This post brings together under a new heading and then updates a collection of material that we began at NAIDOC Week in July 2014. (There were some technical issues with updating the original post, anyway.) The post enables us to maintain a continually updating view of issues associated with the treatment of Australia’s First Peoples, particularly how Australians deal with the Frontier Wars and the related issue of the involvement of Indigenous Australians in today’s Australian Defence Force and its predecessors. We have now archived the 2014 material.
Update 22 October 2015: Adam Goodes and white attitudes to black bodies; Indigenous youth incarceration in the Territory
Liz Conor writes in New Matilda about the reaction to former footballer Adam Goodes becoming an ‘ambassador’ for David Jones stores. She looks back at white attitudes to the physique and movement of black males from Arthur Phillip to now. There has been a preference for the unclothed form.
Helen Davidson in Guardian Australia takes a close look at Indigeneous youth incarceration in the Northern Territory. A graph shows a massive increase in incarceration rates since 2002 compared with population increase. See also below 13 October about Indigenous youth suicide in NT.
Update 21 October 2015: Stan Grant on not belonging in your own country
I am not an Australian or more precisely I don’t feel Australian. I am not alone among my people in feeling this way. There is nothing in Australia’s myths that includes us. Our stories don’t form this country’s folklore. Clancy of the Overflow wasn’t black. The jolly swagman wasn’t black. Bush poet Ted Egan got it right: we were “poor bugger me, Gurindji”.
The sweeping plains and rugged mountain ranges of Dorothea Mackellar’s imagination were also places of death for our people. We were stricken by disease on those plains. We were herded over those mountains. After the coming of the settlers, this was the “wide brown land” for us. For most of this country’s history we were not citizens. Some of our people – my grandfather included – enlisted to fight in Australia’s wars but returned to a segregated country where they could not enter a pub to share a drink with the diggers they fought alongside.
Update 20 October 2015: new words for Advance Australia Fair to reflect new reality
Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, academic and singer says why she turned down the chance to sing the National Anthem at the AFL Grand Final because she objected to the words ‘we are young and free’. She presents new words written in 2009 by Judith Durham and asks important questions.
Setting aside for a moment 70,000 years of Indigenous cultures, 114 years on from Federation and 227 years into colonisation, at the very least, those words don’t reflect who we are. As Australians, can we aspire to be young forever? If we are ever to mature we simply cannot cling to this desperate premise.
How much better would it be if were to finally acknowledge the nuanced and sophisticated society discovered by those who arrived 230 years ago was deliberately and systematically overlooked? What if the next person to sing the anthem at the AFL Grand Final were to reach beyond the Western imperial history and harness the power of 70,000 years of accumulated wisdom and knowledge?
Update 14 October 2015: Goodes on healing wounds in country
Update 13 October 2015: Indigenous suicide rates; Keeping Place or French boondoggle?
The Conversation (Geetha Ranmuthugala and Melissa Stoneham) looks at the evidence about Indigenous suicide rates in Northern Australia while Paul Daley in Guardian Australia argues that the $100 million earmarked for the Monash interpretive centre in France be devoted instead to building a Keeping Place for stolen Indigenous remains.
Update 12 October 2015: Frontier Wars book wins prize; Stan Grant at Poisoned Waterhole Creek
Libby Connors’ book Warrior: A Legendary Leader’s Dramatic Life and Violent Death on the Colonial Frontier has won the Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance. Marion Diamond writes about the book and about the politics of literary awards in the Sunshine State. Praising the book, author John Birmingham said: ‘Connors lays down the hard truth. Not all our warriors were Anzacs. Not all our wars were just‘.
Meanwhile, Indigenous journalist, Stan Grant, visits the site of an attack on Indigenous Australians.
Islands and creeks with such sinister names [Poisoned Waterhole and Murdering creeks]. Yet today we can be so oblivious. They are almost casual references to long-forgotten atrocities of our past …
We can wear our history so lightly in this country. Many people tell me still how they just don’t know what happened here among blacks and whites. But to us it is a living thing. It frames our identity, these stories of survival and our heroes who resisted and died.
We all need these stories. We all need our sacred places. That is why Gallipoli matters. That is why we stop on 25 April each year. Lest we forget.
That is why I have visited the resting place of Windradyne, marked with a headstone on a property near Bathurst. His grave is tended by the sons and daughters of the original settlers who came to Wiradjuri land.
Update 1 October 2015: Minister Wyatt; after Goodes
Update 22 September 2015: Stan Grant farewells Adam Goodes
Indigenous journalist Stan Grant writes that the numbers for Indigenous life expectancy, incarceration, stolen children more accurately reflect the story of Adam Goodes than do the numbers for his success as a sportsman. ‘These numbers hint at a deeper story of sacrifice and loneliness, of questioning and wondering. Who am I? Where do I belong? What does it mean to be black in Australia?’
Update 15 September 2015: Papunya pictures, design expressing Indigenous values
Monica Tan presents some work of Papunya dot painters, currently on display at the University of New South Wales, then travelling. (Update 18 September: Joanna Mendelssohn writes.) Elizabeth Dori Tunstall looks at the work of Victoria’s Koorie Heritage Trust, which ensures Indigenous access to cultural material, supports the value of connection to country, and facilitates community engagement and exchange.
Update 14 September 2015: living under the Aborigines Protection Board
John Maynard writes about a research project about experience under the Aborigines Protection Board in New South Wales.
Update 13 September 2015: Warlpiri culture
Warlpiri educator and scholar Steve Jampijinpa explains the five pillars of Warlpiri culture. Links to other resources on Warlpiri culture.
Update 6 September 2015: Griffith Review Indigenous writing portal; a dark chapter in Canning
We belatedly discover this excellent resource on the Griffith Review website, containing both pieces on Indigenous politics and social issues and pieces by Indigenous writers. There were over 80 articles linked from here in September 2105.
Then there is Paul Daley’s piece in Guardian Australia about the black history of the name Canning, as in the electorate. He writes of ‘many violent acts – massacres, revenge killings, resprisals – that marked the early years of the track’, the Canning stock route and the article is illustrated with paintings from local artists.
Update 27 August 2015: constitutional recognition and practical politics
Paul Daley rejects the idea that constitutional recognition should extend to migrant Australians as well as First Australians while Amy McQuire questions mainstream media treatment of the prime minister’s trip to Northern Australia.
Update 25 August 2015: two rather different views of our Indigenous past
Anthropologist Gillian Cowlishaw says we should not discount the work of classical anthropologists while Tony Abbott is taken to task for an allegedly nostalgic view of what is appropriate policy.
Update 13 August 2015: Ferguson and here; Indigenous teachers needed
Two items from the ever-alert Guardian Australia: Stan Grant compares attitudes to Black Americans as seen currently in Ferguson with attitudes to Indigenous Australians as seen widely in this country; Jessa Rogers, Wiradjuri woman, on why we need more Indigenous teachers.
Grant has a great quote from the late James Baldwin: ‘I have spent most of my life watching white people and outwitting them, so that I might survive’. Rogers says: ‘Having more Indigenous teachers is a key factor in fostering student engagement and improving educational outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students’.
Update 11 August 2015: land rights legalities and stolen children
From New Matilda, a long article by Jon Altman on legal aspects of native title claims and a piece by John Maynard on the oral history of how Welfare and Protection Boards removed Indigenous children.
Update 10 August 2015: owning up to our black history
Jeff Sparrow in Guardian Australia on Goodes, Confederates, kanakas and Frontier Wars.
Update 6 August 2015: Swans’ chairman’s speech
Full text of recent speech by Andrew Pridham on issues raised by booing of Adam Goodes.
Update 3 August 2015: Stan Grant at Garma
Wiradjuri man and journalist, Stan Grant, writes:
As a reporter I’ve covered conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza and Pakistan – and I have met myself in every one of those countries. In refugee camps I have looked into eyes of the same people I grew up with. I could have been looking into the eyes of my father.
I have seen the same listlessness coupled with defiance, the same suffering coupled with survival. But in those lands, conflict is defined; war given its name. In Australia we don’t even have that.
Update 31 July 2015: more Goodes
Paul Daley in Guardian Australia puts the booing of a footballer in a broader context (with over 500 comments). He asks when it all started:
I think we should go back even further to 1770, when Captain James Cook and a couple of Gweagal tribesman were involved in this continent’s first east coast moment of “contact”. The Gweagal threw spears. Cook’s men shot at the Gweagal, wounding at least one and setting the tone for the 1788 invasion and all that followed, to which Goodes referred graciously in his Australia Day speech.
Two hundred and forty five years later the big questions at the heart of Australian nationhood remain unanswered. There’s been no reckoning for the extreme violence, dispossession and related trauma that still reverberates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, no treaty and no honest dealings on sovereignty.
Update 30 July 2015: more Goodes
Update 28 July 2015: Adam Goodes
Two thoughtful New Matilda pieces from Amy McQuire and Chris Graham. Graham suggests AFL games should stop when racist booing starts. McQuire contrasts the fuss being made over gestures at football matches with the lack of fuss over the hit-and-run death of an Indigenous boy in Darwin and the light sentence that was given to the (white) driver. Plus Russell Jackson in Guardian Australia.
Update 25 July 2015: Frontier History Revisited
Link to comprehensive website on the work of Robert Ørsted-Jensen on deaths in Frontier Wars in Queensland.
Update 23 July 2015: British Museum, Australian fast food
Paul Daley has another look at the politics of the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian artefacts exhibition (coming soon to Australia), specifically at its sponsorship by BP. Some Indigenous Australians see multinationals like BP as threats to Indigenous lands and cultures world-wide.
Also in Guardian Australia, film-maker Warwick Thornton talks about his new exhibition in Melbourne focusing on the effects on Indigenous children of excessive consumption of fast food.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are three times as likely [says author Melissa Davey] as non-Indigenous people to have diabetes and high sugar levels, with one in 10 of them suffering from the condition. From the age of just 15, every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in Western Australia’s Kimberley region is regarded as being at high risk of developing diabetes.
Update 15 July 2015: a Canadian comparison
An NITV item on First Nations experience in Canada, which may be compared with Australia’s Stolen Generations.
Update 10 July 2015: NAIDOC Week item
If Indigenous Australia was a country it would have the 12th highest suicide rate in the world.
Update 9 July 2015: NAIDOC Week items
International comparisons of Indigenous constitutional recognition issues. Seven Indigenous Western Australians talk about their connection to place. Indigenous entrepreneurs talk while this item links to an Auditor-General’s report on how the Australian Public Service is underusing Indigenous suppliers.
Update 8 July 2015: NAIDOC Week items
Astrophysics opens up an Indigenous perspective on the universe and offers a path to reconciliation. Peter Brent and Sean Kelly on political issues surrounding Indigenous recognition. Amy McQuire not impressed by the Kirribilli conference (includes links to her earlier pieces). Chris Graham and some thoughtful posters on Our Dawn and Our Nick.
Update 6 July 2015: NAIDOC Week items
Lander, Gray and Wilkes in The Conversation examine the House of Reps report (tabled 25 June) critical of the NT Government’s approach to ‘problem drinkers’. Darren Parker in Guardian Australia writes about the consultative meeting with the prime minister and others to do with Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. The prime minister said this and this.
Update 5 July 2015: AM Fernando and NAIDOC Week 2015
Paul Daley writes in Guardian Australia about pioneer Indigenous activist, AM Fernando. Couple of NAIDOC links also.
Update 30 June 2015: Factchecking whether there were people in Australia prior to Aboriginal people
Iain Davidson, refereed by Michael Westaway, refutes the suggestion of Senator Leyonhjelm. ‘The overwhelming weight of evidence’, says Davidson, ‘supports the idea that Aboriginal people were the first Australians’. Westaway supports this view.
Update 22 June 2015: fortified frontiers and white and black tactics
Ray Kerkhove looks at the evidence that both white and blacks in Queensland in the 1840s and 1850s built and manned fortified defences against each other.
Update 15 June 2015: The Secret River makes us ask about progress
Paul Daley reviews The Secret River ABC miniseries for Guardian Australia. Daley suggests people may ask ‘why pick at scabs?’ at a time when, for example, we are moving towards reconciliatory words being included in the Constitution.
There are many good reasons [he responds]. Not least is that by learning what happened we might understand how the legacy of extreme violence, dispossession and oppression manifests in an Indigenous Australia where some of the world’s worst social, economic and health disadvantage remains shamefully extant. The past aligns precisely with the present in today’s Aboriginal Australia, to the inescapable discomfort of the non-Indigenous.
Update 7 June 2015: war dances and real wars: Honest History First Peoples miscellany
Collection of articles on Gary Foley and Barrie Dexter, the British Museum exhibition, Jandamarra, Adam Goodes, Myall Creek and Fortress Campbell.
Update 20 May 2015: their centenary country: Honest History First Peoples miscellany
A collection of related articles 2014-15 touching on the Department of Defence, the Australian War Memorial, an Indigenous artist, ‘deficit discourse’, the Aurora Australis, Indigenous language, Adam Goodes, racism, constitutional recognition, and Pemulwuy.
Update 8 May 2015: British Museum Indigenous Australian exhibition
Maria Nugent writes in Inside Story about this controversial show. ‘It is’, Nugent says, in an understatement, ‘no easy task to negotiate the intricate politics of history and memory when it comes to Australia’s colonial past, and critics and visitors can sometimes underestimate the challenge’. Paul Daley also wrote about the exhibition and related issues (Update 9 April below) and the Prince of Wales opened it, comparing the importance of Australia’s Indigenous heritage with that of Anzac.
Update 6 May 2015: reconciliation, please, but don’t mention the war
David Reid writes about an early incident in the Canberra area, involving First Australians and white settlers.
Update 29 April 2015: Anzac march restrictions on First Australians
Amy McQuire reports in New Matilda on confrontation between Australian Federal Police and First Australians seeking to join the Anzac Day march. It emerges from the video accompanying the article that the orders the police were following come from the RSL who are in charge of the Order of March.
Earlier, McQuire had written that Gallipoli could never define Australia like the Frontier Wars did. Henry Reynolds has written that the Frontier Wars were arguably our most important conflict.
So if we are talking about war, it was clearly one of the few significant wars in Australian history and arguably the single most important one. For Indigenous Australia it was their Great War (Reynolds, Forgotten War, p. 248)
Update 9 April 2015: British Museum battle
Paul Daley writes in Guardian Australia about the battle brewing at the British Museum over a new exhibition of some of the Museum’s 6000 Indigenous Australian artefacts. There are likely to be Indigenous protests over this exhibition and a related one in Canberra, particularly because new legislation stymies Indigenous moves to have artefacts repatriated.
An elegant exhibition catalogue does not attempt to sugar-coat the violence against and dispossession of the locals, who died in vast numbers (estimates vary from a conservative 20,000 to at least 60,000) in clashes with explorers, settlers, British soldiers and police until the last accepted massacre at Coniston, Northern Territory, in 1928. “The essential truth is that Aboriginal people were dispossessed from their land by force, their populations reduced by disease and violence, and their cultural beliefs and practices disrespected and sometimes destroyed.”
Update 26 March 2015: is the Memorial now telling five-eighths of the story?
Paul Daley writes at length in Guardian Australia (and in Meanjin in longer form) about Douglas Grant, an Indigenous serviceman in World War I, and asks questions about Anzac centenary commemoration and the Australian War Memorial’s attempts to deal with pressure to acknowledge both Indigenous service in the King’s or Queen’s uniform and Indigenous service in the Frontier Wars.
Douglas Grant’s story, while poignant in its own regard as the journey of a black man raised white, does not help much with resolving the deep contradictions in the War Memorial’s approach to the service of First Australians, in and out of uniform.
With the probable single exception of Douglas Grant, they [Indigenous soldiers] were not considered Australian citizens even while they wore the uniform. They fought for an empire that had taken their land, established a federation that still institutionally discriminates against them, killed their not-too-distant ancestors, under a union flag that symbolised bloody injustice to them. Their experience was definitely unique. The war memorial awkwardly points to the story it tells about Indigenous servicemen when asked about its intransigence on frontier war – even though it will not erect a simple statue to honour the unique experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander personnel.
Critics like Alan Stephens have said the War Memorial only tells half the story about Australia’s experience of war. Maybe, with the Memorial’s stumbling progress towards doing something about Indigenous service, it is now getting closer to telling perhaps five-eighths of the story. Maybe. Getting to the next stage, recognising Indigenous warriors out of uniform, is a much bigger step but even more necessary.
Update 22 March 2015: getting things back
Greek-Australian newspaper, Neos Kosmos, reports a speech by Indigenous historian and activist, Gary Foley, on ‘the shared experience of cultural loss’ between Greeks (the Parthenon Marbles held by the British Museum) and Indigenous Australians (currently a controversy over bark etchings from Victoria but many other instances also).
Update 19 March 2015: gargoyles
Lisa Barritt-Eyles discusses the layers of meaning beneath the presence of the gargoyles of an Indigenous man and woman at the Australian War Memorial. For more on gargoyles, scroll down. ‘The claim that the stories represented in the galleries are “our story”’, says the author, ‘confirms the AWM as a site of Australian national identity reproduction – and silences other stories about the foundations of Australia’s nationhood’. Right on, as we have noted elsewhere (compared with here).
Update 15 March 2015: lest we forget the Frontier Wars
Journalism student, Hannah Berzins, presents a video discussing issues to do with commemoration of what has been described as our largest, longest war.
Update 11 March 2015: lifestyle choices and lectures
Paul Daley in Guardian Australia comments on a statement by the prime minister. Three strikes: unoccupied Australia; 1788 as the all-time zinger Australian date; lifestyle choices. On the third strike, Daley asked:
Was it said deliberately, cynically, just to bolster his base? Was it the equivalent of political Dunkin’ Donuts, frisbeed to the reactionaries in his party, in the papers and on the airwaves, who’ve been a bit antsy about all his talk of sweating blood to achieve Indigenous recognition in the constitution?
Funnily enough, Honest History had wondered pretty much the same about the prime minister’s earlier statement alleging Australians were pretty sick of being lectured to by the United Nations. Are such remarks careless or calibrated and, if the latter, calibrated by whom and for whose benefit? Is there a Tea Party in the PMO?
Update 8 March 2015: Yothu Yindi, imprisonment, segregation art
Guardian Australia this week included Jack Kerr on the history of Yothu Yindi’s song ‘Treaty’, Padraic Gibson on whether ‘out-of-home care’ is recreating a stolen generation in the Northern Territory, plus some paintings from an exhibition of the work of late Ngaku (northern NSW) artist, Robert Campbell, junior.
Update 3 March 2015: gargoyles, warriors, Freedom Riders, recognition and imprisonment
Recent days have seen the Australian War Memorial cautiously sidling towards what might be a concession in the way it treats Indigenous Australians. When the refurbished World War I galleries were opened a single journalist picked up in passing a story that 24 out of 26 gargoyles were to be replaced. There was no mention of the reason for the discrepancy. Inquiries by Honest History of officials at the War Memorial met with the oral and email equivalents of blank looks. Among those in the Memorial’s diaspora with long memories there were mutterings about issues to do with asbestos and deteriorating sandstone.
While most of the gargoyles, dating back to 1941, were native flora and fauna, numbers 25 and 26 were representations of an Indigenous male and an Indigenous female. It emerged that a tender had indeed been let for replacement of 24 gargoyles with 24 new ones made of better sandstone. It became officially clear that asbestos was the problem and that the fate of the two problem gargoyles – into storage or on display either where they were or more discreetly – would be subject to community consultation. Commentators could be found on both sides – remove the gargoyles or leave them there as an indicator of the way we were. The Memorial’s Indigenous Liaison Officer weighed in.
In some respects, though, the most interesting question was how the resolution of the gargoyles issue, whatever it might be, related to other more vexed issues that the Memorial has, perhaps reluctantly, on its plate to deal with: whether and how to commemorate Indigenous soldiers – that is, men who have worn the King’s or Queen’s uniform – and, even more vexed, how to resist pressure to commemorate Indigenous warriors who did not wear such uniform and, indeed, who fought against those who did. (We understand that there is a persistent military tradition not to give too much lee-way to the Queen’s enemies, even when they are dead.) In dealing with the gargoyles, the Memorial gave off the distinct impression of not wanting to open Pandora’s Box. Amy McQuire in New Matilda, Paul Daley in Guardian Australia and Primrose Riordan in Fairfax discussed the issues.
Whatever complex motivations lurked behind the gargoyles, confronting the issues rather more directly was Tim Flannery, former Australian of the Year.
What kind of courage does it take [Flannery asked] to stand and face certain death at the hands of men on horseback, armed with rifles, as did those 52 Aboriginal warriors [at Fighting Hills, in modern Western Victoria in 1840]? They died for family and country as bravely as any soldier ever did.
Flannery made a crucial comparison:
[I]n this centenary year of Gallipoli and the creation of the Anzac legend, an important wrong remains unaddressed. The feats of the bravest Australians ever to die in conflict remain unacknowledged. These heroes were Aborigines who sacrificed their lives defending family and country in Australia’s frontier war, which raged across the country between the 1790s and the 1930s, as European settlers pushed Aboriginal people from their land.
A century and a quarter after Fighting Hills, Indigenous and settler Australians confronted racism and bigotry in western New South Wales. Fifty years after that some of them and others re-enacted the 1965 Freedom Ride, which had been led by Charles Perkins.
The ABC (and guests) did its best to sum up the issues surrounding constitutional recognition though no-one seemed able to explain the current delay. ‘By recognising Indigenous people’, said Marcia Langton, ‘we put that foundation into the Constitution, we overcome the hangover of Terra Nullius, the constitution is then absolutely clear that we do exist in the nation-state’. In outback New South Wales, meanwhile, in Freedom Ride territory, Uncle Isaac Gordon tried to address the immense practical problem of Indigenous incarceration. Perhaps we are not all that different from the way we were in the time of gargoyles.
Update 19 February 2015: Frontier Wars story-telling in Canberra; Freedom Ride commemoration
Early shout-out for the Frontier Wars story-telling camp at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Old Parliament House Lawns, Canberra, 19-26 April 2015 in association with the March on Anzac Day to the Australian War Memorial. More on the flyer, including Facebook page to keep up to date.
Meanwhile, fifty years on from the New South Wales Freedom Ride, Ann Curthoys, a distinguished supporter of Honest History, who was on the Ride and wrote a book about it in 2002, spoke about the Ride here.
Update 5 February 2015: Monument Australia website
This website has information about approximately 100 memorials and monuments to Frontier Wars massacres, Stolen Generation, Sorry Day, former mission sites, ancestors and other themes and places important to First Australians and thus to all Australians.
Update 3 February 2015: Frontier War tactics
Ray Kerkhove presents a paper on how Indigenous warriors fought against settlers in Southern Queensland in the 1840s and 1850s. Frontier violence and Indigenous resistance has rarely been examined as a case study of military strategy and tactics. The author draws upon studies of guerilla and terrorist conflict outside Australia and compares the Southern Queensland example with other Australian cases.
Update 27 January 2015: First Dog on the Moon cartoon from Guardian Australia
This pungent, poignant comment is here. Originally published 22 August 2014.
Update 22 January 2015: Australia Day reflection
Henry Reynolds writes in New Matilda about whether Australia Day is sustainable as a national day, particularly because of the difficulties of Indigenous and settler Australians ever finding common ground regarding what is celebrated (by some of them) on 26 January.
There are [says Reynolds] several symbolic and easily achieved ways in which the nature of Australia Day celebrations could be re-oriented. There should be public recognition of British legal usurpation and the disasters that followed. Even more potent would be the nation-wide call for a minute’s silence to remember the thousands of Aborigines and hundreds of Europeans who died in the frontier wars.
If they are too difficult to institute, it would clearly suggest that we need a new national day.
Update 18 January 2015: Catching up with some items
Penny Edmonds writes about massacres of Indigenous Australians at Goonal on the Gwydir River and elsewhere. ‘The flood of coverage of the centenary of Gallipoli and the first world war profoundly shapes the way we think of Australia’s history; but we suppress other violent events in our own country that also shaped us.’ A book edited by Edmonds and Kate Darian-Smith entitled Conciliation on Colonial Frontiers: Conflict, Performance, and Commemoration in Australia and the Pacific Rim is to be released in Februry 2015.
Paul Daley argues that Indigenous soldiers who fought for Australia deserve their own monument in Canberra. See also other references noted below.
Sandra Phillips discusses books by five Indigenous authors, responding to the claim by then Professor Barry Spurr disparaging Indigenous writing. The authors mentioned are Alexis Wright, Kim Scott, Kevin Gilbert and the contributors to two collections.
John Pilger describes Australia as the land of excuses, rather than the fair go, discusses his film Utopia, and calls again for a treaty with Indigenous Australians.
“In the 1960s [says Pilger], Australia had the most equitable spread of personal income in the world. The great myth was then more than half true: it was a land of some kind of fair go. Certainly not for Aboriginal people, and for others, but it was in terms of the equitable spread of income.” All this has changed, he says.
“During the Hawke years, as during the corresponding years of the Thatcher government, the transfer of wealth, from the bottom to the top, was epic. That was done by a Labor government, by the treasurer, Paul Keating, and by the prime minister, Bob Hawke. So the ground has been well and truly laid for the inevitable – that is, an extreme political system now implemented by the Abbott government.”