More on Gomeroi Native Title claim - Unite and Fight

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SU Media Release

Ghillar Michael Anderson 7 July 2016

I feel obliged to make a further statement regarding the Gomeroi Native Title claim

It needs to be said that the conflict that is currently being experienced in regards to the Gomeroi Native Title claim, is not so much about the Native Title claim or Gomeroi pre-existing and continuing sovereignty, and may appear to be more about personality conflicts, but underneath is a very well disguised government ploy, with government objectives, both State and Federal, to cancel out the strong Gomeroi leadership in respect of Gomeroi sovereign cultural and legal rights.

Some things need to be put into perspective.

NTSCorp refuses to co-operate with orders of Federal Court

An issue pertaining to the Gomeroi Native Title conflict is the need for the NSW Native Title Services, NTSCorp, to be asked a number of serious questions. Firstly, whose money are they using to convene this second Gomeroi Native Title authorisation meeting?

Gomeroi people need to understand that NTSCorp are in total contravention of two court cases that they have lost to the existing applicant group. On each occasion NTSCorp has been requested by the Federal Court to hand over all related documents associated with the Gomeroi Native Title claim, but NTSCorp is refusing to co-operate at all with the court orders. If there is truly nothing to hide, then I ask NTSCorp why are they resisting handing over Gomeroi Native Title files for everyone to see?

I have also learned of another disturbing matter in the last week as a result of my previous Gomeroi release dated 1 July 2016.
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The CEO of NTSCorp, Natalie Rotumah is alleged to be a sitting member of the NSW Mineral Council. This allegation is additional to the fact that when Warren Mundine's was the CEO of NTSCorp himself, he had a conflict of interest that allegedly he did not disclose, because his partner at the time, Kerry Costanoz, was General Manager of business section of the NSW Mineral Council. It follows that the Gomeroi people need to understand that the mining companies engaged in operations on Gomeroi land are also members of the NSW Mineral Council. With this being the case, then the CEO of NTSCorp is obligated to inform all Native Title applicants in New South Wales that there is a conflict of interest in respect of NTSCorp's involvement in Native Title issues.

In the ongoing saga of NTSCorp's manipulations, they are trying to maintain control of the Gomeroi Native Title claim and it is being fuelled by certain outsiders, who for very obvious reasons I will not name, but what must be said is this that the upcoming Native Title authorisation meeting as advertised is underpinned by government concern about the political volatility of the Gomeroi Nation. There is a deliberate engendering process of stirring up old family conflicts, which, in a meeting of this kind, can result in violence being perpetrated against individuals.

The grapevine suggests that the Gomeroi need a new conservative leadership as Applicants for the Gomeroi Native Title claim and the role of people like Lyell Munro junior, Alf Priestly Greg Griffith, Madelene McGrady, Ray Tighe and myself Ghillar/Michael Anderson, the Applicants selected at the first authorisation meeting is not serving the interests of Gomeroi. It is alleged that these people cannot be compromised into serving the governments' agenda and so, true to form, the grapevine rumours and public condemnation of these people is spread widely amongst Gomeroi People to create anger and discontentment in order to rid the Applicant group of the people I have just named.

In fact, it is the government that will be better served to have the more moderate and more conservative members of the Gomeroi Nation engaged as Applicants, then their rush to extract resources form our land can proceed more easily.

I despair at the thought of how easy it is for the government to deceive our own people into believing that someone else can do a better job

Like I said before NTSCorp needs to put on the table all the files of the Gomeroi Nation claim to date and on our side any paper work, including any agreements, that have been done since we left NTSCorp and engaged independent lawyers of our choice.

Moreover, right at the outset of the next authorisation meeting NTSCorp needs to circulate in advance what is actually claimed in the Gomeroi Native Title claim that is currently in the Federal Court and then we need their lawyers to explain why the Application is so restricted to what has been claimed and why we cannot claim any more.

This will overcome the fact that anyone thinking they can do better will also have their hands tied behind their backs, because the Native Title Act restricts and controls what we as Aboriginal Peoples can claim as a rights under the existing Native Title Act, which has been condemned many times as racially discriminatory by the UN Committee on The Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Whole Gomeroi Nation's lands and waters are under attack

The fact is we cannot stop mining under this illegally occupying colonial regime. We have no right of veto to mining and extractive industries under the Native Title Act, which is exposing the whole of the Gomeoi Nation, the land area the Gunnedah basin, Inverell and Warialda areas to strip mining for coal. Furthermore, it frees the national state government agendas for gas pipelines, going across Gomeroi land, coal seam gas around the Gilgandra, Coonamble, Barradine area and Pilliga scrub; the siphoning off of water from our river systems by irrigators and coal mining; the building of a national rail corridor to Melbourne to Brisbane and beyond their Gomeroi country; and flood plain harvesting of water, which Jason Wilson, a claimant was very much involved in.

Floodplain harvesting means that the irrigators and the cotton industry can build bunding levees around their farms and across the floodplains to trap any and all rainfall on the lands and prevent in running into the creeks and gullies that fill the rivers and water the trees. This also means that we will loose almost 100% of our native grass areas to cotton farmers. As part of this plan it is proposed that the water dependent off-river sites that are the lagoons and billabongs and other small wetlands will have to be serviced by pipelines to fill these ares from river flows. It must be remembered that the harvesting of floodplains dramatically tops up and increases the water storages irrigators already have – just look at Google earth. This is on top of their already existing licenses to pump from rivers when rivers run. Wilcannia, Menindee, Tilpa etc are townships that will be severely affected by these water plans and people like Barnaby Joyce couldn't give a dam.

In concluding, don't be caught by division and personal dislike. There is a lot at stake here and I can say that is in respect of water we do have Gomeroi people who are not talking about water for our Country but instead are talking about a water find as compensation.

It is also alleged that the Native Title determination in the Barkenji matter was simply to expedite a uranium mine in New South Wales in the Menindee area and there were Barkenji people objecting to this.

Understanding Wilson v Anderson High Court case and Western Land leases

The Aboriginal grapevine, which is better than social media, suggests that there is a concerted attack on me Ghillar, Michael Anderson because of a 2002 High Court case. This High Court case was called Wilson v Anderson.

[ Wilson v Anderson [2002] HCA 29; 213 CLR 401; 190 ALR 313; 76 ALJR 1306 (8 August 2002)]

It arose because the former PM John Howard's government needed to run a test case in respect of certainty for farmers in regards to land entitlements. The government and farmers were not satisfied that the High Court in Mabo (No.2) had already confirmed that farmers' rights had precedence over any Aboriginal Native Title claim.

In 1998 John Howard, when implementing his 10 point plan strategy of 'bucket loads of extinguishment, took further steps to illegally eradicate any claims that Aboriginal Peoples may have to perpetual pastoral leases. The need for this legal and political move by the Howard government was the uncertain legal turmoil that the farmers faced as a consequence of the success Wik decision. [ Wik Peoples v Queensland ("Pastoral Leases case") [1996] HCA 40; (1996) 187 CLR 1; (1996) 141 ALR 129; (1996) 71 ALJR 173 (23 December 1996) ] The Wik outcome meant that short medium and long term leases, be they Western lands leases or Queensland leasehold blocks, were subject to Native Title claims and still are. This includes a significant proportion of 42% of New South Wales that are leasehold lands.

The Wilson v Anderson case was sponsored by a Federal government grant to Doug Wilson, who owned a soldier settlement grant near Lightning Ridge. He was also the front for the National Farmers Federation. It was unfortunate that my lawyers could not get any equivalent grant of money from the Attorney-General's office to argue this case. The QC who the government engaged in this matter for Wilson was the same QC attorney whom we had chosen to run our argument in the case, but because we were refused the money he chose to take the government funded side of the case, for Wilson.

The Commonwealth Attorney General's office advised us that NTSCorp NSW, under the leadership of the then CEO, Warren Mundine, only offered and gave up $5000 for us to defend ourselves in the High Court against Howard's agenda of extinguishment and the National Farmers Federation agenda of certainty for farmers and we had to take which ever barrister was prepared to argue the case for this small amount

The outcome was pretty simple, but devastating none the less. The Wilson camp argued and won that the perpetual pastoral leases were the equivalent of freehold and that this extinguished any Native Title rights and interests. But this case clarified another factor and that is that, under the colonial law system of the occupiers, the water running through a farmer's riverbed is not owned by that farmer, but rather the Crown, and Native Title has never been determined over ownership of water.

There were a number of constitutional questions in respect of this case that have remained and continue to be open for prosecution, and could have significant implications that could possibly significantly undo this case. These constitutional questions should be raised and run but finding the right lawyers and the money is just as great a challenge as winning a Native Title case under the current regime.

As a consequence of Wilson v Anderson this being heard by the full bench of the High Court there was no opportunity for an appeal. The only matters that can be dealt with coming from this case are the constitutional questions that the judges themselves referred to.

Unity not division

Governments are very well aware of Aboriginal mistrust and distrust of each other and family feuds can go back to when mission stations first started. The governments' intervention is very evident when we go to the recent past, for example, in Walgett there was a very well orchestrated community housing program that was very successful – housing 36 families plus owning blocks of land and major main street business houses. Like Moree, which had in excess of 38 houses and other blocks of land ready to be built on to provide affordable housing, governments worked with opposing Aboriginal groups in each of these towns, like elsewhere, and created such division that now we see both those communities with no housing company of their own at all, not to mention the fact that as a consequence of opposing parties bringing down the Aboriginal leadership in these organisations, there were no winners and the communities have suffered.

The point scoring bravado of those in opposition to the innovators in our communities are used by government to be destructive, because those who work to bring down our innovative people and programs are never able to put anything alternative into place successfully. Their only claim to fame is: We showed those bastards! In the meantime our communities suffer an even greater disadvantage and all the power that organisation had in control and ownership is now returned to government controlled and supported institutions.

We must understand that it is the incumbent purpose that we must locate. This is not about point scoring, but it is about our Peoples' future and our Country's future. We must face reality and train our sights on what we want. Governments and their black bureaucrats will never give it to you.

Don't let them divide and conquer us, the proud Gomeroi Nation. Unite to fight.

Contact: Ghillar Michael Anderson
Convener of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic Contact Details