Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Words?

In developments in the long running debate on whether there should be Constitutional recognition of Australia's Indigenous Peoples, it now appears a referendum is targeted to be held in 2017.  As one commentator has noted, there is a debate within the Indigenous Peoples of Australia as to the desirability of Constitutional recognition---or whether there should be a recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty. 

One of the first steps in preparing for a referendum is a consultation with representatives of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to craft language that would be acceptable to them. 

And yet, with this focus on sensitivity to language, it might be something of a surprise that at the same time  it is being reported that "The parliament of Australia's Northern Territory turned down the request by an Aboriginal minister to speak in her Indigenous language." The request follows an incident in December 2015 where "Northern Territory MP Bess Price was ­chided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for an interjection in her mother tongue, Warlpiri".

What value is there is Constitutional recognition versus the value placed on the use of Indigenous languages in daily life and the life of a state? One gives a sort of symbolic recognition, the other is about making space for an active exercise of an existent culture-- the official existence of which continues to be a vacuum in the Constitution. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Australia: Constitutional Recognition or Treaty?

Whether there should be constitutional recognition of Australia's indigenous peoples is a long-running political debate. On one hand, this kind of recognition is a clear marker of changing thinking that may continue to permeate policies, even though the terra nullius doctrine was over-turned in the 1992 Mabo decision. Some may feel that the legacy of terra nullius lives on in the failure to have Australian Constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples. But as this editorial by Celeste Liddle points out, there is some indigenous opposition to the idea of Constitutional recognition. What is wanted, Liddle  argues, is a level of recognition that transcends that which would be obtained through Constitutional inclusion.

Liddle  notes that "Australia is the only Commonwealth Nation that does not have a treaty with its Indigenous Peoples." 

And having a treaty, she argues, provides a greater form of recognition-- one of sovereignty. Liddle points out the advantages of having a treaty:  "Provisions contained within a treaty could greatly address the current disadvantages faced by many Indigenous people as the government would have obligations to fill including the obligation to consult the community on proposed legislation affecting us."

Saturday, 13 February 2016

TransCanada pursues community support for project

Even after the costly loss that TransCanada has attributed to the failed efforts to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, it appears that efforts continue to find a way forward to build it. This article reports that the company is pursuing a plan to consider the pipeline construction in the future. It is also trying to win support from communities for the construction of its Energy East project, to address "mounting opposition from First Nations and other communities along the proposed route of Energy East, including the opposition of all the mayors in the Greater Montreal region." 

Friday, 12 February 2016

TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline costs

TransCanada, the company that had pursued permission to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, has posted a $2.5 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2015. A "non-cash charge" of $2.9 billion is attributed to the Keystone XL pipeline, according to this article.