Statement of Opposition to the 'Barunga Agreement' regarding Treaty

Chief Minister Michael Gunner signs the memorandum of understanding for a Treaty
Chief Minister Michael Gunner signs the memorandum of understanding for a Treaty
(ABC News: Georgia Hitch)
7 Points to Know about Treaty

We the Central Australian Traditional Owners Group wish to Alert the people of the following:

On 8th June 2018, the Central Land Council together with the Northern Territory Government illegally signed the Barunga Agreement on behalf of The First Nations People of the Northern Territory, Australia.

This agreement is a memorandum of understanding towards a Treaty. We would like to let you know a few important points on this subject:

  1. Treaty is only valid between Nations, for example, Central Arrernte and Warlpiri.
    Treaty is illegal for any First Nations of the Northern Territory Australia, to even consider to deal with the Government (Local, State and Federal).
    In our case, we as the Northern Territory, are a Territory. It is illegal for the Government to Treaty with a Territory, they can only Treaty with a State. In a way for us to understand it when the Piranypa (non-Aboriginal people) came to this country, they had their Law on paper and we didn't have that we had our Law on our land and our bodies.
  2. The Central Land Council was only formed for the operation within the legislation of the Aboriginal Land Rights ACT 1976, solely for the subject matter of Land.
    If we look back into that legislation (Aboriginal Land Rights ACT 1976) The CLC were only authorised to operate for a 20 year period.
    Therefore, they have been operating illegally since 1996 until the present day.
  3. Inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018, specifically page number 6, the principles guiding the Treaty consultation process states "We should start a negotiation for a Treaty."
    As we saw the consultation process was not clear to all the First Nations People in Central Australia, it was done in an exclusive way. We were never given the chance to make the consultation process an inclusive one, which means no one was given the chance to sign it.
  4. It stipulates that all Territorians should ultimately benefit from any Treaty that is agreed in the Northern Territory. So, we know that the United States of America went into Treaty with it's First Nations People's, and New Zealand with it's First Nations People's - Both results were not successful - It did not work.
    Inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018 page 9 - "The agreed framework MAY focus on BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO 1) The agreement of what it is and whats inside of it."
    So, what we should know is, that we can be confused about what IT is and what IT means for us.
  5. Inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018 page 9 - It stipulates "the Northern Territory Government will appoint an independent Aboriginal person as the Treaty Commissioner."
    As you know it is illegal for Government to Treaty with us. Do we even know how this Aboriginal Person will be appointed and who this Aboriginal Person will be?
    If we don't know that Aboriginal Person or if we do know that Aboriginal Person, are we 100% comfortable with that Aboriginal Person's appointment as Treaty Commissioner?
    What if that person does not fit right with our Tjukurpa/Altjira/Kurrawarri?
  6. Inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018 page 10 - It stipulates the Northern Territory Treaty working group membership will continue to comprise senior representatives of the Northern Territory Government and Aboriginal Land Councils.
    So, this tells us that the NT Treaty working group will only have a Senior Representation level, for us we are concerned for the current and future generations who will be living under the Treaty conditions.
  7. The following and final points must be highly considered inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018 page 13 - "Related Matters" it talks about constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People's.
    This section tells us about the constitutional convention that took place on 23-26 May 2017 at the foot of Uluru in the Northern Territory on the lands of the Anangu People which resulted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that convention and that document was agreed upon to take it to the Government for First Nations People's to be added into the Australian Constitution.

We would like to let you know that Torres Strait Islander People are their own people - They govern themselves. The convention did not take place at the foot of Uluru as stated, it was at Yulara. It had no involvement from Mutitjulu Community in terms of the document and it's contents.

So, this is where we are asking the people to think now - the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018 talks about Treaty, it is named the Barunga Agreement, therefore, it should not entail Related Matters Constitutional Recognition because that is an entirely separate matter. We do not see fit that this should be a part of the Treaty conversation.

We should be reminded that the then Referendum Council did not seek permission from Uluru-Kata Tjuta Traditional Owners to use Uluru within the constraints of the constitution as it is a breach of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks Plan of Management in the Biodiversity ACT that is governed by the Department of Environment and Energy, and Tjukurpa. We would also like to let you know that Uluru-Kata Tjuta Traditional Owners did not agree with this.
Therefore, this section Related Matters page 13 is unnecessary and illegal.

We are highlighting these crucial facts that are inside the Barunga Agreement dated 8th June 2018.

Personal Statements
"Treaty? don't know it ... when I was little. Didn't really understand it or believe it. They say we have to be equal how can we be equal when we have to follow someone else's Law when we got our own. I got taught from Grandparents and a lot of old people, they said Australia is too spiritual and the plant and animals you have an abundance of - our backyard! But seem to us it's not our backyard anymore it's theirs. Have to get permission to go places when you was young we didn't need permission. Don't know them mob at CLC who work there and now I truly don't want to know them. They should be helping us but they only help themselves. And whats the saying "money talks"!
Patrick Laughton
Central Arrernte (Mbuparinya) / Luritja (Matujatjara)
Still promising a historical lie, a generation later, we are still here, we have been subjected to all biblical and religious practices. And yet - Treaty pop us! The message wasn't really getting out there. To me, it sounds as if they were offering me a bag of lollies to distract me, which was only a small bag of lollies. We are from the Altjira and the Tjukurpa and the Kuruwarri. Still holding our strong practices as it was when it began. About CLC and NTG signing an agreement without really sharing the true meaning it is like schoolyard bully at its greatest coming from a high position, it should be made aware of, dishonouring to their own ancestors because you belonging to Altjira, to Tjukurpa, to Kuruwarri. You need to re-connect with the truth and Law you broke away from."
John Henry Laughton Moseley
Central Arrernte (Mbuparinya) / Luritja (Matujatjara)
The majority of people in Hermannsburg have no clue what treaty means. This is why more proper consultation needs to be spread across all areas of this NT region. It's upsetting that those who speak for us don't pass or share their information. Treaty is a risky topic it isn't one to say yes, a lot of work needs to be in place to be able to have a further discussion. So that everyone is on the same level of understanding.
Que Nakamarra Kenny
Western Arrernta
I do not know of any meetings that have taken place between my people the Central Arrernte (Mbuparinya) or the Luritja (Matutjura) in regards to a Treaty.

I want to know why it is that the Central Land Council and the Northern Territory Government think that they have the right to force Treaty upon us behind our backs, they have not been transparent and are making decisions in an excluded environment that does not include the First Nations People's understanding of what the Pro's and Con's are relating to what a Treaty means for the future generations of First Nations People's intellectual properties. To me this is trickery.

Nicole Laughton
Central Arrente (Mbuparinya) / Luritja (Matujatjara)
My concern is that, this thing I am worried about Treaty right for my people. They are going to regret it. they don't explain it. I personally don't agree. Most importantly people in the community, People have to be careful that CLC working on our behalf of them. They need to explain it in detail so the people so the people understand it and agree to it. What we have been signing we don't know because it usually gets thrown at us to sign there and then and not explained. You don't throw a book at a person that doesnt know. Enough is Enough. Really need to know what is it? As a Warlpiri person, I don't know fully but it worries me. I'm not sure to agree.
Jampijinpa Ned Hargraves
"We are nothing without Altjira, Tjukurpa and Kuruwarri. This law governs us, teaches us to be honourable moral and loyal to all that is living. Not just our loves ones and those we are friends with but to all living plants, animals and people. A Law for all that never changes. Government laws change every two years or so leaving people behind in poverty. I have seen a lot of wrong-doing and met their henchmen. Looks can be deceiving I guess, not once did they suspect me to be of Tribal blood. People have never educated about what a treaty is. Treaty is a trick. It will take away all that is ours. We will have no connection to lands and our culture it will be all owned by the Government. The government does not look after us or our visitors. Our Cultural Governance is more superior than today's laws. Altjira, Tjukurpa and Kuruwarri are still very much alive looking after us and our visitors."
Micah-Jo Laughton
Central Arrernte (Mbuparinya) / Luritja (Matujatjara)
"The sight of the signing of the Barunga Agreement was just enough to for me be able to come out and start talking as an Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara woman. I was thinking how can CLC and NTG agree on this when I know it is illegal for NT Government to sign with Central Land Council and involve my people. My Anangu people have declared their Tribal Lands under the United Nations in 1971 so that overrides this or anything that can be done as we have a status; a very high status that only exists for my family, the people of Uluru. I can confidently say that we do not need treaty and we do not want treaty WE ARE ALREADY ABOVE IT."
Tjimpuna Ruby
Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara

We would like to use this statement as an inclusive approach to all Central Australian Nations/Tribes so that we can all make an inclusive and all informed decision in regards to the future generations who will be living under this Treaty.