Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Land rights should be enjoyed by all….

with one comment

Indigenous Australians deserve the right to own land - just like everyone else!Interesting how sometimes a series of seemingly incidental, random items happen at around the same time.  But when you connect the dots between them, you can often get a very interesting picture!   The picture I have gotten recently is all about land rights in Australia.   Specifically, about how these land rights affect the people whose land we live on.  Indigenous Australian land.  This is a BIG area to discuss, so rather than outline it all here, I have put in a number of relevant links to guide you through additional reading if you have the interest and/or time!

For Mark and I, we are fortunate to own a house in Perth.  In order for this to happen, there is a laid out, orderly system of ownership which legally defines WHO owns the property (known in this case as a Strata Title), how long one owns it (until it is sold to the next person), and what rights this confers (ie: the ability to modify the structure within Town Planning guidelines, to build a new structure within those guidelines, etc…).  Amazing as it may seem, not all Australians have the ability to have these rights on “their land”.

I was recently reading an article in the Australian newspaper that discussed this very issue.  Entitled “Lands where no one can feel at home“, it provides a good overview of how the existing land ownership structure can and does contribute to the social breakdown and conflict found in many remote Aboriginal areas. 

The societal problems that are found in remote Indigenous lands are not new, and there are no easy answers in moving to a more positive, healthy and productive way of being.  But being masters of our own destiny is something that some of us take for granted.  For many Indigenous Australians, this is only an aspirational target.   I was shocked to find that the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people are not even recognised in the Australian Constitution as the original peoples of these lands

But moving to a partial system of private land ownership makes good business sense; providing both business opportunities, greater certainty and reduced welfare dependence.  All of these areas are important, and seemingly can be achieved with fewer taxpaying dollars than the existing inefficient, demoralising system of welfare dependence that is far too widespread.   Further discussion on these ideas are in a paper entitled “Private Housing on Indigenous Lands“.

Australians are not alone in this matter.  First Nations people in Canada are in a similar situation.   Around 3 million hectares of land are held by First Nations people through reservations;  yet true self-determination is still withheld, as individuals cannot hold land in “fee simple” terms.  For a better overview of this matter from a Canadian perspective, you can click here.  Further reading that is also suggested is a book by Tom Flanagan entitled ” Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights“.  I haven’t yet myself got hold of a copy of this book, but I intend to! 

We look forward to the day when Indigenous people hold the same rights as all other citizens, and will be free to exercise their own will to determine their futures.

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Written by Mar(k)

June 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi Mark and Mar,
    We have similar issue in Sarawak, the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. There are many positive and negative aspects to NCR. The positive side is that natives cannot really (though people have been making “private” arrangements) sell their land to others. So, since the Brits finally left in 1969 (6 years after independence in 1963 as Indonesia was trying to swallow us, the Brits stayed for a further 6 years to make sure that the Indonesians did not succeed) and today, it has given us time to mature as a community and appreciate the value of our homeland, albeit it a tough battle against the logging companies from time to time. So many native landowners today are quite richer people with the Chinese (from the People Republic of China) joint venture with them to cultivate vegetables, oil palm, rubber, pepper, and other agricultural products for the China market. My sister and brother-in-law are doing very well with their palm oil plantation. They are both doctors and with the palm-oil they are able to send their children to attend private medical schools.

    Regards,

    Tom

    Tom

    July 12, 2011 at 10:14 am


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