This image taken after these delegates and others walked out of the National Referendum Council meeting at Uluru in disgust at the procedures and gagging. (L to R) Serena Williams, (Ngunnawal), Lidia Thorpe (Gunnai and Gunditjmara), Jenny Munro (Wiradjuri), Linda June Coe (Wiradjuri), George Coe (Wiradjuri) and Observer Ruth Gilbert (Wiradjuri).
By Ghillar Michael Anderson
(Editor’s note. Below is a shortened version of the media release by the Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia. The full version is available on the website, here. On his return from Uluru, Ghillar, Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union, last surviving member of the founding four of the Aboriginal Embassy and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic, details the rigged processes of the Referendum Council’s National Convention and the subsequent media)
I was absolutely shocked and horrified at the disjointed discussion that occurred on ABC TV Q&A last night ( 29 May 2017) from Parliament House, Canberra.
In my opinion the conclusions that occurred at the Referendum Council’s National convention at Uluru were totally betrayed by the Q&A panel.
Having been permitted to sit as an observer in the main National Convention of the Referendum Council at Yulara near Uluru, I was privy to observe the proceedings and I sat through the ‘Synthesis’ of the Regional Dialogues and what they called the breakout workshops as well, where the key topics were ‘The Voice’, ‘Treaty’, ‘Strategy’.
In respect of the Synthesis (summary) of the Dialogues it was very clear that nationally the specially selected people by the Land Councils (invitation-only delegates) independently concluded that it must be made clear that First Nations sovereignty was never ceded.
The next key point was the fact the people, from around this island continent, who attended these Regional Dialogues, were emphatic that they did not want a minimalist approach to constitutional reform and they did not want it to be symbolic. They wanted something substantive that would effect real and positive change. It was very clear that they did not just want to remove Section 51(26) the Race Power, because they did not want anything in the constitution that could be used in a manner that would be detrimental to First Nations Peoples exercising their rights and their right to be self-determining.
More importantly, the presentation in the Synthesis/Summary does suggest that an overwhelming majority of people, who attended these Regional Dialogues, were determined that, because sovereignty was never ceded, that Treaties should be made with Sovereign First Nations throughout the continent and they determined that our ancient tapestry of languages and cultures cannot be destroyed and lost forever to our future generations.
Noel Pearson, in his introductory presentation, made use of Mr Bayona-Ba-Meya, Senior President of the Supreme Court of Zaire’s spiritual notion of sovereignty, which was articulated in the International Court of Justice in the 1975 Western Sahara case :
: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the man who was born therefrom, remains attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with is ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty :
This tapestry of colour of the diverse Sovereign First Nations became visual when the coloured Tindale map was put up for all to see. It is from this that we must understand the richness of our ancient Law and culture, which must be defended and maintained at all costs. We must always tell ourselves on a daily basis that we have the oldest civilisation on planet Earth, and we are the Peoples who perfected the art of peaceful co-existence and sustainability, through the teachings handed down from the time of Creation, and that we are intrinsically linked to all things natural through the definition entitled ‘humanity’.
The political confrontation that occurred at the National Convention was caused by the very apparent stacking of the meeting by the organisers (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Studies, AIATSIS), no doubt supported by the Referendum Council. What was visually clear during the whole process was the apparent divide between members of the Referendum Council. For some of the elected delegates it was clear that when they were talking about issues that were not supportive of the Referendum Council’s ambitions, Noel Pearson and/or Pat Anderson were constantly leaving the meeting to have counsel with Mark Leibler, the Zionist Co-chair of the Referendum Council. It became clear that he is the puppet-master, who was clearly steering this ship as he sat outside of the meeting in a private conference area inside the Sails Hotel of the Yulara Ayers Rock Resort.
One does not have to take a second guess that he was privileged to live-streaming with other lawyers by his side. His controlling advice was apparent. A constitutional referendum was the only objective – that you must maintain the appearance of consent to the theme of constitutional reform, knowing that the people did not want just ‘Recognition’ and/or a minimalist approach, neither did they want to be assimilated into the colonial constitution of the occupying power.
ABC’s Q&A Program
Last night’s Q&A program was embarrassing to watch, because it was very evident that the panel was not in unity ‘with a clear and defined outcome’ from Uluru. In response to questions being asked by the moderator, the panel kept stumbling and were not clear and precise. Noel Pearson’s emphasis on a ‘Voice’ was misleading and ambiguous and our cause for concern is such that the panellists, who attended the convention, had in fact lost their way and that is the price for betrayal. They failed to clearly articulate what was decided at Uluru.
As a person who has been engaged for more that 40 years in political confrontation and advocacy, I would say Noel Pearson marked his territory by steering the conversation to constitutional reform, when that was not a decision made at the National Convention at Uluru.
Furthermore, Megan Davis’s performance was as honourable as she could make it, knowing that what was being discussed on Q&A was not a true representation of the outcome. She reminded Pearson that the Final Report has not been released. Pat Anderson’s performance represented uncertainty and confusion. Stan Grant realised this frustration and attempted to wade a path forward without saying what he really wanted to say. The young playwright and writer Nakkiah Lui was clearly lacking a legal and political understanding of the consequences and spoke passionately with a very convincing colonised mind, which demonstrated what a Stockholm Syndrome mindset looks like.
The concluding presentation by the young interpreter made the Uluru Statement sound very nice and sweet. It sounded like a poem not a legal statement. In fact it cannot be argued that it is a legal statement. It is a statement of ambition romanticising a dream.
In reality what did not take place at the Referendum Council Convention at Yulara/Uluru was proper discussion on the two primary questions:
- Which way are we to go? and
- What are our choices, our pathways?
What was not raised nor discussed was that on these points it is imperative that they are followed up by definitions, that is to say:
- Do we want to be included in the constitution by way of constitutional referendum? or
- Do we want a Treaty/ Treaties between the Commonwealth government, or Britain, and the Sovereign First Nations of this island continent as we continue to hold the continental common law?
These are the questions that should have been dealt with in detail, but were never responded to individually.
The program and agenda items represented the hedging of these two very important questions. Clearly, members of the Referendum Council worked very hard to avoid making this a black and white issue on these two points. In fact, they drove the proceedings of the meeting in such a way that confused everybody.
(L to R) Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Patrick Dodson with Mark Leibler at a ‘Recognise’ meeting in 2015. The ‘Referendum Council’ is the updated version of the government propaganda machine
Having spoken with our senior Elders, Lawmen and Law women there is a move that we must make, that is, to be inclusive, not exclusive. It then becomes a choice for those who were affected by forced removals to go back and learn that Law and culture, proper way, and not be divided for any reason.
Going forward the process is not about Sean Gordon’s recent ABC radio statement (29 May 2017) when he alluded to the fact that there should be two processes: one for the educated, assimilated people who no longer have their Law and culture and one for the fullbloods who retain their Law and culture in full. This attitude underscores what was happening at the National Convention. The Convention organisers unashamedly manipulated Alison Hunt to control the plenary sessions by having her rule that the process in the plenary sessions was governed by traditional protocols, but Lawmen were making it clear on the outside that this is a different type of meeting and that the First Nations Law should not control the freedom of the peoples’ voices, and they were disturbed that this was happening.
My concluding observations are in fact very disturbing for several reasons.
- The now promoted notion that there should be two processes of negotiations: one for the ‘educated, assimilated people of the east and southeast of Australia’ who it is suggested know little to nothing of their cultural legal norms which are dictated to by our Creation (included in this group are the stolen generations and their descendants); and one for the ‘fullbloods’ and ceremonially educated, who continue to maintain their ancient Law and culture to this day.
- There was no question or discussion that focused on the impact of any constitutional reform on First Nations’ Law, culture and ceremony.
- The group chosen to take the process forward was not elected from those elected delegates who carried a mandate to attend the Referendum Council’s National Convention, but instead is a mish-mash of delegates, facilitators and paid staff who attended the Regional Dialogues. The most disturbing feature of this group’s appointment is that there are no defined terms of reference for them to pursue. Clearly, they have an open-ended agenda, which could mean anything. This cannot be accepted, because there is too much room for corruption.
- On the question of the Treaty/Treaties I can say that there was no consensus on the form that this treaty would take, that is, is it to be a domestic Treaty controlled by existing Australian law, or is it to be a Treaty between Sovereign First Peoples and their Nations, governed by international law? The paid lawyers present were not able to give any definitive response to the question of how will the terms of this Treaty/Treaties be governed and protected, so as to be assured that we do not fall into the same pitfalls as the Native Americans, Canadians and Maori have with their own experiences with their treaties.
It is now essential for these questions to be answered on a national level. It is now essential for communities to be engaged and in the languages chosen by them. At all future meetings interpreter services must be provided.
It is not acceptable for the moderate and right-wing Aboriginal people to pre-determine what non-Aboriginal Australians will accept and will not accept…
We have the right to free ourselves from tyranny and oppression. We have the right to our own identity and nationality. We have the right to determine freely our own economy. We have the right to determine our own political affiliations and governance. We have the right to own all our the natural resources on and within our lands and waters.
We cannot be arbitrarily criminalised and incarcerated for ‘otherness’.
When developing a program for going forward, my mob, the Euahlayi and the far western Gomeroi, will make our own determinations on our pathway forward and will not be bound by the confusion and mess that is currently being played out.
I believe there are many other First Nations who are of the same mind.