Senator Rachel Siewert has demanded to know how the Government and industry intend to respond to the findings of a Griffith University study showing that half the Indigenous Land Use Agreements signed in the last five years were 'basket cases'.
"Every day we hear in euphoric terms how the resources boom is generating the greatest explosion of wealth the country has ever seen, yet many of the people living under its shadow continue to live in third world conditions," said Senator Siewert today.
Land use agreements generally involve sacrifice of native title rights and heritage values supposedly in return for certain benefits. However, where Aboriginal communities lack the capacity to negotiate these complex agreements or to ensure that they are enforced, they simply are not delivering.
"No other members of the community are asked to sell out their cultural heritage in exchange for the kind of basic services the rest of us take for granted," said Senator Siewert.
"The experience in the North West of WA shows that poverty exists side by side with some of the most lucrative industrial projects in the world."
The ABS reports that the mining industry reported pre-tax profits of nearly A$21 billion in 2004-05, a rate of just under two and a half million dollars an hour.
"I find it horrifying that Aboriginal Australians can be suffering from such disadvantage when such enormous amounts of money are being made from their land.
"I would hope that the Government will be rushing to prevent this gigantic rip-off," Senator Siewert said. "But I won't be holding my breath.