On June 21, people from ten cities around Australia took to the streets to protest the ongoing NT Intervention. One year since John Howard and Mal Brough announced the Intervention in the NT the vast majority of it continues to be rolled out, full steam ahead, by Kevin Rudd.
In the face of this is a growing movement that isn’t going away anytime soon. The largest march was in Sydney where 350 people gathered at The Block in Redfern with Mutitjulu elder, Vince Forrester, calling for civil disobedience and the closure of the climb at Uluru to stop “this racist piece of legislation”. Warren Roberts from Young Labor Left, addressed the rally calling for “all to stand together, black, white, young and old”, with Aunty Patsy on behalf of Sylvia Hale of the Greens calling for a “community development approach” and “more resources” highlighting that “most of the Intervention money is spent on administration”. The CFMEU’s acting vice secretary and Simon Flynn from the FBEU spoke in support and solidarity with those fighting the Intervention.
The lively rally then marched to Town Hall chanting “stop the intervention, repeal the racist laws”. Aboriginal Rights Coalition activist Pat Eatock spoke and stirring speeches by Alice Springs activists Barbara Shaw and Mitch were also read out on their behalf.
The largest rally by people from affected communities in the NT was at Alice Springs.
Despite a bitterly cold wind, 300 people turned out in opposition to the Intervention and the Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce’s Final Report to Government, released same day of the rallies, which recommended that communities should be assessed for ‘viability’, with the real prospect of communities deemed ‘unviable’ receiving no funding or services. Robin Granites from Yuendumu stated, “It’s like forcing someone to move from their own backyard, houses. This is my land; you can’t come in and tell me to move off my country, my backyard. I was born, bred and taught out here. We want to live in a community, as a whole, like a bundle of sticks together is stronger than just a few.”
In Darwin 100 people marched with speakers from Arnhem land, Darwin town camps, Norman George (“prescribed area” resident) from the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and Anti Discrimination Commissioner, Tony Fitzgerald. In Melbourne 250 rallied, with another 100 in Brisbane.
The National Day of Action’s demands were: Repeal all “NT intervention” legislation, Restore the Racial Discrimination Act, Fund infrastructure and community controlled services, Sign and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Control of Aboriginal Affairs.
By Matt Meagher