Dr Mark Bin Bakar, a prominent Indigenous advocate who also stars as the famous Indigenous comedian Mary G, has made remarks implying Indigenous people of mixed heritage are not Traditional Aboriginal people in a Federal Court hearing.
Dr Bin Bakar spoke at a Federal Court hearing regarding the Koongie-Elvire Native Title claim on March 4, 2021.
Speaking to Justice Debra Mortimer regarding the claim, Dr Bin Bakar, a Lunga Kitja man from Western Australia’s Kimberley region, claimed those speaking for Nining Jaru people were “traditional Aboriginal people”.
“The people that speak for Nining Jaru is traditional Aboriginal people, and if I dare may say, your Honour, Black people, Black Aboriginal people, not half-caste,” he said.
Justice Mortimer interrupted Dr Bin Bakar, saying she was “not helped by that language”.
While admitting it “might be a derogatory thing to say”, Dr Bin Bakar did not retract his statement.
“But it has got to be used for people,” he said.
“Well, not in my court, it doesn’t,” Justice Mortimer said.
Dr Bin Bakar’s comments have caused an outcry across the Kimberley, where many Indigenous people of mixed heritage practice their Traditional Lore and culture like their Ancestors have for tens of thousands of years.
These traditional practices have maintained a strong connection to Country and helped ensure the longevity and continuity of the world’s oldest religion.
Described as ‘the Black Queen of the Kimberley’, Dr Bin Bakar first began appearing as Mary G in the early 1990s. Mary G is a Kitja woman and a member of the Stolen Generations.
On the Mary G website, she says: “My dream is for recognition and reconciliation by Australia for our Indigenous people and also the recognition that Australia was built by multi-cultural people.”
Mary G has since appeared in several taxpayer dollar funded State Government health promotional campaigns dating as early as 2011.
Some of her most recent appearances for the WA Government were for the Department of Health’s COVID-19 messaging about hygiene and social distancing in March 2020, and the Aboriginal Health Council of WA’s telehealth messaging in June 2020.
Dr Bin Bakar and the WA Department of Health have been contacted for comment.
By Hannah Cross