National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Mr Tony Spiers
Member, Aboriginal Sovereign Union

Native Title and the Crime of Apartheid

This paper is based on a "shadow" report titled "Australia, the Most Important Question" submitted on 20 March 2000 to the UN,s Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination. This shadow report was focussed on Article 3 in Australia,s Report examined by the Committee in March. Article 3 in CERD deals with segregation and apartheid. On 24 March, CERD posted its Concerns and Recommendations. At the top of the list of 13 Concerns, and for the very first time, they listed the need for constitutional change the concern being the lack of an entrenched guarantee to protect people from further acts of racial discrimination by the Commonwealth parliament.

This paper presents a radical re-assessment of the 1967 referendum, the Mabo judgement, the Native Title Act 1993, and the Native Title Amendment Act
1998 by examining them against the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It comes to the conclusion that the so-called "validation of past acts" and "intermediate period acts" by these two statutes are all caught by the definition of apartheid in the Convention and, as such, are crimes against humanity.

The paper explains how the 1992 Mabo judgement, while recognising the existence of Native Title for the first time, nevertheless makes a subtle common law policy decision on race that has perpetuated the practice of apartheid by the Commonwealth and all States.

The so-called "Citizens Rights for Aborigines" Referendum of 1967 and the
Commonwealth power it expanded is shown as the constitutional underpinning for these international crimes.

Solutions are proposed.

Tony Spiers is a member of the Aboriginal Sovereign Union, which was recently granted official NGO status by the UN. He has been actively interested in the issue of indigenous sovereignty since1987, and Human Rights since 1992. He is a graduate of UTS, with a degree in Adult Education.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops