- Our Union
- Our Industries
Published: 12 Jun 2020
Photo: MUA Indigenous Officer Thomas Mayor at the #BlackLivesMatter rally in Darwin
The Maritime Union of Australia affirms it solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement and stands with First nations Australians and the many demonstrators here in Australia and internationally protesting racist policing and systemic injustice in our societies.
The Australian people’s reaction to the horrific US police murder of George Floyd was an overwhelming recognition by the Australian people, particularly First Nations people, that the systemic racism prevalent in US society is also present here in Australia. It is reflected in policies of genocide that over many years have manifested in 427 First Nations deaths in police custody since the 1987-1991 Australian deaths in custody royal commission.
The overwhelming public demonstrations that are playing out internationally, including massive Australian demonstrations, shows that policies of systematic racism are not supported by the people and that racist policing and racist social policies must be eradicated and removed.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said
” Racism is pervasive and therefore often dismissed or ignored. However, this atrocity starkly illuminated a gut-wrenching abuse of institutional power, recorded in daylight, in the most casual of settings and unfolding into gripping tragedy with witnesses gathered around pleading for Mr Floyd’s life.”
“His own pleading for support and understanding of his desperate fight to breathe exposed the depth of racism in a country that ripped that itself apart in civil war in order to reject slavery as unconstitutional and has been the heartland of civil rights campaigning ever since.
Racism in itself is the contemporary manifestation of slavery for short-term economic growth in favour of wealthy elites. Mr Floyd’s death is a clear and undeniable criminal abuse of civil rights in the face of the long march to confront and remove racism.”
Mr Floyd’s murder was the spark that set the world on fire, highlighting racism as the burning question of humanity, setting this issue of racism and discrimination, economically, politically and socially, to the fore as the movement for justice gains massive momentum.
About 2.8% of Australians are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and yet indigenous adults are 15 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-indigenous Australians. Juvenile indigenous Australians are 26 times more likely to be incarcerated and the fastest growing prison population is indigenous women. State governments are just as responsible as the federal government.
As one example of many injustices to First Nations people in recent times, we highlight the death of David Dungay. Dungay died in similar circumstances to George Floyd, under the knee of brutal police, crying out that he could not breathe. The MUA commits to ongoing solidarity with Dungay’s family and the hundreds of other families who are still fighting for justice.
The MUA demands that the strongest actions are taken to eradicate the national disgrace of indigenous deaths in custody and First Nations incarceration. Our union will be in the forefront of the fight for social justice and in opposing systemic racism in our workplaces, communities, institutions and across broader society.
There can be no justice for working people in Australia while First Nations people remain in chains.