Aboriginal sovereignty must be on the agenda: Michael Anderson

Kamala Emanuel Green Left Weekly March 7, 2012

About 50 people attended a forum addressed by Michael Anderson at the Curtin University Aboriginal Studies Centre on March 5. Anderson is a Gamilaroi man from New South Wales and is one of the four original founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972.

The forum was organised by the Nyoongar Tent Embassy. Two days before, Anderson had addressed the WA Tent Embassy.

Anderson said Aboriginal people had never given up their sovereignty, that there had never been a defeat in declared war, that Aboriginal land had not been ceded and that the British crown had not asserted sovereignty over Aboriginal people.

He gave illustrations from case law, including letters and legislation from colonial times, to show that Aboriginal people were not British subjects and were they considered such. He described recent legal efforts examine whether Australian courts have jurisdiction over Aboriginal people.

Anderson invited Aboriginal people of WA to take part in the formation of an interim Aboriginal government of national unity. So far, the interim government includes representatives of more than 40 Aboriginal nations from eastern Australia.

He described plans to have Aboriginal people recognised as a non-self-governing people by the United Nations. He also spoke of several legal initiatives, including a "writ of Mandamus" to get the British parliament to protect Aboriginal sovereignty, genocide proceedings against Britain in the European Union, and compensation and restitution claims for Aboriginal people with respect to mineral and petroleum exploitation.

The crowd received his words with enthusiasm. Many agreed with Anderson's view Aboriginal sovereignty was "not about the money". Anderson also said it was important to reject the Barnett state government's proposed land deal with Nyoongar people in southwest Western Australia — a deal that would stamp out all native title claims over the region.

Michael Anderson and the team have now traveled across to Brisbane for a Sovereignty Information Forum.