This is a guest post by Frank Baarda, who has lived at Yuendumu, 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs for … a long time. It was originally published as one of his occasional series of missives known as “Musical Dispatches from the Front.”
Buenos dias amigos,
The Northern Territory has a moratorium on ‘fracking’ in place. The ‘growth and development apparatchiks’ will not take no for an answer, thus a ‘fracking inquiry’ is being held.
Part of this inquiry is a ‘ticking the box’ exercise of ‘engaging with the natives’. The Inquiry has been to Yuendumu twice. I did not attend, so I have no idea how many beads and mirrors are on offer.
“What she also made clear, right at the start of this ‘community forum’, that no-one – including media – was permitted to film or audio record the meeting.” (Alice Springs News)
Wind back almost a decade ago – Yuendumu October 2008:
A group of mostly Warlpiri residents of Yuendumu had gathered several afternoons in the school yard to prepare a petition to present to Jenny Macklin.
Jenny Macklin was to open the Yuendumu Swimming Pool. The petition is here reproduced in full. The English translation is attached below.
Kumanjayi Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs
Marion Scrymgour, Deputy Chief Minister for the N.T.
Kumanjayi Rudd, Prime Minister
Yapa-patu nganimpa, Yurnturmu wardingki karnalu nyarra wangkami nyampu statement purdanyajaku manu yungurnkurlu pina kanyi Federal manu N.T. Government kirra.
Ngula pala Kumanjayi Howard manu Mal Brough-irli waja-waja manu nyinanja kurlangu, ngulaju-rnalu wardinyi-jarrija. Jalangu jalangurlu ngulaju yangka piya-jala kanparlu nganpa kanyi, karlapirli Kumanjayi manu Brough kurIangu policiyiji, manu karlipa miyalu ngawu jarrimi rdungku-rdunku jarrimi manu junta nganayi-mani kangalpa nyiya.
Nyampurla Yurntumu-rla panu karlipa madarni nyiya-ningki-jarra ngula karliparla yulkami. Madarni karlipa jana Mt Theo program, kurdu kurdu kurlangu, Warlpiri-rli ngulpa karlipa jana tiji-mani, PAW, Mampumaninja-Kurlangu jarlu patu ku, WarlukurIangu arts centre, manu yangka ngula kalu jana mardarni wiri-wiri-rli kurdu-kurdu.
This was Yuendumu’s ‘Statement from the Heart’. Despite some serious “sorry business” (rituals related to a death) at the time, the family of the deceased agreed this was important enough to allow the petition to circulate in the “sorry camp”.
Over 200 signatures were obtained. A significant proportion of the adult population of Yuendumu.
A meeting with “community leaders” was held. It was at this meeting that the petition was presented. Warlpiri Media had set up a video camera to record the meeting. As soon as Jenny Macklin spotted the camera she declared there was to be no filming. For the first time we were informed that this was a “private meeting” and Warlpiri Media was asked to leave.
So effective has been the Colonial disempowerment of Aboriginal Australia, that the cameraman, who is actually a proud, prominent highly regarded Warlpiri man, picked up his tripod and meekly left the room.
“Yes boss, no boss” “Yes massa, no massa” “Yes memsahib, no memsahib”
Machiavellian Macklin subsequently had a Media Coup – Russell Skelton wrote an article published in the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald titled — ‘Intervention goes swimmingly in the Tanami‘, 28th October, 2008.
Media Watch was alerted and did an ambiguous ‘number’ on the events. A decade later it makes intriguing reading. We quite clearly were outmanoeuvred, and our petition came to nought.
Jenny Macklin in my opinion is the politician in living memory who did the greatest damage to the social fabric (that should probably be plural) of Aboriginal Australia. Not surpassed until that ultimate betrayal which was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s dismissal/rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Sylvia Péres Cruz (and her late father) … 20 Años
Es un pedazo del alma, que se arranca sin piedad….
(It’s a piece of the soul – torn out without pity)
You can read reports of mine from 2008 at the links below.
October 30, 2008: Yuendumu: the pool, the press, protocols and permits…and the Code of Conduct for Ministerial Staff