What Indigenous Reparations Might Look Like In Australia
Reckoning. With our history, is a, white, settler responsibility. My. Pops been saying pay the rent since I was a little. If. We wanted to do this we could afford to do it. My. Name is Luke Perry Richardson I'm a descendant, of the cookie LNG and double Chi people Mun, and jelly of people of South East Queensland, and Butler mob from Fraser Island and also the Miriam people in the Torres Strait eight. Weeks ago I was asked to be a part of a documentary about reparations, in, other words paying. The rent to Indigenous Australians, eight. Weeks ago I had no idea what reparations, even meant despite. The fact that some of my mob have been calling for the rent to be paid for decades what, I do know about rent, I'm an artist and a storyteller and I rent a one-bedroom, apartment in Darlinghurst Sydney I don't, own my home yet but I'd like to one day and if I did buy in Sydney you'd, be on gadigal land yet, not a single cent will go to go to war model. Traditional. Owners don't get to profit much from their land it, was taken without payment but what if we all had to pay to, live on gadigal no. No your, Deora Murray land I'm willing to pay the rent are, you. In. 2018, a strain households, were named the wealthiest, in the whole world and a large portion of that wealth stems from assets, specifically. Property values. Australia. Is a wealthy country and a big part of that wealth has been built on Aboriginal left. I'm. Gonna take you on a journey with me to find out more about reparations, I'm going to talk to experts and I'm gonna ask Australians. Property-owning. Australians, if they're ready and willing to pay the rent this is not about handouts and it's, not just about money it's, about acknowledging this country's past like, they have done in South Africa, New, Zealand Canada. Haiti. The, US and other places reparations. Is nothing new we, just don't talk about it enough here, yeah, the. First thing I needed to do was to understand what reparations, can be so, I sat down with Andrea Durban, she is a South African human. Rights law professor, and someone, I knew would get me started on my journey there. Are a number of categories that. Really. Speak to what reparations. Are so it's an apology. Compensation. Which is usually monetary compensation. Restitution. Which is giving people back their land their language their culture. Rehabilitation, which. Is where. People have suffered physically, or emotionally and. Lastly. A guarantee, against. Repetition, of those, violations of, human rights in. Really, simple terms, reparations. Is to be sorry and to, do sorry and that, can consist, of paying monetary, compensation for. The past wrongs when, BuzzFeed asked me to work with them on this documentary, I must admit I was a little cautious but. They put me in touch with Alex Kelly a filmmaker, from Alice Springs she's. Done a lot of research and I'm hoping she can help me understand, what mainstream Australia. Thinks about paying the rent is, it possible that Australians, will be up for contributing, part of their property tax dollars to a reparation, scheme fortunately. There are people that know way more about this pay the rent stuff than I do so I asked Alex to talk to Richard Denis to find out if a property tax is the best way to fund a reparation, scheme and I caught up with Camilla Roy a woman Natalie Chrome Natalie. Comes from a legal background and has been writing about this stuff for a while. I. Think. In Australian. Politics we've seen a lot of symbolism, that.
Was, Never backed up by action that we still talk about Paul Keating's Redfern speech which was, incredible. It was pivotal we, cannot give Indigenous, Australians, up without. Giving, up many. Of our own deeply held values, much. Of our identity and indeed. Our own humanity but, there was no real, political action, after that that's made, any meaningful change and any any. Progressive. Politicians. That, try to implement, change for our benefit gets bought back by the next government, we. Apologize, for the laws and, policies of successive Parliament's. And, governments. That. Have inflicted profound, grief, suffering. And loss on these. Our fellow, Australians, we're constantly stuck, between this either-or. Argument. Between two major parties, and neither. Of them actually have long-term, strategic. Outlooks for the benefit of us because, they're. Not actually talking to us everything, is about us without us do you think it's a pipe dream that when we're, trying to you. Know trying to get here like that whole reparations, or pay the rent do you think it's a priority to put it work in Australia I think, you could work in Australia but it takes the right mindset, and I think that. Given. That, sir. Over 230, years it's been in bread crumbs am I supposed to feel grateful for, it why not shoot, for, absolutely. What we're entitled to Natalie, isn't exactly filling me with optimism here but, it's nice to know that she doesn't think reparations, is just a pipe dream and from what Richard told Alex it's not a new idea either, the idea of, paying reparations the. Idea, of. Formally. Setting, out compensation, to, groups who've been displaced. Is. Hardly. A new one and it's it's hardly a radical one but in Australia obviously, it's, it's it's been a very controversial. And I guess, that stems, back to the fact that for so long. Australians. Pretended, the, terra nullius was. That. Terra nullius was, a useful concept. In. Australia, we start, with denial and that's that's that's the most helpful place to start I think, the conversation, we need to have is should we be looking at this and if, people agree we should then we can start a conversation about how, and, after. We've done the short and after we've done the how then, we can have a conversation about how you might fund that I wanted, to ask about where you, see. This conversation. Sitting. In. The, kind of broader. National. Conversation. So you, know in terms of how you think about the, way in which nearly Buddhism, frames. Debates, in Australia, how. Do you think a conversation, about reparations, would sit in, that kind of economic climate. Unfortunately. I think the, you, know the Australians. Have been trained to believe that we're broke we're trained to believe that government. Spending on anything is inefficient and wasteful, and, a lot of people have been trained. To believe that the. Collection of taxation, revenue, is, inherently. Harmful to the economy so, yeah, I think that neoliberal. Frame of reference makes this debate, harder. Than it needs to be I've. Seen Australians, rally for our mob in the past but getting people to engage in an open debate about reparations. It's gonna be real hard when, we ask people on Facebook what they thought of a pay the rent scheme it. Was tough reading one person wrote nothing, they get enough handouts from the taxes we pay already and another person wrote I think, that we've already paid them far too much get, off your bums and work this sort of commentary is nothing new to me but.
How Do we get beyond it some, people were more supportive this user wrote my housemates and I collectively, donate, $100, a month to vacc aho as rent, for living on stolen land we'd, participate, in some kind of formal reparation, scheme as well I want, to see communities, sir I have not survived I think, that we need to. Pursue. The hardest, line and hope. That we. Get enough traction with relevant. People so that. We. Continue creating, attention, having the rest of Australia want, to join. Join. The conversation, and say you know what we did actually do wrong it's time for us to pay, the rent and how, what does that look like so do you talk about this, with, your non-indigenous friends, and and family as well. How. Would I approach that without, people, getting angry or or sad I, think if, if, you make it clear that you, know it's not about white, guilt or anything, like that you, know we're not asking people to feel guilty, about history. We're. Asking people to check. Their privilege and use it for us because, the. Government is never going to hand anything, to us without us fighting for it and we. Need allies who, want, to do right and want to be on the right side of history we. Can talk and talk and protest. All we want but it's, the. Help from the non-indigenous side, that's really vital basically, yeah exactly exactly we're, less than 3% of the population so, if it's just left up to us change. Is never going to come how do you think we would reach the majority of Australians agreeing, that, this was a necessarily. Process. To engage in no one knows look. How long it took to get same-sex, marriage up in Australia, and look how torturous, that process, was I think, we can unfortunately expect. The same might occur when we're talking about something like the. Provision, of reparations. But, I think the main thing we have to do is is take the question, back to its simple moral one the. People think what happens and the way it happens in hindsight. Was. The right thing to occur, I'm. Gonna go and talk to some. Property, owners here in Sydney and, ask. Them this question are they willing. To or ready to pay the tax I'll pay the rent sorry yeah. What. What how should I approach it if they go why would I pay for something, that happens so long I, think, I'm. In common, argument why yeah not, my phone happened all those years ago yeah that's that's the common argument I think you. Approach them by, giving them an analogy, what would you expect if, someone squatted in one of your properties and, did. So unlawfully. With the full, flagrant. Stew the lord of, the. Their own and and, the adopted country they'd, expect, to have rent. Right, so. You. Know we're not asking, for them to pay two hundred and thirty years of rent or asking them to, establish. A fund. In. Order for each community, to be able to self-govern. And. Self-sustained. Without. Having, to ask for bread crumbs off the table help, bridge that gap it yeah Africa, yeah I hope, you are managed. To make, an impact in their minds of the non-indigent that's not me, two fingers crossed, yeah you go. Someone. That's been there for me throughout all my ups and downs is my partner Elliot she's. Been hearing little bits about my journey so far but. I wanted to sit down and chat with her as one of the people closest to me to see what she thought about it all.
I, Feel. Bad not knowing about it. Well. It's not actually been spoken about right, have, you heard about reparations, before well, I actually. Kind, of hadn't, until you. Know you started, talking about it I guess I have questions about you, know who, would get the money and then who decides on you know what to do with the money yeah but, then again I don't know how it works in other places either early. Conversations, I had about reparations, people, kept coming back to overseas examples, Canada's Stolen Generations, fund and South, Africa's, Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For example you know I think what the South African experience showed me is I never and, I. Say this to many of my colleagues here, in Australia, I never in my lifetime, believed. That democracy, would come to my country South, Africa I never, believed Mandela would be released Nelson Mandela would be released from prison in my lifetime and, yet, it happened, and so while, what. You and I've been talking about can, be quite dispiriting. There's. Always that little, sense. I always have that knocks me on the head and says remember, you. Never thought that change would come to your country in your lifetime, or that, Nelson Mandela would be President, and, hey it's. Happened. Andrea. Told me that reparations, in South Africa didn't fully work but, that there is a new push to get something happening so it seems the most successful, example, people keep talking about is, New Zealand's Waitangi, tribunal, so I lined up a chat with dr. a Naru Arata the. Journey that I've had with working. On Mari riots, and with non international. Indigenous. Rights oh I see a lot of Australians, right so. This morning and we went to her going away at there it was the last day for professor, he was leaving he's had an amazing career and he he. Was working for the local tribal people at Bastion points, in Auckland for their land claim. And. Then it brought to mind the, aboriginal. Embassy, and Canberra. So. This was all happening around about the same time and the mid to late seventies, so when the tent and embassy was getting CS out which way and Sam was kind of a reaction to the land policies, of the government of the time. There, was the major occupation, at Bastion point and they're both kind of pivotal, moments, in our, shared. History and. The history of New Zealand in Australia, well you, know it was a very, strong. Movement very about self-determination. About. Political. Autonomy not just, land rights. And, that's how our movement kicked, off in New Zealand and, I think in Australia to going back to our Bastian, point right the the occupation. Of that land it was it was integral. To the is that what, I've learnt to a white tongue in tribunal, yes, yeah, that's right could you teach. Me more about that I've got a brief understanding but. How, that how did that come about yeah. Basically, just briefly what is its inquiry. A commission, of inquiry so. It's not like a court you know so you don't have, strong. Forms, of cross-examination it's. About trying. To find the truth. And. It's looking into, basically. Historical, and justices that occurred. Right. Back to 1840. When, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed but. Then in 1985. They. Gave a jurisdiction, to look all the way back to 1840. And it just opened it'll work completely, and that was the, significant.
Moment Where the. Tribunal, could look at you know land takings, that occurred in 1865. Or earlier or. In the 1970s. And. And. That, meant that we were forced to basically look at this that part of how. Our. History, right that not, other people knew about I, knew, that the Mauri were here first and land was taken their own justices. But but. These inquiries. Were into. Specific, tribal, claims to specific. Areas of land and they. Produced reports, which. Documented what happens and they, made recommendations for. Redress. So. It's yes it is see it's really important, part of our healing process. Reparations, has. Made a difference yeah definitely, yeah it's made a difference is cathartic and healing. Economically. Drive, someone, powers that self-determination you're, talking about the self discrimination, yeah move towards self-determination. There. It's. Enacted codes. Which, foster. Greater participation and. Decisions, related, to environment. A, whole. Range of different messes so it's being it's, been key I think like. Everyone would agree with that right like if you if, you if, you, google, treaty settlements, you're fun a lot of people would critique it and for good reason it's not perfect, but, I think overall, it's, unique, it's being really. Important part of healing. And honoring, and respecting, being. Justices, of the past and also. Building a base for the future. Economically. And politically I think things, to be very inclusive. At, the best of times of strains hate paying tax they, love the way of living, here they love how great, life. Is in Australia roads everything but they hate paying tax so, why would they pay. A tax that. Doesn't benefit. Them doesn't benefit their roads I think that it, benefits 3%, of the population why why would they like. I. Know. I would because I come from a minority within this country and I would pay other elsewhere, but. But. Why would a, non-indigenous. Person, you. Know that. Doesn't directly benefit, with this hey. We. Do, have a couple of friends that have, just bought places, my place really even, you. Know we watched other friends, try, to find a place that was affordable you know and they work in such as. Naturist. And other like dancers that live nearby there's, a lot of our friends are. Minorities. Already you, know yeah. That already can't get I think. If they had the money on. The other celery I think. If they could afford a house I think they wouldn't be happy to pay it when. We started making this documentary the plan was to speak with a lot of property owners around sydney, just to ask them what they thought about a pay the rent tax we're in a go agreed to talk with us so i went had a young with her at her house in rose bay sydney. When. You first bought your first property the. Idea, of paying. A voluntary. Reparations. Property. Tax, would. You have paid it back then oh. But. When i first bought my property. I'm. Just trying to think what year it may have seen it was I think it was late, 80s. And, I, was, other. Way I've always been a person who cares, about, social. Justice, so. For me the whole concept of inequality. Is a real, isn't just an, ottoman, I can't I'd get really upset about it so yes.
I Would have absolutely I, do, live in this one-bedroom apartment dying hearse don't, own it I still paying rent on my my, art artistic wage my. Artists wage with, my partner. And, you did say that you would pay a. Reparation. Property, tax I find. That the world. Is away from where we are right now with this beautiful, backyard, swimming, pool house. Compared. To my. Little square. Box over, in Darlinghurst and it's. It's. Easy to say that you. Have. The money. I guess to pay that tax what, would what would you say to people like me. A struggling artist that's well, that's why I think it there needs to be some sort of equity. Apply. To this and so and it maybe will be a percentage, or something. And it cuts in at a certain point. Which. Is which is basically how all taxes work anyway I think in Australia so I can't imagine it would just be a one-size-fits-all, sort. Of tax, but. I do think it there needs to be some sort of system where everybody feels like they're contributing it's my only point, where I think even it was a small amount I feel like everybody should should. Contribute, in some way because. Everyone. It's, the only way gonna bring the whole country together around this concept, of reparation, for First Nations people no one now said yes to our requests, to film with them in their homes one. Couple who live in Bell main told, us to support the idea but don't want to say the wrong thing how, do we start having a conversation about reparations, and pay the rent if people are too hesitant to talk I haven't, given up on Australians, I feel like I feel like you know we've we've had a few road, bumps as. A nation we haven't always you. Know we don't have a wonderful history always, and. Particularly when it comes to First Nations people but, but, I do I, do, believe that, people are, inherently good. And. If they have the, right information and, they're aware of the, issues. Then. The, people will make the right decision yeah I think what, the biggest. One. Of the things, that I've discovered is that we. Haven't had this history but we're also not owning. Up to it at this point in time we, had the we had the apology with Prime, Minister Rudd, but we haven't I think.
A Great. Example is the 26th of January, what is that and who that what what, does that mean to Australians. First Nations on non. First Nations as well so. I think. Going back to if there was ever to be a reparation, scheme there also has to be. Owning. Of history, and owning of the, wrong that was done in the past as well you know and not just not just a stolen generation, that was apologized, for I'm, still a long way from truly, understanding, how to pay the rent scheme could work in Australia but, annaroo gave me this advice within. The international. Legal system could, I make a change could I, could. I do something one person, you know what I mean oh yeah. I think I think there's a lot of I mean it's how it starts, right with just individual, choices to do something and then you you, don't do alone you join up with you know your. Friends, and colleagues and, family and then ultimately. You do you know for, your community, my personal opinion is that some kind of pay the rent scheme could work here in Australia but this is just the beginning of my journey or what I do know for sure is, that the reconnecting, relearning. And empowering. Needs, to continue so, let's keep having these conversations.