Episode 213 – A Podcast to Indigenous Australians

Hello

I am asking if any indigenous spokesperson would be willing to be interviewed for my podcast.

My co-hosts and I produce a weekly podcast looking at news, politics and current affairs and we occasionally discuss Indigenous issues.

Our views are usually left-wing. We support higher taxes, increased welfare and progressive reforms in areas such as assisted dying, abortion law and marriage equality.

But in one area we go against the grain of a typical lefty. We have a real problem with laws that discriminate on the basis of race and it seems to us that providing a special voice to parliament to a group of people based on their race is not a good idea.

Some of our listeners have pointed out that we are privileged white guys and we really should try to get someone on to put forward the pro-indigenous argument.

We genuinely want to have a deep, respectful and honest conversation about this topic and indigenous issues generally.

Please listen to what we have to say and make contact if you would like to debate us.

Trevor

3:08 Racism

From Wikipedia: Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another. It may also include prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity, or the belief that members of different races or ethnicities should be treated differently. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.

7:10 Positive racism towards one race must necessarily involve negative racism to the other races.

7:48 Why are we concerned about indigenous people? It’s because we see that disproportionately, members of their group suffer disadvantage and injustices. It is the disadvantage and suffering that motivates us and we must keep our eye on that.

8:30 Ground Rules

We state a proposition and then the underlying principle which is being applied. We then apply that principle to other scenarios and check whether it seems to stack up.

Some people will say that as a white man I have not experienced persecution and without the lived experience I cannot comment.

If we can’t debate then what hope is there?

Christians say they are persecuted and discriminated against. I don’t live as a Christian and can’t speak about their human interactions but I can speak about our rules and systems and structures and say BS. Same applies to indigenous people.

I could use that argument and turn it around and say something similar. I could say that as a non-lawyer you can’t comment on laws. As an upper middle class media celebrity aboriginal person you can’t comment on the plight of remote aboriginal people. As an educated person you can’t comment on the uneducated. And so on …

What about trans athletes[1]? I’ll never be one and most of us won’t but we can have our 2c worth.

15:33 Terminology

From the ACT Council of Social Services[2].

‘Indigenous’ (capitalised) is a term extensively used throughout Australia when referring to the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, and related topics … The term is merely used for convenience, to alleviate repeating ‘Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander’.

Aboriginal’ (adjective, capitalised) is a term extensively used and widely accepted throughout Australia when referring to Aboriginal peoples and topics. Aboriginal peoples are the first peoples of mainland Australia and many of its islands such as Tasmania, Groote Eylandt, Hinchinbrook Island and Fraser Island.

Aboriginal’ (noun, capitalised) is less preferred today. As an example, you may prefer to say, ‘Matthew is an Aboriginal person from Yass’, rather than ‘Matthew is an Aboriginal from Yass’. You may hear a person say, ‘I am Aboriginal’ (where the word ‘Aboriginal’ is used as an adjective), rather than ‘I am an Aboriginal person’. This is a personal preference expressed by the individual.

Aborigine’ (capitalised) or ‘aborigine’ (lower case) was used in Australia’s recent history and is sometimes used by older Aboriginal persons who grew up in that era. This is now a lesser used term and not recommended. This may be due to the historical negative references associated with this term.

part-Aboriginal’ or ‘half-Aboriginal’ is objectionable but more often considered offensive to an Aboriginal person. Many would say ‘which half’ or ‘which part’ of me/you is Aboriginal, and that they identify only as Aboriginal. We strongly discourage using these terms for your communications. An Aboriginal person may wish to acknowledge their blended heritage such as, ‘I am part-Aboriginal and part-South Sea Islander’. This is a personal preference expressed by the individual. Your communications can be rephrased to include their preference, such as, ‘The exhibition will feature emerging artist, Tom Williams. Tom is of both Aboriginal and South Sea Islander descent.’

First Australians’, ‘Australia’s First Peoples’ and ‘First Nations Australia’ (capitalised): these terms may be seen as growing in acceptance. You may wish to discuss preferences with staff, clients, stakeholders, the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community and their agencies in your region, to gauge general acceptance. There are agencies in Australia that have been named accordingly, such as the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and the First Nations Australia Writers Network. You may also encounter usage of these terms in speeches such as a Welcome to Country or Acknowledgement of Country, media such as film (e.g. The First Australians) and within email acknowledgements.

18:52 Population and Demographics

In the 2016 Census, there were 649,171 people across Australia who identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, the majority (81%) of whom lived in Non-remote areas of Australia. In Major Cities there was 1 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for every 64 non-Indigenous persons, while in Very Remote Australia there was 1 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person for every 1.2 non-Indigenous persons.

What is Remote?

The Population is Increasing greater than births, deaths and migration would account for[3].

The intercensal growth in counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 2011 and 2016 is not consistent across the country, with growth primarily occurring in Major cities and on the eastern coast of Australia. Population growth is significantly higher in Non-Remote areas (22.8%) than in Remote areas (2.0%).

At the national level, the proportion of the unexplainable change as a percentage of the total 2016 census count for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 3.3% between 2011 and 2016, slightly lower than between 2006 and 2011 (5.1%). This proportion varied by jurisdiction, with proportions higher than the national rate observed in New South Wales (9.3%), Tasmania (6.9%) and Victoria (5.1%)[4].

This is a problem.

“One of the problems is that the government now funds according to the Census outcome.

Aboriginal lawyer Michael Mansell said Commonwealth funds were currently “not being distributed properly” to remote Aboriginal communities.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation proposes[5] that the definition of Aboriginality be changed so that increasing numbers of people from the south of the nation identifying as Aboriginal do not tip the scales against disadvantaged indigenous people in remote parts of the Northern Territory.

​”It should be based on need rather than someone declaring, ‘I am an Aboriginal’,” he said.

“So if someone merely claims to be of a particular identity, then the Indigenous Affairs budget is divided up among the statistics of the Census, which doesn’t give those most in need the greatest access to the resources.”

Mr Mansell also addressed the rise in Tasmanians identifying as Aboriginal on their Census forms and the way in which it impacted on the distribution of funds to remote communities.

“I think the people who are ticking the box in the Census have been given information that’s very doubtful as to its authenticity and people don’t know so they just tick it, thinking, ‘Well, I’ve been told this so I better tick it’,” he said.

“I think people have been given misinformation by people who are taking advantage of ‘the more numbers in your area, the more money you get’, which is the point that the [Yothu Yindi Foundation] people are making.”

25:59  A Summary of bad stats

Life expectancy for Indigenous Australians is 10 years less than for the non-Indigenous population. The unemployment rate is nearly four times higher; the child mortality rate more than twice so. Indigenous Australians are incarcerated at a higher rate than any other group on earth, making up 3 percent of the Australian population but 27 percent of adult prisoners.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is Australia’s national agency for information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare. Statistics and data developed by the AIHW are used extensively to inform discussion and policy decisions on health, community services and housing assistance.

From their report dated 20 June 2018.

Improvements

Overall, Indigenous Australians experience widespread socioeconomic disadvantage and health inequality. However, in recent years, there have been a number of improvements.

Health outcomes

There has been a significant decline in child mortality rates (aged 0–4), from 217 deaths per 100,000 Indigenous children in 1998 to 146 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Between 2005–2007 and 2010–2012, the gap in life expectancy at birth between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians decreased from 11.4 to 10.6 years for males, and from 9.6 to 9.5 years fo females.

Health behaviours

Smoking rates among Indigenous Australians have declined from 51% in 2002 to 42% in 2014–15. This decline was concentrated in non-remote areas.

Fewer young Indigenous people aged 15–17 are smoking now than in the past—30% in 1994 compared with 17% in 2014–15.

In 2014–15, 15% of Indigenous people aged 15 and over reported that they drank alcohol at lifetime risky levels— a decrease from 19% in 2008.

 

Compared with non-Indigenous Australians,

Indigenous Australians are also:

2.9 times as likely to have long-term ear or hearing problems among children

2.7 times as likely to smoke

2.7 times as likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress

2.1 times as likely to die before their fifth birthday

1.9 times as likely to be born with low birthweight

1.7 times as likely to have a disability or restrictive long-term health condition

Explaining the Indigenous health gap

Differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in three key areas help explain the well-documented health gap:

Social determinants: Indigenous Australians, on average, have lower levels of education, employment, income, and poorer quality housing than non-Indigenous Australians

Health risk factors: Indigenous Australians, on average, have higher rates of smoking and risky alcohol consumption, exercise less, and have a greater risk of high blood pressure than non-Indigenous Australians

Access to appropriate health services: Indigenous Australians are more likely to report difficulty in accessing affordable health services that are nearby than non-Indigenous Australians.

Social determinants are estimated to be responsible for more than one-third (34%) of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and health risk factors such as smoking and obesity are estimated to account for about one-fifth (19%) of the health gap.

Main contributors to the health gap

This pie chart shows the proportions of the contributors to the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous adults. This chart presents the contributions to the health gap by health risk factors, by social determinants and by unexplained component due to other factors.

This figure shows that an estimated 34% of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous adults was due to social determinants, 19% due to health risk factors, and 47% could not be explained by the selected factors.

Around 11% of the total health gap was estimated to be attributed to the overlap between the social determinants and health risk factors.

If Indigenous adults were to have the same household income, employment rate and hours worked, and smoking rate as non-Indigenous Australians, the health gap would be reduced by more than a third—from 27 percentage points to around 17 percentage points.

These determinants also help explain the variation in health and health behaviours within the Indigenous population.

Indigenous Australians who were most likely to report ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ health in 2014–15 lived in the highest socioeconomic areas, were employed, had higher educational attainment (Year 12 or higher), and felt safe or very safe alone in their homes after dark.

Indigenous Australians who were employed in 2014–15 were less likely to smoke, less likely to use illicit substances, and more likely to have an adequate daily fruit intake than Indigenous Australians who were unemployed.

 

30:01 The Martin Luther King Argument

Martin Luther King would have objected to the Uluru statement. Malcolm X would have approved.

On the one side stand liberal universalists, espousing a ‘colour blind’ philosophy, on the other, those who cleave to a politics of identity.

 

35:05 The Anne Twomey Argument

Anne Twomey is professor of constitutional law at the University of Sydney Law School. She wrote an article[8] in the Sydney Morning Herald.

My responses are in italics.

In rejecting this proposal, one claim by the government was that this would be discriminatory and contrary to principles of equality because it would give one racial group a means of influencing Parliament that is not open to others.

But it must be remembered that it is already the case that Indigenous Australians form the only racial groups about which special laws are made. This is because they are the only racial groups that lived in Australia prior to European settlement and accordingly have continuing legal rights, such as native title rights. (But just because there are already special racial laws is not a good reason why there should be more. When you say they are the only racial group subject to a law you are wrong. You don’t have to name a group to make legislation relevant to them. If you make a law granting a privilege to Indigenous people you are effectively making a law saying everyone has this privilege except non-indigenous people.)

Their continuing cultural heritage is also entitled to special legal protection and sustenance, as part of Australia’s national heritage. (Cultural artefacts are worthy of protection but this reference to continuing cultural heritage seems to be a reference to cultural norms and practices and possible assumes that these are somehow sacred and should not evolve over time. Their cultural norms and practices are ideological choices. The same as mine. Nothing special. Their artefacts are special and deserve protection.)  If they are the only racial groups subject to special laws, then it seems reasonable and fair that they should at the very least have a voice that can influence the body that makes those laws. (But, they have a voice. They are voters. They can enter parliament. They have lobby groups. I’m part of an atheist secular community and Christian politicians are making laws that affect me. Do I deserve a special voice?)

If established, the body representing Indigenous voices would have its views tabled in the Parliament, so that Parliament could be better informed when it makes laws. It would not be the only body to inform Parliament. There are numerous other bodies that already fulfil this function, representing other points of view. They include the Productivity Commission, the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Auditor-General. They all make reports directly to Parliament, which are tabled so that our lawmakers can be better informed when they enact laws. (none of them have a racist employment policy)

Is any of these bodies a “third House of Parliament”? Of course not. None of them has the power to initiate a bill in the Parliament. They can neither vote on the passage of legislation, nor veto it. None is a constituent part of the body that makes laws. It would be exactly the same for an Indigenous voice to Parliament. It could not be a third House of the Parliament, simply because it would have no power to initiate, pass or reject bills. Its role would be to give a voice to Indigenous views that could be heard within the Parliament, in the same way as these other bodies also speak to and inform Parliament. (OK so set up the Indigenous Commission the same way)

If we are comfortable with the Auditor-General reporting to Parliament and advising about issues of financial prudence and accountability, then it is difficult to see how we would not be comfortable with an Indigenous body informing Parliament about matters that could improve the effectiveness and utility of its laws in Indigenous affairs and the efficient targeting of its expenditure. (if it is set up the same way and staffed without discrimination then maybe yes)

The Houses of Parliament are not obliged to implement the advice of the Auditor-General, but will give it respect if it is sensible, well–reasoned and wise. The same would no doubt be true of any advice or recommendations of an Indigenous voice to the Parliament. It is hard to imagine that anyone would argue that it is better for Parliament to be ignorant and ill-informed, its laws ineffective and its expenditure wasteful. There can be no harm in listening to the views of others and using them to improve outcomes. (I agree, but let’s listen to the best possible advice)

Why then do we need a constitutional amendment to give effect to this proposal, when other bodies already fulfil a similar role under ordinary legislation? An important aspect of the proposal is the moral authority of the people. If, as in 1967, the vast swathe of the Australian people voted in favour of Indigenous Australians having a voice about the laws and policies that affect them, then it would not only provide a profound reconciliatory moment (or a profoundly divisive and racist moment) in Australia’s political history but it would also impose sufficient political pressure to prevent future backsliding. Governments would be forced to make the new system work and focus upon how to get the best out of it. It could not be abandoned by neglect. (if it is merely advisory and the only thing stopping the then government from disbanding it  is constitutional authority then you can be sure such a government would ignore the advisory body)

While the Commonwealth government was initially unsettled by the Uluru proposal, it has allocated money in the most recent budget to develop the detail of that proposal further. This suggests that it has recognised the underlying merit in it and is prepared to contemplate it more seriously. Perhaps with further consideration, both at the political level and across the country, the Uluru proposal which at first seemed so confronting to some, will grow in familiarity and be seen as a natural part of Australia’s evolution. (you are right, they may be coming around to the idea)

Just as the Australian people voted in support of the inherent fairness and justice they saw as underlying the more technical 1967 referendum proposal, they may too recognise the same essence in the Uluru voice from the heart.

44:05 Rights and Guilt can be inherited

Modern indigenous people seem to be claiming to have inherited rights from their ancestors. At the same time, there is an implied allegation that white people have inherited the guilt of their ancestors.

Isn’t an indigenous person of mixed race, in effect, complaining of injustices committed by one set of their ancestors against another set of their ancestors?

Inherited guilt sounds a lot like original sin.

Did my dad wipe his guilt out? Did I inherit his clean soul?

Did convicts who were sent here against their will absorb the guilt?

DNA is not a liquid that can be divided down into microscopic drops. The geneticist Graham Coop of the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues have studied how DNA disappears. If you pick one of your ancestors from 10 generations back, the odds are around 50 percent that you carry any DNA from him or her. The odds get even worse beyond that[9].

49:14 Descendants have more rights

To my knowledge, I have no indigenous ancestry so I couldn’t participate in the special advisory body. If however my children marry an indigenous person then my grandchildren could, in theory, identify as indigenous and participate. My grandchildren could have more rights than me due to racial profiling. Doesn’t that seem unfair? Isn’t that racist?

From Jacinta Price[10]: And what of our non-Indigenous loved ones and relatives. A clear majority of those who identify as Indigenous now have children with those who don’t. In the southern cities of Sydney and Melbourne, over 80% of Indigenous  people are coupled with non-Indigenous partners and have children. Roughly the same percentage of their children identify as Indigenous … Do our non-Indigenous loved ones have no say in the future of their own children and grandchildren?

50:04 We Got Here First

In effect, the special rights to be granted to indigenous people are a recognition that their ancestors were here first, that they owned it and it was taken from them against their will. In effect, non-indigenous people, at a legal level, are second class citizens in comparison. That wouldn’t look good if we applied the same thinking to refugees arriving by boat. Imagine if we said “OK, you can come in, but we don’t like it and you and your ancestors will be ineligible for certain advisory bodies until they intermarry with the people who got here first”.

What is the indigenous position on refugees?

52:11 Victims are not necessarily expert on providing their own solutions

What evidence is there that indigenous, rather than non-indigenous people, know what is best for indigenous people? Indigenous leaders have been very poor. Anthony Mundine advised[11] against vaccinations. Many indigenous leaders were against marriage equality. Ken Wyatt is part of a government that through reckless tax cuts has sabotaged the welfare system that many indigenous people rely on.

If I have indigenous grandchildren I can give better advice than those numbskulls about how to best care for my indigenous grandchild but I will be banned from doing so because of my skin colour.

54:11 How can we say there is an indigenous position on anything?

Presumably they don’t all think the same. Are they, like many Australians, split 50/50 on important issues?

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price disagrees[12] with “mainstream” indigenous leaders. Much of the media attention has ignored the fact that there were and still are dissenting – and unheard – Indigenous voices throughout the entire process of the development of the Uluru Statement of the Heart. Secondly, for far too long Aboriginal people have been portrayed as being one homogenous group of people who all think the same; and the Uluru Statement has now further entrenched this idea. The reality is, this could not be further from the truth. We don’t have one voice and we never have. This has been a construct that undermines us.

The ‘bark petition’ delivered to Parliament in Canberra during the week (August 2015), opposed same sex marriage[13] and called for the sanctity of “traditional marriage” to be preserved. The petition is apparently signed by people from the following nations: Argan, Arrente, Bidjara, Biripi, Bundjalung, Bunuba, Dainggatti, Erub, Gidja, Githabul, Gooniyandi, Gumbainggir, Juggera, Jaru, Juru, Kabi-Kab-Waka-Waka, Kamiliaroi, Karajarri, Kaylagal, Koara, Kooma, Luritja, Mamu, Mangala, Mantijintjarra, Mara, Meriam Mir, Munjunjarli, Ngaanyatjarra, Noongar, Nyawaygi, Nyigina, Pitjantjatjarra, Wadi-Wadi, Wagilak, Walawurru, Walmatjarri, Wangkumarra, Wiradjuri, Wongatha, Wooroora, Wuthathi, Yakuntjatjarra, Yidingi-Mbabaram, Yidingi-Mullen-Barra and Balardung. It’s a pretty impressive list, and more than a mouthful. It also happens to be tiny fraction of the actual number of surviving Aboriginal nations in Australia (more than 200).

Meanwhile[14], Christian Indigenous Australians have warned the government they have been overlooked in the marriage debate. Their case has been taken up by the Christian legal think tank Freedom for Faith, which is examining how their communities could be affected if same-sex marriage were legalised without broader protections for religious freedom. Ngardarb Riches, an elder in the Arriol clan of the Bardi-Jawi people of One Arm Point in Western Australia, told The Australian that protections should be included in any same-sex marriage legislation to help preserve indigenous kinship structures.

Many Indigenous people want a treaty before constitutional recognition.[15] The Victorian Andrews Government got a little more than it bargained for this week, when it hosted an historic consultation with hundreds of Aboriginal people from around the state on the highly contentious issue of ‘constitutional recognition’. One of the more startling outcomes from the session was an admission by Hutchins that in her travels as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, communities consistently express opposition to constitutional recognition.

57:08 Is Indigenous decision making democratic and does it matter?

Jacinta Price[16]: Going back to 2017 when the First Nations National Constitutional Convention was held at Uluru, the representatives in attendance were invited by nominees of the Referendum Council; and not elected by Indigenous people.

57:42 Class Divisions in Indigenous Communities

Is there a division between working class and privileged indigenous people? What was the indigenous position on the recent tax cuts? I didn’t hear anything. This was probably one of the biggest decisions affecting indigenous people but I didn’t hear a peep. Those tax cuts will blow a huge whole in the budget which will inevitably lead to welfare cuts which will have a disproportionate effect on indigenous people.

Jacinta Price[17]: Do we imagine that a ‘Voice’ will empower the marginalised or will it entrench those who already maintain control of the resources that flow into Aboriginal disadvantage? While there are many community controlled organisations working tirelessly to stem disadvantage, we are acutely aware of those embedded within some Aboriginal organisations and institutions, who are there for their own personal and financial gains … Will yet another bureaucracy such as a legislated ‘Voice’ simply give more power to those who haven’t yet demonstrated that they can solve the critical issues our marginalised Australians are faced with?

58:38 Are Inherited Privileges Fair?

The left often advocates for inheritance tax and in doing so recognizes that there are good reasons why wealth and entitlement should not be passed down in full to descendents. Shouldn’t the same apply to land rights?

I think we should be a republic. I think the notion of inherited rights belonging to the Royal family is unjust. I don’t believe privilege should be passed on down the generations to a special family based on their DNA. I feel the same way when a public meeting begins with a declaration of respect “to elders past, present and emerging”.

59:48 Welfare Based on Need

We should be providing welfare based on need, not race. I would have no problem tripling the welfare payments to disadvantaged indigenous (and non-indigenous) people in remote communities but a wealthy indigenous city dweller should get no special treatment. The criteria for aid and special treatment should be need, not race.

1:01:16 Identity Politics is Divisive

Identity politics is a scourge on our society. Disadvantaged people should be coalescing together rather than splintering into identity groups.

Morgan Freeman says it well[18].

Stan Grant

An open letter to Stan Grant[19].

I am an Australian of migrant background and mixed ethnicity. I grew up in largely ethnic communities in Melbourne’s north and have lived in Darwin and Townsville as well. I have observed you in the media making various statements which I personally take issue with, in particular the divisive nature of your rhetoric and the monopoly on human suffering you seem to claim for ‘your people’. No one in this nation denies the horrors that the indigenous people suffered at the hands of European colonialists, nor does anyone expect you to not feel internally scarred by these events. The most important factor in a healing process is moving forward. Many of us in the migrant community understand things of this nature and I would like to share some of them with you.

I must first address your ‘them and us’ rhetoric. I have observed you link the current circumstances of indigenous people to past atrocities with statements such as: “For so many of my people, aboriginal people, (…) there is a deep, deep wound that comes from the time of dispossession”.

As if the tribalistic sentiments of this statement were not bad enough, you feel the need to foster guilt and resentment among people who cannot change the past, as if this will somehow change the present circumstances of indigenous Australians. Fuelling resentment does not lead to change; only positivity in the face of adversity can do this. This is a tried and true method for the healing process.

Secondly, your statement at the national Press Club where you announced to a room full of non-indigenous Australians: “Someone’s suffering was the scaffolding on which you built your prosperity”. I’m not sure whether that was only meant for the white Australian audience but frankly, I’m not sure I care. Greeks, Italians, Chinese, Somalians and a plethora of others in the migrant community have built our prosperity on hard work in a nation that offered us safety and freedom. When you accuse non-indigenous people of building on someone else’s suffering, it totally undermines our efforts and our gratitude to the great nation we call home.

Please do not lecture your fellow Australians on the manner in which they have built their prosperity or at very least, have the decency to leave other people’s suffering out of the conversation. There are many of us, white Australians included, who carry our own scars and do not demand special treatment. I take no pleasure in bringing up the past of my friends and myself but I must illustrate the point that none of us benefit from an emotional scars competition. The things we have built have not been for indigenous Australians but have equally not been built for white Australians. We are all free to build for ourselves and others and we must not expect others to build for ‘us’, whoever that may be.

Nothing can be done about our past Stan, and it is not appropriate to judge a nation by its past sins. Every civilization has committed crimes against humanity at some point in its history. A far more accurate way of judging a society is by which crimes and bad practices it has abandoned. Reform and progression are what makes a society great. I will not deny that racial prejudice exists in our fair nation but it has never stopped me from getting a job, getting an education, making friends or pursuing my passions. It has not stopped men like yourself, Adam Goodes or the legendary Reg Saunders, MBE from achieving greatness.

My sentiments are firmly aligned with those of Morgan Freeman who, when asked about how to stop racism, replied: “stop talking about it… I’m gonna (sic) stop calling you a white man and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man”. This in no way means you must forget your past or ignore the issues we still face. It just means that we all take responsibility for our actions and how they impact those around us regardless of their colour, creed, religion or any other characteristic of their background. If you ever hope to be in a position where you lead this great nation of ours, I must humbly request that you speak to, and for all of us, equally.

On the scaffolding argument.

Similar statements have been made in the USA. In his Atlantic essay, Ta Nehisi Coates argues that slavery is central to explaining American affluence. “Nearly one-fourth of all white Southerners owned slaves,” he writes, “and upon their backs the economic basis of America—and much of the Atlantic world—was erected.” The wealth gap, therefore, “puts a number on something we feel but cannot say—that American prosperity was ill-gotten.”

But as Coleman Hughes says: But slavery is hardly the root cause of America’s prosperity. If it were, then we would expect American states that practiced slavery to be richer than those that did not. Yet we see precisely the opposite. The South, where slavery thrived, was “the poorest and most backward region of the country,” according to the economist Thomas Sowell. This remains true today. A recent analysis of census data found that Northeastern states, which forbade slavery, “are among the wealthiest,” whereas “states in the Southeast are among the poorest.” Nor is the disconnect between slavery and wealth unique to America. Similar disparities have emerged in Brazil, where the formerly abolitionist southern region has been, and continues to be, wealthier than the formerly slave-owning northern region

1:04:22 Identity Politics has diverted attention from socialism

The left and indigenous leaders should be identifying as working class and working to improve the plight of all working class people.

From Kenan Malik[20]

King’s insistence on non-violence is well known but his radicalism is often forgotten. In the mid-1960s, he took a decisive, and politically brave, stance against the Vietnam war, describing America as ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today’. He became an advocate, too, of working-class struggles. In the weeks before his death, King was deeply involved in the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, when rubbish collectors had taken industrial action for union recognition, better conditions and equal pay. To question poverty, he observed, is ‘to question the capitalistic economy’.

Malcolm X reinvented himself to an even greater degree. A petty criminal in his youth, it was in prison that he discovered the Nation of Islam and became a Muslim. By the 1950s, he had become became the NoI’s most effective public advocate, a searing voice against racism, but also, like all NoI members, deeply inflected with bigotry and misogyny.

He eventually broke away from the organisation in 1964. ‘There will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing’, he told the Canadian TV host Pierre Berton, ‘but I don’t think that it will be based upon the colour of the skin.’

By the end of their lives, the two men had drawn closer to each other’s views. Their differences were, however, real and spoke to an inherent tension within the struggle for racial equality. King expressed a universalist ethos – that racism was intimately bound with the social structures of America and that challenging it required the creation of broader social movements.

Malcolm X was sceptical both about the possibilities of such movements and about King’s call for moderation to win wider support. He insisted that blacks had first to organise on their own and to protect themselves ‘by any means necessary’. It was a vision that inspired the radicalism of the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement. But there was also something deeply conservative in his stress on moral reform and individual uplift as the route to a more just world.

Today, though, both sides have been shorn of radical aspirations. The ‘colour blind’ approach is too often an excuse to ignore the social and economic realities of black people’s lives. The politics of identity expresses a pessimism about social change, advocating instead a retreat into sectional silos. The result is an acceptance, in the sardonic words of African American academic and activist Adolph Reed Jr, that ‘a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino’ and so on.

Detached from wider movements for social change, the radical legacies of King and of Malcolm X have largely been interred. The conservatism lives on.

1:07:26 The Coleman Hughes Argument

There is no doubt that indigenous people are disproportionately disadvantaged in our society. But is that because of discrimination or are other factors in play. Does Indigenous culture work against successful participation in modern society?

By Coleman Hughes[21]

The second factor offered as an explanation for the wealth gap is the exclusion of blacks from a set of New Deal policies designed to promote homeownership, income growth, and wealth accrual. After World War II, whites received the vast majority of government-backed mortgage loans.4 By the time the civil rights gains of the 1960s made these loans available to blacks, it was too late—the crucial economic boom of the previous two decades, during which housing values rapidly appreciated, had already passed, and blacks, reeling from the effects of redlining and income suppression, couldn’t enter the housing market at its new prices.5 Wealth—in the form of property and inheritances transferred from parent to child—became a birthright for whites. Meanwhile, deprived of such wealth transfers, poverty became a permanent trap for blacks.

The prevailing progressive narrative also gives short shrift to the history of immigrant groups succeeding in the face of racist hostility and without help from the government. Baradaran, for instance, criticizes the “pervasive myth that immigrant success was based purely on individual work ethic.” To the contrary, she claims, “most immigrants’ bootstraps had been provided to them by the government.

But history tells a different story. Starting with the California Alien Land Law of 1913, fourteen states passed laws preventing Japanese-American peasant farmers from owning land and property. These laws existed until 1952, when the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional. Add to this the internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II, and it’s fair to say that the Japanese were given no bootstraps in America. Nevertheless, by 1970 census data showed Japanese-Americans out-earning Anglo-Americans, Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Polish-Americans.14 For Asian-Americans on the whole, an analysis of wealth data from 1989 to 2013 predicted that their “median wealth soon will surpass the white median level.” If wealth differences were largely explained by America’s history of favoring certain groups over others, then it would be hard to explain why Asian-Americans, who were never favored, are on track to become wealthier than whites.

Nor can historical racism explain wealth disparities between groups of the same race. A 2015 survey of wealth in Boston found that the median black household had only 8 dollars of wealth. Newsweek reported this fact under the heading “Racism in Boston.” But the 8 dollar figure only pertained to black Bostonians of American ancestry; black Bostonians of Caribbean ancestry had 12,000 dollars of wealth, despite having identical rates of college graduation, only slightly higher incomes, and being equally black in the same city.

Similar disparities emerge when people are grouped by religion. A 2003 study found that Jewish households had a 7-to-1 wealth advantage over Conservative Protestant households, despite the fact that Protestants have been favored over Jews for most of American history. Because facts like these discredit the assumption that government favoritism drives wealth accrual, they don’t make it into the progressive narrative.

Conspicuous by its absence in the progressive account of the racial wealth gap is any active role for blacks themselves. Reading Baradaran, Rothstein, and Coates, one gets the impression that there is nothing blacks could do to improve their lot—outside of asking the government for radical policy solutions. But there are things that blacks can do. Indeed, there are certain elements of black American culture that, if changed, would allow blacks to amass wealth to a degree that no government policy would be likely to match.

No element of culture harms black wealth accrual more directly than spending patterns. Nielsen, one of the world’s leading market research firms, keeps extensive data on American consumer behavior, broken down demographically. A 2017 Nielsen report found that, compared to white women, black women were 14 percent more likely to own a luxury vehicle, 16 percent more likely to purchase costume jewelry, and 9 percent more likely to purchase fine jewelry. A similar Nielsen report from 2013 found that, while only 62 percent of all Americans owned a smartphone, 71 percent of blacks owned one. Moreover, all of these spending differences were unconditional on wealth and income.

To what extent do poor spending habits explain the persistence of the wealth gap? Economists at the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania asked this question after analyzing 16 years of nationally representative data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Consistent with the Nielsen data, they found that blacks with comparable incomes to whites spent 17 percent less on education, and 32 percent more (an extra $2300 per year in 2005 dollars) on ‘visible goods’—defined as cars, jewelry, and clothes. What’s more, “after controlling for visible spending,” they concluded that the “wealth gap between Blacks and Whites, conditional on permanent income, declines by 50 percent.” To be clear, that 50 percent figure doesn’t pertain to the total wealth gap, but to the proportion of the gap that remains after income is taken into account—which was 40 percent. The upshot: the fact that blacks spent more on cars, jewelry, and clothes explained fully 20 percent of the total racial wealth gap.

To make matters worse, spending patterns are just one part of a larger set of financial skills on which blacks lag behind. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis followed over 40,000 families from 1989 to 2013, tracking their wealth accumulation and financial decisions. They developed a financial health scale, ranging from 0 to 5, that measured the degree to which families made “routine financial health choices that contribute to wealth accumulation”—e.g., saving any amount of money, paying credit card bills on time, having a low debt-to-income ratio, etc. At 3.12, Asian families scored the highest, followed by whites at 3.11, Hispanics at 2.71, and blacks at 2.63.

Next, they asked if education accounted for the differences in financial habits by limiting the comparison to middle-aged families with advanced degrees. Surprisingly, they found that the racial gap in financial health-scores didn’t shrink; it widened. Highly-educated Asian families scored 3.49, comparable whites scored 3.38, comparable Hispanics scored 2.94, and comparable blacks remained far behind at 2.66. Thus, the study authors concluded, neither “periodic shortages of time or money” nor “lower educational attainment” were the driving forces behind the differences in financial decision-making.

Many find it hard to confront such data. People worry that discussing behaviors that blacks disproportionately engage in represents a backslide into white supremacy and racist stereotyping. Ibram X. Kendi expresses this concern in his New York Times bestseller Stamped from the Beginning: “When you truly believe that racial groups are equal, then you also believe that racial disparities must be the result of racial discrimination.

But this makes no sense. Is it racist to observe that whites are more likely to drive drunk than blacks are? Is it racist to assert that black immigrants in the UK outscore comparable white Britons on standardized tests? Is it racist to observe that black American culture has produced a higher number of musical icons than Asian-American culture has? And if it’s not racist to mention these facts, then why is it racist to mention the same kinds of facts when they run in the opposite direction? Moreover, cultural differences can even cause disparities between groups that belong to the same race, as with the aforementioned wealth disparities between black Americans and black Caribbeans living in Boston, or the nearly 4-to-1 income ratio between Taiwanese-Americans and Hmong-Americans. Discussing the different patterns of behavior that underlie such intra-racial disparities cannot be racist, by definition. Race and culture, though often correlated, are entirely different concepts.

Just like no person is born knowing how to brew beer or play basketball, no person is born knowing how to build wealth. These skills must be taught. And just like some cultures teach beer-brewing or basketball-playing better than others, some cultures teach wealth-building better. Children from one culture may routinely hear phrases like “asset diversification,” “mutual fund,” and “inflation rate” on the lips of their parents, whereas children from another culture may not hear such phrases until adulthood, if they ever hear them at all.

More importantly, those who believe they are helping black Americans—or any demographic group—succeed by encouraging them to blame society are mistaken. Talking honestly about harmful behavioral patterns is the only way to reliably correct them. This ethical blind-spot is thrown into sharp relief by imagining instead that it was a loved one who was making disastrous financial decisions. Would you withhold criticism from them for fear that you’d be ‘blaming the victim’? Would you feed this person story after story meant to confirm their belief that society had caused all their problems? Or would you view it as your duty—a duty born out of your love for that person—to point out their self-defeating behaviors and encourage them to make wiser decisions? To alter a quote from James Baldwin: I love black American culture, and exactly for this reason I insist on the right to criticize it perpetually.

But the entity responsible for a harm cannot always redress it. This truth is illustrated by ‘The Parable of the Pedestrian,’ from legal scholar Amy Wax: A reckless driver runs a stop light and hits a pedestrian, injuring her spine. Doctors inform the pedestrian that if she ever wants to walk again she’ll have to spend many painstaking years in physical therapy. Clearly, she bears no responsibility for her injury; she was victimized by the reckless driver. Yet the driver cannot make her whole. He might pay for her medical bills, for instance, but he cannot make her attend her tedious physical therapy sessions; only she can do that. Still, she might resist. She might write historical accounts detailing precisely how and why the driver injured her. When her physical therapists demand more of her, she might accuse them of blaming the victim. She might wallow in the unfairness of it all. But this will change nothing. The nature of her injury precludes the possibility of anyone besides her healing it.17

The dynamic underlying the Parable of the Pedestrian scales up to entire communities. It is no longer primarily racism that holds blacks back, but a set of cultural elements—some acquired from white southerners,18 some a consequence of historical racism,19 others a consequence of the political upheavals of the 1960s,20 and some which are mysterious in origin—that are ill-suited for success in a modern information economy. Thus, unfair as it may seem, blacks can now do more for themselves than either whites or the government can do for them.

Those who agree that top-down cultural reform is naïve might still object that bottom-up reform is equally quixotic. How, exactly, does one go about changing something as complex and distributed as culture? On this point, the history of formerly lagging ethnic groups is instructive. Whether measured by rates of alcoholism, high school graduation, or income, Irish-Americans used to lag far behind other American ethnic groups.23 As one point of reference, the incarceration rate for Irish-Americans was five times higher than for German-Americans in 1904. The response? While some Irish leaders blamed society, others, notably those in the Catholic Church, launched an inward-looking campaign to change behavioral patterns within the Irish community.24 Similar efforts were made by acculturated German-American Jews, whose stern programs of assimilation for their less-cultured Eastern European co-religionists included giving them “pointed lessons on the use of soap and water,” according to Sowell.

That’s not to say that the details of these particular self-help campaigns are either replicable or wise. It’s only to say that historical examples of successful self-help campaigns exist. By contrast, I do not know of a single instance in which an underachieving ethnic minority rose to economic prominence by asking the government for cash transfers, preferential policies in education and employment, or apologies for past injustices. Given how skewed the historical scorecard is, it’s strange that the burden of argument is so often placed on advocates of self-help to prove that our strategy is the realistic one. Common sense would place the burden of argument on the advocates of programs which have never worked anywhere to prove that, for whatever reason, this time is different.

 

______________________________________________________________________________

The following topics were part of my notes and were mentioned only briefly or sometimes not at all.

 

Cultural Identity is just another ideology which is open to criticism

Some people treat Indigenous identity with a misplaced respect  or veneration not unlike a religion and criticism is discouraged.

The UNSW  is guilty of this[22].

The Australian recently reported that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is advising its staff to avoid teaching students about the arrival of Australian Indigenous people onto the Australian continent.

As part of the development of materials used to guide teaching, the university has produced a diversity toolkit in regard to culturally diverse students. One of these, entitled Appropriate Terminology, Indigenous Australian People, provides guidelines about how staff should refer to Aboriginal people, their culture and events connected with the arrival of Europeans. For instance, it advises staff not to describe Australia as having been “discovered’ in 1788 (when the first fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney), since this implicitly denies the fact that Australia already was occupied by Aboriginal peoples. Such information already is standard for anyone in Australia who has familiarised themselves with the approved form of navigating discussion of Indigenous issues.

While the vast majority of the advice contained in the document is cultural in its orientation (albeit with a decidedly political flavour at some points), the guidelines occasionally wander into the domain of science. In particular, university staff are explicitly advised to avoid making reference to the fact that “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” (a figure that corresponds to the latest widely accepted date of the first arrival of humans to Australia from Africa and Asia). Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

The document warns that “forty thousand years puts a limit on the occupation of Australia, and thus tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions. Many Indigenous Australians see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate.” Such guidelines—approved by the UNSW Dean of Science—are in direct conflict with the scientific consensus about the origins of Aboriginal Australians.

An unchanged culture

From Kenan Malik[23].

Equally troubling is the romanticization. It has become the accepted truth that Indigenous peoples have a culture stretching back 65,000 years. Humans have been on the continent for that long, but no culture extends over such a time span. Today’s Indigenous Australians no more have the same relationship to the spiritual tradition of Dreamtime stories as did those first inhabitants than modern Greeks relate to “The Iliad” in the way their ancient forebears did.

Exhibit A[24]: 19/3/2018 – Almost a hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders, accompanied by non-Indigenous friends, met yesterday to pray and “reclaim” the site of Captain James Cook’s landing at Kurnell, on the southern shores of Botany Bay – the country of the Gweagal clan of the Dharawal nation … For two hours on a 40 degree day in Sydney, a hundred people prayed for reconciliation on the site of Aboriginal first contact with Europeans. And they sang: “We’re together again, just praising the Lord. We’re together again with one accord. Something good is going to happen. Something good is in store.”

The Noble Savage Myth

The idea of an unbroken, unchanged culture has a flip side that has always animated racists. It was once used to portray Indigenous Australians, and other nonwhite races, as primitive and incapable of development. Likewise with another common claim: that Indigenous people have a special attachment to the land and a unique form of ecological wisdom. This, too, draws on an old racist trope, a reworking of the “noble savage” myth. The fact that in contemporary debates such ideas are deployed in support, rather than denial, of Indigenous rights does not make them more palatable.

When I raised these issues with Australian academics and activists, many suggested that as someone with a European perspective, I did not grasp the nuances of the Australian debate. That may be true. But many of the issues are global, not local. From America to South Africa, from India to France, questions about the legacies of colonialism, the authenticity of cultural traditions and the meaning of democracy in pluralist societies dominate public debate.

According to the Uluru Statement, all Aboriginal people are spiritual? What if they are not?

From the proposed Qld Bill of Rights: Although human rights belong to all individuals, human rights have a special importance for the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland, as Australia’s first people, with their distinctive and diverse spiritual, material and economic relationship with the lands, territories, waters, coastal seas and other resources with which they have a connection under Aboriginal tradition and Ailan Kastom. Of particular significance to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland is the right to self-determination.

Home schooling for aboriginal cultural reasons indicates aboriginal identity has reached cult status[25].

Nola Turner-Jensen, a Wiradjuri woman from western New South Wales who currently lives on the Gold Coast, has been home-schooling her son Liam, now 16, since he was in the third grade … “We’re an oral culture and you go into a text-based education system and already Aboriginal children struggle. And any group-mindset child who comes from an oral culture struggles, and so this enabled my son to be able to work out problems verbally as we have done for thousands of years,” she said.

Everyday racism

(in the USA)… consider George Yancey[26], a sociologist who is black and evangelical.“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” … Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican … The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

Uluru Statement from The Heart

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the

southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the

Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.

This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according

to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years

ago.

 

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’,

and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain

attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is

the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or

extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

 

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred

link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

 

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient

sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

 

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately

criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This

cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene

numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

 

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the

torment of our powerlessness.

 

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own

country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in

two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

 

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

 

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures

our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better

future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

 

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between

governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

 

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek

across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people

for a better future.

 

Indigenous Inventions and Civilisation

 

No Shame

By all means, admire achievements, but be realistic. There is no shame in having limited sophistication (no writing, no bow and arrow) when the environment was different..

Some Claims

Some of the claims[27] of sophisticated culture are obvious beat ups. Here is another example[28].

Eel Ponds

Ancient 9000 year old city may pre-date indigenous eel ponds[29]. Are Indigenous people the racial equivalents of millennials looking for recognition and participation medals?

AFL

AFL’s position on Indigenous history of Aussie Rules leaves game’s historians baffled[30]. This is an example of a rare instance where some people are motivated to disprove a claim of indigenous people.

The AFL has adopted a new position on the origins of Australian football, now claiming it was influenced by Indigenous games.

The statement, attributed to the AFL’s general manager of social policy and inclusion Tanya Hosch, said: “Aboriginal history tells us that traditional forms of football were played by Australia’s first peoples all over Australia, most notably in the form of Marngrook. It is Australia’s only Indigenous football game — a game born from the ancient traditions of our country.”

The ABC asked Ms Hosch for an interview to clarify whether the AFL believed there was an explicit link between the Indigenous football games, and the sport codified by Tom Wills and others in Melbourne in 1859.

She declined the interview request, but in a statement said: “Marngrook, a high-marking game played in Victoria’s western districts, pre-European settlement, undoubtedly influenced what we now understand as the modern AFL football code.”

The AFL’s new position is in direct contrast to the previous statements of the sport’s origins.

In 2008 — as part of Australian Rules football’s 150th anniversary celebration — the AFL commissioned the historian, Gillian Hibbins, to write an essay on Australian football’s origins in which she said the idea that Australian Rules football originated from Aboriginal games was “a seductive myth”.

“I can’t say when the position changed, however there was no push-back regarding the recognition of the link between the modern game of AFL and the Marngrook game in the process of developing the joint statement,” Ms Hosch said in another statement.

“We are aware of this part of the game’s history being contested and at some stage I hope the AFL will formally resolve this but as it stands, we now have a statement that acknowledges and accepts the link between Marngrook and Australian Rules Football.

 

“This gives us a good step forward in terms of acknowledgment in future historical records of the game.

In another piece in the 2008 AFL 150 years publication, dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes wrote: “I know that when Aborigines play Australian Football with a clear mind and total focus, we are born to play it.”

Is the AFL changing history?

The AFL’s new position has baffled some of the game’s historians.

Roy Hay has just published a book entitled Aboriginal People and Australian Football in the Nineteenth Century, which examines the idea that Australian football was influenced by games played by Aborigines.

Of the AFL’s new position on the origins of the game, Mr Hay said, “That just simply is an attempt to rewrite history.”

Mr Hay and other historians of the game say there is no doubt that Aboriginal people played many different forms of football, but many argue there is no evidence that Australian Rules Football was influenced by those games.

“The idea that [Indigenous football] was somehow a blueprint for the game that the white men developed in Melbourne around the late 1850s — I have searched high and low, and many other historians have done [the same], to find out if there is substantial evidence that supports that, and really we can find none.”

Another football historian, Dr Greg de Moore, has been unable to find any link between the Aboriginal games and the one codified in the late 1850s, in more than 10 years of research.

Dr de Moore co-authored a landmark history of the sport Australian Football, A National Game, and is the biographer of the sport’s most important founding father, Tom Wills.

“There is an evidence gap … I’ve seen nothing in recent years to change my view,” Dr de Moore said.

Indigenous People Were Great Custodians of the Land and Were Great Conservationists

But they wiped out the large slow moving fauna and their fire burning practices encouraged the previously rare, eucalypt species.

 

Racist Sporting Events

Indigenous Tennis tournaments[31] are not a good idea.

Australian tennis legend and 14-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley visited Darwin today to launch the 2019 National Indigenous Tennis Carnival.

 

Goolagong Cawley was joined by Tennis Australia Chair Jayne Hrdlicka, Tennis NT CEO Sam Gibson, and Indigenous Programs Manager Joe Kelly to announce the second edition of the highly successful carnival, a four-day celebration of tennis and culture, which will take place from 29 August to 1 September 2019.

“I’m delighted to be here in Darwin to launch the second Indigenous Tennis Carnival,” Goolagong Cawley said.

“Last year it was incredible to see this amazing event, which I believe was the most significant gathering of indigenous tennis players ever in our country. It was wonderful to see kids of all ages enjoying the sport I love so much – whether discovering it for the first time, or having the opportunity to develop and improve their skills.

Support for Indigenous Recognition

The link:

Climbing Uluru to be closed

This issue is clouded by ownership issues as Uluru has a special lease.

In 1985, as part of a process of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, who had been brutally dispossessed of their lands, the government in Canberra both acknowledged the original name and returned ownership of Uluru to the Anangu, on condition that it be leased back to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

How it came about[32] (1/11/2017).

Climbing Uluru is set to be a thing of the past after the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board decided unanimously to ban the activity, starting in 2019.

The board, made up of eight traditional owners and three representatives from National Parks, made the decision after consulting with the wider Anangu community, who it said was overwhelmingly in support of banning climbs.

Senior traditional owner and chairman of the park board Sammy Wilson was at Uluru for the announcement and in a written speech said the site had deep cultural significance and was not a “theme park”.

“Some people in tourism and government for example might have been saying we need to keep it open but it’s not their law that lies in this land,” he said.

The most recent park management plan outlined three criteria that the board said were necessary to consider before closing the climb for good.

They were that new visitor experiences were successfully established; cultural and natural experiences on offer were why tourists visited the park; and that the number of visitors climbing Uluru had fallen below 20 per cent.

Mr Wilson said data collated in 2015 showed that of the days the park was open and data was collected, 16.2 per cent of visitors climbed Uluru.

In 2010 when the board announced its intention to close the climb the number was 38 per cent, and in the 1990s it was 74 per cent.

From Essential Report[33]

Cultural Appropriation

White people can’t conduct didjeridu massage therapy[34]. “This appropriation shows a serious lack of understanding and respect of protocols. The need to find/discover one’s self via the culture and heritage of a different people is nonsensical to me.”

Smoking Ceremonies and Spiritual Beliefs

Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony BS at events are celebrations of inherited privilege. The left objects to Christian Prayers but fawns over Aboriginal spiritual ceremonies. The Left objects to the Monarchy’s claim to inherited privilege but says nothing about Aboriginal claims to inherited privilege.

Personnel from the Australian Army and People’s Liberation Army line up[35] to receive a traditional smoke cleansing.

Canada has similar ceremonies with pipe smoking, scared water ritualised bowing. As a commentator said afterwards[36]: How did it come to be, I wondered, that this room full of intellectuals and policy-makers, plucked from among one of the most secular nations on earth, should be called upon to genuflect en masse to animist spirits?

I am not speaking figuratively here, for it has become genuinely fashionable for educated Canadians to speak of First Nations people as embodying quasi-mystical, even magical, properties. This helps explain why even avowed secularists, who would be disgusted to see a priest or minister preside at a public event, will adopt a solemn mien if a First Nations elder holds forth on the four sacred directions.

According to the Uluru Statement, all Aboriginal people are spiritual? What if they are not?

Similarly, some aboriginal people are described as having traditional healing powers[37].

Ngangkari are Aboriginal healers of the Anangu of the Western Desert in Central Australia, which includes the Pitjantjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra and Yankunytjatjara peoples. In some places, particularly South Australia, ngangkari are increasingly being brought into Western health settings to work beside doctors.

Their skills come from a lifetime of immersion in cultural ways of being. Ngangkari are recognised as having particular facilities for healing in their infancy or childhood and are then encouraged to develop their skills. They often talk about being taught by their grandparents.

Ngangkari are immersed in Aboriginal ways of being and cannot easily translate what they do to a wide audience. And the way they work cannot be explained through the scientific framework Western understanding demands.

In South Australia[38], a policy of cultural respect in the public health system strives to allow Indigenous patients to request a Traditional Aboriginal Healer known locally as ‘Ngangkari’. Healers have been working among Aboriginal communities for thousands of years and although the practices may not be well known, the practice has never stopped … Ngangkari use traditional natural medicines to cure ailments, which is similar to the manner western medicine works but without medicines made in a lab. Their work also involves massage and connection techniques that are less understood by western health workers. And when traditional healers talk about putting a persons spirit back in place, western health workers are often left feeling clueless. No matter how different the techniques may be, the results speak for themselves and their biggest advocates are the people they treat.

 

Communal Ownership

Canada has a similar problem[39]:

Communal Ownership creates a welfare state

I will not dwell too much in this space on the cruel, cynical, and utterly disastrous government decisions that have led to the current state of affairs in Indigenous communities. But perhaps the single largest enduring difficulty originates in the fact that land on Indigenous reserves is not owned by residents in their capacity as individuals. Rather, it is controlled collectively, so that no person or family can buy, sell, lease, or mortgage their property in the normal manner that the rest of us take for granted.

This has had a crushing effect on business formation and land improvement. And it is one of the reasons why the housing stock on reserves degrades so quickly: Since no one owns their house in the normal way, there is little financial incentive to invest in any even basic upkeep activities such as mould eradication. And since residents can’t mortgage their homes, no one has any basis for secured lending. Indigenous people are no less industrious and ambitious than anyone else in Canada, but they often must leave their reserve communities to find their fortune. To remain on reserve is, in many ways, to exist as a serf within a welfare state.

 

Communal Ownership is biased to cultural preservation

The question of how to resolve this difficulty obviously does not fall to me: It is something that Indigenous communities must determine themselves. And it’s a wrenching issue—because a capitalist-style land-ownership system would allow non-Indigenous outsiders to buy these communities out, thus undermining the goal of preserving and rekindling an authentic Indigenous culture. In some cases, both economic and cultural goals can be achieved through economic development in neighbouring areas and the devolution of more powers to band councils. But in other communities—especially those in remote areas, far from urban job centres—there will be wrenching choices to be made, pitting jobs against culture.

To repeat: the people who should be making these decisions are the members of Indigenous communities. But the process is skewed—because the modern white fetish for noble-savage mythology means that my country’s leaders now are effectively putting their thumbs down on the side of cultural preservation over economic development—since it is the spiritual side of Indigenous life that is the real subject of their fascination.

Indeed, in public discussions, questions of policy often get swept away under the utopian conceit that all will be remedied once Indigenous societies have the power to reinstate their ancient values within their respective communities—much as Christian, Jewish, and Islamic theocrats imagine that mundane matters of policy will be easily resolved once governance is given over to those who obey the tenets of their faith.

Surviving historical records show Indigenous peoples to be skilled negotiators, courageous warriors, and tireless hunters. Yet in the white imagination, these societies are imagined to have been proto-socialists, forever composing wise adages about the cycles of nature. Indeed, in British Columbia, the efforts of white environmentalists to cynically co-opt the mantle of Indigenous protector has been so brazen that some business-focused Indigenous groups now are rebuking them publicly.

Or consider the uproar that followed a 2017 Supreme Court of Canada decision, in which the Justices unanimously ruled against a First Nations band—the Ktunaxa—which opposed the creation of a ski resort on a mountain in British Columbia that, they claimed, was inhabited by a sacred Grizzly Spirit Bear. “Freedom of religion is supposed to provide equal protection for all religions,” wrote a pair of op-ed writers in The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper. “The Supreme Court’s judgment disadvantages Indigenous spiritual traditions, whose objects of reverence are connected to pieces of land vulnerable to physical destruction. The judgment shows how Eurocentric ideas about religion enable the continuing appropriation of Indigenous lands.”

 

And yet, amid such outrage, virtually none of these writers took note of the fact that a separate Indigenous group—the Shuswap, whose lands lie closer to the proposed ski resort than those of the Ktunaxa—actually supported the ski-resort project because of the jobs and economic benefits it would bring to the region. This is because the Shuswap took what non-Indigenous Canadians regard as an incorrect Indigenous position. In Toronto’s Globe & Mail, for instance, an article that notes that “the Shuswap accepted the [ski resort] proposal, saying the resort would benefit their community” was entitled “Top court deals blow to Indigenous peoples.” By “Indigenous peoples,” this headline writer meant “real Indigenous peoples”—as imagined from the downtown offices of Toronto’s (largely white) press corps.

 

Life as a Noble Savage can be ugly

Sexual abuse of women and children was and is rife in indigenous communities[40].

 

[1] https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/over-the-line-martina-navratilovas-judgment-call/news-story/984caa6942db82c2904c8ade46f19c44

[2] https://www.actcoss.org.au/sites/default/files/public/publications/gulanga-good-practice-guide-preferences-terminology-referring-to-aboriginal-torres-strait-islander-peoples.pdf

[3] https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/2077.0

[4] https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2077.0~2016~Main%20Features~Change%20Not%20Explained%20by%20Demographic%20Factors~124

[5] https://www.redlandcitybulletin.com.au/story/5161490/call-for-aboriginality-definition-change-could-strike-blow-to-states-gst-dollars/

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/opinion/australia-indigenous-uluru-aborigines.html?_r=0

[7] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018-in-brief/contents/all-is-not-equal

[8] https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-an-indigenous-voice-would-not-be-third-chamber-of-parliament-20190526-p51r7t.html

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/opinion/sunday/dna-elizabeth-warren.html

[10] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/07/15/power-inclusion-and-exclusion-my-concerns-about-voice

[11] https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/anthony-mundine-implores-australians-not-to-vaccinate-their-kids/news-story/075ea973177f727dec92db92e3bb521c

[12] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/07/15/power-inclusion-and-exclusion-my-concerns-about-voice

[13] https://newmatilda.com/2015/08/16/homosexuals-reproduce-molesting-kids-says-bark-petition-organiser-opposing-marriage/

[14] http://cathnews.com/cathnews/30706-coalition-tensions-rising-over-same-sex-marriage-bill

[15] https://newmatilda.com/2016/02/08/recognise-rejected-historic-meeting-500-black-leaders-unanimously-opposes-constitutional-recognition/

[16] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/07/15/power-inclusion-and-exclusion-my-concerns-about-voice

[17] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/07/15/power-inclusion-and-exclusion-my-concerns-about-voice

[18] https://www.cbsnews.com/video/freeman-on-black-history/

[19] https://www.xyz.net.au/open-letter-stan-grant/

[20] https://kenanmalik.com/2018/04/09/the-lost-legacies-of-malcolm-and-martin/

[21] https://quillette.com/2018/07/19/black-american-culture-and-the-racial-wealth-gap/

[22] https://quillette.com/2019/07/23/why-is-a-top-australian-university-encouraging-staff-to-support-indigenous-creationism/?fbclid=IwAR0QTiNMX8vbzFPjJxuvZRIO1bkibQUu2ZSsdJkMm9BruHnhAh5ffiNDNzY

[23] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/opinion/australia-indigenous-uluru-aborigines.html?_r=0

[24] https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/indigenous-prayer-vigil-held-at-site-of-first-contact/

 

[25] https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-08/indigenous-parents-homeschooling-in-face-of-education-gap/10148514?pfmredir=sm

[26] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/08/opinion/sunday/a-confession-of-liberal-intolerance.html?module=inline

[27] https://www.crikey.com.au/2019/07/19/indigenous-innovation-inventions/

[28] https://newmatilda.com/2017/01/22/busting-black-myths-the-truth-about-our-first-peoples/

[29] https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-17/prehistoric-city-offers-glimpse-of-ancient-living-near-jerusalem/11315532?pfmredir=sm

[30] https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-14/afl-latest-stance-proves-history-of-aussie-rules-is-in-debate/11202802?pfmredir=sm

[31] https://www.tennis.com.au/news/2019/07/18/evonne-goolagong-cawley-launches-national-indigenous-tennis-carnival-in-darwin

[32] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-01/uluru-climbs-banned-after-unanimous-board-decision/9103512?pfmredir=sm

[33] https://www.essentialvision.com.au/support-closing-uluru-climbing

[34] https://theconversation.com/indigenous-cultural-appropriation-what-not-to-do-86679?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2029%202017%20-%2088967463&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20November%2029%202017%20-%2088967463+CID_c5389bf1d829e924fd8a7f5cfb45af82&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Indigenous%20cultural%20appropriation%20what%20not%20to%20do

[35] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-18/pandaroo-welcome-to-country/10260940

[36] https://quillette.com/2018/04/22/canadas-cult-noble-savage-harms-indigenous-peoples/

[37] https://theconversation.com/traditional-aboriginal-healers-should-work-alongside-doctors-to-help-close-the-gap-93660

[38] https://www.welcometocountry.org/traditional-aboriginal-healers-australia-hospitals/

[39] https://quillette.com/2018/04/22/canadas-cult-noble-savage-harms-indigenous-peoples/

[40] https://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/a-long-tradition-of-abuse/news-story/74a11f05cbffcb09a9f97d9408bb25ce

Posted in Podcasts

3 comments on “Episode 213 – A Podcast to Indigenous Australians
  1. Bronwyn Benn says:

    Hi guys,

    I have been thinking long and hard about how to respond to this episode. Rather than try to tackle every topic you have raised, I have aimed to address some of your general positions which seem to underlie most of your stated views.

    Where does Indigenous disadvantage lie?
    You have said before, and repeated in this episode, that you believe that people should receive special assistance or consideration due to disadvantage, not the colour of their skin.

    I put it to you that Indigenous people in Australia suffer disadvantage BECAUSE OF the colour of their skin. Even Indigenous people from urbanised and/or middle class backgrounds will suffer some level of discrimination or mistreatment because they look Aboriginal to white people, or because they assert their Indigenous status in some other way.

    Some examples:
    – A recent coronial inquiry into the death of Naomi Williams and her unborn child found that implicit bias in her treatment by Tumut Hospital was likely to have contributed to her death.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-29/naomi-williams-tumut-sepsis-death-inquest-findings/11355244
    – Uncle Jack Charles, a respected elder and actor, is frequently refused services such as taxi pickups because of his Aboriginal appearance.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/14/indigenous-actor-jack-charles-to-take-on-taxi-drivers-for-racial-profiling
    – The former AFL player, Adam Goodes, suffered systematic booing and abuse from football crowds which ended his football career. There has been a considerable amount about this in the media but I recommend that you watch the documentary ‘The Final Quarter’ if you need to know more detail. The reference below is a response to the film from one of Goodes’ former teammates.
    https://www.smh.com.au/national/i-walked-out-of-the-adam-goodes-doco-an-angry-man-20190608-p51vt6.html

    If we provide special assistance or recognition to Indigenous people, is it racist, and does it unfairly advantage them and/or disadvantage everyone else?
    You have argued that special assistance or recognition for Indigenous people is racist, because this assistance and recognition is not available to everyone in the community. Because this is such a huge topic, I am limiting my discussion here to social programs and have not addressed ‘discriminatory’ legislation or the Uluru declaration.

    Since the 1970s, public policy and program development in Australia has incorporated the principle that there are a number of minority groups in society which require special assistance, because they are disadvantaged by social and cultural attitudes and for other reasons. These programs have focused on providing assistance with access to education, health and other essential services. Australians have, by and large, accepted this as a necessary part of living in a civilised society. An example of such a program is the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

    As I’m sure you would be aware, there are also programs which assist people of any background who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. There aren’t nearly enough of these of course, but they do exist, and they do have a positive effect on the ‘mainstream’ disadvantaged population which you are rightly concerned about, in (for example) helping people to escape generational poverty through educational opportunity.

    All these programs, regardless of who benefits from them directly, result in an indirect benefit to the community as a whole, by helping to ensure that the positive potential in people is not lost to the community, that the impact on the public purse of chronic illness is reduced, and that people have the opportunity to participate in the economy and become productive workers.

    In responding to the question of whether Indigenous programs result in unfair advantage, I would ask you to try substituting the names of other so-called minorities for the Indigenous minority. Does special assistance unfairly advantage non-English speaking people? The disabled? Women? (I’d be careful about that last one, guys.)

    You have yourselves acknowledged that some of these ‘racist’ programs have had a positive effect in improving, for example, some Indigenous health indicators. Through my work, I’ve also become aware of similar programs which have improved Indigenous participation in education. While these outcomes are encouraging, there is still some way to go before the Indigenous health gap in particular is sufficiently mitigated for these programs to no be longer needed. In the meantime, I for one am quite happy for my taxes to contribute towards ‘racist’ programs into the future.

    Can white people comment on Indigenous issues, without having the lived experience of an Indigenous person?
    Well, I guess I have to agree that we can, since I do it often. However, I would have to qualify Trevor’s statement that he can imagine what it would be like to be the subject of an incident involving racial abuse or discrimination. Yes, I’m sure most of us can do this, with the possible exception of psychopaths. But can you imagine what it would be like to be subject to this stuff day in, day out, for your whole life, and you can never escape it because of the way you look? I’m not sure I could genuinely claim to be able to do this.

    This brings me to the subject of so-called ‘casual racism’. I’ve often heard white people dismiss this as if it doesn’t count and those who complain of it are over-sensitive whingers. This seems rather inconsistent to me. There is rightly a lot of concern in our society about bullying in all its forms, in school playgrounds, in workplaces, and on social media. It appears that many people can’t (won’t?) recognise casual racism as another form of bullying.

    For those of us who have not been subjected to constant and continuing casual racism during our lives, the article below provides an insight on what it is like to experience it. The author is not Indigenous, he is an Arab Australian of Lebanese Christian heritage. I found his description of his experiences of casual racism highly compelling, and I suspect that many Indigenous people would strongly identify with it.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-28/arab-australia-racism-and-recipes/11350098

    Why should being here first result in Indigenous people having special recognition and more rights?
    If the government implements the terms of the Uluru Statement from the Heart as the writers intended (as opposed to the Malcolm Turnbull version), we may have a formal process in which a body of Indigenous representatives are consulted on draft legislation before it is put to the Parliament.

    This type of consultation is nothing new. Back in the day, when I was drafting Cabinet submissions or briefing Ministers on Cabinet submissions from other Departments, it was common to be required to consult with a particular Government agency if the submission related to a specific group which was a Government priority – for example, the Office of Women. This is still the case in many jurisdictions throughout Australia. As far as I can see, the only real differences between the process I experienced, and that proposed in the Uluru Statement, is the level of formality and obligation involved in the consultation process (as it would be in the Constitution), and the fact that those consulted with would be elected representatives rather than public servants. How would this result in Indigenous people materially having more rights than non-Indigenous people? Do most white people really want to be intimately involved in Indigenous policy making? Somehow, I think most would not be interested.

    It should also be remembered that, regardless of the model adopted, the proposer of the legislation would not be obliged to alter their proposal to suit the Indigenous body. They would only be required to consult. So let’s all calm down a bit.

    As for your argument involving refugees, I fail to see any equivalence in comparison with the occupation of Aboriginal Australia by Europeans from the 18th century onwards. The first white settlers arrived here, aggressively took possession of the land and massacred many of its original inhabitants. Their actions continue to benefit non-Indigenous Australians more than two centuries later. Refugees are hardly doing anything like this. They are not even taking our jobs, despite the false claims of right wing commentators. So I don’t understand your argument.

    I think that’s probably enough for now. These issues will, of course, be the subject of ongoing discussion both on and off the podcast. I look forward to reading the comments of others.

    Best wishes…

  2. Well guys, I promote myself as the leading authority on Aboriginal issues in this Country. My primary website is http://www.whitc.info/. And my main group FB is ‘What’s Happening In This Country”. So, where do we start? And what do youse want to know.?

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