Monday, September 29, 2003

Subject: Legislation before Parliament (Land Grants) 

Uncle Des is tired of not having his letters published in The Mercury Newspaper.

Dear Reader,
Recent publicity concerning the above-mentioned legislation and statements by a member of the Aboriginal Centre (T. Maluga) leave a lot to be desired and add nothing to the possibility of any reconciliation of the aboriginal communities of Tasmania.

It appears that the Aboriginal Centre management has no intention of allowing mainstream members of the aboriginal communities to have any say in the proceedings with the Government and the Government is allowing this to happen. The Aboriginal Centre management have for too long been able to dictate to the Government on the consideration of matters that are of concern to the whole Aboriginal community. i.e. land rights and the acknowledgment of those who have obtained recognition of their Aboriginality by the Australian Arbitration Tribunal. The latter point seems to have been completely ignored by both the Aboriginal Centre and the present Tasmanian Government.

The day the Tribunal’s decision was handed down, a group of people consisting of a small number of adults, and a large number of school age children where allowed to enter the Courtroom and throw abuse at the people assembled there. Do these people have immunity to any form of discipline? Since the Tribunal decision, those people who were recognized as having been of Aboriginal descent, have had to endure verbal and written abuse accusing them of being frauds, cheats and liars, as well as the latest label of imposters.

I consider these accusations to be an insult to my integrity and also insulting to all the other participants in the fore-mentioned Tribunal. Trudy Maluga has stated that the members of the Lia Pootah community should be ashamed of themselves. They should be ashamed of what? Perhaps she means they should be ashamed for standing up for their rights. I urge all of those people affected by these statements to stand up and be counted. We have been ignored for long enough and its about time we made ourselves heard. When any statement degrading our community and our claim for recognition is issued by the group that think they are the only Aboriginal people in Tasmania, we should protest both verbally and in writing in an effort to be heard. I have personally corresponded with local daily newspaper on a number of occasions, only to have my correspondence ignored. If enough of our people protest, it will be more difficult for the media and Government to ignore us.

The 129 people who were successfully recognized by the Australian Appeals Tribunal had to provide proof of descent from the Aborigines, but the people opposed to this recognition did not even take the trouble to provide any evidence to counter this proof. The only challenge made was through the committee set up to vet those who made application to be included on the electoral roll of indigenous people. These challenges were considered too spurious to be accepted due to the lack of any real reasoning on the part of the challengers. Some examples are:

(1) I am an Aboriginal Elder, and I do not know the applicant
(2) He is not Aboriginal. The content of these challenges was remarked upon by the Judge when he handed down his decision.

I would suggest to the Premier, that he consider withholding any further land grants until the Aboriginal Centre agree to recognize these people who have received insult after insult from members of the Aboriginal Centre. Iwould also suggest that any agreement to land grants be signed by representatives of all those of Aboriginal descent, rather than a select few who seem to have gained the favor of the present Government.

The Aboriginal Centre is managed by a cartel of people made up of members of three families and an enquiry should be made into this before they are allowed to cause more damage than they already have.

You may have noticed that I have never referred to the Centre as being Tasmanian. This is because the people that the members are descended from have only ever been referred to as half castes in any historical document. The description of Tasmanian Aboriginal is completely out of context and does not apply. Please consider the fact that documents pertaining to the decision of the A.A.T. state that the applicants are descendants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders not specifically Tasmanian Aborigine.

Uncle Des Berry
Elder, Lia Pootah Community
October 2003

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Mr Bacon is at this very moment in talks with the leaders of the Aboriginal Community. One can only wonder who in the community he is talking to. Even without an educated guess it would have to be the same old same old.. Jim Bacon is nothing if not consistent with his limited consultative process when it comes to Aboriginal issues. It is a no brainer to claim his consultative group are Bass Strait Islanders/Palawa/Tac all of whom claim their bona fides from his own government department the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. As usual Bacon is definitely not consulting with the broader community. Even his rhetoric on the ABC Tim Cox’s Breakfast Show 24 September 2003 he noted that he was not talking to “those who claim to be spokespersons who do not speak for the community as a whole”.

To any thinking person that type of statement continues to make Jim Bacon a long running puppet. As is typical with the blinkered Premier he has not approached anyone in the Lia Pootah Community. No one person or individual group speaks for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community or any other Aboriginal community Australia wide. Wake up to cultural protocols, being a Victorian means that you should be more aware of Aboriginal protocols or did you never mix with Koories when you were a union rep.

Can anyone be called ignorant on a permanent basis without them becoming racist. Bacon’s platitudes when dealing with the Aboriginal Community of Tasmania combined with his actions show that he is so one eyed that he is becoming a Cyclops. His continued diversionary actions within the community, if not so pathetic towards reconciliation would be a joke.

Having advisors who are mothers, fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts and Australian Aboriginals not Tasmanian to make his advisory group are incestuous not representative of the community. The power players who control this mono structure of advisors continue to make him a standing joke blind to reality. It is definitely not a case of “pulling the wool over his eyes” it is more a case of controlling a Premier . History will show that Jim Bacon was a willing participant in voluntary shutting himself in the dark, accepting the claims that he is a mushroom and willing mulching the TAC ‘fodder’.

Wake up Premier Jim Bacon and put your action where your mouth is. Work with the whole community not the tame crew who devised and instigated all the problems now within the community. During the Select Committee of 1999 dealing with land handback members of the Lia Pootah Community proved that your process was biased and racist. Since 1996 when the other group committed the genocide against the broader community we have constantly won in court and continuously prove our Aboriginality and ancestry.

If the Palawa, Office of Aboriginal Affairs or the TAC want to believe they are the only ones then so be it but that does not make it a fact. Just because white historians too lazy to accurately do any research into the true Aboriginal heritage for Tasmania and constantly prop up the TAC view it does not make it an historical fact. Historians in many cases are notoriously limited visionaries especially those who are paid by the TAC to write their history.

If the TAC want to be the survivors of the second genocide that they created then let them return to the place where they survived, the Bass Strait Islands, they have no claim to the land our ancestors called Trowernna. They have no right to accept land handed back by ignorant white men no matter what their position and claim it as their own. Aboriginality is more than being what the TAC claim. Aboriginality is about retaining your heritage and culture and passing it into the future to your children it is not about making a heritage from scraps of Aboriginal culture in Queensland or borrowing instruments like the digadredoo and pretending they are yours. The TAC has an island heritage that has little Aboriginal culture in it at all.

From the 1970s onwards when I first started meeting these usurpers from the islands claiming Tasmanian Aboriginality and waving white man’s papers showing a mission survival of their Aboriginal heritage.

They knew less about our cultural heritage than any of our isolated family groups with ties bonded to the land for more than 60,000 years, who were maintaining and preserving our Aboriginal heritage. The greatest number in our community are those descendants of the Teen Toomele Menennye (Big River) and the Tahune Linah (Huon River) people. We are a people who have been forced to reveal our cultural heritage and cultural secrets, in having to prove who we are, just so we can exist in public and claim our ancestral heritage. Like fools we believed in the unity of our survival. Like fools we worked together sharing our heritage with these late usurpers from the islands. Like fools we believed the positive carrot of unity for our people as we set the infrastructure in place. What was set in motion in 1992 when we were united was destroyed in 1996 when Clive Mansell and the Koori Consultancy acting as the instigator of the second genocide, delivered his paper on the definition of Aboriginality.

Wake up Jim Bacon. Stop being such a blinkered racist and acknowledge what the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community has to offer, two diverse heritages where no single group or person can be a spokesperson. Get rid of the mushroom food supply and breath the clean fresh air that the Lia Pootah people offer.

Monday, September 15, 2003


There has been a lot of controversy relating to Bowen's arrival - some rational and some questionable. What is the one persistant factor is that he arrived in Tasmania. Unrefuted. As to the date, that may continue to be questioned for centuries to come and will become an urban myth as time passes.
As to the controversy concerning the impact on the Aborigines of Tasmania at that time - again some comments rational and others questionable. But history is just that - history. It cannot be redone, whitewashed or forgotten. My Irish ancestor came to Tasmania, fought with the Aborigines, left for New Zealand, and upon his return married a Tasmanian Aboriginal women. Ironic. But that is my history and one I feel supports the fact that history is something than cannot be changed, and can sometimes be almost fictional.
Michael Mansell wants Tasmania's history to be whitewashed (excuse the pun) and expects European Tasmanians to respect Aboriginal feelings. He is trying to exclude the fact that Bowen landed and only wants a black history celebrated. Quite a contradiction to what Michael has been quoted as claiming previously. He has continually lombarded the education system for only teaching white history, to the neglect of the Indigenous Tasmanians. He is always professing how unfair history has been to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania.
Now he has an opportunity to act like a mature, intelligent person and say - history is in the past - it is something we can learn from and build upon - reconcilliation at this controversial and painful time can be a tool to move on into a bigger, brighter future.
In The Mercury (10/9/2003) Michael said that the state had missed out on a perfect opportunity to conciliate. To my mind, Michael is the only person not interested in these opportunities, instead using this time to make inflammatory, racist and nonsical comments.
Janene Hancock
Lia Pootah Community

Monday, September 08, 2003


By Tereetee Lore Elder Auntie Kaye McPherson BSc Hons. Historical Geographer and Cultural Historian Lia Pootah Aboriginal Community

In Hobart the only newspaper that is delivered to anyone’s house is the Mercury, and to say at times it is biased is an understatement. In the last three years on many occasions the Mercury has given no right of response to the Lia Pootah community or any other Aboriginal organisation who disagrees with either Michael Mansell and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), before it goes into print. Often if other Aboriginal groups are given the right of response it is a limited edited answer compared to the TAC’s response to our comments. As an Aboriginal people we do not need the likes of Michael Mansell or the TAC to tell us if we are Aboriginal.

The Mercury edition Sunday Tasmanian for 7 September 2003 shows even more bias than usual. Mansell once again spouts his rhetoric about everyone being white except his family relations and those approved of by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs who uses the policies and definitions dreamed up by Michael’s cousin Clive Mansell in 1996 and formulated by the TAC hierarchy. That these definitions of Aboriginality suit only the Bass Strait island family group is demanded by the TAC, who prefer to write their own definition rather than follow the federal guidelines for the rest of the Australian Aboriginal population. That any other form of Aboriginal documentation is declared by Mansell and Co as bald faced lies for the rest of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community. That our Aboriginality has been proven in Federal Court time and again, means nothing to the Mercury, the Tasmanian Government and the TAC.

Once again the Mercury allows for incitement of political intimidation to rear its ugly head with claims that “there is going to be a nasty incident at Risdon Cove as whites pretending to be black converge on the site to commemorate the invasion of Tasmania”. How typical of the TAC bullying tactics when the Mercury quotes statements from Michael Mansell “The site of Tasmania’s first settlement under Aboriginal control will be closed, that it will “be shut for fear of a “nasty incident”. “The concern however, is not with racist whites” “The problem is with a handful of whites who claim they are Aborigines”. The TAC is going to “mourn the anniversary of an Aboriginal massacre”. This is an event which did not occur until May 1804, which is to be the year of the TAC celebrations. As usual Michael stirs up animosity in the broader community with his ignorance of Tasmanian History and Aboriginal Historical Events.

For Risdon Cove Michael Mansell claims that “there’ll be such emotion there, it could turn nasty” as his excuse for closing an area which could have been used for reconciliation for both Aboriginal communities and the non Aboriginal population of Tasmania.

No one in the community CARES IF THE TAC closes Risdon Cove the small area the government gave to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania, not the TAC, which is recognised today as the landing site of Lt. John Bowen’s party. 200 YEARS AGO RISDON COVE was more extensive and the LIA POOTAH ARE USING THE TRADITIONAL AREA of the Teen Toomele Menennye People (Big River People), that today is the valley of Risdon Vale and was once part of the Aboriginal land of Risdon Cove. Risdon Vale is also part of what was once Lt. John Bowen’s Risdon Cove. To my knowledge no member of Lia Pootah has claimed that they are going to Risdon Cove on 12 September 2003. Alderman Richard James who is of Anglo descent has always stated he is going to the site as a mark of respect for his history as has Reg Watson and his commemorative Bowen Group. These people are not protesting but carrying out a personal pilgrimage to a site of significance to their own heritage. None of these people are of Aboriginal descent. So as usual it is Michael stirring up trouble.

So much for a response to a newspaper article, NOW FOR THE TRUTH.

It is historical fact that Risdon Cove was the first permanent camp set up by any of the boat people who had been coming to Trowernna since the 1770s, but in all probability they had probably been coming since 1642, in the hunt for seal and whale. As a general rule the Tasmanian Aboriginal people knew that they were in no danger from the people who arrived on a seasonal basis, chopped down trees, collected water, killed birds and animals for food and harvested long grass. Except for the occasional foray along the East Coast of Tasmania these seasonal arrivals tended to visit the island now called Bruny Island and in particular Adventure Bay. Over a period of years the Teen Toomele Menennye people had seen these boat people accessing their land. They always went away when the season changed, why would they think this would not always happen.

This year, 2003, is the bicentenary of the invasion. It is historical fact that you can only invade an already occupied country. It is also historical fact that Lt. John Bowen arrived on 11/12 September 1803 at Risdon Cove on the Derwent River (naval time is midday to midday). The 48 members of his party: crew, military, free and convict disembarked from the Albion and Lady Nelson and set up camp at the settlement they called Hobart.

It is historical fact that IN 1803 THE FIRST FRIENDLY INTERACTION OF THE INVASION OCCURRED BETWEEN LT. BOWEN’S PARTY AND THE TEEN TOOMELE MENENNYE (BIG RIVER PEOPLE). However the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) who use Neo Nazi tactics on the general public, Tasmanian Government, local councils, religious orders and every other organised body in Tasmania by bullying them into kowtowing to their warped perspective of history. In Tasmania people are force fed on a steady diet of ignorance and historical dogma that is now a rhetoric falsifying Aboriginal history, aided and abetted by misleading commentary in the Mercury. The TAC cry “we are the only ones” and everyone stops and listens to their cry too frightened of being called racist, ignorant, or insensitive not to do their bidding. The government and population of Tasmania know they are being coerced into a situation they do not want. Sadly predetermined politics demand surrender to the Neo Nazi bullying tactics of the TAC as they perform their racial genocide on 14,000 Tasmanian Aboriginal people because they are not of Bass Strait Island accepted families.

In Tasmania since 1996 a war has raged within the Tasmanian Aboriginal community that is now more open to the general public with the bicentenary of Bowen and Collins. Historical fact is that white academics defined the Tasmanian Aboriginal community at a time when the politicians and academic decreed that the Tasmanian Aboriginal people were extinct. Those making an academic name for themselves on the backs of our Aboriginal ancestors conveniently ignore that this was never a truth. It is a distortion of history that is condoned by the TAC as they clamber for singularity.

Aboriginal culture is quite specific
 no other Aboriginal group can speak for another Aboriginal group.
 no other Aboriginal group can claim land not of their Dreaming.
 no other Aboriginal group can determine who is Aboriginal in a community not their own.
 Yet the TAC have claimed the land of the Teen Toomele Menennye people at Risdon Cove.
In Tasmania we have the TAC dictating to a government deliberately kept ignorant by policies implemented and advisors controlled by the TAC. That at the time this was set up in 1992 the TAC was the accepted spokesperson for 14,000 people who as a united group set in place the infra structure of today’s TAC. After the coup in 1996 the TAC only spoke for less than a thousand people, as all not of Islander descent proclaimed as not Aboriginal even though many had TAC Aboriginal passports and had been recognised for decades as Aboriginal. It was a coup. It was about money and power. After this time those dispossessed found they had no recourse to appeal as unbeknown to the community as a whole the TAC hierarchy had long planned the take over and non recognition because they were having to share with too many people. This same TAC mandate in action today is enforcing Lia Pootah racial genocide deserves to be remembered by the general public.

Reporters for the Mercury apparently never read previous editions of the paper they are writing for. If they did they would know how they are encouraging lies to be fed to an unsuspecting public as they publish the inflammatory rhetoric of Michael Mansell and the TAC. Michael is a perfect example of someone who is trying to claim a heritage of Aboriginality in recent times like the thousands of others he accuses. The Mercury quotes him as claiming John Shinal and later Manalaganna as his ancestor. John Shinal is no ancestral relative of Michael’s but he is an ancestor of those of Teen Toomele Menennye descent. As Michael has never shown anyone his family tree and he is known as an adopted Mansell surely it is a case of “people in glass houses should not throw stones”. The family trees that the TAC insists on for their community are a laughing stock with anyone who does genealogy.

The TAC accepts secondary documentation based on false premises that construct unproven theories of heritage. To the TAC family lines are all that matters, and if you are not part of that family then you don’t belong, you are a liar and white. The TAC insists that everyone else have primary documentation to prove their heritage. Precious little documentation was recorded for Tasmanian Aboriginal people, free settlers, bushrangers, children and in many cases even convict documentation is no longer existent from before 1840. No one disputes that the Bass Strait Islands housed an Aboriginal mission or that Fanny Cochran Smith was declared Aboriginal by an Act of Parliament, but please, lies of being the only ones for power and money do not make a truth or historical fact or even a person Aboriginal.

Lia Pootah has become an umbrella name for a number of community groups all of whom have their own family history and historical stories about their ancestry and survival. White academics have never corrupted the Lia Pootah communities history like they have of the TAC, encouraging them to believe they were the sole survivors. If Michael wants to believe his own rhetoric that is fine but his intimidation tactics on the broader public should cease.

Michael Mansell claims that the TAC is “battling thousands of Tasmanians who say they are descended from Aborigines and claim Aboriginality” “Most haven’t a drop of Aboriginal Blood”. Those who have just discovered an Aboriginal ancestor but for generations claimed to be white can’t suddenly say they are Aboriginal. One has to ask does this include members of the stolen generation who are still finding their heritage.

Fabrication and scaremongering for 12 September 2003 will not stop it being the bicentenary of the day Lt. John Bowen and his party landed as being the day Tasmania was invaded. It was 200 years ago and the world has moved on. In Tasmania the Aboriginal people have moved on from the need to make whites feel guilty for existing. Lia Pootah know it was their white ancestors who are partly responsible for their survival. Recriminations served their purpose in our early struggle for existence but now it is time to heal. By accepting the pain and sorrow of the past as part of the history of our ancestors we can move forward and celebrate the life they have bequeathed to us

The time for the attitude of the TAC was the 1970s the world has moved on it is a shame Michael Mansell hasn’t.

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