Land grab by mining companies of Australian Aborigines’ land

The aggressive neo-liberal land grab is dividing Aboriginal communities and even brothers. As one Traditional Owner in the
Northern Territory told me recently, “these mining deals can give one or two families a big pay but generally they don’t improve the
community. Money goes on a few new cars and more grog comes in. We never see things get better but someone is getting very rich on our land.”

In the Kimberley and Pilbara in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, on Cape York and in parts of NSW and South Australia, it is disturbing to see the divide and conquer tactics of mining companies and governments………..

Privatisation of land is the neo-liberal spearhead hurled deep into the heart of the traditional Aboriginal way of life……..
The Intervention’s extraordinary damage to the Aboriginal sense of control and wellbeing makes it the gravest policy disaster in
Australia since the removal of Aboriginal children in the Stolen  Generations.

THE WAY AHEAD: The new land grab Tracker, BY JEFF MCMULLEN, JUNE 21, 2013 NATIONAL: Neo-liberalism is a
hungry beast and this 21st Century strain of capitalism is shaping the agenda for control of Aboriginal lands, writes JEFF MCMULLEN.

You only have to listen to Professor Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio or read Noel Pearson’s sermons on acquisition to see how this virulent form of free-market fundamentalism has gathered influential adherents, including policy makers in both political
parties.

Australian Government policy is heavily influenced by neo-liberalism through its extraordinary emphasis on managing access for mining
companies to resources on Aboriginal lands. This involves controlling what is still perceived as ‘the Aboriginal problem’ and forcing a
social transition from traditional values and Cultural practice to ‘mainstream’ modernism of a particular brand. It also involves
displacing many Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and concentrating them in ‘growth towns’.

Transforming the poverty of Indigenous people unquestionably rides on
the equitable exploitation and sharing of resources found on their
lands. This has never occurred since the arrival of Europeans in
Australia.

Now the struggle for Aboriginal land and rights is entering a new
phase because of the aggressive global marketing of the resources most
essential for a fast growing human population, including water, food,
minerals, energy and the land itself.

To make any sense of the aggression behind most current Indigenous
policy in Australia you need to study the impact of neo-liberalism
around the globe….. Make no mistake, neo-liberalism is about
dispossession.

One of the world’s leading social scientists, British born David
Harvey, writes in his book, A Short History of Neoliberalism, that
what I have called a 21st Century strain of capitalism is a very
distinctive system of “accumulation by dispossession.”

Harvey tips four easy ways to spot neo-liberalism at work.

1.      “privatization and commodification” of public/community goods,
2.      “financialization” to treat good or bad events as opportunities for
economic speculation,
3.      “management and manipulation of crises” to establish the neo-liberal agenda,
4.      “state redistribution” of wealth, not to the poor but to the rich
and powerful.
This raises the question of who benefits from neo-liberal style development of Aboriginal lands whether it is through mining or
agriculture? It also helps us understand what really is driving policies such as the Northern Territory Intervention and the
extraordinary social engineering to control Aboriginal people still living on traditional lands.

Harvey presents a convincing argument that neo-liberalism is not
‘trickle down economics’ that will somehow allow large numbers of
people to benefit from this neo-liberal development. On the contrary,
he contends that the exploitation is aimed at upward redistribution of
wealth, enriching capital managers.

The aggressive neo-liberal land grab is dividing Aboriginal communities and even brothers. As one Traditional Owner in the
Northern Territory told me recently, “these mining deals can give one or two families a big pay but generally they don’t improve the
community. Money goes on a few new cars and more grog comes in. We never see things get better but someone is getting very rich on our land.”

In the Kimberley and Pilbara in Western Australia, across the Northern Territory, on Cape York and in parts of NSW and South Australia, it is disturbing to see the divide and conquer tactics of mining companies and governments………..

To understand the current assault on Aboriginal Land Rights we should
remember what the British social scientist described as the first
tenet of neo-liberalism, the drive for ‘privatisation’ of Aboriginal
lands.

Privatisation of land is the neo-liberal spearhead hurled deep into the heart of the traditional Aboriginal way of life……..
The Intervention’s extraordinary damage to the Aboriginal sense of control and wellbeing makes it the gravest policy disaster in
Australia since the removal of Aboriginal children in the Stolen  Generations.

Five years after the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act (2007),
despite compelling evidence from over 400 Senate submissions that the
Intervention had failed, the Stronger Futures legislation (2012)
extended the major controlling provisions of the Intervention for
another ten years. This is neo-liberalism at its worst.

As Aboriginal advocate, Pat Turner, warned from the outset the
Intervention was and is “the Trojan Horse” to control Aboriginal
lands, a process that ultimately facilitates the exploitation of
minerals and the transfer of Aboriginal ‘wealth’ to the capital
managers.

Clearly the NT Intervention fulfils David Harvey’s other key tenets of
neo-liberalism. The Australian Government is facilitating this
exploitation of mineral wealth as well as directing the major
development contracts not to Aboriginal communities but to those
tycoons heading mining companies and construction alliances.

Neo-liberalism has given us the new land grab.http://tracker.org.au/2013/06/the-way-ahead-the-new-land-grab-2/

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