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Richard Downs 9-2-10

Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr walk-off camp - 9 February 2010


Open letter to Jenny Macklin from Alyawarr protest camp


From Richard Downs

Action to reinstate RDA

Dear Minister Macklin

Stop making excuses. We have read a recent email from your department appealing for support for your new Intervention legislation. It pretends your proposed laws will end discrimination.

We know that this is a lie.

If you really cared you could act now. Using Ministerial powers granted by the Intervention laws you could immediately de-prescribe communities, grant mass exemptions from Income Management and declare that the NT Anti-Discrimination Act applies to Intervention legislation.

Your claim that the new Income Management system will not be discriminatory is an insult. In Ampilatwatja people are currently being forced to work providing municipal services for their BasicsCard

- this will continue under your laws. You have $350 million more for Centrelink bureaucracy but nothing for jobs.

Your new laws will keep the RDA suspended until December 31 2010. Then all the racist powers of the Intervention will continue, rebadged "special measures" under the RDA. Five year leases and the Government Business Managers will remain, and only for Aboriginal people.

These measures have seen things go backwards in our community. The leases and GBMs were supposed to bring improvements such as new housing and improved facilities. Instead the assets that we bought and built with our own money and effort have been seized and locked up. We told your department all this in consultations. You are lying to Australia when you say Aboriginal people want these measures.

We recently heard that after two years the $680 million put aside for new housing has built two new houses for Aboriginal people. Your Government should be ashamed of this record. At that building rate the 15,000 most needy Aboriginal families will be waiting 15,000 years for housing to be built for them.

You have said Ampilatwatja and hundreds of other small communities and outstations will receive no new housing. You are leaving us to rot.

We are determined to stay on our land. We decided to build our own house. Using limited funds and tools, and with help from Trade Unions and the general public, we are currently building this house in protest of the intervention policies and we aim to have it finished in a total of 10 days.

We call on the Government and all other parties to immediately reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, repeal the NT Intervention and inject resources immediately into our struggling communities.

Yours Sincerely,

Richard Downs - spokesperson for the Alyawarr walk-off camp