McARTHUR RIVER MINE
Reporter Keira Jenkins travelled to Borroloola and the land nearly 100km south of Darwin on which mining giant Glencore’s McArthur River mine continues to make controversy, with traditional owners facing the poisoning of their water and wildlife.
“It is like a garden to Aboriginal people,” said Garawa elder Jack Green, who is now too scared of lead poisoning to fish in the river.
Locals say the lead and zinc mine has had an enormous impact and warn that even after it closes the environmental impact will need to be monitored for 1000 years.
Elder Josie Davey says: “I’m really worried about the mine, what they’ve done is not right. It’s my great-grandfather’s country and it hurts so much that I can’t even take my kids back there no more.”
Some locals are part of a compensation case against the NT government over the impact of the mine on Native Title rights and damage to sacred sites.
Garawa and Yanyuwa man Gadrian Hoosan told the program: “We have to stand together and fight … this mine is going to damage us. I believe people power is the only way.”
Lawyer Kirstie Howie called the mine a “festering sore” on the NT landscape.
Dr Benedict Scambary, who heads the regulatory body that looks after sacred sites, says there are 22 sacred sites in the mining area.
“The impacts... on a sacred site that is so close (to the mining operations) are of profound concern to the authority.”
Territory Labor MP Warren Snowdon sits on the parliamentary committee investigating the destruction of ancient sites at Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara by Rio Tinto. The inquiry is also visiting Borroloola in May.
Asked if the McArthur and Juukan circumstances were comparable, Snowdon said: “I think the circumstances are different and I'm not sure you can make a direct comparison. What we do know and what I know personally about McArthur River and Borroloola is that the rights of Aboriginal people have been ignored or suppressed since the outset … they haven't been involved in proper negotiations as you've heard, and their rights and interests have not been properly protected.”
He said the committee would meet with Traditional Owners, and welcomed the apparent willingness of the mining company to engage.
“So far as we can see, the rights of Aboriginal (people) under the Native Title Act were suppressed, so now there is an obligation on the mining company to do what is morally correct, and that is to sit down and negotiate with Aboriginal people,” Snowdon said.
DEATHS IN CUSTODY
With the 30th anniversary of the royal commission report into deaths in custody imminent, there came the shocking news of a fifth death in custody in the space of a month this week.
The Point looked at the launch of the Dhadjowa Foundation, which will support the families of those who have died in custody.
The organisation has been founded by Apryl Day, the daughter of Aunty Tanya Day, who died in custody in 2019.
The most recent death was a 45-year-old man, an inmate at Perth's Casuarina Prison, who died in hospital on April 3.
“Dhadjowa means sunshine in Yorta Yorta and when thinking about what I wanted the foundation to be and what I wanted to name it, I wanted to make sure that it represented something about everything that we embody, not just the sad bits and difficult bits," Apryl Day told The Point.
"I thought about Mum and what she would bring when she would be in a room and would light up the room but as well as shining the light on injustices that our mob is facing."
NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST
Dr Hannah McGlade, executive office of peak legal service NATSILS, joined the program to discuss this weekend’s national protest marches to mark the 30th anniversary of the deaths in custody royal commission.
Dr McGlade said the lack of government reaction to the recent deaths in custody was concerning.
NATSILS is trying to get Prime Minister Scott Morrison to agree to a meeting with families.
“We're not seeing the response from government. It’s really too quiet. We do need to hear from them and particularly (from) our minister for Indigenous Affairs.”
Dr McGlade noted the failure to implement key recommendations of the royal commission, and was asked about the Federal Government’s 'care factor' when it came to families seeking answers.
“The families have issued a petition and there’s been over 15,0000 signatories I believe, calling on the prime minister to meet with them,” she told The Point.
“That hasn’t happened yet and I hope that it does. It is really important that our prime minister does respond to this crisis in an appropriate manner. It is a national crisis and it absolutely does need his leadership. It’s disheartening to know that it might not be gaining the right attention.”
YOO-RROOK JUSTICE COMMISSION
Victoria’s Yoo-rrook Justice Commission — a partnership between the state government and the First People's Assembly of Victoria — is the country's first formal truth-telling process and will hear stories of massacres, dispossession and the Stolen Generations.
The commission has the powers of a royal commission.
Marcus Stewart, co-chair of the Assembly, was asked if he was feeling the pressure to get this unprecedented forum right.
“We are feeling the pressure and I guess it’s a true testament to our community and decades of activism and the leadership shown to actually drive this process,” he said.
“It’s been by their design and their aspiration and it’s a true credit to the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria, who’ve called for this and who have developed a terms of reference.”
Stewart said the commission had closed expressions of interest for the five potential commissioners, and that it hoped to be launched in June.
"This process has to be Aboriginal-led. That’s why we made it clear that amongst the five commissioners, three had to be Aboriginal, two traditional owners from Victoria but in particular one had to be an elder who can provide the wisdom and guidance through this process.”
Reporter Rachael Hocking joined First Nations musicians for the Blaktivism festival over the Easter weekend, which brought together industry legends such as Yothu Yindi and artists from Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands for a celebration of politics and song.
Blaktivism, started by Gaba Musik founders Airileke and Deline Briscoe, “is a concept that came out of celebration firstly and recognition of the blaktivists in art that have led the way“, Briscoe said.
“There’s now this fresh voice coming out which is the generation coming after us, so we wanted to bring something together so that all of these voices can be on the same stage at the same time."
BAKER BOY AND INXS
The program closed with a look at rapper Baker Boy’s collaboration with the new LEGO app VIDIYO and legendary Australian band INXS, incorporating the group’s 1987 global smash 'New Sensation'.
“I wish I had something like LEGO VIDIYO when I was a kid because it’s something really cool and awesome to think about it now. To think back when I was a kid there was not much, there was just a flip phone or an ordinary phone. To see something like that has developed over the years is pretty cool.”
Baker Boy worked with INXS band members Kirk Pengilly and Jon Farriss on the clip, filmed on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.