Pearson at odds with city greenies
COMMENT: Tony Koch | May 23, 2009
A VISITOR strolling through the Brisbane CBD any weekday will almost certainly be confronted by an earnest-looking university-age youth handing out glossy pamphlets that tell how the Australian Wilderness Society is caring for Aborigines by “protecting their wild rivers”.
The attendant donations tin is then shaken, and the brochures with their website referral seek funds to continue this version of God’s work.
But the earnest-looking youth, like the Wilderness Society and the Queensland Government, cannot enunciate what imminent danger exists, for which they are providing this “protection” through never-ending solicitation for funds.
The AWS website claims Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson is “pro-development” and therefore should be ignored, offering instead its opinion, which is formed not from actual living experiences on Cape York but from the al fresco tables in Brisbane’s West End.
The Queensland Government and the AWS have struck this cosy “wild rivers” deal to lock up green preferences at elections. It involves the Bligh Government “declaring” certain rivers “wild”, giving them legislative protection from mining, cattle raising and any other type of development.
The problem is that the land in Cape York is not the Bligh Government’s to trade away for green votes, thereby giving control to environmental groups who live thousands of kilometres away.
Pearson and the vast majority of indigenous leaders on Cape York object strongly to being the pawns in this cheap political charade. Their main issue is that white people are again meddling in the lives of black Australians without being asked.
They point out that the rivers of Cape York are pristine because of Aboriginal ownership, and they will stay that way without any “protection” from the AWS.
Pearson was brought up on an alcohol-free mission run by the Lutheran Church, where he received a good education and lived in a violence-free home where his father each morning pulled his boots on and went to work.
That simple scenario is all he wants for Aboriginal people today.
But, he points out, any chance of Cape York Aborigines developing sustainable businesses in the future are being dashed by unwelcome controls such as those wielded by the AWS with the blessing of the Bligh Government.
Pearson and the other Aboriginal leaders who fought for decades to get ownership of their land must wonder what those hard-earned court decisions really mean, when a government can just trade them off to curry favour with interfering green groups.