Policy on Aborigines

Some years ago, the Hawke Labor Government set up an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission that was elected by Aborigines. However, ATSIC was closed down for wasting money. The irony is, if ATSIC had been a university, and if its commissioners had been white, they could have wasted billions with impunity, as Australian universities do. But because the commissioners were Aborigines and not white, they were held to a different standard.

Helping Aborigines is a particular cause of the Catholic Church, and so this suggests it is a bad idea, like most of their causes. However, in arriving at our policies, we must not allow the Catholic Church to set our agenda. Why should the very many Aborigines who are not Catholics have to answer for the crimes of the Catholic Church?

As part of our replacement of the Australian Constitution with a new and improved version, we will include a section in the Constitution about Aborigines. We will say that a treaty will be taken to exist between the British Government and the Aboriginal elders of Australia, entered into on 26 January 1788, in the same terms as the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Government and the Maori Chiefs of New Zealand.

This will not mean that the Australian Government will have to pay massive compensation to Aborigines. For example, the Melbourne Central Business District, when it was seized from the Aborigines, was several square miles of bush in the middle of nowhere, on the wrong side of the world. Its value would be similar to the same area of bush on the Papua New Guinea coast today. Also, compensation would only be payable for land that the Aborigines had allocated for private use, and not land allocated for public use. When the British arrived, they took over the governmental functions of the Aboriginal elders, and with that went the land allocated by the Aboriginal elders for public use.

Where the British went wrong, and where compensation would be payable, is that when the government allocated private land to settlers, they did not allocate any land for Aborigines. Had they done so, the Aborigines of today would have inherited significant tracts of land. To make up for this, we are willing to allocate farming land to Aborigines. They will have to be qualified in agriculture, and have at least 25 percent Aboriginal ancestry.

As regards the native title land which the High Court illegally gave to “traditional owners”, it is not acceptable, as far as we are concerned, for land to be jointly owned by several people. This is the system in Papua New Guinea. If we are elected as a State Government, we will divide up and redistribute all the native title land in the State. We will set up an Aboriginal Branch in the Department of Justice, and this branch will have a Native Title Directorate, that will convert the native title land to freehold.

The principles for converting native title land to freehold will be as follows:

  • former pastoral leases will go to the former European lessees;
  • only “traditional owners” of land who have more than 25 percent Aboriginal ancestry will get a share of the remainder;
  • land will be divided into farms of economic size;
  • if there are or could be towns on the land, it will be suitably subdivided into sections;
  • the government will get land for roads and government buildings;
  • the farms and sections will be allocated to “traditional owners”; and
  • not every “traditional owner” will necessarily get a share.

The State Government will consider submissions from interested parties. Native title land from a particular land claim will be transferred to the ultimate owners by a private Act of Parliament.

Aborigines would not be subject to “income management” of social security unless they failed a alcohol test. They would be given one week’s notice of the alcohol test, which would be at a pathology collection centre. A urine sample would be taken. If someone failed the alcohol test, he or she would be on income management for three months. If Aborigines in an area were given alcohol tests, so would Europeans in the area.

Aborigines will be allowed to drink alcohol. In view of the alcohol problem, a substitute for alcohol will be made available, in the same way that heroin addicts are given methadone. The substitute drink will contain shredded wheat, milk, banana flavouring, brown colouring, aspartame, vitamins, valium and cocaine. The drink will be carbonated. The drink will be subsidized by the government, and sold at liquor stores in two litre bottles at a price making it competitive with beer.

Aboriginal children will go to State Government boarding schools. A school will have 25 percent Aboriginal children and 75 percent European children. Aboriginal children will be taught Aboriginal languages and culture. Parents will be able to speak to their children through a 1800 number. There will be no school fees.

We will greatly increase the proportion of Aborigines who work as diplomats. Diplomats are basically cookie-pushers, and Aborigines can push cookies just as well as anyone else. We want to create an image of Australia as a country similar to Papua New Guinea. Unlike the Labor Party, we trust Aborigines to work in sensitive positions. Ideally, 75 percent of Australian Ambassadors will be Aborigines.