22 October, 2014
NSW Land Council tribute to Gough Whitlam
22nd October 2014
With the passing of former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, Australia had lost one of its greatest ever champions for land rights and social justice, New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson, Craig Cromelin said today.
Councillor Cromelin said that without Gough Whitlam it is doubtful that Aboriginal people in New South Wales would have achieved land rights.
"When Gough Whitlam handed back their land to the Gurindji people he put land rights on the map around Australia," Cr Cromelin said.
"The image of him pouring sand through the hands of the old man Vincent Lingiari gave land rights campaigners across the nation hope and encouragement that we could one day also achieve justice for our people."
Cr Cromelin said the Whitlam Government also introduced the Northern Territory Land Rights legislation that was thankfully continued by Malcolm Fraser.
In addition, the Whitlam Government's Racial Discrimination Act for the first time gave Aboriginal people protections against the racist treatment they had received for almost 200 years.
Cr Cromelin said that Aboriginal people also benefited from Mr Whitlam's reforms in the areas of international relations, multiculturalism, education and the environment. These include signing the World Heritage convention, which has enabled the protection of many places of great significance to Aboriginal people.
His reforms to higher education also enabled thousands of Aboriginal people to attend university who would otherwise never have been able to afford it.
"Gough Whitlam opened Australia up to itself and to the world. For that this Land Council and our members will always hold him in great respect and affection," Cr Cromelin said.
Media Contact: Angela Bates M) 0475387606