Thursday, August 12, 2004


"Message Stick": the newsletter of Senator Aden Ridgeway, Australian Democrats Senator for NSW.

Spokesperson for Arts & Sport; Consumer Affairs; Indigenous Affairs; Forestry; Industry, Small Business and Tourism; Trade & Overseas Development.

Welcome to my first newsletter for 2004. A summary of the stories follows.

1. ATSIC abolition: the story so far
The last few months have seen both major parties buying into Indigenous Affairs in destructive and politically opportunistic ways. First the ALP and then the Government announced they would abolish ATSIC, but now the decision has been referred to a Senate Committee so the full implications of the Government's proposal can be examined. For more information on the Senate Inquiry into Indigenous Administration call 02 6277 3419 or go to:

Senate Committee Indigenous Affairs Index.

2. Senate Report - June 15-25
The last Senate sitting was another desperate attempt by the Government to ram through a lot of legislation in a short period of time. 51 Bills in 40 packages passed the Senate in the 9 sitting days; 22 of the Bills were passed in the last two days.

Full report:

3. US Free Trade Agreement Update
The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) has been moving through its lively ratification process with the US Congress recently voting in favour of the agreement. This is no surprise as it is overwhelmingly in their interest. Since the print version of this Message Stick was distributed, events have moved quickly as the Senate has been debating the two Bills required to implement parts of this Agreement. For updates on this check the most recent media releases:

4. Aden Ridgeway receives two awards.
Aden Ridgeway was honoured in recognition of his work as both a leader and as the only Indigenous Politician in the Federal Parliament. The NSW Reconciliation Committee made him an inaugural Ambassador for Reconciliation and he was named Indigenous Person of the year at the national NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Awards. In gaining this honour, Aden joins people like Cathy Freeman, Jimmy Little, Deborah Mailman and Evonne Goolagong-Cawley. More info:

5. Aden Ridgeway will speak at the following events:

Pollies At The Bar Topic: Medicare: the past, the present, the future Monday, 16 August, 7.30pm Ambarvale Tavern, Woodhouse Drive, Ambarvale.

Indigenous people and Refugees Forum Monday 23 August, 7-9pm St Marys Memorial Hall, Cnr Great western Highway and Mamre Road, St Marys.

Forum on the abolition of ATSIC Wednesday 25 August 1-2pm Manning Building, Sydney University, City.

Indigenous Affairs in the Federal Election: Public Forum, Sutherland Shire Citizens for Native Title and Reconciliation, Sutherland Trade Union Club, 57 Manchester Rd, Gymea. Thursday, 26 August, 6.30pm

Indigenous Health and Treaty Debate Conference, University of NSW, Kensington. Saturday, 11 September, 4pm Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture, Armidale Town Hall, Rusden St, Armidale, Thursday, 16 September, 7.30pm

This newsletter can also be accessed online by clicking here.

By Wake Up Call posted 12 August 04


AMA calls for extra health funding for Aborigines
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is asking for an extra $450 million a year to be spent on the health needs of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.

WA bid to recognise 'original custodians' stalls
Western Australia's Opposition has rejected a Government proposal to amend the state's Constitution to recognise Aboriginal people as the original custodians of the state.

Labor to request Senate inquiry into ATSIC's future
The Federal Opposition has announced it will call for a Senate inquiry into the Government's plan to abolish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Labor to request Senate inquiry into ATSIC's future
The Federal Opposition has announced it will call for a Senate inquiry into the Government's plan to abolish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

Reconciliation dreaming
Djerrkura had witnessed the collapse of ATSIC, which he led from 1996 to 1999, with sadness. Despite the peak indigenous organisation's flaws, which he did not deny, its abolition, he said, had been done in "the classic imperial fashion, without negotiation, without understanding and with little empathy". He noted that as early as December 2001 he had called on his successor Geoff Clark to resign for the good of the organisation. But he reserved his harshest words for John Howard.

The bone has been pointed at Howard
A Queensland Indigenous leader says an ancient Aboriginal curse placed on Prime Minister John Howard is no laughing matter and could even have deadly consequences.Suspended Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner (ATSIC) chairman Geoff Clark was with a group of Aboriginal people who performed a ceremony known as pointing the bone at Howard at Colac in south-west Victoria this week.

PM in denial over Redfern Death in Custody
Prime Minister John Howard says treating Aborigines differently is contributing to violent confrontations with police.

If we want to survive we must work at it Indigenous unemployment reaching crisis: welfare group Action to lower Indigenous unemployment rate Govt underspends on indigenous employment: dept Economic development: The outback malaise Call for end to Indigenous welfare cycle.

Australian Govt human rights record 'worsening'
Community groups have given the Federal Government five out of ten for its record on human rights this year. Mr Purcell said the Government was also marked down because of the policy of holding children in immigration detention centres.

O'Shane blasts constitution
Controversial New South Wales magistrate Pat O'shane has described the Australian Constitution as flawed and grossly inappropriate.

Demounting Auntie Isabel Coe
The information demountable and Auntie Isabel Coe's demountable were set alight at 3am last Saturday morning. The info demountable was completely destroyed- 31 years of photos and info on the grassroots Indigenous rights movement destroyed! Wilson Tukey (FUCKER)has wanted any excuse to get rid of the embassy for ages. This week he has been using the excuse that the burnt out shell is a danger to the community therefore the embassy must be removed.