OPINION

 

 

 

 

 

Mansell and Sculthorpe clarify issue with Shane Martin’s status

[supplied by Michael Mansell]

Shane Martin. Image: supplied

Michael Mansell and Heather Sculthorpe have clarified comments made about the Aboriginality claims of Shane Martin, father of Richmond footballer ‘Dusty’ Martin.

 

“Whether Shane Martin is a Tasmanian Aboriginal is a question of fact that people like me can easily answer. By 1850 our people had been reduced from 10,000 to below 200. After that, everything my people did- who they were, where they lived, who they married – was recorded in the same way the Nazis recorded everything about the Jews. It is easy nowadays to get the name of someone claiming to be Aboriginal and find the family link, if there is one. It is much more difficult on the mainland. The reason Tasmanian officialdom kept such a close eye on us was to ensure subsequent generations of black children did not claim their Aboriginal inheritance to property and compensation for genocide. It is obvious the tactic did not work”

 

“On the question of Mr Martin wanting to stay in Australia,” Mr Mansell went on, “that is a separate matter altogether.”

 

“Since ATSIC was established 30 years ago, governments took away from Aboriginal people the right to determine who was Aboriginal. It was an unwieldy move that allowed the numbers of people claiming to be Aboriginal swell beyond reality. For example, the Tasmanian Aboriginal population is now proportionately the highest in the country outside the NT- coming from a population base of less than 200.

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Last week the High Court implicitly legalised the government processes of identifying who is Aboriginal. It was strange because the court majority said a as matter of common sense Aborigines cannot be treated as foreigners or aliens. Then, however, trapped in their own prison of intellectual chaos, the judges said the decision about who was Aboriginal could not be left to Aborigines because that would be recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty. Hence the court endorsed State government processes which evidently attracted the attention of Mr Martin.

 

In Tasmania, the government process is that anyone who says they are Aboriginal is accepted. Aboriginal views are irrelevant. Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt adopted the same approach dealing with Bruce Pascoe when he said Pascoe’s word was good enough. In other words, if Shane Martin claims to be Tasmanian Aboriginal the federal and state government must accept his claim under its processes, regardless of the facts.

 

It follows that Mr Martin is merely seeking justice under existing rules, on a non-discriminatory basis, to be allowed to stay in Australia for family reasons.

 

Minister Peter Dutton says Martin is an undesirable. In my view, I would support Mr Martin being in Australia on compassionate grounds and reject Mr Dutton’s position. Mr Martin has criminal convictions for theft. These happened 30 years ago and he has had a clean sheet since to my knowledge. He is hardly an undesirable person.

 

Mr Dutton and his colleagues claim it is they decide who enters Australia. We accuse Mr Dutton and his colleagues of being hypocrites: their ancestors came out in boats without getting Aboriginal approval and crimes against humanity have been committed against Aboriginal people as a result. At least Martin is seeking legal permission to be here.”

 

“The result is,” Mr Mansell and Ms Sculthorpe concluded, “that Shane Martin has every right to use existing legal procedures to remain in Australia. While he may not be a Tasmanian Aboriginal, he is indigenous and we welcome him to our country”.