It was late November 2010, one of those red-hot November days that only the Western Desert can turn on. Over six hundred people travelled for days from far and wide to bury young Jampijinpa at the small town of Nyirripi, a four-and-a-half hour dusty drive west from Alice Springs on rough dirt roads.
I am aware that it is not normal in a maiden parliamentary speech to raise contentious issues, but these are not normal times. Let us talk about traditions. Let us look at the traditions of the Country Liberal Party and the people who run it. These people know their traditions well and the most hallowed of them is to raise issues of race at every possible opportunity, and there is no better opportunity than at election time.
All up the bill for lawyers alone in the Brett Cattle Company matter might be $12 million plus loose change and walking around money.
What is required is a regional structure with culturally appropriate boundaries which oversees all programs and consultations in the region. The directors would be elected to salaried positions and there would be staff to support and advise the elected members. Local Government bodies could not fill this role because they are ultimately controlled by the Minister, and they have roles that conflict with a body such as I propose. This would eliminate the random and uncoordinated “consultation“ burden and replace it with something much more effective and productive.
Don’t get me wrong - we understand the importance of tourism to the economy but meanwhile in the bush the housing crisis continues, the housing deficit grows, indigenous people are living lives characterised by poverty and neglect and despair. Another child is born to another overcrowded home. Another kid gets no sleep and can’t get to school. Another assault takes place in a house full to bursting point, and so on.
The story this woman tells is the story of their being imprisoned there. The men are only allowed out to work; they cannot get visitors and they cannot visit other people. I find it extraordinary that people could behave so savagely in 1989 against fellow human beings. Justice Nader, NT Supreme Court.
Nearly 10% of domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with 1000 more breeds still threatened which means the pool of genetic variation which underpins food security has declined. Astoundingly, the Report is the first intergovernmental report on biodiversity and ecosystems that takes into account indigenous knowledge.
There is the promised threat of long-overdue but never-coming rain through the long months of the Gurrulwa Guligi (big wind) and Dalirrgang (build up) seasons, when pretty much every-thing and -one is stagnant with humidity, sweat and dread and when anything, nothing and everything does, can – or doesn’t and can’t – happen.
When the next incident of water contamination surfaces, it is important that there are clear public standards for testing, reporting, and remediation with direct lines of legal accountability to residents. Such legislated standards are necessary to reduce the likelihood of such incidences and to protect drinking water for all residents of the NT.
Lawyers will be excited and busy this week. Government lawyers will be reading the decision closely and working out how to proceed. Often where States or Territories have granted tenure for specific projects (such as a mine) there is a contractual agreement between the State or Territory and the project proponent that passes compensation liabilities through to the proponent, so there will also be some company lawyers busy assessing potential liabilities. Lawyers who represent indigenous groups will be carefully considering where to go next.