The word came to mind as I was reading the latest news from the Facebook group Cape York People United in which this was posted as a criticism of a proposed World Heritage Site in the area:
“I think we need a big discussion, nationally, of what ‘consultation’ should really entail. Here’s some thoughts as far as World Heritage goes:
1. Everyone living on Cape York should have a chance to know BOTH sides of the story. Without this they cannot make an informed decision. This means that all groups – including those opposing World Heritage – should have access to funds so they too can disseminate information, and provide balance with the glossy brochures and government department ‘workshops’ where only the government agenda is being pushed.
2. Everyone living on Cape York should be listened to and have the chance to say ‘No’. All Aboriginal people – both Traditional Owners and historical people – and all non-Indigenous people. These are the real stakeholders. For the Qld Government to now be asking all Queenslanders which areas should be nominated, is outrageous. Most Queenslanders have never set foot in Cape York, nor do they understand the issues and the environment as the people who live there do.
3. At the moment NO-ONE is listening! There is no two-way discussion. If you’re overtly against it, then the consultants doing the ‘consulting’ don’t want to talk to you. Let alone listen! They don’t want a debate, they want to fill up their quotas with a quick consent so focus on the easy targets.
If the government is serious about “consulting” rather than forcing their own agenda, then why not a series of public meetings & debates all around Cape York Peninsula, where BOTH sides are invited and have a chance to put their point of view and answer questions?”
Cape York is located in Far North Queensland, Australia and is the home of the ITBW Winner Guurrbi Tours. I wish I could say that I’ve set foot here, but my travels in Australia have been limited. That said, I pay attention to the region via ABC Radio National and the abundance of social media friends using Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube.
I’d like to explore how consultation does and does not work via ABC’s Pool and perhaps get the folks I’m chatting with (via email, Twitter and Facebook) to look at one another’s circumstances and share with the world how consultation is or is not working for them. The complaints raised in Cape York are not limited to Queensland or to Australia and we should rise to the challenge of making consultation more trustworthy for all. Otherwise the goal of creating something with an appeal for visitors will fall flat as travelers learn that locals have been left out of the conversation, or should I say ‘nonversation.’