Speech to 1000 Warrior March from Musgrave Park to Suncorp Stadium All Stars Game, 9 February 2013.
[Editor’s Note: Only about 40 people turned up! But then, is it always about numbers? Only 7 marched in Brisbane when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975.]
***beginning not recorded****
It’s a challenge for us, it’s a challenge for a lot of young people. It’s a challenge for a lot our countrymen. And when I say countrymen I talk about the latest lot of boat people that have come here, the latest lot of immigrants that have come here to call this country home. It’s a good country, it’s worthwhile putting the effort into making it a better country. So when we talk about these things and these questions, these questions aren’t black fella questions, they’re not questions for blacks fellas. They are Australian questions. Sovereignty, law, religion, our place in this society, treaties. They are all questions that every Australian that wants their kid to grow up in a fair and just country has a responsibility to answer. They’re not just black fellas questions. These are Australian questions. Sovereignty is an Australian question.
The ability to be able to light this fire and practice our religion whilst we see all the other religions around this country building mosques, building their churches. The Greeks have their orthodox churches around here, the Catholics have their churches, the church of England has their churches.
When we want to come together and practice, they call this a fire. It’s is a ceremonial tool, it’s a religious tool. There’s a big difference between what they call it and denigrate it as a fire and what we perform here. And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that we have. They can appreciate our art, they can appreciate our songs, they can appreciate our dance, but they find it very, very difficult to accommodate our law and accommodate our religion. But just because they find it difficult, doesn’t mean that we can’t practice it. It doesn’t mean that we have to turn our back on it and become a Catholic or a Church of England or a Protestant or a Morman or a Hindu or a Muslim.
There’s nothing wrong with being what we are, there’s nothing wrong with Biamie, there’s nothing wrong with our laws, there’s nothing wrong with our religion. There’s nothing wrong with our fire. It’s a healing. It’s the one that heals our people. When it comes around, when we talk around this thing, this is where the law is, this is where it comes from.
And the further you get away from this fire, the more lost you become. Right now there’s three of us that are standing here, the latest judge, he put on our bail conditions we’re not allowed to light a fire, we’re not allowed to make a fire and we’re not allowed to build tents here in this park otherwise we get locked up again.
That sounds like Hitler, when he was going into the Jewish camps and lawing his laws with the Jews in Germany prior to the Second World War. So here we have a question, these questions have got to be answered. But today, like I said, it’s a good opportunity to share it, other people. This is the first step and with the onset of a lot of things. Just to remind people that change in Australia hasn’t started with masses of people, it’s only ever been a handful. Whether it be four blokes sitting under an umbrella on Parliament House lawns or whether it be another black fella getting on a bus going up through all the redneck towns through NSW. And I’ll tell ya, there’s a lot of the people in those towns, a lot of black people in them towns that were telling them to fuck off too.
When we first started talking about land rights and we started talking about black rights, and we started travelling to all these country towns, there’s was a lot of black fellas that hunted us. There was a lot of black fellas that said to us, my own people said to me “we don’t want your shit here. We’re happy with what we’ve got”. Those same people are the first fellas sitting around those native title tables today. Fighting with their own cousins. They were the same people that told us to take your land rights, take your native title and piss off.
So change, what I’m saying that, is not to be spiteful. I’m saying this to be honest. I’m very proud of the people who made the effort to come here today, very proud. Because it was people like you in small numbers that made the change in the first place. It’s wasn’t hundreds of people. 1938 in Sydney it was only handful of people, 10 people. Old Pat and old Reid, old Ferguson, old Kinchela and their families. They were a handful and those people, they’re heroes, they’re heroes, they’re legends.
So change it starts with us and it starts with numbers like this. And I think today’s walk and I’m proud of the young fellas, Boe and young Callum and the other group with Embassy mob. People might say, what happened to your tents here, where the Embassy gone. Embassies not about tents, it’s not about buildings, it’s not about signs, it’s about us fellas here. It’s here, in here. That’s where your embassy is. It comes from your heart, it goes out through your hands and your feet and it’s here every day.
We are the embassies. We are the embassies in Canberra, we’re the embassies in Sydney, we’re the embassies in Woolloongong, we’re the embassies here. It’s not materials, it’s not tents, it’s not buildings. And whilst us people stand here, through those embassies, we give our people sanctuary. When our people are lost and they looking for sanctuary and when our new visitors that come to this country are looking for information and sanctuary, they come to us and they find that and they find refuge in that and they find comfort in that.
So I pay my respects to everybody that come here. It’s the first one, the young fellas have done well. Everyone’s made the effort and I’m going to very proud to walk with yas over there. And you’s can say you were here for the first one. Next year when it’s bigger, well it’ll be bigger.
(Thnx to KC for the transcript)