Land ownership: it’s not all black and white

In most western societies land ownership is considered a form of security or an expression of status.  Most non- Aboriginal Australians aspire to own a piece of real estate, and to meet that dream they work, save, borrow and mortgage their lives away.  Land ownership is confirmed with a Title Deed which is identified with a Volume, and Folio and sub-section number on which the land dimensions and boundaries are clearly marked.  On this land the owner may build a dwelling, grow or raise produce for income, or rent out the land for profit.

In rural Australia most land is used for growling cereal crops or raising live-stock.  This is done within the boundaries of the owner’s land.  These ventures are filled with risk:  Dramatic seasonal changes; fluctuating market prices for the produce; diseases; cash flow problems; farming on unsuitable land (poor land management) and a host of other variables could force ownership to be relinquished.

Traditionally, Aboriginal people do not own land.  Instead they are a part of the land and this link was formed during the Dreaming.  In the Dreaming, people were created from the land and this is the land they still inhabit. It is on this basis that Aboriginal people are claiming legal title to land, supported by the belief that the spiritual ancestors who shaped the land still inhabit it; the land still embodies the sacredness of the Dreaming events.  Traditional ownership was validated if your Dreaming Ancestors inhabited a particular area of land.  Traditional ownership certainly does not shield Aborigines from some of the dangers that face western land owners.  However their land management techniques and their attitudes to the environment make the land more sustainable.

 

As Aborigines are not land owners they feel that they have a responsibility to the environment.  The environment, the land, and even the sky were created in one- as were the people – and all are related.  With this attitude (belief) is it any surprise that the Aboriginal people never took anything from nature?  Aborigines are the original conservationists and their use of land management promoted ecological health.

An example of this is fire stick farming:  The burning of undergrowth in wooded areas that would promote the germination of new plants, and thus attract the animals that were an important part of an Aborigine’s diet.  This burning was carried out before the dry season and was done carefully and systematically.  No more was burned than necessary.  Burning was also more than just sound land management; it was evidence that the land was healthy and being fully utilised.  There was also a religious significance to burning:  As the Ancestral spirits of the Dreaming still inhabit the land, the burnings provided these spiritual inhabitants with lands on which they could hunt.

Conservation was also extended to all practices of hunting and gathering.  No more food was taken than required and no food source was over exploited.  In some societies prohibitions were placed on the taking of immature plants or animals.  In times of crisis, such as drought or flood, land ownership need never be relinquished.  The resources have been preserved.

The western attitude to the land did not encourage sound management or preservation techniques.  Whereas the Aborigines were careful in their exploitation of resources, the westerners unwittingly created vast tracts of land devastation.  For instance, the over grazing of stock has rendered many areas infertile.  The senseless chopping down of forests has destroyed delicate eco-systems.  The salinity of the waterways is largely due to pollution.  It is evident that no consideration had been given to the protection of natural resources.  How little are the changes of attitudes since 1788?  Land exploitation was used to advance British colonisation and became the rationale for European land ownership.  It is ironic that most European-Australians view Aboriginal lands as inhospitable, barren or unforsaken, when it could be argued that the reverse could apply.

Truth in Advertising – How to choose

It was during one of my mandatory trips to Woolies and typically confronted with a 10 person deep queue that I overheard two elderly ladies speak in the tut tut manner with which elderly ladies are sometimes inclined to do.

Lady 1 (spoken in a raised tone to ensure that the intended culprit caught each and every word): Why do some people allow their children to get so FAT!

The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon has acknowledged that obesity is a serious and growing problem in Australia.

Consumer Action organisation Choice believes one solution would be to enable people to make healthier choices. But surely some people question, don’t people realize what they’re putting in their mouths? By the look of Australia’s obesity crisis which has now estimated at being 60 per cent of adults and one in four children overweight or obese, it seems that they don’t.

Perhaps one reason for many people failing to make healthy choices is that manufacturers are allowed to sell anything and still call it “lite”, “diet”, “a healthier choice”, “energy food”. Foods are displayed in the Health Food section of the supermarket without rhyme or reason – a “health” bar from this section can contain the same number of kilojoules and the same amount of sugar as a chocolate bar from confectionery.

Another example are the sugar filled cereals which tout “high fibre” and “high protein” qualities while ignoring the fact that the box is full of sugar. And a personal favorite of mine, the products which proudly announce that they are 99% fat free when their major component is sugar.

To help overcome the mixed and confusing messages put forward by manufacturers as to the healthiness of their products Choice has suggested clearer labelling of packaging. Needless to say manufacturers are fighting any changes to the current labelling requirements, their argument being that they already provide this information.

Why provide anything clearer than this they argue.

One thing is absolutely certain and this is when I am doing my dart in and out of the supermarket one of the last things that I’m going to do is stand there and read the flea size print to try to ascertain whether or not 29.7g of sugar or 395mg of sodium per 100g is or is not a healthy amount.

Below is an example of what the manufacturers are fighting against, a clear easy to see traffic light system. I’ll believe that manufacturers of these sugar laden products are sincere wanting to help Australia’s obesity crisis when they proudly print their sugar content in the same size font as they proudly proclaim 99% fat free.

Please feel free to use this post for any consumer related whinges.