Aborigines And Their Place In Politics Essay — страница 2

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determine Aboriginal needs so that the Commonwealth could undertake action. The Liberal?s were prepared to cast aside assimilationist ideas in their identification of Aborigines? fundamental right to maintain their racial identity and traditional lifestyle or, if preferred, to adopt partially or entirely a European lifestyle. The Liberal Party?s Aboriginal Affairs policy emerged as ?self-management?, a policy that was held to distinguish Liberal policy from that of Labor, stressing as it did that Aborigines should not only be responsible for their future development, but also accountable for the success or failure of such development. National Party politicians have been far less prepared than the Liberals to accept that Aborigines require special assistance to meet their needs.

The primary political issues faced by Aborigines today include Aboriginal death in custody, reconciliation, land rights including native title and the Mabo decision, and the Stolen Generation. There are other issues, however these appear to be the major contemporary issues by way of the media focus they have gained and policies and legislation relating to them. In regards to reconciliation, the Liberal Party is committed to reconciliation. They are working with the Reconciliation Council in order to develop a written understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians that will recognise the prior occupation of this country by indigenous people and their place in the Australian community. However, in 1999 it was reported that the UN Committee felt the Liberal

Government?s approach to native title laws were in breach of Australia?s international legal obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Under previous Liberal Governments, Australia was a strong and proud voice against racial discrimination. If this being the case, then it would appear to be the present Liberal government?s policies not fully supporting Aborigines and land rights, rather than an overall representation of the Liberal Party in general. The ALP however, recognises the wrongs of the past and accepts the responsibility to address the issues associated with the mistakes of the past so that Australia can move on. This entails commissioning indigenous Australians and working with them towards a lasting settlement. The

foundation for a lasting settlement, and thus reconciliation, between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians was laid with the establishment of The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. The Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, made up of 25 indigenous and non-indigenous Australians was established to lead the process of reconciliation. The aim of the process was to profoundly alter the basis of relations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider community in the lead up to the Centenary of Australian Federation in 2001. Aboriginal deaths in custody is another major issue, and has only recently been recognised in the last twenty years or so by the major political parties of Australia. In July 1997 a summit was assembled on the issue of deaths in

custody, and also issues applicable to the over-representation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system. The Liberal Party reached an agreement with all states and territories to develop critical plans, in association with indigenous people, for the coordination of funding and service delivery aimed at reducing indigenous over-representation in the criminal justice system. This shows that the Liberal government is addressing the problem of Aboriginal deaths in custody, and giving weight to the issue in regards to their policies. While governments did in fact begin to respond to some of the affects of forcible removal during the 1980s, it was during the Labor government?s reign that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody handed down its report in 1991.

The Commission set out a responsibility for all governments to address these effects comprehensively. They investigated 99 deaths in custody that had happened between 1980 and 31 May 1989, and was prompted by the gross over-representation of indigenous people both in custody and it was thought, in the statistics of those who died there. Land rights is probably the most diverse and long-standing issue, it is also probably had the most success in regards to cases being won, legislation being enacted, and people becoming aware of the existence of such rights. The struggle over land rights has been a bitter one from first contact to today, with much of the initial debate hinging on whether or not non-indigenous law could recognise indigenous land ownership. In Australia, besides