Official launch of Australia’s First Nations Political Party

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Australia’s Indigenous People are getting politically organised and active, with the launch of the Australia’s First Nations Political Party on Australia Day this year. Ruth Forsythe reports.
Tent Embassy Memorial gathering and Smoking Ceremony. (Photo courtesy ABC)

THE MORNING OF the Official launch of the Australian First Nations Political Party (AFNPP) started in a respectful and calm way. The majority of the people who gathered on the lawn in front of the Old Parliament House at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in its 41st year on January 26 were Sovereign peoples representing communities and Aboriginal Nations from across Australia. They came together to pay their respects at a memorial ceremony to commemorate the recent passing of a number of Elders who gave their lives unwaveringly to the struggle for equality and a sovereignty never ceded.

On this day thousands of people at various locations across the Nation also attended smoking ceremonies on the lands and under the guidance of Original peoples.
Official logo of the First Nations Political Party. A shield is in the centre with hunting spear along with left and right handed boomerangs. The shovel nose spear is next to people representing generational members. On the left are a coolamon, woomera and digging stick. The circle at the bottom is central body or water source of all Aboriginal nations, with tracks coming together as one voice. (Image courtesy AFNPP.)

Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Jenny Coe who lost her dear sister last year said at the memorial that she was

“Heartened by the size of numbers growing at the grassroots.”

(With respect to the Coe and Whitehead families respectively, I offer my condolences for their great loss — and in keeping with Aboriginal Traditional custom the people who have recently died are not named in this article.)

As a first-time (adult) visitor to Canberra, it was actually quite a surreal experience to be on the dry lawn in front of Old Parliament House with planes flying in formation overhead breaking the sound barrier and causing spontaneous ripples of small children to burst into tears. This was followed by gunshots that hung and echoed in the ensuing horrified silence.

Yes it was the 26 of January — the invasion remembrance date to our Original peoples and commonly called “Australia Day” commemorated in the capital of Australia in imperialistic military style.

In contrast,  the lawn at the front of old Parliament House the Aboriginal Tent Embassy ground felt like a timeless space, a peaceful atmosphere in the midst of the clockwork city – no doubt the ambience at the Embassy was aided by the fragrant smoke, spiralling out from the sacred Fire located at the centre, and silently drifting through and around the groups who quietly mingled that morning over breakfast muesli, fruit, cups of tea or raisin toast lightly browned over camp fires situated at each corner of the Aboriginal Embassy quadrangle. Congress had a BBQ in their corner of the Embassy Quadrangle and generously catered lunch for around 130 people, plus children, following the AFNPP launch.

Elder Aunty Jenny Coe reflected briefly on the 100 year anniversary to establish Canberra and the way this celebration ignored the reality of the past and present right of Sovereign occupation by the Original peoples.

It’s not like this land and its peoples didn’t exist just because they renamed it!"

Tent Embassy Memorial gathering and Smoking Ceremony. (Image courtesy of Kim McCarthy.)

Canberra is celebrating its 100 year identity and history under white Anglo eyes. The official program includes a section ironically called Full Circle – “the ABC is capturing stories about Canberra our past and present our places and people, all aspects of our identity”. However, while scanning this enormous document, I did not read the name of the local Aboriginal language group in any of the programs, speech notes or planned celebratory events.

Aunt Jenny also spoke of the 220 years of Original people’s survival of the worst atrocities that could be imagined and the development of will and strength through this repeated adversity.

There’s nothing to fear from truth — it is the liars and thieves to be aware of. We have nothing to lose, because we have always maintained our right to be protectors and providers, and live with respect for self, peoples and our countries.These inherent rights came through to me from my mother when I was born!”

Canberra reminded me of Roxby Downs in SA. In a comparable vein the citizens of Roxy Downs are a community created by a corporation that only exists to house and service its workers and their families.  When I visited SA in August some Roxby citizens shared how media and corporate memos strongly suggested that the “Lizards Revenge” renewable energy showcase and music festival goers were the enemy and to keep away. Maybe a similar explanation could be found as why there was a total absence of government representatives paying their respects or speaking at the Embassy’s Memorial Ceremony held to honour the Australian Original Elders who had recently been lost to their families and communities and whose lives have, and continue to, touch the nation.

(A range of media attended the Memorial but, out of respect, were not allowed to film or photograph the Ceremony.)

Despite the sadness of the memorial, a strong united message came from the delegates at the Sovereign Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2013

“…that the fight for sovereignty and equality has strengthened and continues.”

Ina first for Australia, we witnessed the historic launch of the Australian First Nations Political Party (AFNPP) on the steps of the old Parliament House.

(Image courtesy  Leo Bild / Flickr)

Maurie Japarta Ryan from the Gurindji Nation, Kalkaringi community in the Northern Territory, came out from the desert and launched the Australian First Nations Political Party (AFNPP) at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra — the only Aboriginal site in Australia that is recognised nationally as a site representing political struggle for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Judulu ‒ an Original Sovereign owner from the Woomera Nation, Yarrabah community in Far North Queensland ‒ shared with me how he saw the Embassy as a “National Bora Ring”, meaning that this is a place where Sovereign peoples (whilst paying respect to the Original local people of the area) can come and speak openly with permission from their community. He added:
“…there must be unity and any Sovereign representatives are equal to speak." 
The unity was palpable at this year’s Tent Embassy, when following the memorial, all Sovereign delegates visiting from around Australia stood behind the Federal launch of the Australian First Nations Political Party — which, incidentally, before its Federal launch, gained 16 per cent of the primary vote at the Northern Territory election last year.

Although the AFNPP is structured to comply with the current electoral paradigm ‒ and was registered with the Australian Electoral Commission on 6 January 2011 ‒ this Party differs from all others we have seen come and go in Australia because its underlying foundation is based in Original Traditional Uniform Law.

Maurie Japarta Ryan was a former member of the Australian Labor Party, and is the grandson of the legendary Gurindji traditional landowner and prominent Aboriginal rights activist Vincent Lingiari.

The legendary Vincent Lingiari is also well known throughout Australia for speaking and standing in his Law/lore.

At the commencement of the launch, AFNPP Founder Maurie Japarta Ryan stood and spoke from the steps of Parliament House wearing a Basics Card, on a chain around his neck: he asked the people present whether they remembered
“…the old 'Dog Tag' pass days or the chains around the necks of our forebears?”

Mr Ryan then briefly explained:

A day came when Cook came and put markers in the ground and claimed what he saw for the King of England. However from the onset this was a fraudulent act under First Nations People’s Traditional Law because when King John put his signature to the Magna Carta in 1215, the principle was established that that no one including the king or a lawmaker is above the law. 

This makes the 1901 Constitution of Australia following royal asset by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900, upon which date the Constitution became law,  fraudulent and thus cannot be the "Supreme Law" under which the Australian Commonwealth Government Operates.


On Wednesday, 13 February 2013, the House of Representatives passed an Act of Recognition recognising Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia's first inhabitants.

However, two weeks prior to the passing of the “Act of Recognition”, the Tent Embassy Memorial Ceremony and the AFNPP launch, received minimal reportage by mainstream media and attendance or comment from Federal politicians of either persuasions was completely absent.

Both the Australia Day date and the National flag are examples of symbols that are not appropriate in either their reflection or “act of recognition” of the Original peoples of this continent or in representing the huge numbers of people who have settled in Australia from non-British ancestry.

The 2011 Census established that only 31 per cent of the current population identify as having British ancestry. Many do not feel that the dominance on the flag of a Union jack is representative of the millions of people who call Australia home.

Although there are powerful sentiments being expressed by our leaders on both sides of politics around this Act of Recognition – nevertheless bipartisan support continues for the discriminatory and illegal “Intervention” in the lives of the Original peoples of the Northern Territory.

Initiated by the Howard regime in 2007, the current Gillard ALP government passed legislation to extend and strengthen the “Intervention” for a further ten years at 2am on Thursday morning 28 June 2012. This legislation is paving the way for continued cultural genocide and unbridled destruction of people’s lands in the Northern Territory by domestic and foreign owned mining corporations.

It is becoming increasingly clear to the thinking Australian public that our two-party system of government is simply an illusion, as both sides of politics have similar world views and are correspondingly impotent in their ability to articulate a common-sense and sustainable vision for Australia’s children to inherit. At worst, they are ethically corrupt and, at the least, distressingly irrelevant by their inability to address issues around environmental sustainability and quality of life for both First Nation peoples and other Australian citizens.


Maurie Japarta Ryan with basics card and AFNPP Flag. (Image courtesy of Kim McCarthy.)

The AFNPP flag recognises the Original owners of Australia.

Alongside “Black Australia” are four representative horizontal bands of colour to acknowledge and include “all peoples who call Australia home”.

In February 1972, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy presented a list of demands to Parliament including, control of the Northern Territory as a State within the Commonwealth of Australia; the parliament in the Northern Territory to be predominantly Aboriginal with title and mining rights to all land within the Territory.

In 2013, the AFNPP supports an Australian Republic and its four main policies  focus on sovereignty; equality, an end to the discriminatory and unlawful racist “Intervention” and, importantly true equality with other States. With regards to this last important policy, AFNPP ask that the Northern Territory and ACT be given their Statehood, so that over half a million Australian citizens residing in the territories can also have equal representation in the Senate and House of Representatives (currently NSW has 43 Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives while NT has 2 of the total 150 seats).

The launch of the AFNPP is timely in providing a positive new political direction, and one that promises an exciting way forward for the people of Australia. Do we want to be part of an Independent Australia that stands in unity with our Original peoples, members of Sovereign Nations within a Sovereign Nation, alongside other responsible self -sovereign citizens under the Universal Law/Natural Lore of "Do No Harm" or do we choose to continue to sit back and allow the downward spiral of global corporate ravishing and foreign control of our country?.

(Note: being under Natural Sovereign Law would mean” Doing No Harm” to self, promoting right relationships with others and working towards living in harmony with the Earth and her many diverse Life forms.)
Maurie Japarta Ryan

The AFNPP leader & founder Mr Maurie Japarta Ryan, grandson of the legendary Vincent Lingiari, has put out an invitation for the forthcoming Federal Election to all people in all states and territories who call Australia home.

He spoke on National Indigenous Radio Service on 30 Jan 2013
What I'm asking are for people of any race, religion, colour, creed and sex to join this political party and nominate as a candidate in the forthcoming Federal Election.

This party's open for anybody, any race, as long as you are enrolled and a citizen of Australia and abide by the policies of the Australian First Nations Political Party (AFNPP).

Let's make a difference, let's make a change.
(For those wishing to find out more information see the AFNPP website for candidates.)

Statement on 15 February from the Brisbane Sovereign Tent Embassy

By asserting and struggling for Aboriginal sovereignty, we are not just righting the long standing injustice against Aboriginal people.

Sovereignty provides a chance for all who live on this land to build a new society based on Aboriginal culture and values.

A society ruled by social need and environmental sustainability, not one of greed and discrimination.

A unique society with a definitive system of laws and customs to govern it, based on the world’s oldest living culture that will allow Australia to proudly take its place on the world stage for the first time in history.
[Read Ruth Forstythe's essay on the Background to the Gurindji peoples struggle for Sovereignty and Equality as a PDF. Read also managing editor David Donovan's piece The Aboriginal Stockmen's struggle for equal pay.]

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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