Gaddafi loses touch with people: Mansell

TASMANIAN Aboriginal Centre legal adviser Michael Mansell believes the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who he once visited in 1987, has failed to keep pace with social change in his country.

"Thirty years ago Gaddafi urged power to the people and, on that basis, he fomented major change. Now the people want change again, but he can't adapt," Mr Mansell said through a spokesman while on a Bass Strait islands mutton-birding trip.

In April, 1987, Mr Mansell angered Bob Hawke's government by visiting Libya to seek funding for the Aboriginal cause, and attended a conference on peace and revolution in the Pacific.

To gain international recognition for his cause, Mr Mansell established an alternative Aboriginal passport. In 1988 he secured official recognition for the passport from Mr Gaddafi, who declared it valid for travel to Libya. According to media reports at the time Mr Mansell spoke at various meetings in Libya, saying Aborigines in Australia were discriminated against, such as being forbidden to enter hotels.

In 1987 after the visit he said he had told the conferences in Libya that Australia had been invaded by whites 200 years earlier, and Aborigines were subjected to every atrocity known to man, and were still ostracised.

He returned to Australia and called for the 1988 national bicentennial celebrations to be called off, and for the then Aboriginal Affairs Minister Clyde Holding to be sacked.

The federal government suspended funding to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, while former prime minister Bob Hawke condemned the Libyan visit.

The Queensland National Party wanted Mr Mansell charged with treason, claiming he was attempting to involve Libyan terrorists in Australia.


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