Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Bracks won - Gunditjmara yet to score

By Graham Ring - posted Wednesday, 20 December 2006

A few weeks ago Victorians went to the polls with the extravagant promises of the major parties ringing in their ears. With the state awash in GST revenue there was something in the pork-barrel for almost everyone.

Unless you are an Indigenous Victorian, of course. If that's your situation then you missed out. Again.

“There are no votes in blackfellas” is an old adage from Northern Territory electoral politics but it applies equally across the country.


Received wisdom is that Indigenous Australians have no realistic alternative to preferencing the ALP ahead of the more conservative parties. This being the case, there was no need for Labor to duchess the Koorie community.

There was certainly no mileage in making promises which might have alienated the cockies in the rural seats that the ALP picked up at the 2002 election. This is not to say that the Bracks Government has failed Indigenous Victorians entirely.

Over the last seven years they have made some incremental gains, most notably the introduction of Koorie Courts in the criminal justice sector.

However progress across the board is so grindingly slow that it would be unacceptable in any other area of public policy. Improvements in health and education only trickle down to a community in desperate need. This lack of substantial progress is most noticeable in the vexed province of native title.

It was Bracks who despatched Queens Counsel to Canberra to help scuttle the Yorta Yorta native title claim in 2002, telegraphing the fact that there would be no easy wins for Indigenous Victoria under the new guard.

However, there has also been one notable success.


Horseshoe Bend isn't marked on most maps. But Federal Court justice Ron Merkel found his way to this little corner of Victoria's Wimmera on Tuesday, December 13, 2005 to announce the state's first determination of native title.

But more than three years had slipped by since Attorney General Rob Hulls held a celebration in the grounds of Parliament House in October 2002 to express his “very profound pride” in the achievement of the in-principle agreement.

This important symbolic recognition of traditional ownership by the state government was a critical step forward. However this deal, which involved the determination “by consent” that native title still existed on a narrow strip of land on either side of the Wimmera River was not without strings.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in the National Indigenous Times, Issue 119, on November 30, 2006.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

4 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Graham Ring is an award-winning writer and a fortnightly National Indigenous Times columnist. He is based in Alice Springs.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Graham Ring

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Graham Ring
Article Tools
Comment 4 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy