Thursday, July 05, 2007

Howard's indigenous land-grab military-invasion opens door to nuclear waste dump


July 4, 2007: Prim Minister John Howard's electioneering intervention in the Northern Territory is a ploy to allow the dumping of nuclear waste in the outback, anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott says.

Radical measures announced by Mr Howard last week include welfare restrictions, compulsory health checks for children, bans on alcohol and pornography, abolition of the Aboriginal lands permit system and extra police and defence forces to restore order.

Feminist Germaine Greer said she believes the suspension of the permit system by which outsiders' movements to and from communities was the worst aspect of the intervention...

Dr Helen Caldicott, an anti-nuclear activist of more than 20 years, said she feared Prime Minister John Howard would turn Australia into the dumping ground for the world's nuclear waste. She said the takeover of Aboriginal land titles, part of the Government's crackdown of child sexual abuse in indigenous communities, was a ruse to clear the way for the dumping of waste in remote areas.

"The land grab from the Aborigines is actually about uranium and nuclear waste," Dr Caldicott said at the Australian Medical Students' Association conference in Adelaide this week. "It is obvious - you don't take land away from people just because their children are being sexually abused."

Dr Caldicott said Australia should reject nuclear power, ban uranium mining and concentrate on developing renewable energies such as wind, solar and hot rocks. She said the health consequences of uranium mining, nuclear power and nuclear power plants were serious and would induce epidemics of disease, malignancy and deformity that would be experienced for generations.

"Australia is in great danger of becoming a major nuclear nation now," she said. "I think it is very, very, very dangerous medically. I am worried that people making decisions do not understand medicine or genetics. They (the Government) are being pushed by the economy and wealthy corporations, like Western Mining and BHP Billiton, who seem to have no regard for the health and well-being of this generation and all future generations. We as doctors now have to teach the politicians the implications of the ramifications of what they are currently considering."

Meanwhile, feminist writer Germaine Greer says Howard’s emergency measures to deal with child abuse in the Northern Territory are a land grab which he knows will be a certain vote-winner. Ms Greer said the move was a mask to remove native title rights to allow freer access to mining companies.

"Howard has never been happy with the fact that small groups of illiterate hunter-gatherers can still hamper and delay exploitation of Australia’s mineral wealth for as long as they did in the case of the Ranger uranium mine and Jabiluka," Ms Greer says in The Bulletin.

Ms Greer, who supports a treaty with Aboriginal people, said authorities had known about the abuse of Aboriginal women and children for 30 years. "Indeed, the Little Children Are Sacred report adds little in the way of hard facts to what we knew already," she said. "Where the report plays into Howard's hands is in its slightly hysterical demand for immediate, decisive, unspecified action."

"If native title means Australian industries are uncompetitive, then native title must go. The real importance of Howard’s bizarre interpretation of the urgings to immediate action contained in the Little Children Are Sacred report is that it provides kneejerk justification for massive erosion of Aboriginal title — Howard knows, none better, that this will be a sure vote-winner," said Ms Greer.

The Guardian Newspaper also reports that it’s a Federal "land grab". The Prime Minister’s Department has already had talks with mining companies. The Guardian asks: Why should anyone believe that these talks were "increasing employment for Indigenous people" or protecting the environment or sacred sites.

Of all the plans and policies implemented by the Howard Government, this attack on the Indigenous people is the most disgusting, says the Guardian - the most cynical and the most evil and dishonest. Anyone who claims that it is out of care for children is at best extremely na├»ve and ignorant, but much more likely complicit in Howard’s schemes.

It is another in the long list of lies — invasion of Iraq, children overboard, no GST, and all of the others. It is being used as an excuse to destroy native title and land rights, and as a pre-election ploy from a government that could not even say the word “Sorry” for the Stolen Generations — the thousands of children removed from their parents and communities.

Howard has refused to guarantee that Aboriginal land leased for five years by the Commonwealth will be handed back to the communities. In the meantime, it may be sub-leased to a mining company or any other company. Mining operations could be up and running within five years and by then the damage will have been done. The Howard Government has always been an enthusiastic servant of these corporations.

Dr Sally Cockburn, a Melbourne GP and medical commentator says: "Let them prove this is not shallow electioneering. Let them put in place a proper collaborative, sustainable response against child abuse throughout Australia," she writes in the Herald Sun. "Child sexual abuse in our country is an election issue because any party without a sustainable plan for dealing with it does not deserve to win office."

Pat Turner, former head of the now-defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, warned yesterday that the takeover could lead to indigenous people losing their lands altogether. "Redressing child abuse and enabling our children to live safely and healthily in our communities has absolutely nothing to do with land tenure," she said. "I believe that's why the Prime Minister called it a national emergency, because the Land Rights Act has a national interest clause,' she said.

Ms Turner said the Government's claim it had to take over the land so it wouldn't waste time negotiating with councils to make repairs and collect rents was a farce. "Rubbish," she said, "it's rubbish. If the Government is serious about this it can negotiate an arrangement and no community is going to say 'no, we don't want you to come in here and build us houses'.

A Galaxy poll this week found 58 per cent of voters believe the reforms are a vote-grabbing move while just 25 per cent think Prime Minister John Howard launched the scheme because he really cares about the problem.

SOURCES:
Brisbane Times
The Age
Border Mail
The Guardian
Herald Sun
The Australian
The Australian

No comments: