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Power, Culture, Economy

Power, Culture, Economy: Indigenous Australians and Mining

Jon Altman
David Martin
Volume: 30
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Power, Culture, Economy
    Book Description:

    Research over the past decade in health, employment, life expectancy, child mortality, and household income has confirmed that Indigenous Australians are still Australia's most disadvantaged group. Those residing in communities in regional and remote Australia are further disadvantaged because of the limited formal economic opportunities there. In these areas mining developments may be the major—and sometimes the only—contributors to regional economic development. However Indigenous communities have gained only relatively limited long-term economic development benefits from mining activity on land that they own or over which they have property rights of varying significance. Furthermore, while Indigenous people may place high value on realising particular non-economic benefits from mining agreements, there may be only limited capacity to deliver such benefits. This collection of papers focuses on three large, ongoing mining operations in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory under two statutory regimes—the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the Native Title Act 1993. The authors outline the institutional basis to greater industry involvement while describing and analysing the best practice principles that can be utilised both by companies and Indigenous community organisations. The research addresses questions such as: What factors underlie successful investment in community relations and associated agreement governance and benefit packages for Indigenous communities? How are economic and non-economic flows monitored? What are the values and aspirations which Indigenous people may bring to bear in their engagement with mining developments? What more should companies and government do to develop the capacity and sustainability of local Indigenous organisations? What mining company strategies build community capacity to deal with impacts of mining? Are these adequate? How to prepare for sustainable futures for Indigenous Australians after mine closure? This research was conducted under an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, with Rio Tinto and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia as Industry Partners.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-87-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    John Nieuwenhuysen

    Twenty-five years ago, in 1984, the then Chairman of the Aboriginal Development Commission, Charles Perkins, referred to the tensions between mining interests and Aboriginal opinion. These, he said, ′… date back to those times of notoriety, not so long ago, when certain Aboriginal groups resisting European pressures on their land were simply swept aside … The deep and degrading cultural disruption, the assault of noise, dust and lost privacy, the loss of social integrity of Aboriginal groups, and the outrageously low return in the way of royalties, employment and other benefits, have all formed part of the picture of the...

  6. Notes on contributors
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  7. Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  8. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Jon Altman and David Martin
  9. 1. Contestations over development
    (pp. 1-16)
    Jon Altman

    Australia is a rich first world nation. In 2007–08 it had a $1 trillion economy as measured by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with per capita income of over $A50 000. In recent years mining sector revenue has constituted a growing share of the national economy, reaching about 11 per cent of GDP in 2007–08 with a value of $A119 billion (Reserve Bank of Australia 2009). The Minerals Council of Australia (2007) estimated that in 2007–08 the value of mineral exports would reach over $A90 billion and constitute 40 per cent of Australiaʹs commodity exports. Before the...

  10. 2. Indigenous communities, miners and the state in Australia
    (pp. 17-50)
    Jon Altman

    Economic globalisation, as noted in the previous chapter, has served Australia well in recent years. Until 2008 this rich developed country was in the grip of an export-oriented resources boom. Even as much of the country was in severe drought, the economy continued to expand uninterrupted for 15 years. Australia, a country of only 20 million people, is the worldʹs fifteenth largest economy. This good economic fortune has not been shared by all Australians. The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) (2006) notes that 60 per cent of minerals operations in Australia have neighbouring Indigenous communities, but is concerned that the...

  11. 3. Data mining: Indigenous peoples, applied demography and the resource extraction industry
    (pp. 51-72)
    John Taylor

    In recent decades, applied demography has emerged as a sub-field of demography partly in response to a growing demand from governments and private sector interests to better understand the implications of population trends for public policy and business strategy (Murdock and Ellis 1991; Siegel 2002). While in essence, this involves the practical application of demographic materials and methods (Siegel 2002: 2), the emphasis is on gaining knowledge of the consequences and concomitants of change in the size of populations, their distribution, composition and characteristics, so as to guide decision-making related to planning and the distribution of public or private sector...

  12. 4. Aboriginal organisations and development: The structural context
    (pp. 73-98)
    Robert Levitus

    In recent decades, the debate over mining development and Indigenous peoples has broadened, both geographically and thematically. The resistance paradigm that asserts the rights of communities against a new industrialised wave of dispossession has been sustained and applied to a succession of new case studies (Cultural Survival 2001; Downing et al. 2003; Hyndman 1994; Lane and Chase 1996; Roberts 1978). Alongside that, and especially in developed countries such as Australia and Canada, attention has shifted to work within a paradigm of engagement, negotiation and management (Howitt 2001: 208–65; Render 2005; Vachon and Toyne 1983). Much discussion now revolves around...

  13. 5. The governance of agreements between Aboriginal people and resource developers: Principles for sustainability
    (pp. 99-126)
    David F. Martin

    In February 2008, the Commonwealth Attorney General called for a new approach to resolving native title claims, unblocking the system through ʹinterests-basedʹ negotiations between claimants and other parties, including governments, which can result in an array of ʹnon-native titleʹ outcomes (McClelland 2008). More recently, in the 2008 Mabo Lecture the Commonwealth Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (Macklin 2008) called for ʹa mindset which structures the governance of these arrangements to ensure financial benefits create employment and educational opportunities for individuals and are invested for the long term benefit of communitiesʹ.¹

    These Ministerial speeches raise a number...

  14. 6. Corporate responsibility and social sustainability: Is there any connection?
    (pp. 127-148)
    Katherine Trebeck

    This chapter examines the relationship between corporate social responsibility and social sustainability on the premise that a vital ingredient in social sustainability is the capacity of communities to determine, or at least influence, those decisions that impact them. Communities should be able to influence decisions regarding any trade-offs that may affect them—for example, between economic development and environmental conservation or between meeting the needs of current generations and the capacity of future generations to meet their needs. Local communities¹ in particular, need to determine what is to be sustained, how and at what expense—not only because their lives...

  15. 7. Indigenous entrepreneurialism and mining land use agreements
    (pp. 149-170)
    Sarah Holcombe

    In the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the focus of this chapter, the mining boom—or the ʹramp upʹ in production as it is referred to within the industry—is such that negotiations for land access have intensified and annual payments to the Indigenous organisations examined here have increased threefold since 1997. These organisations are the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation (Gumala) and Gumala Investments Pty Ltd (GIPL); set up to manage the Yandicoogina Agreement (YLUA). This chapter critically examines the mechanisms through which Indigenous beneficiaries are able to articulate to a Land Use Agreement (LUA) as individuals, with specific attention to...

  16. 8. Mining agreements, development, aspirations, and livelihoods
    (pp. 171-202)
    Benedict Scambary

    In a time of global economic and climate uncertainty the expansion of resource exploitation projects in Australia is unprecedented. The consequent value of the minerals sector to Australian prosperity is in stark contrast to the economic poverty experienced by many Indigenous Australians, particularly those residing in mine hinterlands. This contrast is evident despite the existence of beneficial agreements between Indigenous groups and the mining industry, and in some cases the state, concerning the very mining that is generating such extraordinary profit. Indigenous poverty is only minimally ameliorated by such agreements (OʹFaircheallaigh 2000, 2003a, 2004a, 2006; Taylor 2004a; Taylor and Bell...

  17. References
    (pp. 203-240)
  18. Key publications from the ʹIndigenous community organisations and miners: Partnering sustainable regional development?ʹ project (to July 2009)
    (pp. 241-244)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-246)