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Town camp leader speaks in Sydney

Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney                   -  4 May 2011                  - for immediate release


Town camp leader speaks in Sydney:
Stop the Intervention, Justice for Aboriginal workers


Barbara Shaw, a town camp leader from Alice Springs, will speak out in Sydney on Thursday May 5 against recent calls for a "second Intervention".

A coalition of unions, the Greens and Aboriginal rights groups are staging the rally, highlighting gross breaches of Aboriginal workers rights under the NT Intervention. The rally will take place at 12pm outside the office of Indigenous employment Minister Mark Arbib.

The rally will launch a petition sponsored by Unions NT and the CFMEU demanding back pay for Aboriginal people who were paid on the BasicsCard while doing renovations for the $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP).

Other speakers include Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, Mal Tulloch from the CFMEU and Dootch Kennedy from the Illawarra Aboriginal Lands Council.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert will present the petition to parliament next week. More than 3000 people have signed, from unionists on construction sites in Sydney to residents of remote Aboriginal communities.

"The Intervention housing program (SIHIP) has been a bonanza for major building companies like Leighton's Holdings, while Aboriginal people on renovations sites at the Amoonguna community have been working for the BasicsCard", said Paddy Gibson from STICS.

"Minister Mark Arbib has repeatedly denied that these ‘BasicsCard' workers have been used on SIHIP sites. But timesheets and payslips obtained by construction workers at Amoonguna show clearly they were kept on the BasicsCard and underpaid by more than $5000".

"On his recent trip to Central Australia, Opposition leader Tony Abbott said he was ‘ashamed to be a member of parliament' after witnessing first hand derelict condition of houses worked on by SIHIP. But it's the Intervention that's to blame - all control over housing and development has been taken away from local Aboriginal organisations and put in the hands of bureaucrats and contractors."

"The government must back pay these workers immediately, scrap the Intervention and invest in community-controlled development", concluded Mr Gibson

Barbara Shaw said, "Reforms to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) introduced with the Intervention have taken away thousands of jobs, destroyed community services and left our people working for quarantined Centrelink payments. It's a return to the mission days where our people are being used as cheap labour - working for rations"

"How can they talk about ‘another Intervention' when the current one is still doing so much damage. Many of our communities have been written off as ‘unviable' and pushed further into poverty. We've got a crisis situation in our town camps as people leave the bush. But Minister Macklin only responds with more racism. She's just announced 100 new positions for ‘BasicsCard' workers to install post-boxes and do cleaning and maintenance work in Alice Springs"

"$1.5 billion has been wasted on the Intervention. That money is badly needed to create properly waged jobs and deliver proper services in all communities. As Aboriginal people we need to fight with the unions for our rights to equal pay for equal work. Both Article 17.3 in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007) and 23.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) prohibit pay discrimination", concluded Ms Shaw.

The rally will begin at 12pm, Thursday May 5, 70 Phillip st, Sydney CBD

Barb Shaw (Intervention Rollback Action Group Alice Springs)
Senator Rachel Siewert (Australian Greens)
Mal Tulloch (NSW State Secretary, CFMEU)
Dootch Kennedy (Illawarra Land Council)

Paddy Gibson 0415800586
Barbara Shaw 0401291166

For more information see or