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Australia’s Aborigines compelled to give up land tenure for state housing assistance
With the passing of the one year anniversary of the Australian government’s official ‘apology’ to the nation’s aboriginal peoples, new developments in government land policy are testing the delicate reconciliation process. In a Sydney Morning Herald article, reporter Joel Gibson describes the government’s planned policy of withholding $2 billion in state housing subsidies unless the aboriginal recipients forfeit their land rights for a period of 40 years.
At a public hearing, Indigenous Affairs minister, Jenny Macklin’s remarks on the government proposal were met with opposition from the audience of indigenous community members. This position represents a sharp departure from earlier statements she made in 2007, arguing that land tenure reform should not be a condition of funding for social services.
In New South Wales, the state’s principle Aboriginal governing body stated that they were not consulted on the policy by either state or federal officials. "Aboriginal people just don't trust the Government at the moment. They've got a long way to go to get this up," the NSW Aboriginal Land Council chairwoman, Bev Manton, said.
The land council's chief executive, Geoff Scott, stated that Aboriginal landowners were being sidelined in the policy dialogue. "I know of no other sector where the owners of the land have been left out of the discussion," he said.
Posted By Lopaka Purdy at 11:42am on March 06, 2009
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