photo credit: Greens MPs (Flickr CC)

The government of Australia, led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard (Labor), recently passed a law called ‘Stronger Futures’, an extension of the previous governments ‘NT Intervention’ laws.

Both laws have received criticism because they treat Aboriginal Australians differently then the rest of the country. Stronger Futures has drawn comparisons between Apartheid era South Africa and segregation policies in America’s Southern States before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

According to the AAP, 27 ‘prominent’ Australians have written a letter to the leaders of the major parties in Australia’s Parliament in protest of the legislation, claiming it violates the Racial Discrimination Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people.

From another AAP article:

The bills, which will continue the intervention for ten years, include alcohol restrictions and a controversial program that cuts the welfare payments of parents whose kids skip school, known as the student enrolment and attendance measure (SEAM).

What’s more is that the Australian government has just passed a bill allowing the construction of the country’s first nuclear waste dump, with plans to build it on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territories.

Australian Native Title law requires the consultation and compensation of indigenous peoples ­– considered to be the traditional landowners ­– before any new major construction is to take place.

From the Guardian:

Aboriginal groups launched legal action after claiming that traditional owners of the land around Muckaty do not approve of the dump, despite the government maintaining that the local Ngapa indigenous community supports the plan.

Additional arguments against the site include claims that it is located in an earthquake zone which experiences regular flooding and that the waste would have to be transported over vast distances, adding to the likelihood of accidents.

Additional resources:

9 News – NT intervention like Apartheid: lawyers

Stand for Freedom (movement of opposition to the Stronger Futures laws)

Sign the petition against Stronger Futures