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MEDIA RELEASE -  ‘concerned Australians'                                                                          21 March 2011


How to Create disHarmony?

One way is to pass discriminatory legislation. This way we can be absolutely sure that there will be no harmony between Government and Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

When asked in a recent forum, "Are we officially still carrying out discriminatory policies towards ... Indigenous communities?", the Hon. Alastair Nicholson, former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia replied, "Oh absolutely! No doubt about that."

We are told by Government that Harmony Day is a day when all Australians celebrate our cultural diversity. At the same time we are told that in other countries around the world March 21 is celebrated as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Maybe we can understand why Government shies away from the latter - far easier to talk about a warm and melodious sense of ‘harmony'.

But, one must ask the question as to what Government is doing to create harmony when it comes to Australia's First Peoples, and particularly those living in the Northern Territory?

John Leemans, a Gurindji man from Kalkarindji who is visiting Sydney assures us that there is little feeling of harmony in Northern Territory communities, "Today under the discriminatory laws of the Intervention our communities are collapsing, we are prevented from being self-sufficient, from developing our community programmes and supporting our families. Our jobs on CDEP that we have been dependent on for the last 30 years, helped us to build our community, have been cut-off and everything has come to a halt. Our rights have been blocked."

Last August the UN Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern that recently passed Australian legislation continues to discriminate on the basis of race in the Northern Territory.

The UN Committee went on to regret the discriminatory impact this intervention has had on affected communities including restrictions on Aboriginal rights to land, property, social security, adequate standards of living, cultural development, work, and remedies.

We don't need to rely on the UN to know that the Intervention in the Northern Territory is discriminatory because a statement recently released by 33 eminent Australians, many of them former judges and distinguished members of the legal profession, indicate the same.

So how does Government plan to join in this year's Harmony Day? We would like to suggest that what is needed, is for Government to immediately respond to the UN Committee's recommendations to amend racist legislation, and also to end the Intervention.


Michele Harris 0414 296 861
Georgina Gartland 0421 257 351
Pia Pagotto 0419 541 733

Statement on Aboriginal Rights by 33 Leading Australians: