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Anthony Mundine joins protesters at the Block

Date and Time: 
Friday, August 11, 2006 -
4:30am to 6:00am

 

Wednesday
09-08-06

 

Anthony Mundine joins
protesters

to fight for The
Block

 

 

Thousands of people, black and white, will unite to stop the
NSW Government taking control of the Block at a historic protest tomorrow (Thursday
August 10). Champion boxer Anthony Mundine will address the protest and is
expected to make an announcement about entering politics to fight for The
Block’s future.

 

The rally will begin outside the state Government’s Redfern
Waterloo Authority (RWA) offices (1 Lawson Square, Redfern) at 6:30pm. Protesters will then march
to The Block, where Isabel Coe of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy will conduct a
ceremony around a “sacred fire” that symbolises unity amongst those in
attendance.

 

The protest will end with a series of speeches from community
leaders including Aboriginal Housing Company CEO Mick Mundine, Aboriginal Tent
Embassy founder Michael Anderson, and Anthony Mundine.

 

The highlight of the night is expected to be when Mr
Anderson passes the microphone to Anthony Mundine for the final speech of the
night. The exchange represents a generational change within the Aboriginal
leadership of Australia.
Anthony Mundine, when asked about his political future, said, “I will do
whatever it takes to help my people.”

 

The protest, planned by the Aboriginal Housing Company
(AHC), Aboriginal Tent Embassy and reconciliation groups, is being held as part
of the fight to get new Aboriginal housing on The Block. 

 

Mick Mundine and Isabel Coe organised the protest because the
RWA and Minister for Redfern-Waterloo Frank Sartor proposed changes to planning
controls that would halve the amount of housing allowed on the Block. The RWA
also plan to increase the amount of housing the Government can build on nearby
government owned land.

 

The AHC fears that this is a precursor to the NSW Government’s
aim to take control of The Block away from Aboriginal people and limit the
number of Aboriginal homes that can be built on the land.

 

Aboriginal Housing Company CEO Michael Mundine said, “The
community, both black and white, should demand equal rights for the Aboriginal
community of Redfern and that control of The Block remains in Aboriginal hands.
The Block is where the civil rights movement in Australia began, and today it is a
modern sacred site.”

 

“We deserve the same rights as any other Australians and we
should be able to use our land as we see fit. We will not be dictated to, or
stood over by, government ministers like Frank Sartor,” Mr Mundine said.

 

Ms Coe said the protest was part of the fight for Aboriginal
sovereignty. “We’re going to remind Frank Sartor that The Block was created to
provide proper homes for Aboriginal people.”

 

“The new paternalism being spread by the Government is what
we have to attack. It’s racism in a new dress. The NSW Labor Government is
adopting the same paternalism that the Liberals use at a Federal level. Enough
is enough,” Ms Coe said.

 

High profiles members of the Aboriginal community,
Australian Labor Party and Churches are supporting the protest. Organisers will
also draw on the resources of local reconciliation groups, including
Reconciliaction and Redfern Residents for Reconciliation.

 

Aside from Anthony Mundine and Michael Anderson, speakers
will include Isabel Coe, Mick Mundine, and Geoff Turnbull from REDWatch. The
Bishop of Gippsland John McIntyre, a former Anglican minister in Redfern, is
travelling to Sydney from Melbourne and will also address the ceremony.

 

Bishop McIntyre said, “We cannot stand by and be silent on
this threatened injustice being perpetrated by the State Government and their
developer mates. If Frank Sartor has legitimate concerns about how the
redevelopment of Redfern will occur he needs to enter into dialogue with the
Aboriginal community.”

 

Trevor Davies from the Darlington Branch of the ALP said the
RWA is facing significant opposition from local members over their plans for
The Block. He expects that a number of Labor politicians will join branch
members at the protest.

 

Davies said, “The NSW Government is doing some good things
in Redfern and Waterloo; suburbs which have been neglected for far too long.
But their reluctance to support the AHC on the Pemulwuy Project is a black mark
that will go down in history as a lost opportunity to help build a prosperous
Aboriginal community in the heart of Redfern.”

 

 

For further information or media inquiries, contact:

 

Peter Valilis, Aboriginal Housing Company, 0400 804 022

 

Isabel Coe, Aboriginal Tent Embassy, 0423 647 695

 

Trevor Davies, ALP Darlington branch secretary, 0400 008 338

 

Lyn Turnbull, Redfern Residents for Reconciliation, 0418 655
246

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