FIFO activists do nothing for Aboriginal people

The Green movement isn’t about conservation or environmental protection. It’s far left ideology that uses lies, bullying and deep pockets to opposes all development. An ideology completely at odds with Australia’s regions who are crying out for jobs & businesses opportunities.

By Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO, Executive Director of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce

Over 20 per cent of India’s population, or around 270 million people, live in extreme poverty, defined as less than US$1.90 per day. About the same amount don’t have electricity. That’s no coincidence. Energy and economic development are inextricably linked. India is working to bring electricity to all of its people.

Recently in this newspaper, Adani Australia’s CEO, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, likened India’s transformation today to that of other Western countries last century. “People born in a cabin in the late 1800s were, by the 1950s, living in a suburban home with electricity and their own car” he said.

Green activists don’t want India to make this transformation. Because it would involve activities they dislike taking place on a huge scale: coal, gas, nuclear, dams, mining, construction and infrastructure. So they’re fighting that transformation every step of the way.

The Indian government sees this as a threat to national economic security. In 2014, India’s Intelligence Bureau found foreign-funded NGOs like Greenpeace were hurting its economic development with everything from protests to funding partisan research for political campaigns. The report listed seven areas stalled due to NGO campaigns, from coal power to farm biotechnology to the IT sector, with a possible negative impact on GDP growth of 2-3 per cent per annum.

Foreign-funded activism also attacks economic activities in Australia. Here it also hurts the poorest Australians, people in remote and regional Australia and Indigenous people engaging in economic activities on their traditional lands.

Many people think the Green movement and Indigenous people are kindred spirits. Wrong. Green activists are one of the greatest threats to Indigenous economic development.

A few weeks ago I interviewed Kimberley man, Wayne Bergmann, for my program Mundine Means Business. Bergmann, as CEO of the Kimberley Land Council, led the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr people in their negotiations of a native title agreement with Woodside Petroleum for a gas hub at James Price Point north of Broome.

Many Aboriginal people in the Kimberley live in abject poverty. The project offered jobs, business opportunities and community development across the Kimberley. Green activists ran a relentless campaign to stop the project in which they falsely claimed Kimberley Aboriginal people opposed it. They backed a minority group who the court has said weren’t even traditional owners there.

The campaign was led by wealthy businessmen like Geoffrey Cousins, who recently organised Bill Shorten an all-expenses paid tour of the Great Barrier Reef where they discussed the Adani project, and celebrities like Missy Higgins and John Butler. Fly-In-Fly-Out activists. I’d like to know what they’ve ever done to create jobs or lift Indigenous people out of poverty.

Bergmann said the protest leaders refused to meet with elders supporting the project. “The system failed us because it allowed people who legally can’t be made accountable to wreck this opportunity for the region. And I think it’s wrecked an opportunity for the state.” he said.

A few weeks ago Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon visited Europe to promote the destruction of Australia’s kangaroo industry, endorsing the bizarre claim kangaroos are near extinction. So much for listening to scientists, Australia has over 40 million kangaroos. Twice as many as people.

With a harvest set at around 3 per cent of that, the industry doesn’t threaten kangaroo numbers. But activists are threatening a $200 million industry that’s created over 2000 jobs, many in regional and remote communities including Aboriginal-owned businesses like Warroo Game Meats in regional Queensland.

The Greens are extremists. But Labor is dancing to their tune. Bill Shorten has reportedly refused to meet with Pat Malone and other Aboriginal traditional owners in far north Queensland who are worried about his stand on Adani which they’re relying on for economic opportunities on their country. Shorten was happy to meet with multi-millionaire Geoffrey Cousins. Why not show traditional owners the same respect?

When native title first came in, Greens supported it. They thought Indigenous people would use it to stop development. Green activists subscribe to the myth of the noble savage, imagining Indigenous people living a subsistence, tribal life in the wilderness. Wrong. Not even groups which still practice traditional culture live like this. Now Greens hate native title. Last year Greens Senators opposed Native Title Act amendments to make it easier for traditional owners to make land use agreements. Indigenous groups had lobbied for these changes for a decade.

The Green movement isn’t about conservation or environmental protection. It’s far left ideology that opposes all development and even Western civilisation, ideology completely at odds with Australia’s regions who are crying out for broader economic activities that create jobs and businesses opportunities.

Green activists are fighting Indigenous Australia’s transformation out of poverty just like they’re fighting India’s. With lies, bullying and deep pockets, Green activists are undermining Indigenous people and regional and remote Australia.

An edited version of this article was published in the Australian Financial Review on 21 March 2018.

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  1. Shaune Thompson says:

    What can we do from the big smoke to help our indigenous community’s move forward & fight the greens on this
    Please let me know

  2. Geoffrey Ennis says:

    Maybe the Greens want to keep aborigines barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink.
    Maybe they think aborigines are simple and need the Greens guidance or control.
    Makes the Greens appear racist doesn’t it?

  3. Christina Seaton-Thomson says:

    Thank you Mr Mundine for telling it as it is – the truth. Greens are a festering boil on society only interested in turning Australia into the “communist republic of Australia”. Keep speaking out Mr Mundine.

  4. Irene Simpson says:

    Good on ya Nyunggai Warren Mundine for speaking out against the Green movement who have interfered far too long with our rights to negotiate on our lands.
    As for Shorten, he’s weak and afraid of the truth when it comes to Aboriginal people, that’s why he refused to meet with Traditional Owners of Central and Far North Qld!!

  5. Matthew Ross says:

    Interesting view given the threats the modern age is facing, do we scrafice our food for coal ? a product that everyone is dropping not buying jobs for a dying industry. What kind of future is that ? will labor put an each way bet or will its lobbiets and unionst be brought into line to fight the modern age problems we will see Mr. Mundine hang your hat on principle but for how long before you jump ship. Good luck it won’t last and you know it.

  6. Thanks Warren. You are 100% on the ball and bringing light to the ideological bullshit. Screw John Latte Butler.

  7. Jas Rodes says:

    2 words: climate change

  8. Brilliantly executed piece it’s plenty of truth. Maybe Mr Mundine could teach the journalists at the ABC about informed journalism!

  9. Politics of Division

    Warren Mundine’s attacking of others only serves to divide folk. No surprise -attacking tends to do that!

    Continuing & expanding the use of fossil fuels will not help anyone on this planet. It will only serve to make rich corporations richer at the expense of us all, including the aboriginal folk who’s interests Warren claims to represent. That he does have their interests at heart is not something I question, but I consider his thinking gravely flawed if he truly believes that the likes of the Adani corporation are the saviours.

    Attacking those who do what they can to reduce fossil fuel use, which he does in a variety of ways in this article only serves to mix up his & the current government’s far right politics with the needs & interests of Aboriginal people. It muddies the waters.

    Further he references Aboriginal man Wayne Bergman, former Kimberley Land Council CEO, a man whom many folk in the Kimberley felt ’sold out’ by, through what was perceived as his willingness to participate in the WA Barnett government & Woodside (et al) mob’s deliberate divide & conquer tactics to achieve their aim to establish the gas hub at Walmadan. (James Price Point). The project never went ahead, but the divisions created by the tactics employed will take generations to heal. As an interested observer I find it difficult to understand how these sort of processes will ever help Aboriginal people – some Aboriginal people yes, but at the expense of division, dispossesion & loss to others.

    To truly help, any outcome would need to be genuinely equitable – ways to provide jobs & income must not be at the expense of culture. No amount of money could have ever compensated for the loss of songlines . That other groups on the Dampier Peninsula were ‘less close’ to their culture, (thanks to the actions of previous generations of white interference), & thus more willing to ‘take the money’ was shamefully exploited, whilst those saying “no” to the money in favour of maintaining their responsibilities to Country & keeping culture strong were demonised – & it seems still are!

    The similarities between what happened in Broome, & what is currently happening with Adani & their proposed Carmichael coal mine, their federal government support & the Wangan & Jagalingou people are easy to see. Another ’David & Goliath’ battle between profit & culture. It is, in my view, an extremely sad state of affairs when a prominent Aboriginal activist is so clearly in the camp of the oppressors but claiming that it is the oppressors who are the ‘saviours’. Warren, please fight as hard as you can for your fellow first nation peoples, but I implore you to fight even harder to ensure that divisions are healed, not exploited.

    I belong to no political party, and accept that exploitation of Aboriginal peoples comes from a variety of sources utilising Aboriginal issues to further their own aims. The Greens, the current Federal government, the current Queensland government, Adani & the mining lobby are all players on the same continuum. But don’t be fooled … it’s a continuum which claims to help but doesn’t. In aligning himself with ‘players’ on that continuum Mr Mundine will never achieve more than making himself ‘part of the machine’.

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