Bob Weatherall is a Gamilaraay man from St. George in South West Queensland, Australia, and is a descendant of the Himba tribe. Bob has been a prominent activist and spokesperson within Australia for over 40 years and has most specifically concentrated his advocacy of Aboriginal rights in the areas of land rights, repatriation and Aboriginal cultural policy. He is the former chairperson of the Aboriginal Provisional Government and current Chairperson of the Centre for Indigenous Cultural Policy.In Bob’s testimony, he discusses the issue of indigenous rights, environmental justice and activism, noting that Aboriginal people, or Aborigine’s as they are known in Australia, have had “to seek justice through the confines of the [Australian] governments of the day.” This marginalization limits Aborigine formal recognition by the Australian government, who often apply pressure to Aborigine’s to sign away their rights on “agreements of complicity.” Rights are afforded to government ministers and their representatives to be the spokesperson’s working with industry, enacting policies and legislation allowing corporations to use Aborigine land for financial benefit. Ironically, the Australian Prime Minister is also the head of Aboriginal Affairs. Aborigines are subjected to Australian state laws, in which Aborigine’s have no jurisdictional rights, other than by title only. All state level legislation supersedes Aboriginal inherent rights. The Aborigine culture is one of the oldest Aboriginal cultures in the world and needs to be respected and revered, and as Bob says, “celebrated, promoted and noted, and basically protected and preserved, if they [the Australian federal government] were a mature society. But the Australian government has not reached that level of maturity yet.” Bob says it is vitally important for Aborigine people to uphold their laws, customs and rights; otherwise they are in contempt of their own obligation to fulfill those duties, especially when it comes to protecting land, water and natural resources.
Bob Weatherall's testimony, part 1
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