central to the Galilee Basin coal complex I began to develop a time line and identified key non-commercial-in-confidence data points that would help me ascertain if every effort was made to ensure that each claim group member was able to attend voting meetings on crucial ILUAs. (13) (14) My concern about voting meetings was driven by a single ABC regional article about Juru elder Carol Prior who stated that claim group members who were on Palm Island didn’t know about a crucial voting meeting. (15) She stated that she intended to object to the ILUA. No objection is recorded by the NNTT for any of the three ILUAs that I investigated. (16)

I determined that the dates when voting meetings occurred, the dates when voting meetings were advertised, and the dates when claim group members were notified of their right to object to an ILUA ought to published by the NNTT and be available to any member of the public. With these particular data points I would be able to ascertain if news paper ads had been placed and every effort had been made to notify claim group members.

After my initial requests for various advertising and voting dates was rejected by an NNTT case worker who suggested I write an email request, I decided to try other NNTT staff who were happy to provide me with what dates they were able to find. None were able to find any dates for advertising of authorisation/voting meetings. (17) I later returned to the first case worker with the data I had gathered and was told again that I should send through an email. I created a set of fields which included the data I had gathered and mistakenly did not specify that I was also requesting dates for the advertising of voting meetings. I received a reply to the email which included the dates of the authorisation meetings for each ILUA and an explanation that body corporate agreements – two of the three – did not require a public notification of intention to register an ILUA. (18) Having confirmed the voting meeting dates I was able to discern that for each of the three ILUAs the commencement date was also the date of the second of two voting meetings. My searches based on the execution dates provided by the NNTT case worker provided incomplete and interesting results.

Below are the data fields for voting meetings and advertising of notification periods. All of the information other than the tribunal numbers and registration dates was acquired or clarified through phone conversations and emails with NNTT staff in late 2016 and in 2017. (19) The execution dates for the Birriah and Jannga ILUAs (blue text) was provided via email with the NNTT case worker. (20)

Given the effort it took to gather unpublished dates for voting/authorisation/execution meetings I cannot see how the NNTT can effectively arbitrate a conflict over the delivery of a voting meeting if it does not acquire and retain information regarding the efforts made to ensure all claim group members have an opportunity to attend voting meetings and lodge objections. The lack of published information about meeting advertising dates, notification advertising dates, authorisation meeting dates signifies that the NNTT is neither actively providing oversight in regards to crucial authorisation meetings nor actively capturing and publishing non-commercially sensitive data that is relevant to marginalised Traditional Owners and other researchers.

Juru QI2014/072

Registered: 24/11/14

Votes: 05/08/14 and 16/09/14

Notification: 21/10/14 to 21/11/14

Advertised: Body Corporate Agreement. Not advertised in newspapers. No grounds for objections by claim group members.

Birriah QI2014/080

Registered: 24/04/2015

Votes: Agreement was executed by the parties between 27/09/2014 and 4/11/2014

Notification: 21/01/2015 to 21/04/2015

Advertised (notice of application to register an ILUA): 14/01/15

Jannga/Bulganunna QI2014/065

Registered: 05/01/15

Votes: Agreement was executed by parties on 4/07/2014 and 6/08/2014

Notification: 28/11/14 to 29/12/14

Advertised: Body Corporate Agreement. Not advertised in newspapers. No grounds for objections by claim group members.

Armed with the 6 execution dates for the three NGBR ILUAs I was able to find notices published in the Koori Mail on two dates in 2014. These notices relate to the Juru and Birriah people information sessions and/or authorisation meetings. I was not able to find public notices for the Jannga/Bulganunna authorisation meetings.

Juru

The July 30, 2014 public notice of information sessions in the Koori Mail for the Juru ILUA with Adani relating to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project lists August 5, 2014 as an information session date but not an authorisation meeting. No authorisation meeting dates are specified. No mention is made of any dates scheduled for the September 16 execution meeting.

Here’s is a statement from the July 30, 2014 public notice that clearly reinforces that the dates indicated are specifically for “information sessions”.

Under the Native Title (Prescribed Bodies Corporate) Regulations 1999 (Cth) Kyburra cannot make a decision to enter into the ILUA unless it has consulted with and obtained the consent of the Juru People to enter into the ILUA. Kyburra must also consult with and consider the views of the native title representative body for the ILUA Project. Kyburra and Adani have organised a number of consultation and consent information sessions (Information Sessions) for the Juru People to attend for this purpose.” (21)

Birriah

There were three public notices of information sessions and authorisation meetings for the Birriah People placed in the Koori Mail on September 10, 2014.

The three public notices relating to Birriah information sessions, a reformulation meeting, and authorisation meetings carried similar headlines texts.

Public notice 1.

PUBLIC NOTICE OF AUTHORISATION MEETING TO CONSIDER PROPOSED INDIGENOUS LAND USE AGREEMENT (AREA AGREEMENT) UNDER THE NATIVE TITLE ACT 1993 (CTH)

Public notice 2

BIRRIAH NATIVE TITLE CLAIM GROUP NATIVE TITLE AUTHORISATION MEETINGS

Public notice 3

BIRRIAH PEOPLE NATIVE TITLE MEETING TO AUTHORISE INDIGENOUS LAND USE AGREEMENTS

Public notice 1 lists the authorisation meeting as September 27, 2014 while public notice 2 and 3 list the authorisation meeting as September 28, 2014.

Public notice 2 lists two meetings, the first of which is a reformulation meeting to change the apical ancestor list. The current and proposed apical ancestor lists are provided in all three notices.

Public notice 3 lists the start time of the authorisation meeting as 8.30am which is the same time listed in public notice 2 as the starting time for the reformulation meeting.

Public notice 2 outlines the order of proceedings as the reformulation meeting followed by the authorisation meeting for those still deemed to have an apical ancestor.

Meeting 2 – Meeting of the reformulated Birriah Native Title Claim Group If a decision is made to change the description of the Birriah Native Title Claim Group a further meeting of the re-formulated claim group will be held immediately following Meeting 1 for the purpose of authorising an Applicant to deal with all matters arising in relation to the Native Title Claim. Note: If the proposed amendments to the description of the native title claim group are authorised at Meeting 1, then only persons who fall within the re-formulated claim group description may participate in Meeting 2.” (22)

No mention is made in the Birriah public notices of any authorisation meetings scheduled for November 4, 2014.

A public notice announcing that an application to register an area agreement on the Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements was issued in the Koori Mail on January 14, 2015. Here’s a quote from that notice indicating the a Birriah Traditional Owner could not make an objection to the registration of an ILUA in this particular circumstance unless they made a registered native title determination application during the notification period.

Responses to an application to register an ILUA—where the application has not been certified: Because this application for registration of the agreement has not been certified by the Representative Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Body/ies for the area, there is no opportunity to make a formal objection to its registration. However, if you claim to hold native title in relation to any of the land or waters covered by this agreement, you may wish, within the notice period, to make a native title determination application or equivalent application under a law of a state or territory in respect of any part of the area. The application must be made by 21 April 2015. If that application is registered on the Register of Native Title Claims, the registered native title claimants must be a party to this agreement before it can be registered.” (23)

(c) Theme three: Non PBCs/RNTBCs making ILUAs.

I’ve identified two occasions in the negotiation of ILUAs relating to the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex when Traditional Owners have been represented in ILUA negotiations by groups that are not the claim group, Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) or the Registered Native Title Body Corporate (RNTBC).

This raises some serious questions about the oversight of the NNTT. While I’m no expert on native title, it seems to me that the claim group ought to be represented by bodies that are subject to regulation by the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) and were incorporated for the specific purpose of making native title claims and negotiating with parties on behalf of the claim group defined under the native title system.

Juru Enterprises Limited

Juru Enterprises Limited made an ILUA with Adani in January of 2014. The Juru RNTBC, KMYAC were not a party to this ILUA.

The title of the ILUA is ‘Juru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA’. NNTT number: QI2013/036 (24)

Juru Enterprises Limited and Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation are currently in pre-hearing case management in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Case management hearings are being presided over by Justice Steven Rares. (25)

From my research only Geoff Egan, a reporter from Central Queensland is the only person to write about these proceedings in a piece titled ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’. (26)

The Queensland Department of State Development Annual Report 2016/17 mentions Juru Enterprises Limited.

Work is also continuing with the local native title group, through Juru Enterprises Limited, to provide further skills and capacity building while undertaking land management activities within the Abbot Point SDA.” (27)

WJ Corporation

Kate Arnautovic’s honours these provides are very useful background on negotiations between the Wangan and Jagalingou People and Adani. The quote below should interest anyone who is concerned with transparent agreement making during the pre-determination phase.

In December 2012, Adani attempted to sideline the authority of the applicants and seek authorisation from the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (WJ Corporation). The WJ Corporation is a representative body with a board of Wangan and Jagalingou family representatives (Adani Mining v. Jessie Diver & Others, 2013). While its membership is comprised of many Wangan and Jagalingou claimants, it also represents people who are not claimants. Patrick Malone told the NNTT that the membership of the WJ Corporation included ‘large numbers’ of people who were not descendants of the 12 families that constitute the claim group (Adani Mining v. Jessie Diver & Others, 2013).” (28)

References

(1) O’Faircheallaigh, Ciaran. ‘Mining royalties and Aboriginal autonomy’. Distinguished Lecture presented by the School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University. 9 August 2017 (Broadcast ABC Radio National: September 13, 2017).

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/mining-royalties-and-aboriginal-autonomy/8808038

(2) Swifte, Michael. ‘Australia’s climate movement has been bought for a pittance.’ Blog: We Suspect Silence, May 13, 2014.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/australias-climate-movement-has-been-bought-for-a-pittance/

(3) Goff, Stan. ‘On Strategy, Tactics & Intelligence’. Huffington Post: The Blog.

Originally published February 1, 2007. Updated May 25, 2011.https://www.huffingtonpost.com/stan-goff/on-strategy-tactics-intel_b_40222.html

(4) Swifte, Michael. ‘The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?’ Blog: We Suspect Silence, May 10, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/the-national-native-title-tribunal-arbiter-or-record-keeper/

(5) Swifte, Michael. ‘Confirmation that the North Galilee Basin Rail Project is the Adani rail project being considered by the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, September 8, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/confirmation-that-the-north-galilee-basin-rail-project-is-the-adani-rail-project-being-considered-by-the-north-australia-infrastructure-facility/

(6) Swifte, Michael. ‘Unpacking the Galilee Basin shell game’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, December 24, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/unpacking-the-galilee-basin-shell-game/

(7) Greenpeace Australia Pacific. ‘Off Track: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project’. December 2016.

https://d68ej2dhhub09.cloudfront.net/2021-Off_Track_-_Why_NAIF_can%E2%80%99t_approve_the_Carmichael_Rail_Project_(web_version).pdf

(8) Lyons, Kristen, Brigg, Morgan, and Quiggin, John. ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL’. 2017.

http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/Unfinished-Business.pdf

(9) Swifte, Michael. ‘Why is there so much silence around the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and related Indigenous Land Use Agreements?’. Blog: We Suspect Silence, February 17, 2017. https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/why-is-there-so-much-silence-around-the-north-galilee-basin-rail-project-and-related-indigenous-land-use-agreements/

(10) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details. ‘QI2014/072 – Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. November 24, 2014.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/072

(11) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details.

‘QI2014/080 – Birriah People and Adani Mining North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. April 24, 2015.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/080

(12) National Native Title Tribunal: Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreement Details.

‘QI2014/065 – Bulganunna Aboriginal Corporation and Adani Mining Carmichael North Galilee Basin Rail Project ILUA’. January 5, 2015.

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/065

(13) Queensland Treasury: RTI disclosure log – 2016 and earlier. RTI 493. Disclosure made to Jeremy Tager at the North Queensland Conservation Council. Released December 17, 2014.

https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/about-treasury/right-to-information/previous-disclosure-log-php/

(14) Swifte, Michael. ‘Only a “standard gauge” rail line will deliver the economies of scale to open up the Galilee Basin’. Blog: We Suspect Silence. April 14, 2017.

https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/only-a-standard-gauge-rail-line-will-deliver-the-economies-of-scale-to-open-up-the-galilee-basin/

(15) Roe, Isobel. ‘Native title holders lodge objection to proposed North Galilee Basin rail project’. ABC News. October 20, 2014.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/native-title-holders-lodge-objection-to-proposed/5826168

(16) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. May 10, 2017.

(17) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. May 10, 2017 and May 23, 2017.

(18) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. October 18, 2017.

(19) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. (multiple occasions in late 2016 and 2017).

(20) Pers, Comm,. NNTT. October 18, 2017.

(21) Koori Mail. Ed 581. July 30, 2014.

https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/581.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(22) Koori Mail. Ed 584. September 10, 2014.https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/584.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(23) Koori Mail. Ed 592. January 14, 2015.https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/digitised_collections/the_koori_mail/592.pdf?width=900&height=800&iframe=true

(24) National Native Title Tribunal. Extract from Register of Indigenous Land Use Agreements. ‘Juru People and Adani Abbot Point Terminal ILUA’. January 20, 2014.http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/ILUA%20Register/2013/QI2013.036/ILUARegisterExport.pdf

(25) Federal Court of Australia, Queensland Registry. File number: QUD244/2017. JURU ENTERPRISE LIMITED v ADANI AUSTRALIA COMPANY PTY LTD ABN 87 163 221 609 AS TRUSTEE OF ADANI AUSTRALIA HOLDING TRUST& ANOR. Updated February 8, 2018.https://www.comcourts.gov.au/file/Federal/P/QUD244/2017/actions

(26) Egan, Geoff. The Morning Bulletin. ‘Juru missed out on $1m from Adani: court’.June 1, 2017. https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/juru-missed-out-on-1m-from-adani-court/3184689/

(27) Queensland Government. Department of State Development. Annual Report 2016-2017.http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2017/5517T1706.pdf

(28) Arnautovic, K. (2017). Resources, race and rights: A case study of Native Title and the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Retrieved fromhttp://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1503

Reclaim Conservation: Activists & Communities Vs. Mainstream Conservation Myths

Reclaim Conservation

December 9, 2017

There are myriad definitions of the term “environmental conservation” and hundreds of ideologies and methods being utilised worldwide in an attempt to conserve habitats and biodiversity. At present, what is clear is that conservation efforts as a whole are failing. While there is increasing, large-scale financial investment in conservation efforts worldwide, positive results from this investment remains to be seen. Indeed, the species extinction crisis, destruction of habitat and climate change continue unabated and pose increasingly severe threats to the natural world.

Mainstream conservation institutions are increasingly modelling themselves on, and indeed directly reliant upon, commercial businesses. Being part of the dominant economic establishment positions these NGOs as conflicted in their ability (and desire) to take effective action against the root cause of environmental degradation which unarguably stems from uncontrolled capitalist exploitation, accompanied by corruption, broken nation states and a burgeoning world leadership crisis. These large NGOs cannot challenge these overarching systems of oppression because they have become part of them. By ignoring the “bigger picture” and the real cause of the problems that they claim to be concerned with tackling and offering superficial, insincere solutions, the big NGOs cause severe damage to our world in that they control the vast majority of resources and funding to ostensibly support conservation efforts, but fail to use it where it is most needed and thus fail to create any meaningful change or positive results.

In order to justify their failure, they have developed discourses blaming local people for being either greedy destroyers of nature or ignorant savages who lack the intelligence or motivation to work to preserve their own environment. Nature is being ascribed economic value and local people are being offered financial “compensation” in order to ensure they do not interfere with the work of the powerful NGOs. Grassroots activism and new, radical approaches to conservation are demonised and accused of “getting in the way” of the “real conservationists” (the large NGOs) in order to distract people from seeing activists’ real potential as capable of creating a new reality. Funds are being blocked from reaching either community conservationists or activists, ensuring that the powerful retain control and those uniquely positioned to dismantle the ineffective and damaging status quo are prevented from accessing the resources and opportunities that are required to make real change.

This situation must change, Reclaim Conservation, through activist work with communities, whistle-blowers and law enforcement, through academia, mass and social medias, will prove and inform the public that:

Conservation is activism

Conservation is against corruption

Conservation is against all kinds of discriminations

Conservation is against right wing, capitalist exploitation

Conservation is compassion

If not, conservation will just not work!

 

www.reclaimconservation.org

Why Are All the Black Faces in Conservation in the Background?

Oyunga Pala

May 3, 2017

 

Nairobi National Park is the only park on earth bordering a capital city. It is the world’s wildlife capital and one afternoon in December 2016, it was celebrating 70 years of existence. Nairobi National park was the first gazetted park in the country, started in 1946. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was throwing an evening party in the park to commemorate the event. The small gathering, comprised conservationists, friends of Nairobi national park, assorted Kenyans who earn a living in the wildlife industry and uniformed KWS staffers who appeared to be attending more out of protocol than choice.

There was an air of resignation about the place. Out at the Impala observation point, a panoramic view of open savanna grassland, guests mingled awaiting the arrival of the dignitaries as the catering unit from the Ole Sereni hotel hurried about setting up.

The Impala viewpoint offers a compelling sight and I trained my eyes, trying to spot some wildlife. A few KWS staffers who were gathered all seemed to be taking a good long look into the horizon. One wildlife photographer, captured the sentiment with a nostalgic comment,

“This used to be the place to take the best pictures. Now instead of shooting animals, we will be shooting the SGR”.

There were few chuckles. Mostly at the inevitability of the Chinese built Standard Gauge Railway line changing the ecosystem of the park forever. I sensed a deep sense of failure among some KWS staffers, many voicing their concern in hushed tones, certain the park would not survive the onslaught of ‘development’.

The ceremony was running fashionably late and I bumped into former KWS director Juluis Kipng’etich, who is now the Uchumi CEO in the parking lot.  Juluis Kipng’etich (Kip) was the poster child of Kenyan conservation during his tenure as director at Kenya Wildlife Service from 2005 to 2012 when he resigned to take up a position at Equity Bank.

Julius Kipngetich in the KWS strong room. Courtesy of Vanity Fair magazine.

Kip was credited with transforming KWS from a malfunctioning organisation into a respected corporate brand. During my stint as the editor of the now defunct Adam magazine, we had Kipng’etich on the cover.

There was a vibrancy to Kip in the midst of the lethargy in public service that we had not witnessed previously. But what made him material for a cover story, was the refreshing face of a competent African, getting the conservation accolades for a change.

I was in attendance, when he unveiled a Heroes statue in memory of KWS officers who had died on the frontier. KWS was on the move then. Today, not so much. Kipng’etich was reflective when I asked him about the anniversary celebrations.

“It feels like we are attending a funeral”.

When the ceremony eventually started, the KWS director Kitili Mbathi anchored his address around a breakfast in the park special visit made by the Togolese president Faure Gnassingb’e and the special place Nairobi holds as the only city in the world with a national park. The guest of honour Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Prof Judy Wakhungu managed to deliver an optimistic speech without making a single reference to the impending railway line construction.

The audience listened, all too aware of the elephant in the room that everyone was pretending not to see.

I was the guest of Jim Justus Nyamu, the founder of the Elephant Neighbors Centre, who had become the face of a campaign dubbed “Ivory belongs To Elephants”. Nyamu was a former KWS elephant scientist and researcher whose primary job was reduced to counting elephants and tracking their movement. He eventually resigned to start his own organisation, once he realised the limitation of the existing conservation model.

The big beasts that had for centuries, roamed the country on dedicated paths were now in constant conflict with ordinary rural folk. The narrative of protecting elephants for tourist dollars was not persuasive among local people suffering loss of property and lives after encounters with elephants. There was a big disconnection with the reality of public in understanding the value of wildlife conservation but conservation could not left solely in the hands of the ‘experts’.

People had to get involved. 70 per cent of the Kenya’s wildlife lie outside KWS parks and the service is stretched in capacity and resource. Jim was seeking to create a different model around the problem.

“The people who can make a real difference are the communities but no one is talking to them. Especially the children. They are the only ones who still have time to make a difference”.

So he decided to walk and talk to local people urging them to take ownership of their wildlife heritage and have a say. Jim has so far covered over 9000kms in Kenya, 900kms in the US, in addition to an epic 3200km foot journey across East Africa.

Jim Nyamu leads the International March For Elephants walk in the US.

When I met him last, in early April 2017, it was at the flag off of his 13th walk (617kms) to Marsabit at the National Museums of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi.  The Museum was the home to the iconic Ahmed of Marsabit, a living monument and the only elephant to be put under protection by a presidential decree. In 1970, President Jomo Kenyatta ordered state security to protect this giant beast against poachers. Ahmed died at age of 65 four years later. A giant fiberglass cast of Ahmed is on display at the National Museums. Jim’s was drawing his inspiration from Ahmed and raising awareness on the dwindling numbers of elephants in the Marsabit eco-system.

The Irish ambassador, Vincent O’Neill was the guest of honour, a lanky man, who set off Jim after reading out an Irish travellers blessing. After walking with the small group of volunteers and supporters, blowing whistles, blaring horns, hogging a lane marshalled by police outriders on BMWs, I bid my farewell to Jim on Thika Road and wished him journey mercies.

Ahmed of Marsabit

Moments before the flag off, I had walked into a bookshop at the Museum in search of a book that had caused a stir in the African conservation world. It was a thought provoking book co-authored by John Mbaria and Dr. Mordecai Ogada titled “The Big Conservation Lie”.

“The Big Conservation Lie” was a book challenging the western paradigms and values that had dominated the management and conservation model since Kenya was declared a British colony. I had heard of John Mbaria by reputation. He was an investigative journalist who had earned his stripes as fury critic of the ‘western’ conservation model and a staunch advocate of a return to an indigenous inspired model.

I had met his co-author Mordecai Ogada, during a panel session at British Institute of Eastern Africa, where he presented a very compelling account of the racial tainted difference between a bush meat hunter and a sports hunter. The man who hunts for his food is ‘bad’ while the other who hunts for trophies is ‘good’. Mordecai Ogada was a carnivore ecologist and a big advocate of community based conservation.

The book is a page turner and revolves around a central argument of historic racial prejudices in the Kenyan conservation industry which alienate indigenous people as important partners in conservation. It goes on an investigative discourse of Kenya’s conservation legacy, showing how the inherited conservation model was intertwined with colonial power structures.

“Many modern wildlife parks were initially hunting grounds and created for recreation for the settler communities”.

The establishment of national parks was a form of land grab that disregarded the local communities’ ancestral claim to the land.

Mbaria and Mordecai confront the conservation crisis head on. They question the unholy alliance of wildlife conservation NGOs and Western funding streams pushing the paradigm that states that resident local communities must earn money from wildlife as motivation for conservation.

Mbaria poignantly asks, “How did wildlife survive for millennia in Kenya rangelands together with people who never earned anything from it?”

They poke large holes into the legacies of conservation stalwarts, Richard Leakey, George Adamson, Douglas-Hamilton, Dr. Daphne Sheldrick and Ian Craig. They accuse single species focused organizations earning substantial incomes as engaging in tourism under the guise of conservation activities.

The Launch party of the book

Dr.Ogada was frank when I asked him about his motivation for writing the book.

“I think it is when I realized that because of the colour of my skin, I was not likely to ever be acknowledged as a significant contributor to our conservation discourse in Kenya”.

Some of Dr.Ogada’s inspirations were the late Samson Ole Sisina, the KWS officer killed by Tom Cholmondeley and Elizabeth Leitoro who used to work for KWS and busted a poaching ring east of Nairobi National park that used to supply game meat to high end Nairobi restaurants. John Mbaria added that KWS has some of the best scientists that no one outside the industry ever gets to hear about.

Mbaria and Ogada are keen to start a national conversation. “Our mission is not an avenue for accolades but for our survival. It is a national security issue”, stresses John Mbaria.

“The big problem with our conservation model is that it is alien, not inspired by traditional culture”.

The conservation crisis in Kenya is real and it can only get worse in the face what Dr. Ogada describes as the perfect storm of climate change, a policy vacuum, ethnic politics and elitist approach to conservation.

But hopefully, there is a quiet uprising of local Kenyans moving from the back of the bus to their rightful place as leaders in conservation. It seems clear in the minds of all these men I have encountered that Kenyans can no longer be bystanders, outsourcing conservation knowledge.

Article first published in the Standard Media Newspaper on April 30th, 2017. This version has been updated.

 

[Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan newspaper columnist. The blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.]

 

The Best Lecture You Will Ever Watch on “Conservation”

Mordecai Ogada, Director of Conservation Solutions Afrika – The Big Conservation Lie

Video published on Mar 27, 2017

“That hot afternoon in Amboseli; I experienced my road to Damascus. I realized that I was part of a system that had no respect for the very bedrock on which it stood. I was a qualified black face put in place to smooth over fifty years of exploitation in two and to create a pleasant backdrop that would allow for the renewal of this insidious arrangement. The technical knowledge I had from all the years and energy I spent studying conservation biology weren’t important here. The Dr. prefix to my name, my knowledge of Kiswahili, my complexion were all props to make things appear honest. These realizations came to me in a merciless flood, and I was momentarily filled with outrage and self-loathing. I was part of a fallacy whose sell-by date was fast approaching.”—Mordecai Ogada

A must watch lecture of Mordecai Ogada presenting on his new book The Big Conservation Lie. Sponsored by CSU SOGES Africa Center and The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University.”

 

 

WATCH: Yejide Orunmila – Surviving the White Women’s March on Washington

February 11, 2017

 

angela-peoples-womens-march

Angela Peoples holding sign (Kevin Banatte)

 

“Yejide Orunmila, president of ANWO (African National Women’s Organization) and member of the Uhuru Movement examines the (white) Women’s March on Washington, and explains the political opportunism of feminism and the complicity of white women in the oppression of African women. The Uhuru Movement is led by the African People’s Socialist Party. The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is the organization of white people created by and working under the leadership of APSP, to go into the white community and win reparations for African liberation and self determination. uhurusolidarity.org” [Courtesy of Uhuru Solidarity]

To further demonstrate the whiteness of the Women’s March on Washington, we juxtapose a third video featured by “RISE Travel, LLC”. RISE travel the latest trend in the travel industry. A new agency that markets/brands (corporate) activism as experience (“select your experience”), specializing in connecting clients with organized luxury bus tours, etc.  for NGO marches and events (such as the upcoming People’s Climate March).

 

 

As featured on the Rise Travel website:

 

 

Further Reading:

Imperialist Underpinnings of the Women’s March on Washington

Women’s March in Canada Shuts Out Black Lives Matter:

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Womens-March-in-Canada-Shuts-out-Black-Lives-Matter–20170122-0014.html

 

 

WATCH: White Helmets – The Mask of Terror ( with English subtitles)

Anna News

January 6, 2017

 

bloody-purpose-1-white-helmets-avaaz

In liberated Aleppo the ANNA-News crew was able to uncover evidence that sheds light on the true activity of the so-called rescue workers in Syria. This terrorist group, the White Helmets, is a project of the New York public relations firm Purpose (sister org. of Avaaz).

“In interviews he is nearly always credited with setting up GetUp and Avaaz, and this is constructed as the natural evolution for setting up his current corporate consultancy and campaigning organisation, Purpose, in 2009. As outlined earlier in the chapter Purpose is a “social business that helps build movements”, it works on building large-scale issue campaigns, as well as working with corporate actors to use storytelling and brand relations techniques to create mass supporter movements. On its website it lists 23 organisations that it has worked for, most are well known non-profits such as Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity, ACLU and the Services Employee International Union, but also includes for-profit companies such as Ben and Jerrys, Audi and Google. Seven organisations are listed as Incubators, which means that Purpose has started them as campaigns and built them, these include: AllOut working on GLBTQI rights internationally, the controversial Syria Campaign that started White Helmets, and Foodstand that tries to build an informed community about good food.” [Source: Vromen, Digital Citizenship and Political Engagement, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-48865-7_6]

VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES, VIOLENCE AND POSSIBLE WAR CRIMES.

 

Further reading:

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and SOSBlakAustralia Sydney Boycott “People’s” Climate March Sydney

 

sosblakaustralia

STATEMENT:

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, SOSBlakAustralia Sydney and associates have met and collectively decided to Boycott the People’s Climate March in Sydney being held at the Domain at 1pm on Sunday  the 29th of November. Our reasons for this boycott are as follows.

The group Nuclear For Climate Change has been allowed to take part in the People’s Climate March in Sydney. This is a complete contradiction to the climate change movement. Also during the consultation with Aboriginal community members and Elders it was expressed on more than one occasion in more than one meeting that the Aboriginal community does not support ANY nuclear movement and would not be involved or aligned with such groups. There are currently plans to dump nuclear waste and mine uranium from traditional lands which also is connected to forced community closures. We do however strongly support the Anti Nuclear Movement!

Prior to the current climate change rally there has never been any consultation or attempt to involve or create a genuine and ongoing relationship with the local Aboriginal communities or consult with Elders to ensure input and show true solidarity with our movement.

This in itself has caused a rift previously between environmental groups and the Aboriginal movement, with environmental organisations often not taking into account traditional law, culture, sites, our obvious and historical relationship with mother earth and sustainable living with the environment, hunting practices etc.

For the current climate change rally, PCM Sydney held a number of meetings with representatives from a number of Aboriginal communities and Elders. At these meetings issues were raised about previous lack of consultation with Aboriginal community and Elders. Advice was given as to what actions should be taken to ensure that these issues were addressed, as well as advice on what involvement the community should have in the People’s Climate March Sydney rally to ensure that it showed true solidarity and is not tokenistic.

During these consultation meetings it was agreed that the Aboriginal community and Elders would lead the march on the day and that Aunt Jenny Munro be given time on the stage to speak; the march would start with Aboriginal dancers and smoking ceremony and then be lead by the community with Elders and children at the front with speeches by the community members along the way. People’s Climate March Sydney representatives agreed to these terms.

After further consultation the People’s Climate March Sydney continued to ignore advice and proved how unrepresented and tokenistically used Aboriginal people’s are within the climate movement. The People’s Climate March Sydney continued to make it difficult for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s voices to be heard by not allowing us speaking time and limiting Elder Aunty Jenny Munro to minutes worth of speaking time at the rally, as well as putting a 100 piece samba band behind our block, which would drown our voices for the entirety of the march.

We also had to argue again to lead the march as PCM attempted to renig and put other groups in front.

After meeting today The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, SOSBlakAustralia Sydney and associates decided to withdraw support for the PCM rally and to not be involved in the march.

The consultation process was tokenistic and just to gain credibility by having some Aboriginal faces involved whist still continuing to assist in the silencing of the already ignored Aboriginal community and Elders.

Aunt Jenny Munro and Uncle Ken Canning both formally withdraw permission to use their videos or images for this People’s Climate March Australia.The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, SOSBlakAustralia Sydney and associates formally withdraw support for this rally and groups, any future working together would need to guarantee and ensure that our voices be listened to and the process be genuine and not tokenistic.

We also request that People’s Climate March Australia, it’s partners, associations and organisations involved to not speak for our people nor campaign for our issues without proper consultation and actual involvement from the Aboriginal community.

Climate statement 1

WKOG Op-Ed: Mining for Blood

Wrong Kind of Green

November 12, 2015

by Forrest Palmer and Cory Morningstar

 

ademov-iphone2-1

If Apple’s gold-tinted iPhone 6 isn’t enough for you, now you can upgrade to the real thing. For $7,300, luxury electronics store Ademov will sell you an iPhone 6 plated in 24-carat gold. Even the Apple logo is given special treatment, plated with 18-carat gold and encrusted with VS1 white diamonds. [Source]

As I sit here at my computer, I realize the cost in human lives that came from the production of this outlet from which I am writing this presently. When people look at the electronics equipment and luxury items that are a staple of the Western world and our lifestyles, they rarely ever look at these objects within the context of what it takes to bring them to market in regards to the human life and environmental cost that is sacrificed to do so. As Western consumers, we have been indoctrinated into believing that the birthplace of our goods is the item residing in the packaging and the plastic that surrounds it as we throw it on the cashier conveyor belt to purchase it. The most costly dependence on bringing our smartphones, computers, gaming systems, car circuitry and innumerous other equipment to market is the outlay of human lives through manipulation of labor in the Third World or Global South. For however much importance we put on the Amerikkkan loss of life in mining (which is minimal at best), we feel as if it is simply “the price of doing business” for any life residing outside of its borders and progressively less ambivalent the darker the hue of the people providing us these resources through mining practices.

child_in_mines

AFRICA | Half of gold miners in Africa could be children: According to the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) up to one million children aged as young as five work for small-scale mining and quarrying operations around the world. The statistics are particularly stark in Africa where more than a quarter of the world’s child labourers live. [Source]

Regarding the loss of life in the Global South, which is more pronounced as many of the mining activities in the Western world have become mechanized in comparison to their counterparts in the aforementioned region, manual human labor is needed in the most impoverished nations to provide us with the precious and rare Earth metals that power Western lifestyles, with much of it being child labor. And in a nod to how exploitation of labor is at the foundation of the capitalist system, although the countries and workers that provide us with these elements should be rich, the fact of the matter is that they are the most impoverished regions in the world. Now, the narrative expressed by the leaders, media pundits and talking heads in the West is that in the Global South, comprised of continents like Africa and Asia, the problems reside in corrupt and/or inept leadership .

Cell Phones and Western Children

UNITED STATES | And where approximately half of of gold miners in Africa are children, in the U.S. a new survey finds most children get their first cell phone when they are just 6 years old. The study also found that 96% of children have a cell phone, 83% have a TV or sound system, 75% have a tablet, 71% have a handheld gaming console, 65% have an eBook reader and 51% have an Xbox or Playstation. [Source

However, as even Western labor is starting to lose the gains that it was able to garnish over the past 70 or 80 years due to globalization and the need to extract labor at as minimal amount of cost as possible, it must now be recognized that any leaders in the Global South will be acceptable to the Western world as long as they can control the labor market to hold down wages to as low level as feasible and provide regional stability, a component which is rarely discussed as far as importance to the production of Western consumer goods that needs global commodities. As inanimate objects don’t have the ability to be controlled regarding the amount of money invested in them (for example, the cost to mine, to transport, to turn into manufactured goods), the only variable that can be manipulated by the corporate state is how much capital is expended on labor (to clothe, to feed, to house and provide MINIMAL resources to workers). Therefore, any entity that can control the cost of labor is seen as an ally of Western corporate interests, be it a despotic regime or the president by way of a “democratic” coup. As a capitalist state, the United States is more than willing to support anyone and everyone who can provide labor at the cheapest cost possible as well as keep stability in place that will never impede the daily transportation of resources from the Global South to its necessary destination in the Global North. Although the United States is most guilty since it has about 6% of the world’s population, but uses over 30% of its resources, the Western world is built upon cheap consumer goods with electrical devices being at the foundation of the present industrial age (which is rapidly declining).

Ultimately, the Western world must exploit the Global South for its resources to power this energy intensive lifestyle. Since corporations will not eat the cost of a rise in production of goods and services and the consumer can only be expected to absorb the rise in prices of consumer goods to a certain extent, the producers of these goods can only depend upon labor providing the resources for manufactured goods at a lesser and lesser expense. As raw materials have always been provided by the ones who are seen as inferior, the Western world learned to view the physical conduits that provide us with these materials as useless adjuncts of resource procurement in regards to their humanity, be it the Western slaves of yesteryear that provided sugar or cotton or rice to the modern version today that provides coltan and cobalt in the mines of the Congo. With the caveat being that Western labor has been able to procure some concession from business, the story of all labor itself has been one of being perpetually viewed as living, breathing machinery that is nameless, faceless and always replaceable. Yet, it has been these few rights provided by the corporate state to Westerners that has disabled the totality of labor to ever be in solidarity, as there is the Global North and the rest that resides in the Global South, with the division being a seemingly insurmountable barrier of culture, ethnicity and nationalism.

ISweat-660x440

So, as we are presently, the link between affordable consumer goods and labor exploitation in the Global South are both inextricably intertwined with one another. Hence, there can be none of the trappings of the Western economic system without some type of exploitation of someone or something, no matter how people want to frame it as far as trying to find a “humane” way of living our current lifestyles and not blatantly taking advantage of those at the lowest rung of society that provide our toys and goodies.

Although mining has been a part of man’s existence since ancient times, it is now turned from one of mere extravagance to a necessity to keep us alive since the everyday processes of all our existences is dependent on technology to some degree, with the basis being mining. However, the question now is how much longer can this continue?

Time will tell, but until that day comes, the one externality that can’t be accounted for in any economic system in regards to this issue of mining: the present blood on our hands in the Western world.

 

Junk Food Journalism: Why Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet Is Toxic

New Matilda

October 29, 2015

by Amy  McQuire

 

When Crabb breaks bread with the Morrisons and Macklins of the world she helps further marginalise the people being punished by their policies, writes Amy McQuire.

ABC journalist Annabel Crabb last night began her sickeningly sweet profile of former Immigration Minister and current Treasurer Scott Morrison like this: “People describe Scott Morrison as ambitious, hard-line, even arrogant. But I’ve also heard compassionate, devout and a rabid Tina Arena fan. Clearly the man requires some further investigation.”

Well, yes, he does require further investigation, but probably not on his infatuation with outdated popstars (no offence to Tina, of course).

Crabb has been hosting her cooking show Kitchen Cabinet for five seasons now, and no one has pulled her up on the fact it’s about as nutrient rich as the majority of her desserts. She fluffs her way through interviewing some of the most powerful people in Australia by coating their numerous acts of structural violence with sugar frosting, and expecting us to become so dizzy on sugar highs that we can’t process their numerous failures.

It’s akin to spending a life gorging on sweets and then finding out later you have diabetes. This insidious spread of propaganda, soft interviews with hard-line politicians who wield enormous power over the lives of the most vulnerable, is sold as a fun, light-hearted look into the lives of the people we elect. But this taxpayer-funded sycophantic date with power will end up making us all sick. It completely dumbs down debate and again re-ingrains the perception that politicians are just like us, while the people their policies hurt, aren’t. They are the others who don’t dine with famous journalists on television.

Morrison is only the most recent example of this sycophancy, and Crabb’s episode last night with the former Immigration Minister rightly raised the temperature of many.

It began with Crabb greeting Morrison at the door of his holiday home with roses.

“This is amazing; this is the first time I’ve been greeted with flowers, sort of like the Cabinet Bachelor or something!” Annabel exclaimed as both exchanged a series of Cheshire Cat grins at each other.

Crabb seemed to think we actually cared about why Morrison began cooking as he made his ‘scomosas’ and Sri Lankan curry, because apparently he had fallen in love with ‘Indian and Sri Lankan food’ while on a trip to the country as shadow minister. Obviously, he had not fallen similarly in love with the people, enough to show any semblance of compassion to those who still remain under persecution.

Crabb smiled intently, her eyes glistening, as Morrison told her since he became Social Services Minister and later Treasurer, he has a lot more free time. This is evidently because selling internationally condemned human rights abuses that have left deep scars of trauma on so many lives used to take up a lot of his free time. Now he can spend more of it with his family, while the victims of his policies wallow in detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island, living a life far removed from his own.

“I had quite a significant trip with Julie Bishop and Michael Keenan while we were in opposition… we were over there obviously working with the then Sri Lankan government in how we would be pursuing our policies with them… it was a really important trip, and we went and had this meal at this fairly dodgy restaurant… and it sort of said to me, wherever you went in Sri Lanka the food was fantastic,” Morrison says.

That trip was undertaken in 2013. Morrison used a press conference when he returned to justify his party’s hard-line policy to ‘stop the boats’, which would later help them win an election. He was adamant Sri Lankan boats wouldn’t cross Australian borders.

“They won’t cross our borders, they’ll be intercepted outside of our sea border and we’ll be arranging for their return to Sri Lanka.”

Only a few months later, while in government, the Immigration Minister was taken to the High Court after holding 157 Tamil asylum seekers, 37 of them children, on a customs ship for more than a month while he tried to deport them back to their country. At the same time, he continued his attempts to defame Human Rights Commission head Gillian Triggs who was spearheading an inquiry into children in detention.

This came at a time when Triggs told the media up to 128 children had self-harmed at Christmas Island over a 15-month period. Crabb didn’t ask about this. Instead she let it slide, because Morrison sure can cook a mean Sri Lankan curry! He even makes his own chapatis!

“What! You’re making your own chapatis?!! What a renaissance man you are!” Crabb exclaims.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.01.25 pm

A renaissance man with a talent for locking up traumatised children.

Crabb wasn’t interested in that of course, because this show is about humanising Morrison, while the thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers who have been incarcerated for seeking refuge remain faceless and nameless, tucked behind bars thousands of kilometres so they become ‘others’, less than people.

Crabb asks Morrison about his demeanour while delivering ‘militaristic and impassive’ press conferences as Immigration Minister. She says “I’m interested because I can’t be the only person who watched you on the telly and thought, I wonder what it feels like to be that person?”

“You’re a human being like anyone else,” Morrison says. “The same things impact me that impacts anyone else.”

The only problem is – he isn’t. He is a man with a great deal of power who can perpetrate acts of structural violence that irrevocably change the lives of our most vulnerable with largely no sanction or accountability.

Crabb’s questioning, her curiosity about how Morrison must be feeling as he rolls out sociopathic border patrol policies and slanders people like Triggs shows that, as a journalist, her allegiances lie with propping up power rather than speaking truth to it.

I’m just wondering if she would ever think to ask that of an asylum seeker stuck in Nauru? Would she ask “I’m interested, because I’m not the only person who wonders, what it feels like to be that person?” Has she ever thought to ask that of those who are crying out for help, who are the victims of Morrison and his cronies? Would she cook a cake for them?

I’ve never liked the format of Kitchen Cabinet, but my disgust was heightened when in 2013, Crabb interviewed then Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, who coincidently also made a curry.

Macklin was a minister who continued the greatest human rights abuse in Indigenous affairs in modern history – the NT intervention, a policy which led to a quadrupling in self-harm and suicide rates, and a severe feeling of disempowerment. At the same time she tried to sell her government as one that wanted to ‘reset the relationship’ with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. During the Rudd and Gillard governments – the time Macklin served as minister – the gap in life expectancy widened, the employment gap widened, Aboriginal children were removed at exponential rates, and Australia continued to jail more black men, women, and children.

Of course, none of that mattered to Crabb, who was more excited about the contents of Macklin’s spice drawer. Macklin never gave interviews to Aboriginal media, who would question her on her complete failure and the devastating consequences of her government’s policies. In fact, she would often only talk to sympathetic media, like The Australian. She once walked out in a huff from an interview with one of my closest friends – Kamilaroi journalist Chris Munro, who as the National Indigenous Television’s political correspondent used one of only two interviews he was ever able to secure with her to grill her on why she wouldn’t deliver reparations to members of the Stolen Generations. He never received another interview.

Maybe he should have cooked up a dessert, but Munners, from my knowledge, isn’t a very good chef.

Jenny Macklin
Jenny Macklin

When Macklin left the Indigenous Affairs portfolio, The Australian’s Patricia Karvelas delivered a glowing but completely irrational portrait of her tenure, claiming she had brought along the left to completely ‘transform Indigenous affairs’. It was completely ridiculous, but was a style of reporting that is alive and well in Australia – and it’s in the same camp as Kitchen Cabinet. There is nothing new about this. They’re just different styles of propaganda.

Crabb has her own type of power. She is very well-paid as one of the ABC’s ‘top’ political analysists and is complicit in framing the very limited discourse we have around issues affecting our most vulnerable. Giving Morrison a platform to sell himself does nothing in uncovering the dark, damp underbelly of Parliament House, the places where cake quickly turns mouldy.

In interviews leading up to last night’s Kitchen Cabinet, Crabb seems to have anticipated a bit of backlash. Questioned by the Sydney Morning Herald about how some journalists may think her show comes across as soft, she said: “My view is that when you sit down with someone in a peaceful way, or when you go to someone’s house… you get something different… For my money, I think it adds something and gives a more rounded sense of who this person is.”

Crabb seems to have a fascination with ensuring we realise that politicians are people too. She wants to humanise them because she feels they have somehow been unfairly maligned. She told the Herald Sun: “In my experience, they’re far better motivated and nicer people than is widely believed.”

But Crabb fundamentally misses the point of journalism. It’s not about humanising those in power, it’s about humanising those who are let down by those in power. But perhaps it is symptomatic of a wider problem, the fact that our most famous journalists, with the greatest platforms, now have more in common with those they are supposed to challenge, rather than those who are being let down by a corrosive political system.

Crabb claims that this was never the intention of the programme, that it is supposed to be soft, but the fact is in a space that is so crowded with soft, unquestioning journalists who are a complete disservice to the public, this high profile format provides only more of the same. We trust those we think we know, and we unconsciously prejudice their opinions above those who are unfamiliar. Crabb is helping Australia wash down the lies of our nation’s politicians.

This is certainly the case in Indigenous affairs, where solutions that are more palatable to white journalists are privileged over the solutions put forward by Aboriginal people themselves. The black voices of those who tell white people what they want to hear are accepted by non-Indigenous journalists because it mirrors their own experiences. That’s why white politicians can get away with so many lies, and spread their neoliberal agenda insidiously through Aboriginal policy – because white journalists are blinkered and, for the most part, don’t realise they are. They are more more likely to trust those who are like them – and sadly those people are likely to be a white politician than a blackfella dealing with multiple forms of complex trauma trying to heal his or her community.

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The same can be said for Crabb and her ridiculous, sickening show. You can spice it up as much as you like, but the ingredients used to cook up Kitchen Cabinet are the same used in the majority of political journalism today. And until we start to realise that this is still largely propaganda, it will keep us, and our standard of political debate, dangerously unhealthy.

 

[A Darumbul woman from central Queensland, Amy McQuire is the former editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine.]

WATCH: Dr. Sohail Daulatzai: “Welcome to the Terrordome”

Published on May 22, 2013

“As the profound anti-Muslim racism of the post-9/11 era deepens, the role and place of Muslims in the U.S. is under intense scrutiny by both Muslims and non-Muslims, as questions around “radicalization,” citizenship, and belonging continue the shape these debates. But the fears of Islam and Muslims in the United States are not new. In fact, they can be traced back to the presence and legacy of Malcolm X, who sought to internationalize the struggles of Black people in the U.S. and connect them with the struggles taking place throughout the non-white world. As Malcolm X said, “the same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia, is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.”

In framing white supremacy as a global phenomenon, and understanding the systemic roots of inequality, Malcolm X provides us with a historic lens and contemporary frame for thinking about the role and place of Muslims in the United States, as endless war is waged, racism persists and capitalism wreaks havoc around the world.”

 

 

 

[Sohail Daulatzai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America (2012) and is the co-editor (with Michael Eric Dyson) of Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic (2009). His writing has appeared in The Nation, Counterpunch, Al Jazeera, Souls, Amer-Asia, Black Routes to Islam, and Basketball Jones, amongst others. He has written liner for the 2012 release of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set of Rage Against the Machine’s self titled debut album, the liner notes for the DVD release of Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and the centerpiece in the museum catalog Movement: Hip-Hop in L.A., 1980’s — Now.]