Non-elected First Nations body wants COAG standing

PS: Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has rejected an attempt by the peak Aboriginal representative body to be made a member of the Council of Australian Governments, giving it the same official status as the states and territories. More ... The Australian 16/03/2013

The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples is not elected by our people and although they support the Constitutional inclusion process they haven't been able to come up with a model that does not affect our sovereignty aspirations, which are our inherent right as First Nations Peoples.

It should also be noted that it may be considered by the writer of the following article that the 'National Congress' is 'the' peak body of First Nations people but this has not been tested by the people, through a democratic process.
... More about the National Congress below article.

Patricia Karvelas The Australian 15 March 2013

The peak Aboriginal body wants to be made a member of the Council of Australian Governments, giving it the same official status as the states and territories.

The National Congress of Australia's First Peoples has called for sweeping changes to the way the federal government works with indigenous communities.

The proposals, outlined in the congress's 2013-14 budget submission and obtained by The Australian, specifically target health, education and language maintenance funding. The submission places priority on strengthening governance in community controlled organisations.

Congress has also requested longer-term funding in the budget, with the organisation's funding due to expire in December.

Congress co-chairwoman Jody Broun said that achieving the best outcomes was not simply about the amount of funding. "There are now several critical reports that identify duplication of services, complexity of grant administration and poor accountability by the states and territories as obstacles for addressing disadvantage for our peoples," she said.

"Congress will work with governments of the day to help address these problems. Better bilateral arrangements with the states and territories, including reviewing their reporting frameworks, are a potential game changer for delivering better services."

She said programs such as the multi-billion dollar National Health Partnership required long-term funding that was secure through election and budget cycles.

Co-chairman Les Malezer said Congress has "also identified a role for ourselves at the table, and key policy areas to be addressed including the adoption of justice targets as part of Closing the Gap".

Congress cites the case of the Australian Local Government Association which is also a member of COAG. The Congress submission argues for a range of new spending priorities and the development of high level agreement with executive government.

"Congress has notified the government, through (Indigenous Affairs) Minister (Jenny) Macklin and senior government officials, that the development of a high level agreement is a priority," the submission says.

The submission also sets a target to halve the gap in the rate of incarceration for indigenous men and women by 2020.

Part of this would include the goal of halving the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a driver's licence suspended or cancelled and to halve the average level of accumulated fine debt.

They also want to double the rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participate in diversionary programs and options within the criminal and youth justice systems including police warnings and cautions.

Congress also wants tax deductible gift recipient status.

"From the Sovereign Unions point of view, the application by the Congress is a fine ambition but at what price?" Michael Anderson, spokesperson for Sovereign Union said after reading the article, "It appears that Congress are somewhat confused and all over the place with their so called directions. On the one hand they say that they support the continuing sovereignty of our people but at the same ask for crumbs from the table. Then to add insult to themselves, tugs on the strings of big 'mamma' and ask for more money to keep them engaged and employed (so much for arguing their 'independence')".

Michael also asks, "What happened to the $29 million that Prime Minister Rudd gave them? Congress has obviously failed 'Big Time' in not being able to raise their own money. and so go yet again 'cap in hand' for a handout." he said, and "How in the world can these people be taken serious? As leaders for our cause "No Way'."

National Congress

The National Congress of First Nations peoples have three chambers which make up its body corporate.

It is an established fact that Congress has approx 7000 members who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

Then in another chamber there is corporate memberships which include organisations and corporations such as:

Participant Organisations National Congress of Australia's First People - A-Z as at 21/8/12
Allens
ANU National Centre For Indigenous Studies
Attorney General’s Department
Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Human Rights Commission
Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association
BHP Billiton
Cape York NRM
Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining
CFMEU
Department of Resources, Energy & Tourism
DFAT
FaHCSIA
Fortescue Mining Group
Generation One
Goldfields Land and Sea Council
Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (Mirrar Peoples)
Human Rights Law Centre Victoria
IAC, EPBC
Indigenous Land Corporation
Indigenous Law Centre, UNSW
Jabba Jabba peoples
KPMG
KRED Enterprises
Madjulla Inc
Minerals Council of Australia
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
National Native Title Council
Native Title Services Victoria
New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council
Newcrest Mining Ltd
North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance
North Queensland Land Council
Northern Land Council
NSW Native Title Services Corporation
Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights
Oxfam Australia
Queensland South Native Title Services
Rio Tinto Iron Ore
Sinclair Knight Merz Group
University Of Melbourne
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation

Source: http://nationalcongress.com.au/congress-extractive-industries/

The third chamber is Aboriginal TSI organisations solely dependent on Federal government funding. In respect to regional land councils throughout Australia we must say that the membership of these land councils is quite limited in terms of its grass roots membership.