Moved by the Socialist Alliance working group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights
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The Socialist Alliance Seventh National Conference acknowledges the important historical role socialists have played in major struggles for Aboriginal rights throughout the last century. Through our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights Charter, we commit ourselves to continuing in this tradition, supporting and championing Aboriginal self-determination and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal affairs, while linking Aboriginal struggles to other movements, especially the trade union movement.
Aboriginal affairs constitute one of the moral weaknesses of the Rudd government. Actions speak louder than words and hopes raised by the apology on February 13, 2008, have been betrayed by the continuation and expansion of the Northern Territory intervention. The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, a national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is being established from above and does not have any credibility amongst Aboriginal activists who denounce it as a toothless waste of time without a legitimate mandate. This representative body and recent "consultations" with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, which did not allow those attending to properly voice their opinions, are just two examples of how government policy has turned back to assimilation.
The federal government is coming under increasing fire, including growing international criticism, for its expansion and continuation of racist policies of the previous Coalition government. In August, UN Human Rights Rapporteur Professor James Anaya said measures like compulsory income management, imposition of compulsory leases and community-wide bans on alcohol consumption and pornography “overtly discriminate against Aboriginal peoples''.
A statement released by another UN Human Rights Rapporteur in December finds that equal access to primary healthcare facilities is lacking, sometimes due to lack of transportation and communication infrastructure, but more often due to direct discrimination and culturally inappropriate services being provided.
Conference recognises the emergence of new national Aboriginal leadership, especially through the campaign against the Northern Territory intervention. Aboriginal people in the NT and across the country have come together to condemn the intervention, and this new leadership is slowly consolidating. Socialist Alliance pledges to provide support, space and resources for further development.
Branches in cities with existing and healthy Aboriginal rights coalitions will assess whether they have the resources to participate in these and do so if possible.
We recognise the importance of the union movement becoming more involved in the Aboriginal rights movement, and will use our presence in unions and on union bodies to strengthen this relationship. Socialist Alliance will take the opportunity provided by the interest unions have displayed in the Ampilatwatja walk-off, for example, to get in touch with, or work closer with, unions and unionists we weren't otherwise working with.
Through Green Left Weekly, and our contacts among the international left, we will seek to establish links between Aboriginal people involved in the various campaigns and revolutionaries and Indigenous activists around the world, especially across Latin America.
Launching the new book by Terry Townsend and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights Charter provides an excellent opportunity for educationals and discussion with guest speakers in branches.
The NT intervention continues to be the pointy end of Rudd Labor's Aboriginal affairs policy: in fact it is Labor's policy - the measures introduced as part of the intervention are quietly being rolled out across the country. For this reason, Socialist Alliance sees the campaign to end the intervention as crucial, and we will continue to prioritise it. Concretely, we will:
Socialist Alliance will continue our involvement in the campaigns demanding justice for Mr Ward, Mulrunji and others. In particular, we support the demands of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee, Western Australia:
Socialist Alliance will also be ready to respond, through actions, articles and statements, should any more Aboriginal people die at the hands of police.
The Socialist Alliance supports the campaign to stop the Brighton Bypass in Tasmania. The project, which goes through one of the richest areas of Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage should be stopped immediately and the demands of the Aboriginal community should be met to save the 15,000 year old heritage.
There may be other campaigns, such as around stolen wages in Queensland or new government attacks on ATSI rights, that emerge/gain momentum. Socialist Alliance will be ready to assess these campaigns, support them and participate in them according to our assessment and resources at the time.