Like Water for Coonana


We share on Facebook, we sign petitions online, but not often enough do we take to the streets. We are too laidback or too mindnumb that our discontent never boils over the limits that our values set. 

We complain we aren’t heard and by believing this we only whisper. Our outrage wells up inside us, self silenced while around us the world swallows up whistling in the wind, with your whisper next to go. And by then some voices will be lost forever.

These voices are those of our First Peoples who are begging for their lives over the sound of monster mining projects that besiege their tiny lot of land.

Last week the water was shut off to the remote Aboriginal community in Coonana. 

Last year after half a billion dollars in life saving Indigenous programs were cut, the town of Oombulgurri was demolished. First services ceased, shops were closed, clinics, schools, and lastly, the most important service for a remote community, the watchdog, the police station packed up.

The plan is to do this to 150 more remote Aboriginal communities in WA because their “lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”. 


Everyone live the same way or we will cut off your water and run you out of town so you can join the rest of us.

Like the obscurity of “bikie” laws, whistle blowing or metadata, the people in charge of closing these “unviable” communities have not even mentioned what makes a community “sustainable”, what services will be cut, who will be targeted, or how anyone can be more conducive to their participation in this oh-so-utopian Australian society.

When a two-day meeting was set up to discuss these issues with WA’s regional land councils in Broome, the WA Premier Colin Barnett failed to show up. He was busy with his “Coffee with Colin” segment for PerthNow discussing his, um, plan?

He says that it is his “responsibility to care for every Western Australian, Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal”.

Of the Aboriginal communities he says, “there are some great communities doing great work, and a lot that aren’t”. 

Unlike of course the non-Aboriginal communities who are all doing a stellar job. 

When asked if the government would produce reports of their findings Barnett stated “I’m not that into reports.”

If he was ‘that into reports’, or the wellbeing of his Western Australians, perhaps he would know that compared to Aboriginal Peoples living in major towns, the remote homeland communities show far better health with lower levels of domestic violence and substance abuse.  

But off ya go. Leave behind the lands you have fought for generations to hold, in blood, in ink, and now water. With no support provided, become homeless in a major town or move with the Diaspora of native refugees to the few remaining communities that will be considered “viable”. 

Barnett may not have much of a plan but some people do.

In 1984, it was Lang Hancock, mining magnate and one of the richest men in Australia, and a good friend of the then Premier’s, who suggested that the Indigenous Peoples who have not “accepted society”, who do not live in “civilised areas” and earn a good wage, well, they should be moved into one area where the water can be doped to make them sterile and be done with it.

What a terrific idea for a man who grows rich from exploiting the land these people live on. 
Funny; we can afford over $5bn in mining subsidies to tear up land within 100kms of remote communities and yet we can’t afford to send water that distance.

It is not funny. It is organized dehumanization. It is genocide. 

It is “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

That comes from the UN General Assembly’s Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, which first defined genocide.

The definition goes on to include “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.

We are a guilty nation. Let us not continue this trend to the stage of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”. 

Australians, humans, all life on this planet, share the need for water. Ceasing services like water to any community is diabolical. It is death. 

By allowing these people to be herded across the desert far from prying eyes we are allowing our own Gaza Strip to be formed, where the small remaining population of our ancestral brothers can be gunned down, or in a classier act, as subtle as Ukraine turning off the power to Crimea, we can poison their water and wash our hands of a 250 year long murder.

What can you do?
You can sign the petition on here, that the Greens plan to table next week in the federal senate.

You can attend the Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal Communities in Australia protests in your local city tomorrow, Thursday 19th of March. Find out more here.