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Aboriginal sovereignty issue ignored by Australian government

Australia’s new Aboriginal policy falls short of expectations | Worldfocus February 15, 2010 Jamie Macfarlane “…..Apologies are hard to give when the historical narrative of a nation’s ascendancy entirely sidesteps what happened to its indigenous inhabitants……….
Rudd’s assessment of his Aboriginal policies two years on largely ignored the second great Indigenous issue: native sovereignty.

Unlike in America, where a library of treaties sets out the parameters of tribal sovereignty, Australia has historically made little pretense at recognizing Aboriginal land rights. Australia had legally been a terra nullis, and thus, the first property rights belonged to the settlers.

It was not until 1992 that the Supreme Court finally overruled the concept of terra nullis, leaving in its wake a persistent ambiguity over when Aboriginals can claim back land.

This is the fundamental problem for indigenous sovereignty the world over. Nations like Australia and the United States were built upon the seizure of indigenous land based upon a legality that cannot be justified in the modern day. Today, with any new chapter for indigenous people invariably involving the return of their lands, how can modern nations redress past injustice — whilst protecting the property interests of the dominant group?

There is also little consensus on the issue of whether to follow the American Indian model of communal land ownership or to allow Aboriginals to assume private land rights. The former keeps indigenous community lands together, whilst the latter gives Aborigines that cornerstone of Western society: individual property rights…………

Rudd has continued his predecessor’s policy of suspending indigenous rights of self-government in the Northern Territory with the help of a police and military presence.

Australia’s new Aboriginal policy falls short of expectations | Worldfocus


February 16, 2010 - Posted by | indigenous issues |

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