By Tanya McConvell of Socialist Alternative. Originally published at

The powers that be can still shock us. And we know already what they are capable of!

First they denied the people. They called this land terra nullius – an empty land – for more than a couple of centuries. That meant they could use the land, steal the resources if they declared there was nobody here when the ships with guns arrived. By law, in law, the people did not exist! Even now, they refuse to come to terms with the facts: the fact that people were here and complex societies flourished and resources were used to benefit everyone; the fact that men, women and children were massacred; the fact that people were slaves on the farms and the stations; the fact that people resisted and wars were fought and freedom fighters died. There is no recognising sovereignty, no talk of treaty, no compensation for stolen land, resources, labour or children!

And now the land is invisible! Well, not to the likes of Gina Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest, not to the corporations of the world, not to the US military planes and the drones. So who are they switching the lights off for? Who are they trying to convince nobody’s home? There are a few boats carrying a few people who are running from war, occupation, torture and danger! But it doesn’t matter if they get here and touch the land called Australia. By law, in law, for them, Australia does not exist! For them it is not a “migration zone”! The Australia that sits on the UN Security Council, the Australia that signed the refugee convention, is not there for them. Only the military Australia that occupies their countries, only the military Australia that takes them from this land to other countries, only the prisons and the security guards – that is the Australia that exists for them.

For years we were told that people who looked for refuge didn’t exist. The people who arrived were “unauthorised, unlawful, non-citizens” not “refugees”! That’s four white-outs! But they fought, we joined them in that fight and many won. Now the people looking for refuge are told “Australia” doesn’t exist.

Well, we do! And we are all in this together! Whether we demand a treaty or refuge or safety at work, decent wages and a roof over our heads or education and health care or to determine for ourselves what kind of world we will share, we know who “we” are! And we know who “they” are! “They” are the politicians who make the rules to control us and divide us; “they” are the rich who benefit from the control and divisions.

It’s time for “us” to stand together, time for “us” to be visible!

No law but their law!

No justice, just us!

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