OPEN LETTER TO The Honourable Jay Weatherill from Mintabie Family

Open Letter to:
The Honourable Jay Weatherill
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs &
Parliament House, Adelaide S.A. 5000

Dear Sir,
Three years ago, after 30 years of self employment and raising a fine family, my wife and I decided to abandon the fast lane and make a “desert change” to Mintabie opal field in the far north of S.A.  We sold our family home near the city and moved here with the intention of semi retiring to a quiet, peaceful and healthy lifestyle cruising into old age with dignity.  We bought a small camp and began to make a home for ourselves amongst the many local characters of the bush.

We knew that things would be more expensive and simple plans much more difficult to achieve when you are 1200 km from the capital city, but accepted the challenge with our usual gusto for life, at the same time providing a base for our family and friends to visit central Australia from.
With the current proposal of introducing a police check for everyone who intends to stay here longer than 24 hours (Anangu people excepted for some reason) it will inflict a $50 per person fee on them, as well as a four week delay and take away our right to spontaneity in our lives. Our visitors alone will have to contribute about $1500 to a Govt that’s proven to be wasteful, ignoring the small people while bending over backwards for their mining and oil interested mates.

Our Progress Association, local community and business owners have put a lot of time, money and effort into the facilities and infrastructure that will attract tourists to our tiny town and now that our hard yards are working well these unfounded proposed restrictions from out of the blue which are totally un-Australian have the potential to place this town along with it’s families, who currently have stability, into a stressful and precarious lifestyle.  On top of that when our family and friends have paid the fees suggested, waited four weeks for approval and some driven over 2000 km to come and see us, we wouldn’t have the privileges others have of offering them a drink when they get here because of the proposed new rules.

They’ll need to get back in their vehicle and drive down to the pub for any refreshments. Many of our friends prefer not to frequent pubs!! I wish I could get some shares in ours as that’s the only business that’s got any thing to gain from all these changes. You would be forcing us to pay $5 per beer at the pub when it costs about 50c to make our own. Everyone outside our town is asking what part of  China, Mintabie is in that we wouldn’t be “allowed” visitors without Govt approval and if they’re allowed in we can’t offer them a drink in our own home. If this is the future of South Australia, God help us all.

I know the aboriginal lands are dry, (self imposed) and when I work out there, I respect that and comply happily, but the Mintabie opal field was pegged out declared and inhabited long before Don Dunstan and his mates rightly gave some of their lands back to the Anangu people.

Mintabie is just like any other part of Australia and shouldn’t have the self imposed laws of the nearby communities inflicted upon everyone residing here. It is perceived that power mongers are working to their own agenda which will become clearer if these plans are successful.

As far as I’m aware no aboriginal people live within the mining lease but live about 50 km away from here. Some live much further away. Anangu can get grog anywhere along the Stuart Hwy they care to pull in, so why make a 40km detour to come here?  Anangu have to go somewhere for provisions that their own communities don’t have, like quality fresh fruit, vegies and meat etc at reasonable prices with the store owners allowing some of them credit refused by their own people. If any of them are under the influence of anything illegal it’s been sourced outside of Mintabie.

All the trouble reported in the media seems to be a smoke screen instigated by non-ordinary Anangu residents. If this precedent is set and imposed upon normal law abiding citizens of Australia on a “government lease” area, this current government will have made enemies of any who have voted Labor in the past and they will be committed to work vigorously against this party in forthcoming elections for fear of what may happen to their own basic civil rights in other parts of the country at any given time.

Yours faithfully,
Lee & Sharlene Craggs
P.O. BOX 30 Mintabie opal field
S.A. 5724 08 86705041.