Australia: The Dark Heart of the Uluru Statement

Australia: The Dark Heart of the Uluru Statement. By Joe Stella.

‘History is calling’, or so the leaders of the Uluru campaign to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution tell us. The slogan is calculated to exploit the ignorance of Australian history so diligently cultivated by our schools and universities in recent decades. …

The [‘Statement from the Heart’ in 2017] quotes or paraphrases four men the Uluru delegates considered to have made a significant contribution to the Aboriginal rights movement: anthropologist Bill Stanner, Gough Whitlam during his days as opposition leader, Yolngu activist Galarrwuy Yunupingu and jurist Fouad Ammoun. …

 

 

For present purposes, however, we can be generous and say the quotations attributed to Stanner, Whitlam and Yunupingu were less about the historical context and more about honouring significant individuals. The same cannot be said of the other quote, which forms most of Uluru’s paragraph 3. It says:

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty.

It comes from Fouad Ammoun, Vice-President of International Court of Justice (ICJ) from 1970–6. Those words, with a minor modification, are taken from his ‘separate opinion’ in the ICJ’s Western Sahara Case of 1975 …. In place of the ‘materialistic’ doctrine of terra nullius, Ammoun had commended an alternative ‘spiritual notion’ …

Ammoun and his brother judges were not addressing Australia or the status of her indigenous peoples. But within a few years Western Sahara and terra nullius were firmly established within the local discourse on Aboriginal rights….

Why Eddie Mabo’s lawyers, let alone justices Brennan and Toohey, sought to draw attention to Western Sahara is a mystery. That colony was acquired by treaty, not occupation. …

In 1974, Spain was already preparing to exit her Saharan province, under pressure from the international community and the Frente Polisario, putative liberation army of the indigenous Sahrawi. Applying the usual template, the UN expected that a referendum would be held at which the Sahrawi would choose between independence, free association with another state, or incorporation into a neighbour. The Kingdom of Morocco saw her chance to seize the province’s lucrative phosphate deposits and fisheries. At Moroccan urging, the General Assembly cancelled the referendum and asked the ICJ to issue an ‘advisory opinion’ on the Kingdom’s claims to the land. The Court concluded that despite historical links between Sahrawi tribesmen and the Sultan of Morocco, these did not establish Moroccan sovereignty over the province and could not now be used as a basis to deny the Sahrawi self-determination.

But unlike his brother judges, Ammoun wanted to back Morocco’s colonial ambitions and forestall the possibility of indigenous self-determination in Western Sahara. Though he signed the advisory opinion of the Court, he published his own ‘additional opinion’ in which he argued (among other things) that there could be no legitimate Spanish title to the province because Spaniards were the wrong race. It is this line of argument, stripped of Ammoun’s own anti-indigenous intent, that was to later enthuse so many Aboriginal rights activists.

Ammoun recognised that much European colonisation and seizure of land occurred on the basis that, in some parts of the world, indigenous political and land tenure systems had been rudimentary or non-existent. In the passage above, rather than try to exaggerate the political sophistication of pre-contact peoples, he instead argued that there is some kind of unbreakable supernatural connection between a man and the land of his ancestors. Though supernatural, this connection finds concrete expression in both Western-style property rights and Western-style political sovereignty. Not only were indigenous Africans intimately connected to the land, the ‘spiritual’ nature of this connection precluded any non-indigenous person from acquiring title to it by any process.

The Uluru delegates, if they read Ammoun’s opinion, were wise to exclude this …. The implication that non-indigenous Australians are not entitled to own land here would have been electoral poison, enough to get Uluru memory-holed even by Nine Entertainment and the ABC.

So when they offer “Welcome to Country” ceremonies, they really are saying it’s not our country, but theirs, because of race. How tribal, how regressive. As an Australian, I’m insulted to be welcomed to my own country.

In the next breath, the left will try to tell you race doesn’t exist and it’s just a social construct.