Force the Federal Government into the High Court over a rights battle for Noongar peoples
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Nearly one in two of our Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander (First Nations) peoples remain the poorest of any peoples on this continent. A significant proportion of our peoples remain dirt-poor - among the world's most impoverished.
Native Title was intended as a glimmer of hope for our peoples to bargain towards outcomes that would lead to social reforms, in the belief that it would lift our people out of the poverty and racism we were downtrodden into.
Last year the Western Australian Government claimed a 'victory' over the Noongar peoples with the obscene offer to extinguish our native title and land rights - few of our people voted.
There are about 40,000 Noongars, with about 20,000 eligible voters; 1,578 votes were registered all up. These were not unique votes.
In the follow up to 'authorise' this abominable surrender of our rights, there were original claimants who refused to sign off the 'deal'. Four of us - Margaret Culbong, Naomi Smith, Mingli McGlade and Mervyn Eades - challenged the outcome in the Federal Court.
On February 1, the Full Bench of the Federal Court unanimously ruled in our favour. Our long suffering people embraced some long overdue justice. "It was the greatest moment in my life," Elder Margaret Culbong.
However, special interest groups lobbied the Attorney-General George Brandis and subsequently Minister Brandis tabled into Parliament proposed amendments. In our view this is improper. The Federal Government should not change the 'rule book' but instead instruct the special interest groups to proceed against us in the High Court of Australia to test their arguments.
In the name of our common humanity and in regard to our rights, please seek to stop the Government from making these changes. These changes will further debilitate our peoples. The changes will take away our potential bargaining power to secure social reforms for our people and to protect our rights. Native Title should not be continually watered down and butchered to suit the interests of the powerful and the few.
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