The Guardian August 23, 2000


The flag flies over Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Despite an order obtained by the South Sydney Council in the Land and 
Environment Court to clear the Aboriginal Tent Embassy from Sydney's 
Victoria Park, the Aboriginal flag still flies and the Ceremonial Fire 
which burns continuously is still burning.

The Tent Embassy is one of a number of actions taking place in the long 
struggle of the Aboriginal people for their rights and for recognition of 
their prior sovereignty, occupation and ownership of the Australian 
continent.

The South Sydney Council has advanced what can only be described as 
spurious and petty reasons for their appeal to the Environment Court.

The Tent Embassy occupies only a small corner of the large Victoria Park 
and is situated a long way from the nearest road and from residential 
areas. It is however adjacent to Sydney University where the Student 
Representative Council is giving strong practical and moral support to the 
Embassy.

The Council's arguments that public safety is jeopardised, that it creates 
noise for local residents and that there is a loss of park amenities to 
daily park users is sheer nonsense.

The Tent Embassy is clean and tidy as any visitor to the Embassy will see 
and there is a ban on alcohol and drugs.

Before the Court action the South Sydney Council attempted to impose severe 
conditions on the Embassy which would have virtually rendered it 
inoperative.

There are good grounds for believing that the moves of the Council are 
related to the coming Olympics with an attempt by authorities to push any 
Aboriginal actions to the sidelines where it is hoped they will be out of 
sight and so out of mind.

The action of the Council may have the opposite result to that intended. 
The Embassy is already being visited by overseas tourists coming for the 
Olympics and by overseas journalists.

It is expected that the Tent Embassy may appeal against the decision of the 
Land and Environment Court but in any case the  spirit and quiet 
determination of the Aboriginal people staging the Tent Embassy suggests 
that they will not be moved.

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