Australia’s celebrated Arnhem Land aerospace project, rather than being dedicatedly civilian as the nation was media-led to believe, will have a US military component. Can the town of Nhulunbuy be permitted to survive? Probably not. Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine will soon close and the only other functions of the town are as a servicing hub for local Aboriginal communities and as a staging post for tourism. Obviously, both roles will end. And the Indigenous population? Without access to Songline sites, morale will collapse, and Arnhem Aboriginal culture will go into terminal decline.
I understand your department has been part of conversations in relation to development of Defence activities in northeast Arnhem Land. Could you advise what Defence activities are being considered for the region and how these activities will benefit the people of the region?
ONE (sic) A LONESOME, seemingly infinite stretch of shoreline more than 100km away from any significant outpost, two Aboriginal rangers trawl through a pile of marine debris. Other than their own footprints, the only obvious signs of life the Yirralka rangers see are a sun-bleached kangaroo skull, crabs, hawks, and the occasional pile of buffalo droppings.
Trash from the sea washing up on Arnhem Land’s once-pristine beaches has doubled in the last decade.
Researchers say there is up to three tonnes of marine debris per kilometre along 11 monitored beaches in northern Australia, and that much of it is related to increasing foreign fishing activity, some of it illegal.
The British first came to the coastline of Arnhem land, in the northern territory of Australia, in the beginning of the 19th century.
They discovered summer shelters of the aboriginal people, which were temporary, built with sheets of bark and illustrations on the inside. These illustrations attracted the British and they stole these when the community was not around. Interest grew about these artworks in England by the museums when the colonisers took the art back.
After some 226 years of racism and marginalisation against indigenous people, their art and culture are finally at the forefront of Australian identity. The art “is tens of thousands of years old but also contemporary,” says Cubillo.