“…….and then Gulwa cowered in fright.”

A recent Four Corners episode revealed mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest’s efforts to cut a deal with Native Title holders that would allow his company access to a sizeable chunk of Western Australia’s mineral rich Pilbara region. In an amazing exclusive, I have the transcript of a speech that demonstrates just how far he and Fortescue Metals are prepared to go to gain permission from the local Aboriginal community.

“Hello there, or ‘Djunguwanji lamanu’ as the Ngunampa people of the northern Pilbara, where I spent my formative years, used to say.

Thank you all for coming to the final day of negotiations. My company believes the dispute over the Solomon Hub project has gone on too long. As Chairman, it saddens me that you, the traditional landowners, have so far rejected all of Fortescue Metal’s generous offers. But I believe we’ll be able to break this impasse, moving forward together to create a great future built on lucrative iron ore deposits and mutual respect.

Let me speak from the heart. I love Aborigines, have done since I was a boy; on the station that’s been in the family since colonial days we used to employ lots of Indigent people. They took me under their wing, teaching me about bush tucker and the ways of the land until I was considered ‘one of the tribe.’

Today I’d like to share with you the following story, told to me on the eve of my thirteenth birthday by a tribal elder who sensed my profound spiritual connection to the land. This is the story of a billabong; my ‘dreaming’, if you will.

A long long time ago, before Creation, the land was flat, the sky was hot, the mineral resources few. The scorched earth could barely support life, let alone provide any meaningful prospects for economic advancement. Vast winds swept the deserts of what we now call the booming Pilbara region, but which was back then known simply as the fiscally depressed homeland of the Bungarraji nation. The mulga parrot and the nankeen kestrel fought for scraps in the spinifex, while the red kangaroos lounged around all day and got into fights. There was no gainful employment to be had; darkness was upon the earth.

But one morning a great trembling shook the world, and up from the rocky ground came the rainbow serpent Gulwa. He slithered across the desert and shaped the landscape, and in seven days he created the rivers and mountains, the lakes and waterholes. Brave Gulwa broke the drought and brought the rains, which in turn gave life and economic opportunities. All the creatures of the land were thankful, and they listened to Gulwa because they knew he had the wisdom of the stars.

After creating the means by which the Bungarraji might enjoy a better life, Gulwa the rainbow serpent retired to a billabong. One day he had an idea- “this billabong has great potential to become a useful piece of infrastructure” he said. So he humbly proposed an action plan to the birds and lizards. They told Gulwa to go away, as the billabong was on their ancestral homelands. He persisted, and they cut a deal: Gulwa would provide the creatures with an everlasting food supply if they gave him permission to transform the muddy billabong into a dam. The majority agreed, and the serpent Gulwa kept his word. Summoning his magical powers, he presented them with a neverending supply of gourmet carrion.

But Wanangura the sulphur-crested cockatoo wasn’t satisfied. He said, “this land, bin with my family since the Dreamtime. Our people, we don’t need your help.”

Gulwa was sad about this, but he wasn’t going to give up his plans for an important future-building project that would yield financial and moral benefits for generations of sulphur-crested cockatoos to come. Once more he summoned up his magical powers, and generously gave Wanangura and the rest of his clan the special gift of everlasting life. But the recalcitrant cockatoo was still not happy.

“Why all you serpent fellas trying to help us,” he said. “We got our own plans, down ere in the dust. Never come to nothing, but we still got our culture.”

Gulwa was patient. He explained the benefits of a dam, provided Wanangura with a cost-benefit analysis, promised training and jobs for future generations.

The ungrateful bird still wouldn’t budge. Gulwa was now sick and tired of these negotiations. Gulwa was also angry that with each day his visionary development was held up, the projected sharemarket value of the dam went down. He slithered away, and thought of what to do next.

“I have been fair” he thought. “I have provided due compensation to the inhabitants of the billabong, but now they have left me with no choice.” Once again he summoned up his magical powers.

That night the sky split open and a demon spotted harrier descended unto the billabong. Fire roared from its beak and flinty stones were hurled from its claws, and chaos and destruction and death were visited upon the birds and lizards. All the creatures of the billabong were destroyed, but Gulwa saved his most terrible wrath for greedy Wanangura, instructing the satanic bird to rip the cockatoo to shreds with his dark thorny wings and then instantly smite his remains with a flash of beady red eyes.

Thanks for listening. I hope some of you might reconsider your opposition to our exciting new iron ore project. Goodbye, or as the salt of the earth jackaroos I used to work with would say, ‘Hooroo!'”

How many times do I have to say it? I LIKE ABORIGINES!

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