'concerned Australians' 10-5-10
MEDIA RELEASE by 'concerned Australians' - 10 May 2010
Senate to Debate Racist Legislation
On Wednesday morning, hiding behind the post-budget hype, Senators will debate the legislation that will re-instate, what will ultimately be, a restricted Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) into the Northern Territory
A delegation of Australian Aboriginal representatives attended the Indigenous Peoples Organisation (IPO) Meeting at the United Nations in New York less than two weeks ago. Their media release states, "... we use this occasion to stridently and unequivocally repeat our call on behalf of the Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples that the Australian Government reinstate immediately, and without any further procrastination, review or qualification, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
We have already made this request formally this week at this United Nations meeting in New York.
Until Australia unconditionally ends its officially authorized racial discrimination directed against our peoples, and until our peoples are provided with fair access to the law courts to remedy racial discrimination, Australia cannot truthfully claim to acknowledge and respect human rights."
On Wednesday the Senate is scheduled to debate the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009.
‘concerned Australians' believes the Government is misleading the public by implying that the Act, when re-instated, will have the capacity to protect Aboriginal people from racist measures. At the same moment as the Act is re-instated, the new legislation introduced will have the effect of restricting the powers of the RDA.
Should this legislation pass, one wonders whether the Senators would have any real appreciation of the part they will play in legitimising the continuation of racist measures, in denying self determination to Aboriginal people in the NT and in irresponsibly compromising, human rights in Australia.
Once again the Government tries to avoid scrutiny through its timing by ensuring that Budget hype will overshadow any genuine analysis or debate. We can only hope that there will be some fair-minded questioning of this legislation and that there will be journalists interested enough to provide informed coverage.
‘concerned Australians' calls upon Government to delay reaching a decision on this legislation until a genuine process of negotiation, and not flawed consultations, has been entered into with elders and community leaders from the Northern Territory.
Hon. Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Michele Harris OAM (spokesperson ‘concerned Australians')
Reproduced with the kind permission of Michele Harris OAM.