The scandal-mired Indian coal miner Adani is a step closer to its plan to take 12.5 billion litres of water from a river in drought-stricken Queensland for a mine which would be the biggest in Australia and one of the biggest in the world.
If a proposal to add 14 metres to the height of the wall of a dam west of Sydney is approved, Aborigines fear that a culturally important waterhole will be flooded and lost forever.
Sitting in the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains, at the southern end of Lake Burragorang — the lake created when Warragamba Dam was built in the 1960s — the waterhole is in the middle of a well-trodden path: the push-and-pull between progress and protecting indigenous history.
While the dam is currently used only to supply water to Sydney, the New South Wales government wants to raise the dam wall by 14 metres for flood mitigation in the highly flood prone areas of north-west and western Sydney.
“The first time around they flooded a good 80 per cent of our sites … and now they want to take what's left," says Kazan Brown, a Gundungurra nation traditional owner an d Elder.
How can a nation look to the future when its leaders cage little children for years, in a remote and forlorn prison?
Five years ago, on a boiling hot day, Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison [prime minister since 24 August] entered Manus Prison. A number of refugees who represented various groups were invited to meet with him. In that meeting, the refugee representatives found themselves being threatened – Morrison pointed his finger at them and yelled: “You have no chance of coming to Australia and you must return to your countries.” I depict this exact scene and its aftermath in my book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison.
It was a time when few people had heard of the prisons on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) and (Pacific island) Nauru. The refugees felt isolated and forgotten, the refugees felt extreme pressure. It was in this context that the refugees were confronted with that single threatening line by Morrison. That sentence conjured up a wave of hopelessness, so much so that a few people attempted suicide.
His despicable behaviour was also subject to serious criticism from the prison authorities. For days the situation was out of control. Actually, the circumstances created by this event eventually led to a riot in February 2014 – it led to the killing of Reza Barati. It also resulted in hundreds of refugees suffering serious injuries.
(Behrouz Boohani is a journalist and an Iranian refugee currently held in an Australian prison camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Translation by Omid Tofighian, American University in Cairo/University of Sydney.)
You have probably heard about the threats to the Great Barrier Reef and its dire straits due to global warming. But hidden in Western Australia lies a much more accessible treasure trove that no-one seems to care to protect, except its traditional custodians.
The Burrup Peninsula near Karratha, 780 kms north of Perth, harbours irreplaceable Aboriginal rock art of world heritage class, exposed to wilful damage or theft, toxic emissions of nearby industry and threatened by political arbitrariness.
“Hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal petroglyphs (rock engravings) are distributed over an area of 88 sq km, inviting you to discover them,” writes Jens-Uwe Korff, owner of the website Creative Spüirits. “They range from small engravings of Emu tracks to very large ones representing some kind of corroboree or ceremony, Aboriginal figures climbing a ship’s mast. They depict a Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine), whales, kangaroos, emus and thousands of Aboriginal ceremonies.
As recently as 1928 an officially endorsed massacre of innocent Aboriginal men, women and children was perpetrated by a white policeman leading a posse of horsemen in the Northern Territory of Australia near a cattle ranch called Coniston.
Officially the killers were to capture an Aboriginal man accused of killing a white dingo hunter. All members of the mounted party shot to kill, no-one keeping a record of how many they killed, says a book about massacres and maltreatment of Aborigines since 1788, “Blood on the Wattle” (ISBN 1 86436 410 6, cover pictured).
According to historians, riders led by Constable William George Murray shot dead more than 50 men, women and children at at least six sites between August and October 1928.
But Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye people say that up to 170 innocent people were indiscriminately slaughtered as the horsemen roamed up and down the Lander River. The official figure stated in court was 17, all allegedly shot in ‘self-defence’ against Aborigines bearing spears and other wooden weapons. No charges were ever laid; a board of inquiry set up to investigate the killings ruled the party had “acted in self-defence”.
Australia’s shocking treatment of Indigenous people has been laid bare with the publication of new figures by the Guardian showing 147 Indigenous people – some of them children – have died in custody in the past 10 years.
Opposition parties have declared it a “national shame” and Aboriginal groups have demanded the government immediately allow independent monitoring of all detention centres, with Indigenous prisoners as the priority.
Just 2.8% of the Australian population identifies as Indigenous. Yet Indigenous people make up 27% of the prison population, 22% of deaths in prison custody and 19% of deaths in police custody.
Guardian Australia’s investigation into 10 years of deaths in custody cases found serious systemic failings.
Australia’s day-old new far-right conservative prime minister, Scott Morrison, imprisoned more children in detention than any other immigration minister; he tried to increase sales tax, which would have pushed people already struggling to make ends meet further into poverty; he paraded a lump of coal in Parliament, as though the climate emergency is some kind of joke; and he's still campaigning to legalise discrimination against the LGBTIQA+ community.
An Australian politician has provoked outrage after using the term “final solution” in an incendiary speech about immigration, in which he called for a plebiscite asking voters whether they want to stop Muslims and those “from the third word” from entering the country.
In his provocative maiden speech to the Senate, Queensland Senator Fraser Anning called for an immigration programme that favours “European Christian” values, claiming it would protect Australia from potential terror attacks.