Access to permit controlled lands in Australia's interior.

It appears that interest continues on this topic. The post 'Push for Sealed Road from Amata to Uluru' dated 26.12.2015 is an current example.

A few years ago - 2006 in particular - I submitted these views to a discussion titled: "Access to Aboriginal Land under the N.T. Aboriginal Lands Act – Time for change? – Discussion paper."

In an effort to stimulate discussion, I am copying that submission for all to consider. Here it is:

"Regarding the Access Permit System that closes off some Australian communities.

It would appear that isolation (effected by the current permit access system) of aboriginal communities has done no good at all.

Let’s share problems & issues, and open the regions to visitors. The people living in the aboriginal lands are not separate Australians; they are merely one sector of our diverse residential population. Why do we continue to perpetuate such divisions? By abolishing controlled permit access in aboriginal lands, we could begin to breakdown some of the destructive attitudes that exist.

While I recognise that many living in currently permit controlled access communities have issues such as health, drugs, poverty and abuse, I don’t really comprehend those issues. And I’m unlikely to develop any comprehensions while those fellow Australians are in isolation, caused in large part by the current access permit system. Current public concerns about abuse, poverty, drugs and health in aboriginal lands underline the disadvantages of permit controlled access.

It is very likely that enabling more visitors to be exposed to these areas and issues may facilitate visitors willing to help in some way. Unfortunately, access prohibition currently prevents the rest of us from putting a shoulder to the wheels of help, respect and assistance. The interior of Australia has many visitors and people on a journey. Not all of these people are ‘grey nomads’. I’m not. Let’s enable visitors to bring more income and more support to these remote areas. Let us abolish the current controlled access permit system, immediately.

The current arrangement of closed access also prohibits my family and me from enjoying the land use patterns, the scenery, the topographical features, the flora and fauna, and the environmental aspects that relate to an appreciation and understanding of any region. If able, I would gladly visit remoter aboriginal lands, and be prepared spend time and energy and money to develop a sense of understanding of a particular region. I can’t see how preventing my access benefits those local residents.

One of the ‘rights’ as a citizen I wish to utilise is the ability to travel where I choose on our road systems. I’m not talking about a desire to trespass onto personal private freehold land such as housing premises. But I do think that public space in Aboriginal lands - the townships and roads - need to be accessible. I would like to appreciate not only the people and their issues, but also the local environment, all of which is denied by the current permit access system operating in aboriginal lands.

The issue of currently closed access, or permit controlled access, is baffling to many of us. We can’t deny access to the road, say between Adelaide and Broken Hill, yet the aboriginal community seems to be able to deny us road access from say, Marla to Kaltukatjara. (a.k.a. Docker River). Why should there be one rule of access for one group, and one rule for another? Surely such rules & attitudes are a major contributor to the ‘them & us’ way of thinking that delivers benefits to no-one. It is unjust and unreasonable to have two policies for one nation of residents. The current access permit system perpetuates a ‘one rule for us and one for them mentality’. It should be abolished.

One solution may be to follow the South Australian example of enabling access in remote regions. There, Public Access Routes have been created to provide transport corridors. Let’s do the same in the Aboriginal lands.

Legislation and regulation should enable all of us to appreciate all of Australia – there is demonstrably no good that comes from the current restrictive permit access policy. It is time for a change.

Individual states also need to be encouraged to follow the removal of access-prohibiting regulation / legislation. By having only the Northern Territory situation changed, the issues of controlled access will highlight disadvantages to all parties."

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 15:11

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 15:11
Totally Agree.

It was called Aparthied in South Africa. We need to respect the homes of all Australians and permit controlled access needs to be reserved for particular purposes such as defence or safety in a mine area. Access through most areas and along most roads is not a disadvantage to local residents and as stated above can only help in understanding and respect between residents and visitors alike. This should be a 2 way street.

Alan
AnswerID: 594192

Reply By: GarryR - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 16:00

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 16:00
I do agree with you whole heartly. Trying to learn what the aboriginal culture is all about in real life terms instead of snippets from a video will benefit the understanding. I recently visited an aboriginal help centre to hunt down some information, and the aboriginal staff were great in steering me in the right direction. There is a large aboriginal presence in our area, but it is not the same as visiting a remote area.. Rick, have you put your discussion paper to various members of Parliament? Would be interested in what the Pollies would have to say
location - Warragul -Victoria
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Follow Up By: Rick (S.A.) - Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 10:20

Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 10:20
The text was submitted to a white paper, so it has been to Canberra, who ultimately have juristriction over the NT
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Reply By: Witi Repartee - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 18:49

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 18:49
Maybe Australia could look at others Countries management of Indigenous peoples. The current Outpost and lands systems seems similar to the failed American Indian Reservations which have similar problems with poverty, alcohol,drugs and hopelessness. I'm a Kiwi and we have an entirely different relationship and structure of dealings between our indigenous Maori and Europeans.
Maori do not have exclusive zones and all New Zealanders have access to all of New Zealand. Maori do have exclusive fishing rights to a few areas as these are proven traditional food gathering areas etc. Maori are not isolated to outposts and are encouraged to be productive members of society.
AnswerID: 594196

Follow Up By: Zippo - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 21:00

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 21:00
Err, actually there ARE Maori-only zones. I forget what they are called but we have passed quite a few in our travels around UnZud (one I do recall was just SW of Waihau Bay). But at least they AREN'T taking up anything like the percentage of your country that these restricted-access areas are here.
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Reply By: Echucan Bob - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 20:55

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 20:55
Rick, I'd go so far as to say that everything we have done over recent decades has been counterproductive, if measurable outcomes are anything to go by (CTG for example).

As a first step, I'd try the opposite of every measure so far adopted. We couldn't do any worse. We couldn't attract any more international opprobrium. We couldn't have spent any more money. We couldn't have had so many good intentions achieve so little.

For a start, the permit system is an abject failure. In fact, calling it a permit system in the case of the APY lands is a misnomer. Open up aboriginal lands to tourists. At least they do less harm than miners and store proprietors, they open up the lands to wider scrutiny, and they bring economic activity.

Bob

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Reply By: 860 - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 21:38

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 21:38
Your missing something here, in the case of the APY Lands, the Aboriginal people own that land in the own right. The Communities are private and the road networks are effectively "private roads" eg. Not public.

Would you like "rubber neckers" driving around your back yard, I don't think so!
AnswerID: 594205

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 22:42

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 22:42
Hi 860

If they are "Private Roads", then why do the Australian Tax Payers pay for their upkeep? Being a Public Funded Road network system, all Australian Tax Payers should be free to uses them. As for " rubber neckers " driving around your back yards, the houses out there are in streets, just like any town in Australia. They would only get peeved off if you got out of your car and started to walk around their house.

Have you ever visited the APY Lands to see the area first hand?

It has some of the best country out there and the only ones that want to keep the white people out are the white people or as they are locally known, "Spinifex Fairies" out their in charge. Stop on the side of the road for a cuppa or a wee stop, the white Troopies driven by white people will drive past you at around 100 kph, while the locals will always stop to see if you are alright and point you i the right direction.

If we are to be a free and equal country, then one rule must apply to every Australian, weather you are black, white or brindle.


Cheers



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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:34

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:34
860 IMHO you are the one that are missing something.
In all my outback travels I have met quite a few aboriginals in many different parts of Australia. My experience is that they are a very hospitable people who are more than willing to share their culture and knowledge with you. What is required to get this experience is that you show respect to them, their culture, and the land. You cannot expect anything other than agro from anyone of any culuture/colour/nationality to which you do not show respect.
As for rubber neckers driving around my backyard, well my backyard is very small, their backyard is hundreds, if not thousands, of square kilometres. Your statement has no meaning.
Unfortunately ALL ethnic groups have ignorant and or uniformed people and us white people are no exception. As others have suggested we need to stop the segregation, break down the barriers so that the ignorant and uniformed can be educated.
Aboriginal culture is slowly being lost in a sea of alcohol, drugs, and violence which is a loss to all of us not just the aboriginals. Things must change and many of the changes suggested on this forum are from people who have engaged directly with the problem and have considerable merit.
If you, or anyone else for that matter, wants to enter into this debate then I suggest you put forward positive ideas to improve the situation, not just knock the ideas of others.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 23:03

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 23:03
860,

without even considering how the concept of large parts of Australia being closed off to me denies me access to country that I feel part of and love, can you see how closing off the APY lands to the general public has been a disaster for the (aboriginal) people who live there?

I am sure the problems of domestic violence, alcohol and other drug abuse, petrol sniffing, child abuse, lack of access to affordable fresh produce, malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, unemployment, reduced life expectancy etc etc would all be reduced if the communities of the APY lands could be integrated into mainstream Australia.

Isolating these people isn't working.

By the way, I have tourists driving along my street gawking. They don't drive on to my block of land. I can't see that's such a big problem. Perhaps if my block looked like a rubbish dump I might be embarrassed into tidying it up a bit.

Bob
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Reply By: 860 - Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 23:23

Sunday, Dec 27, 2015 at 23:23
Stephen,

Your comments demonstrate your lack of understanding in this area. Governments fund the majority of services that Aboriginal people receive, this includes houses and road infrastructure, but that does not entitle you access those services because your a tax payer. You think your entitled to drive the roads because your a tax payer, do you want to enter their homes as well?

You have a very simplistic view of the world.

The Ananagu would not like to have have tourists driving around their Communities gawking at them, and I can understand why.

So you think you can enter anyone's property just because there are pretty things to see...........disrespectful, rude or delusional, I don't know which fits your view on life better.

Some of the comments above relate to that fact we should have one rule for all. Well, shouldn't they receive the same level of services that you take for granted living in the city or rural townships? Do you have a telephone, address, employment, access to fresh food?

To answer your question Stephen, yes I have been to the lands.........that's where I work.

And you give the impression that your knowledgeable on the APY politics.............I don't think so!

Happy to debate you further.
AnswerID: 594210

Follow Up By: Member - John - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 01:15

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 01:15
Bring on the debate........................

No, I don't know the politics of the APY people, but if the roads and infrastructure are paid for by MY taxes, then I should be able to visit the "pretty things"............

The amount of subsidies paid to the aboriginal communities over the past 25 or 30 years far exceeds the direct subsidies paid to the rest of the Australian community.

"Do you have a telephone, address, employment, access to fresh food?" What a condescending statement. Not every other Australian has access to all these services either, so why should the APY people be any different?

Yes, as a tax payer I am entitled to "drive the roads", exactly the same as any other town in Australia...........
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 10:34

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 10:34
Hi 860

When we were there, the locals were happy to show us around and did not mind us being there at all.

In fact one of the Elders that we were going to see was at a sorry camp, and we were invited there as well. In respect of the person that died and not knowing him, we did not take up the offer.

One of my friends invited me back to visit his own Homelands, again not an offer from a white person.

Another one of my friends is a very proud Yankunytjnatjara man and talked about the time when the smaller and more powerful group from Western Australia, the Pitjantjatjara invaded his home tribal lands over 100 years ago, and told me that one day, he would love to see his own people take back control of their own tribal lands again.

I would presume that you are a White Person and one of what the locals call a Spinifex Fairy, and do not want other white people out there.

I am fully aware that there are many cultural areas there were only the initiated men can visit, and I am not talking about visiting such areas.

What would happen if both State & Federal Government said that if you want to govern yourself in such a manner, we will cut all financial funding to your area?

Like I have said, we were invited there by the Traditional Owners, and not by a white person. If what you said was true, then why was I invited onto their Homelands?



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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:23

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:23
"The amount of subsidies paid to the aboriginal communities over the past 25 or 30 years far exceeds the direct subsidies paid to the rest of the Australian community."

Roflmao.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 10:30

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 10:30
Many words in English, as well as other languages, can have multiple meanings.

"Reconciliation" is one of them. "Equality" also seems to get thrown around a fair bit too.

I guess it depends on which point of view you hold dear as to which meaning you suscribe to.

Consider "hypocricy" for a while. Do you occupy a place or posess an object that doesn't belong to you?

If that is your genuine belief, why do you continue to do so?


Cheers
Pop
AnswerID: 594222

Reply By: Jeff D - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:15

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:15
The old “equal rights for whites” raises its ugly head again and doesn’t it bring out the worst in people.

Just so that there is no misunderstanding as to where I am coming from, I am part Aboriginal or to be more precise, I am of the Awabakal people.

For those of you who have some misguided belief that only white people pay taxes, you are very wrong in this belief. We pay just as much indirect tax as the rest of the population, but we don’t moan about it like a lot of others. We are not exempt from GST when we go shopping, nor are we exempt from income tax, company tax, payroll tax or most other taxes. I ran my own business for more than 40 years and paid more taxes than most wage earners.

Stephen wrote: “If we are to be a free and equal country, then one rule must apply to every Australian, whether you are black, white or brindle.”

Does this one rule apply to everything, Stephen, or only those things where non aboriginal people will benefit? The one rule application is always a bit slow to kick in when it comes to providing equality and you only have to look at the history of the nation to see the evidence of that. It took 179 years of white settlement before we, the First Australians were even recognised as eligible for being counted in a census. Here we are almost 50 years since that landmark referendum and we are still not recognised in the constitution. Is this equality?

I would be the first in line to advocate for a “free and equal country where one rule applied to all”, but for that to happen, there has to be a monumental change in the general attitude of non aboriginal people towards us, the descendents of the First Australians.
AnswerID: 594226

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:41

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:41
Hi Jeff

No you are missing the point. I stand by what I said, equal rights for all Australians.

Put it this way, just because you are Aboriginal, it will not give you access into the APY Lands or any other Aboriginal Lands where permits are requited without having to first go through the permit process first.

One very good example of this was a good number of years ago when I knew the late Archie Barton, when he was Chairman of the Maralinga Tjarutja people.

When Archie had to go up to the APY Lands for Aboriginal Business, even Archie had to get a permit to enter their lands. Like he told me, he was Aboriginal, but not from that area and he had to go through the permit system just like anyone else, so you can see that not even Aboriginal people are equal.

So now you can see that I am not talking about not Aboriginal people, but all Australians, including Aboriginals.

Cheers


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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 13:10

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 13:10
Hi Jeff, it is great to see an Aboriginal enter the debate.

The essence of what Jeff has said I would have to agree with. His last sentence sums up the real issue very well. Elsewhere in this forum topic I talk about "respect", I would suggest the "monumental change" to which Jeff alludes is for us white fellas to show respect for the Aboriginals.

Jeff what I would like to hear from you is some suggestions as to how this maybe achieved.

Many, if not all, posts here are from people who have travelled the outback and visited many Communities. I would suggest that we (white fellas) are as concerned about the divide between black and white as you are. The suggestions here are mostly by people who do respect Aboriginal culture and are only looking for a solution. This is not an us and them debate. We all want the same thing, that is, access to this magnificent country of ours for all Australians but at the same time acknowledging and respecting the cultural significance of certain places to the indigenous Australians.

"Access" does not mean everywhere. You go to Europe for example and there are thousands of historic sites that are many hundreds of years old. We have in Australia many historical sites too, the ones that are a hundred or so years old usually relate to the white culture, but just as, if not more important, are the ones that are thousands of years old and relate to the black culture. Just as we want to keep and respect our white heritage we must also keep and respect our black culture. We do not allow open slather access to white historical sites and so it should be for black historical sites. White people are known to carve their initials, spray graffiti, and leave rubbish anywhere they feel like it and unfortunately these disrespectful people will always be around.

I have had the privilege to visit the Calvert Rangers is WA. This area is of great significance to the Martu people. It is an amazing place. I could describe the physical features of this place but I cannot describe the inner feelings one has when in a place that is so old and has so much cultural history. The Calvert Ranges are now closed, which is necessary to preserve this special place. Yet another example of a few disrespectful people spoiling it for the majority. Hopefully one day the Martu people will enable others to see this special place by conducting small escorted tours. Maybe when we show more respect this may happen.

Lastly Jeff has pointed out that he has run his own business for 40 years. He is not alone in this endevour. I have met many Aboriginal people have kept themselves and their families and paid lots of tax. They may grizzle about the tax they pay but they would not have any other way than being in control of their own destiny. Stereotyping aboriginals as being incapable of working is just not true, all they need is the availability and incentive to work. Isolating them away on community held lands from meaningful work is the greatest contributor to the current problem. (IMHO)

When I grew up Australia was very English with a White Australia Policy. That has changed dramatically in the last 60 years to a mulitcultural society which is predominately European and is heading to be predominately Asian. The one thing that has not changed is our Aboriginal heritage
and this must not change and we must preserve it. America, I would argue, has not respected their indigenous people, we must not make the same mistake.


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Reply By: Member - Kirk L - Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 15:14

Monday, Dec 28, 2015 at 15:14
I also completely agree. We talk about assimilation of migrants and yet separate ourselves. The aboriginal people tend to take advantage of it sometimes too. If I go to "Ayers Rock" I would like to feel comfortable to climb it after driving there. I'm sure we all respect sacred lands etc and would be much more accepting if we were all equal. We are Australian!

Just on a tangent I also think I road rules and registrations need to be national.
AnswerID: 594236

Reply By: Rick (S.A.) - Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 10:58

Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 10:58
I wonder if I, as the original thread poster, may respond to matters raised so far ?

Let me note this is not an accusing or finger pointing exercise. Nor am I attempting to address Traditional Owners issues in general. Rather, it's about access. And I see the topic as pertinent to all Australia, not just the NT.


Can any of you define the legal issues of private, freehold and lease matters in any of these regions, which demonstrates why access is denied?

Is the access issue tied to using private Vs gazetted roads?

Can anyone define a gazetted road and then direct us to a list or regional perspective of roads ? For example, let's consider the road status of the APY Lands. I note (http://www.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/8701/OutbackRoadsSheet1.pdf) that apart from the road to Mintabie, the SA Govt does not maintain roads west of the Stuart highway north of Marla. Who has road juristriction in 'out of council' areas such as these?

I also note that remoteness is a huge barrier to equality. For the approx 5% of us who live " remotely", equality is not necessarily a race or colour issue. My friends in Marree do not have anywhere near the access to services as I do, living in Adelaide. That pertains to communications, infrastructure, health and so on. Let's not confuse remoteness and equality.

Idler Chris makes some interesting points about access.

As I see it, the challenge is for us to offer some practical solutions, as well as to better understand access and permit issues.

Cheers

AnswerID: 594257

Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 12:41

Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015 at 12:41
Rick, the laws relating to roads are complex, and vary in many details from State to State.
Each State generally has a Road Act or a section under the State Land Act, which defines the States processes and State laws relating to that States roads.
Here's a QLD Land Act article outlining the QLD approach to roads ...

Roads under the Land Act - QLD

In general, a road can be surveyed, and placed on plans for development of new areas - but not necessarily formed up or opened for public use.
These surveyed roads are often erroneously called "Road Reserves". They are not "Reserves" as "Reserves" are a totally different thing again. A surveyed but Ungazetted road is still a road - it is still just in the planning stages.
To be opened to the public, the road has to be Gazetted. In some States, roads were not Gazetted, they were declared to be public roads via a meeting of the Executive Committee.

It's common to find surveyed and Ungazetted roads, particularly in the rural areas, when smaller blocks were planned, but not proceeded with.

When Freehold title is extended to include roads, the road then becomes a Private Road.

The Aboriginal tribal groups were given their land as Freehold title - with some exclusions. Those exclusions vary between the various States and tribal groups Aboriginal Lands agreements.

The major exclusion common to all the Aboriginal Lands agreements is that Aboriginals have the right to refuse mining projects, or other major development, on their Lands - except where the "National Interest" overrides it.
That "National Interest" would have to be decided in the High Court, where a project was proposed and the Aboriginals opposed it.

Some background to Aboriginal Land claims, and Lands here ...

Land Rights Act - Aboriginal Lands - NT

The roads already in place on Aboriginal Land were generally handed over to the Aboriginal groups as Freehold - with some exceptions. Major National highways were excluded.

IMO, the Permit System is a joke, it is Apartheid in reverse, and the methods and system of scrutinising and issuing Permits has merely descended into a money-making farce.

The entire process of scrutiny and authorisation of Permits is not transparent - as it should be - and anyone requesting a Permit has no idea who has scrutinised it, who has the power to scrutinise it - and why any Permit would be refused.
It is apparently based on intransigence and "make up the rules as we go along", rather than any set processes, or due process.

I have to laugh at the NT Land Council FAQ on Permit Conditions - this one in particular ...

"Environment: A number of permit conditions aim to protect the environment. These include conditions relating to the condition of motor vehicles, litter disposal etc."

On the above basis, this clause would exclude 50% of the Aboriginals from their own lands, if they had to apply for a Permit themselves. It's a classic of "one rule for us, another rule for them".
This Permit rule applies to Non-Aboriginal Permit holders, but not to Aboriginals - thus the Apartheid overtones of the Permit system.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 22:57

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 22:57
Rick, a similar discussion occurred here some time back and iirc I found link which explained the reasons behind land and fishing etc rights and why access is controlled. Did look for it when I first saw your thread but wasn't able to locate it. You might find it by googling land rights, access restrictions and one of two other pertinent words.

Same old argument/mindset in some cases - there are many places other than aboriginal lands with a range of access restrictions (national parks, mining leases, privatised tourist places/experiences etc) but oddly enough they rarely get a run. Could things improve? Probably, but you'd need better reasons than those which get a regular run here.

If you want the remote communities' perspective the best thing to do might be to write to a couple of land councils setting out what you think are the main issues and asking for their comments. I suspect many of the reasons are obvious - the same reasons why farmers/stations don't allow unfettered access for example.

Obviously there are different considerations in each case but experience suggests that managing the potential environmental and resource degradation (overfishing for example) and rubbish issues (including the ubiquitous toileting problem) alone might be a significant hurdle. No reason not to ask though.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:28

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:28
Here are a couple of rather dated (2006) papers on the topic of permits. Not the more general explanation I referred to above but some of the issues are mentioned:

http://caepr.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/Publications/topical/Altman_Permits.pdf.

Law Council submission
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Reply By: Jeff D - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:10

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:10
Going back to the original post, Rick states: “The people living in the aboriginal lands are not separate Australians; they are merely one sector of our diverse residential population.”

If only that was true Rick, then the whole problem of reconciliation would be solved.

People living in the remote communities are separate from mainstream Australia because that is exactly how the “diverse residential population” wanted it to be.

I attended a town meeting in Ceduna during the early 90’s that was convened to address the escalating anti social behaviour issues and it was interesting to say the least to hear some of the comments made by various “pillars of society”. Comments such as “round them up and push them back into the bush” and “send them back to Koonibba mission and don’t let them live in town”. I guess that is one way of fixing the problems, separate them from the rest of the population and impose restrictions on what they can and cannot do, restrictions that don’t apply to anybody else.

That was an eye opener for me, an 18th century attitude still alive and kicking 200 years after it first arrived on the continent.

When I say that there needs to be a monumental change in attitudes towards indigenous Australians, it is not about respect, it is more about understanding the differences between us. The biggest obstacle that stands in the way of any sort of understanding is the air of patronizing superiority that influences the decision makers when it comes to determining who, what, when & how in matters that directly affect indigenous people. That air of superiority emanates down through the mainstream non indigenous population and it is evident in some of the comments in this debate.

I often doubt the sincerity of those who claim that their motive for a change to the status quo is to offer a helping hand when their ulterior motive is nothing more than a greedy grab for something they have been denied.

Those who advocate that the granting of access to closed community lands will bring opportunities and economic benefits to the communities, I ask you this: “where, in this vast land, have you already offered the hand of friendship & economic benefits to indigenous communities that do not impose a permit system?”

Rick, you summed it up in one comment of your original post:

“One of the ‘rights’ as a citizen I wish to utilise is the ability to travel where I choose on our road systems.”

Could this be the ulterior motive?
AnswerID: 594291

Follow Up By: Rick (S.A.) - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:24

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:24
Jeff D,

I am talking about travelling on public roads- the road sytem - not private. So that's why I was attempting clarification about what is a a gazetted road. I get it about freehold and the attendant limited access. I am not attempting to be a trespasser.

But the permit sytem is flawed, as has been demonstrated in an earlier reply.

Surely we can arrive at a better outcome than the current situation, so I am all ears re suggestions and reasons ?????

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 10:24

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 10:24
Jeff you ask “where, in this vast land, have you already offered the hand of friendship & economic benefits to indigenous communities that do not impose a permit system?”
Answer = Baniyala in East Arnham Land. The Elder in this community is very forward thinking and has realised that isolating his people from mainstream Australia is not the way to go. I and many others from our Club have visited here many times in recent years. It is a great place to visit, the locals are very friendly and seem to enjoy sharing their culture with us. The countryside is also great as is the fishing. For our part we spend money in their store, buy some of their souvenirs, and usually bring gifts of sporting equipment for the kids. They must enjoy our visits for we are always invited back.
People are people no matter what their skin colour or culture. All people are naturally social animals and friendly. By isolating one group from another can only lead to misunderstandings and suspicion of each other, and simply is not the answer and must change.
What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:53

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:53
I commend you in whatever effort you make to extend the hand of friendship and the help that you offer to indigenous communities Chris, but unfortunately you and others that try their hardest to “close the gap”, are a minority. The majority just want to take and not give.

Do you not think that the indigenous people of Australia have a right to be suspicious of non indigenous people considering the track record of the past.

The traditional lands of my own people, the Awabakal, were not determined through any proper form of consultation, but decided on by a bible bashing missionary who totally misrepresented the size and area of the land for his own greed. Our traditional lands were much larger than the submission by the “good” Rev Threlkeld back in the early 1800’s.

Sure, it is all water under the bridge now, but please don’t insult the intelligence of indigenous people by suggesting that we will all be great mates if the permit system was abolished.

There were and still are too many wrongs that need to be righted before the gap will close.

Opening up traditional lands to all comers will widen the gap further.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:15

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:15
Jeff I sympathies with yours, and your peoples situation. I should not be this way in contemporary Australia and, I would suggest, there has to be change. It would seem to me that we both want the same thing, a better deal for indigenous Australians. It makes me sick to remember the billions of dollars wasted on so called refugees who Kevin Rudd has since admitted that significant numbers were queue jumping people just wanting to get to Australia for economic reasons. You have every reason to be cynical when for a fraction of this wastage significant vast improvements could have been made to medical facilities and other essential needs for our indigenous Australians.

Yes, I am probably in the minority of Australians who want to help indigenous Australians, but I use to be in with the majority. The reason I have changed is because I have made the effort to get out there and interact with indigenous Australians and find out the truth.

The big question is how do we all improve the situation?
My attitude changed once I got into Aboriginal communities and engaged with them. Its for this reason that I suggest that opening up traditional lands would encourage interaction between black and white which I believe will lead to better understandings, which in turn should lead to better outcomes for all Aboriginals.

Your comment "Opening up traditional lands to all comers will widen the gap further. " I do not advocate open slather access, but it should be much easier to travel within Australia. Naturally all sacred and historical sites must be protected but the current permit access system is a joke.
I would never knowingly travel on roads that require a permit without having a permit. Getting permits can be difficult and a bit hit and miss at times. This means that because I show respect to the traditional owners means I miss out. The current system encourages disrespect because of this hit and miss in getting a permit a part of the majority just do not get one and travel anyway.
Jeff, I am very interested to know why you believe the the opening up of traditional lands will widen the gap further? I do not believe this to be the case and have explained why. I make no claim to be the fountain of all knowledge and would very much like to hear your reasons for the last sentence of your last post. I wish to help my indigenous brothers and I realise I must listen to their side of the story if I am to be effective in suggesting solutions.

What other people think of me is none of my business.
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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:26

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:26
Sorry about the delay in replying to your question Chris, there seemed to have been a glitch on the forum for a day or two.

You say that you make no claim to be the fountain of knowledge and I also make no claim to having all the answers, but to elaborate more on why I believe that the abolition of the permit system will widen the gap, we only need to go back to past events in the timeline of interaction between indigenous and non indigenous people to find the answer.

Back in the late 90's when the Reeves Review was implemented, the main proponents for change at the time were members of the amateur fishing association of the NT who were pushing for unlimited access to traditional fishing grounds throughout Arnhem Land. It could be argued by many and it probably is, that they were only a mob of fisherman, what harm can they do?

The current estimate of the numbers of people living in the Top End who actively partake in fishing is approximately 50,000. Add to that the number of fishos from the southern states who make the annual pilgrimage north in the hope to score a metre long barra and we are looking at a major problem should a no permit access be granted. It is not just the fish stocks that are being depleted, but the environmental impact on traditional land that will go towards widening the gap.

As I stated in another answer in this debate: “One of the most important proofs of genuine aboriginal ownership of land will be the right to exclude from it those who are not welcome.”

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Reply By: Rick (S.A.) - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:48

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 09:48
Let's address the fundamental issues:

What is the purpose of the permit system ?

Who decided it should be implemented?

Is there an appetite for change?
AnswerID: 594292

Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 07:41

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 07:41
Is it also worth adding this question to gain some perspective on whether this is a "real issue".

What areas do people want to access that they can't do so after applying for, and receiving a permit?

Or put another way, how much of Australia is restricted to the point that no permit is issued for access whether it be transit or entry, and that people (not one or two - but many) want to access...?

In the interest of debate and discussion, Baz - The Landy

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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:15

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:15
I honestly believe that you are “kicking a dead horse” here Rick. It was kicked in the late 90’s by the Reeves Review that recommended the abolition of the permit system and thankfully that recommendation was rebuked.

The “Time for Change” discussion paper also failed to bring about the proposed change and again, rightly so.

The only protection that indigenous groups have in relation to property rights of land ownership is the permit system.

In the words of the Law Council of Australia:

Trespass laws are not an adequate substitute for the permit system.

It is noted in the discussion paper that there are fundamental differences between Aboriginal freehold land and ordinary freehold, which create difficulties in administering trespass laws. The size of Aboriginal land estates and often their remoteness lead to the view that it is not feasible to provide adequate policing to enforce trespass laws.


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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 21:29

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 21:29
We have felt welcomed by the locals in and WA communities we have visited. I'm sure they do not care if we have a permit or not, and most probably don't even know about the permit system.

So permit system or not, I don't see it making one iota of difference from the Aboriginal people's point of view. Abolishing permits may make a more favourable attitude towards them from many of the travellers.
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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 08:11

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 08:11
Sure, there are most likely a lot of indigenous people in various communities that do not care and also do not know about the permit system, but is that any justification to abolish the only framework that gives some degree of protection of property rights for traditional land owners.

Should this same logic of yours, Motherhen, apply to any provisions of legislation and all laws throughout the land?

Should we abolish all laws and legal frameworks if it is deemed that some sections of society don’t care or don’t know about the provisions set in place?

“One of the most important proofs of genuine aboriginal ownership of land will
be the right to exclude from it those who are not welcome.” – Commissioner Woodward.

Do not take that right away.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 09:31

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 09:31
Hi Jeff

You have read a lot more into my post than I even thought. :O

I have not said the permit system should or shouldn't be abolished, but made my comment in light of discussions on this thread (and others previously on this forum). Read past threads on the attitude of many travellers to the permit system. You may even see my line being at odds with these posters when I get fired up.
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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 11:50

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 11:50
Something strange is happening here Motherhen, I could have sworn that the underpinning message in your comment was that you support the abolition of the permit system.

I'm not sure how I should interpret: "Abolishing permits may make a more favourable attitude towards them from many of the travellers."

Does that comment mean something different to how it reads?

To me, it suggests that unless the permit system is abolished, the attitude of many travellers will remain the same.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 11:58

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 11:58
I was talking about the attitudes of many who post on the internet Jeff. I was NOT saying that the permit system should or should not be abolished.

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Reply By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 09:31

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 09:31
This is a comment made by a forum member in another thread which deals in part with the permit issue and it really describes the general attitude of a lot of the travelling public.

"Digressing a little into "permits"...... it can get messy if you try to make changes to times of issued permits. A while back I needed to do that and the ahem, 'system', perceived that I was now applying for a second permit so it needed to be referred to the Community, which took more time than was available. It can be impossible to predict one's time of travel accurately so I now apply using the best-predicted date and if my actual travel days occur outside those times, then too bad, I'll worry about it if challenged....... which I never have been. I will blather and act like an idiot (not difficult) but never get agro or argumentative."

AnswerID: 594432

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:08

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:08
Jeff, take the example of travelling between Marble Bar and Alice Springs via the Gary Junction Road. For the Northern Territory section, a permit with a adequate window of travel was obtained on line within one working day prior to leaving on the trip. For the Western Australia side, it required an application to be submitted to allow at least three weeks for it to be processed as Elders in the communities needed to be contacted. It gave no guarantee that approval would be granted. With travel times in those areas being uncertain, being out of internet range for much of the time, and a tight time frame only allowed, it becomes much more difficult to travel within the time confines of the permit.

The comment you have highlighted is hardly a bad attitude, but just practical reality as is happening out there.
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Follow Up By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:48

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 12:48
So, I am wrong to believe that the part of the comment that reads: ".......if my actual travel days occur outside those times, then too bad, I'll worry about it if challenged....... which I never have been. I will blather and act like an idiot......" is not a prime example of a patronizing superiority attitude that indigenous people have to contend with.

If the author of that comment is correct in his assertion that in the event of a breach of the provisions of the permit, it's no big deal, just carry on like an idiot and all will be good. Sort of makes a mockery of a legal permit requirement as set down by law, would you not think.

As for the example you quoted, sometimes things just don't pan out the way you want, but you do have other options such as taking the long way round. That's life.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 13:10

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 13:10
I don't see the comment as a "patronizing superiority attitude" at all, but I am not you, nor am I the author of those words to know if they were meant to add a light hearted touch to what is actually happening.

The options of taking the "long way round" might be so if we were going to a destination, but travelling in the wonderful inland and desert areas of Western Australia, it is the journey that is the destination.

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Reply By: Jeff D - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 13:38

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 13:38
Some wise person once stated:

"Try to convince a man against his will and he will be of the same opinion still"

I know that there is absolutely nothing I can contribute here that would change the opinion of those who advocate the abolition of the permit system and conversely, there is nothing anybody can say that will change my opinion.

Many years ago I sat on the end of Thevenard wharf and talked with an old man named Hartley. He was of the Mirning people and we discussed all sorts of things, some we disagreed on and others we nodded our heads in agreement.

One of the things we did agree on was that we, the descendants of the First Australians had a far better life thanks to the white man. Without him, we would not have been sitting on a wharf with flash fishing rods & reels, we would not have had motor cars or the fuel to make them go, nor would we live in comfortable homes and the list went on and on......

Another thing we agreed on was that it was a real shame that the white man never wanted to understand what the land meant to us.

On that note, I take my leave from this debate.
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