Treaty Man Speech

In 1988, Bob Hawke attended the Barunga Festival in an Aboriginal community south of Katherine. The Chairmen of the Land Councils, Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Wenten Rubuntja presented the Prime Minister with the Barunga Statement.

It called for the Government to recognise the rights of Aboriginal Land Owners and formalise a Treaty with them. The Prime Minister promised a Treaty by 1990, a promise that was never realised.

Aboriginal group Yothu Yindi's song, Treaty, is a protest to the dishonoured promise. Yothu Yindi's singer was Mandawuy Yunupingu younger brother of Galarrwuy who presented the Barunga Statement to Bob Hawke.

A Treaty is an agreement arrived at by negotiation and it gives rise to binding obligations between the parties. I guess that's what I work with every day. My name is Colin and I work for CNI Commercial. We do Commercial property sales and leasing.

One of our tenants was at the Barunga Festival in 1988. Annie is a Cultural Heritage Officer in the NorthWest. When there are Mining or Government Projects, she has relationships with tribal elders, developed over her long career. She advises on what agreement can be reached with the aboriginal people.

Her Northbridge office was on a 5 x year lease with 3 x years to go and Annie was having problems. Her business partner, Ryan, was trying to finish negotiations quickly with Aboriginal communities because work had slowed.

Annie wouldn't agree as any sign of being pushy would be met with distrust, undoing decades of work.

Ryan left and Annie was stressed, knowing her career may be ending. However, the lease had to be paid for 3 x years.

While working in the Kimberleys with Bob, a Tribal Elder, he asked what was wrong and rather than hide it she spoke of the stress and the fear that she may have to stop working with the Aboriginal communities. He told her a Treaty Man would appear and make things right.

Annie returned home resigned to leaving her business behind. She called the Property Manager and explained that she would move out. He tried to calm her and would send someone around as she was getting upset.

I got a call from the office about a stressed tenant, so I went out. I met Annie at her office. She looked unhappy so we just had a chat about the problems. I saw photos of Annie with the communities and when I asked about them, her face just lit up with enthusiasm. This was her passion. After a coffee she felt better so I asked her to let me put something together.

I had a Real Estate agent looking for a larger office. I took coffees to Evan's place and described the office space. It had 4 offices downstairs and 4 upstairs. Evan was thinking 5 or 6 offices but I drew the floor plans on a napkin from the coffee shop and showed how he would grow into it. I had to set the price a little higher than Annie's rent which was due for review. Evan was interested and I showed him the space. He was prepared to sign for 3 x years plus a 3 x year option.

I called Kon, the owner. He wasn't pleased that Annie was struggling and wouldn't break the lease as that represented 3 more years of income. Kon was getting angry but I hadn't told him about the Real Estate agent yet.

I asked Kon to consider another client to lease the property, upstairs and down, at a higher rental. I told him that he's already viewed the property, but Kon had to understand that leasing the property to Evan meant surrendering Annie's lease and alleviating all of the liabilities and responsibilities of her commitments. Kon agreed.

When I told Annie that I got the owner to surrender the remainder of her lease, she couldn't believe it. She didn't know it was even possible.

Annie could now work from home and nurture her relationships with the NorthWest communities. This was a turning point in her life.

Soon she was back in the Kimberleys and meeting with Bob, the Tribal Elder.

"Annie, you look better," he said.

"You know, Bob, a man appeared and he made everything right for me, just as you said."

"A good Treaty maker is rare," said Bob.

"He got them to break my Treaty."

"Annie he was no ordinary man," he said.

"No, he was my Treaty Man," said Annie.

I don't know if I'm a Treaty Man. I'm a Commercial Real Estate man, out there every day doing my best for my clients. We are CNI Commercial and that's our client story, but you'll appreciate this video.

Play Treaty.