Racism Blossoming in Victoria

Racism Blossoming in Victoria, by Neil Brown.

Victoria is well on the way to providing for treaties between Aboriginals and the whole of the Victorian community and a whole range of treaty-making bodies. …

Candidates have nominated and enrolment is now open for electing a body called The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, which will make the treaties. I cannot see any fair way of describing this body other than some sort of parliament for an alternative government. Its very title says that it is an assembly, it has candidates, electoral districts, members, electoral officers who must be Aboriginal (and who curiously will be paid ‘above award wages’), an executive government and a franchise to determine who is entitled to vote. …

Its job will be to negotiate treaties with the Aboriginals …

And what are these treaties to be all about? Well, they build on the foundation of what this whole movement is about – that the Aboriginals ‘never ceded sovereignty’ over Victoria, that it is still Aboriginal land and unfinished business to be set to rights by treaties. Now I do not want hares running about dispossessing land owners from their land. But if that is not going to happen, why do these proposals make so much of sovereignty and the claim that it has never been ceded?

To revert to the federal proposal, its advocates are at pains to say ‘It is only advisory’, so we will think it has no real power and go along with it. The advocates for the Victorian assembly are not so coy. They concede it will be ‘powerful’ and no Victorians, other than Aboriginals, will have any say on what its treaties will do or say. …

And what is the foundation of the whole exercise? Race, both to decide who can stand for election, who can vote and who can count the votes (with above -award wages). Already, the candidates have qualified on the basis of their racist entitlement, for there is no other. Now we decide who can vote, but that again is a racist test.

Our system of government used to be one-person, one-vote, and was color blind. Not any more.