Home Australia “Acknowledgement to Country,” Mud Gooloogong, and an Eviction Notice

“Acknowledgement to Country,” Mud Gooloogong, and an Eviction Notice

After putting up his own Eviction Notice at the Lobby Restaurant, Wiradjuri man Mud Gooloogong remained there until he was arrested and removed peacefully by police. (photo – ABC)

By Dee McLachlan

For those readers not living in Australia, let me first explain. If one attends any function, conference and event, the emcee or whoever is running the event starts off with an “Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners.” It is to pay respect to indigenous people.

This is how it goes.

“Our conference is being held on the traditional country [or lands] of the Wada wurrung people [or relevant traditional owner], and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners. I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and the Elders from other communities who may be here today.”

When I first arrived, it seemed to me a most respectful acknowledgement and a reminder of the land’s history, but as the years have gone by — it sometimes leaves me uneasy. In many of these functions, in Victoria, it feels a function of political correctness — and I look around and see no, or very few, Aboriginal faces. Of the original inhabitants, who were living on this land for over 40,000 years, very few have benefited like the newbies and their offspring, that arrived in the last 200 plus years ago.

Aboriginal Tent City

The area which eventually became the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), before European settlement, was inhabited by people who spoke a Ngarigo dialect. Canberra in the ACT, was chosen as the capital. From 1927 to 1988 politicians used the old Parliament House — which was replaced by the new building in 1988.

On 26 January 1972, four Aboriginal men arrived in Canberra from Sydney and set up the Aboriginal Embassy by planting a beach umbrella on the lawn in front of (the old) Parliament House. This was over the McMahon Coalition Government’s refusal to recognize Aboriginal land rights. The beach umbrella was soon replaced by several tents. Many struggles, fires and battles later, the Embassy became a heritage-listed landmark for Aboriginal protest.

Lobby Restaurant and Australia Day

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia, celebrated annually on 26 January, and it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales — and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain.

Overseas readers might have read some years ago about how the Australian prime minister — then, Julia Gillard — had to be whisked away from Australia Day protesters, while eating at the Lobby Restaurant at Australia Day celebrations.

The New York Times report said, “A fancy dinner. A hurried escape. A shoe left behind, found and offered back by an unlikely suitor.”

Prime Minister Gillard whisked away (photo SMH)

The Lobby Restaurant, located is directly opposite Old Parliament House, had been the haunt of politicians over the years. But then on January 14, 2017 it closed — disappointing many brides, who had booked their receptions there.

Eviction Notice

Then, about a week ago a few local Ngunnawal people and Aboriginal Tent Embassy activists moved into the empty restaurant — as a protest.

Eviction notice

The group stuck their own EVICTION NOTICE addressed to the National Capital Authority (NCA) on the front door, claiming that no permission had been sought from the Ngunnawal people, to build the restaurant. [The NCA is the government body that manages development of Commonwealth land in Canberra, and it controls the property.]

On Wednesday (8 November, 2017) the NCA acting chief, Andrew Smith, met with elders and Australian Federal Police around the fire at the Tent Embassy. They asked the activists to leave. The activists refused.

The Eviction notice reads:

“National Capital Authority, you are hereby given an eviction notice for the Lobby restaurant and Rose Gardens that exist on Ngunnawal Land.

The reason for this eviction notice is:

Your failure to seek permission, seek an agreement, sign a Treaty or Lease the land from the Ngunnawal Original Custodians. National Capital Authority have neglected to pay rent for the period from 1968 to 15th February 2017.

Your outstanding rent due is $7,644,000 (Seven Million, Six Hundred and Forty Four Thousand Dollars) calculated at $3,000 a week for 49 years.

Dated: 15 February, 2017

I quote the ABC report:

“The activists argued with police, with elder Kevin Buzzacott asking for ‘one good reason why you can’t let us have this place’… Eventually all but one person left the building. Wiradjuri man Mud Gooloogong sat down inside until he was arrested and removed peacefully by police.”

He was charged with failing to leave a Commonwealth premise when directed to, and is to face court in December.

The Cost of a Politician

$7.6 million sounds like a lot of money for a “people”. But let me compare it to what one politician is being paid. (Sorry, Mr Rudd, but yours was the first to pop up during my search).

I take Mr Kevin Rudd, who was prime minister for brief periods while at Canberra. I have ignored what he earned while working — and will discuss what he is paid AFTER leaving office.

I will quote the Daily Telegraph:

“If Mr Rudd lives to be 85, that would cost about $20 million… allowances of about $600,000 a year for the rest of his life [including entitlements of]… superannuation, a gold air pass, a car, at least four personal staff and his own office in Brisbane for life… a pension of between $118,346 and $145,987 a year, indexed for inflation.

The average politician probably earns about $3 to 4 million after retiring.

But good ‘ol Mud Gooloogong — yep, his people lost the land centuries ago. We understand the concept of dispossession — and in Australia, most people’s wealth is derived from the increase in their asset (land) prices. Mud missed out. The Acknowledgement of Country, which “involves visitors acknowledging the original Indigenous custodians of the land” is “a very important way of giving Aboriginal people back their place in society,” says  Wurundjeri Elder, Joy Murphy Wandin.

I’d like to understand the contradiction. Maybe Canberra can stop with the political correct “acknowledgement” stuff, and just say it how it really is.

And maybe explain to the people how pensions, and the rent money is loaned and created by private bankers out of thin air.



  1. Dee, everybody gets only one chance to be born. You are “a white,” born in South Africa. Do you have less right to be there than your black neighbour whose ancestors lived there from whenever? I don’t think so.

    But are you behaving obnoxiously toward that neighbour today? Then you are doing wrong and can be held accountable. I claim you can’t be held accountable for something you did not do – that is, you did not carry out a 17th century invasion of South Africa by the Dutch. Nor did you tick the box “OK” for the British brutality of Cecil Rhodes in 1890.

    But did you smash Steve Biko’s head in, in 1977? Well, sort of. Indeed, I smashed his head in, too, by remote control, insofar as US policy was to counteract black power anywhere. I could at least have screamed against it.

    In Australia are you responsible for Captain Cook’s arrival? No. Are you responsible for Australia today bombing Syria? Yes — because it’s within your power to do something about it. Are you responsible for the pollies receiving far more pay than they deserve? Yes.

    I am glad Mud Gooloogong staged his protest. I am happy for Aboriginals to sense the entire continent as “theirs.” We all do that — it’s human nature to feel connected to a place (and they seem to do it so much better). I also like the calculation of the rent.

    How about this? Change that unctuous statement that speakers make “We acknowledge the traditional owners .. blah blah…” to:

    “We recognize that Europeans forced the traditional occupants of Australia off the lands that we all now enjoy. We must halt the oppressions to which we still – blithely –subject their descendants. And we’d be smart to heed Aboriginal advice about protecting the land.”

    That said, I think Mr Mud should be given official entitlement to the unused Lobby Restaurant. I need to know that there is at least one reasonable human being in Canberra.

    • That’s the great excuse “invaders” can rely on — that the next generation can reap rewards without consequence. Being from South Africa, I wrestled with this concept for a long time. Thankfully, when I look back I see the youth NOW accepting a future together — where there is more or less equal opportunity.
      On the other side of the coin, if you were the daughter of a slave — is there any restitution for you family?
      I am not sure what Mud is worth today. But land assets — increasing each year, is what has made and is making most Australian’s wealthy — but, the indigenous people don’t seem to be part of the asset equation in our cities today.

  2. Listening to ABC radio 621, yesterday, 12th of November,in the afternoon, in a interview in progress, a professor from Britain, on talking about the brain and problems with analyzing people that are having difficulties as whether the brain having a basic inherited dysfunction such as depression or whether the condition is caused by exterior circumstance such as economic, cultural, and so on, in his talk he mentioned how Australian establishment is committing genocide of Aboriginals, what was somewhat shocking besides such a public statement was the interviewer never brought into focus to state more as to what was meant by this as if it was passed over and never happened.
    If a eminent professional states such a damning statement of a First World nation is committing a serious criminal act, it would be some difficulty a white emigrant should feel comfortable at being in a country whereby a calculated act is in progress.
    A division of moral integrity as to divide a country not just between black and white? more so the moral division within white society as to who and what Australian Establishment is, the inference also includes the possibility as if the Aboriginal population were to be destroyed, who would be next?

    • No I’m sure he doesn’t know. He is a renter of his “own” land — as we will all soon be. Citizens renting from their own land.
      Thanks for the video C.

  3. Paging the Editor!

    Dee, help! A commenter is picking on me, calling me an “invader.” I did not invade, I only got born. Had no say in the matter. I did not disturb a single Iroquois, Mohawk, or Cherokee. Don’t I know that my nation was very cruel to the Cherokee? Yes. Can I undo that? No, as those people are dead.

    But in 2003 I did invade Iraq. I feel as much responsible as if I had dropped the bombs. Maybe Cheney did it but I should have prevented him. So I’m an invader, but a present-day one.

    Maybe the commenter meant that my family has lived off the fat of the land, thanks to my nation’s pillaging habits. True. Every cup of coffee we drink cheap here is on the backs of South American labor, only slightly recompensed. Yes I know we are deliberately spreading diseases.

    By the way, I can’t walk on the grass here in New Hampshire as there are ticks carrying Lyme disease which some Seppo jerks released from Plum Island. Maybe they did it for a laugh.

    Listen to this man (Ronald Bernard). He says his group of financiers dumped lira to devalue the currency and a man committed suicide over his loss. He says, at 20 minutes, that he, along with others, laughed hahaha over it. But then they went too far and asked him to kill a child. He says “It was like I was in training to be a psychopath but I failed.”

    So at least there is a bit of progress….

    • Ha… this commenter suggests that is just humans being humans — one tribe attacking the next tribe, so they have two caves within which to shelter, and leaving the losing tribe without a waterhole. I guess, that’s the nature of humans. Take what you can, by whatever means, so your genetic line can benefit. So you are only human.
      So is it human to share — to provide some equality?

      • S’far as i am aware, evolution has given us instincts to behave sharingly with the following three groups:

        Our kin (can be expanded to “our nation”)

        Folks with whom we can exchange favors (I scratch your back, you wash my car type thing), and

        Individuals in need, especially if we see them right in front of us.

        Apart from that we have instincts for, as you put it:
        “they have two caves within which to shelter, and leaving the losing tribe without a waterhole”

        Absolutely, Dee, and dropping landmines around them for good measure.

  4. Mary ,
    You love law . If my father has stolen a car, and left that car in a will to me. Who owns the car ?
    Its a uncomfortable feeling to have payed a lot of money to me had I sold that car to Dee for Dee and me .

    • Such an interesting point. A parcel of land in the right place is now worth MILLIONS – enough for the inheritor never to work one day in a 90 year long life. Mud’s not in that equation.

    • Simon, of course the question is : if you know it’s stolen, and no one else knows, what are YOU going to do?

      i don’t ask for a reply. Just a thought experiment. I know what I would do.

  5. Acts 18:24 God that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in Temples made with hands: 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands as though he needed anything, seeing he gives to all, life and breath, and all things, 26 And has made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: [KJV 1611]

    • Psalm 37:11 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”… “…the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” —- until the bankers arrive.

      • Good will prevail, sister; but, first we must endure 7 years of sorrows and tribulation; just be very thankful that you are one of the meek and not the greedy, powerful and rich; they have sold their souls; and, for what? We came into this world with nothing and it is certain we will leave with nothing; forgive them and pity them; be blessed;

  6. Ok you give the car back to family or decendance, I admire you and you would, but if the money is already spent on the clan, and its not possible as “bankers” have moved on . What then.
    Ok no solution but image of you me Dee n Mud in a model T cruising the Canberra summer nats keeps me smiling

  7. Thanks Dee. To give some context and depth to this article there are a couple of very informative web sites that cover past and contemporary matters –not really about black and white rather about exposing the truth and coverups then being united in action–those at the Grass roots–those who have been silenced — rising up with informed global leaders –working together in solidarity-prepared to listen and learn and share knowledge.


  8. “A very important way of giving Aboriginal people back their place in society. – What??? where is the evidence proving they don’t already have a place in Australian Society? What’s the agenda here Mr. Turnbull?

    The first 3 words of the Commonwealth Of Australia Constitution are “Whereas the people!. Is there some suggestion here that aborigines are not “people”?

    “Acknowledgement of Country and Traditional Owners – how many time does this have to be said. Get on with it and have big shebang of a statement/ceremony, give them more land and a few hundred dollars and be done with it.

  9. The bankers usury system is stealing from all people . Be they the original inhabitants or the new settlers over the last 230 years (just 2 million new arrivals to Sydney over the last 6 years) .
    More punters the bigger the profits . The 1% that rules and the 9% mini me’s , that protect them ,
    are like oil on top of water . It always floats above and does not dissolve . Although their agenda for the rest of humanity is the opposite . With mass immigration , to western cities , races are being blended to eliminate individuality and truth . To make us all slaves in their usury debt system of serfdom and inequality . They did it to the original land owners to our parents to us and now our children . Borrow 1 million pay back 2.5 million over thirty years on $20 per hour in the lucky stolen country . For land confiscated from the true owners the good Aboriginal people who never even felt they owned it but we’re happy to walk upon it .

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