National Sorry Day (Australia)

psylent

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They are strong words Emma, but "Embarrassed to be Australian" is exactly how I feel when talk of the treatment of Aborigines is mentioned. And you won't get a more multicultural and IMHO harmonious country, but the treatment of the aborigines is disgraceful, especially by Howard. (And I too have pledged to say away from Oz until he fuck's off - it's just that does seem a long way away right now!) .

Anyone who wants to see a very moving film about the Stolen Generation should get "Rabbit Proof Fence" out. Wonderful film.

I'm guessing from the report though that "National Sorry Day" is an unofficial day as the government must not have sanctioned it. Even "The Age" website, normally a quite left wing paper makes no mention of it.

Jason
 

psylent

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Sorry Christine - that avatar name had me confused.

Have not heard of Mutant Message Down Under? Do you recommend it?

I read an interesting article in The Economist a couple of weeks ago about Howard and they were talking about how he has this public image of being rascist but that during his tenure immigration in Australia has increased hugely, because of course it was good for the economy and we needed more workers.

He's still a c*nt though.

Jason
 

Barclay (Dark Angel)

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Well he wouldn't have done it if the economy hadn't needed more workers. In other words he can allow more immigrants in, and still be a racist. I bet the wealth from the immigrant's work goes to middle class white people, and let me take a guess, they generally vote for Howard?

As you say Jason - still a c*nt!

I can understand Aussies leaving the country to get away from him, but they could always stay and fight him...

Hugs,

Barclay
 

Michael

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i don't think a lot of english people realise what happened out there.....i didn't until i went....one night i got in a fight with an aborigional in melbourne...he heard my accent and that was it.....i couldn't understand why... then i did some research and was very shocked...

it's absolutely heartbreaking to see how these people were and to a degree still are treated....they are just nothing like us
and should've been left alone on their land.....

it's pretty much the same in america and canada with the indian/tribal people.....it's funny how in those old cowboy films the white man was alwayd depicted as the hero and the indian/tribal as the villain....

and now here we are how many years later and the people running these 'great' nations are still making the same mistakes(only in other countries and continents)...still denying past and present responsibility for their mistakes and actions......stupid white men....
 

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Hi Sparklema

I was wondering, as you mentioned a few australian books, have you read the latest (or a year or so back) book by Germaine Greer which is about giving australia back to the aborigines? I haven't but I will when I come across it
 

psylent

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Here is The Economist article from May 5th.


[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]The country seems to be at ease with its newest arrivals, but not yet with its first inhabitants[/size][/font]


[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]IT SEEMS hard to believe that only a few years ago Australians were fretting, and the rest of the world gaping, at the meteoric rise of a chip-shop owner from Queensland. In 1996 the unknown Pauline Hanson stunned everyone by winning a seat in the federal Parliament. She then founded a party, One Nation, which won 23% of the vote and 11 of the 89 seats in a Queensland state election in 1998. In the general election in the same year, it bagged 9% of the national vote, though only one Senate seat.
[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Mrs Hanson's message amounted to a mixture of complaints about unemployment, taxation and globalisation—the small-town, small-business gripes that have fuelled populist movements down the decades. But two of her claims were seen as especially alarming: that the government was favouring Aborigines over white people, and that immigration was hurting the average Australian. “We are in danger of being swamped by Asians,†she said in her maiden speech in Canberra.
[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Mrs Hanson and her party have already become merely a footnote of history. The lady herself was convicted of padding out her party membership list to qualify for election expenses, though the conviction was overturned. She fell out with her party and ran as an independent in last October's general election, losing heavily. Remarkably, her crusade seems to have had little long-term effect: anti-immigrant feeling in most other rich countries runs much hotter, and a party like One Nation would not have faded so fast. Australia, despite Mrs Hanson's claims, is probably more receptive to immigration than any other country. [/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]It has not always seemed that way. In August 2001, the Howard government, then facing a difficult election, scored a noticeable bounce in the opinion polls after the Tampa affair. The Tampa was a Norwegian ship that the Australian government ordered out of its waters after it had picked up 433 refugees, most of them Afghans, from their own leaky boat. The government argued that allowing boat-people to land merely encouraged a dangerous traffic and gave them unfair precedence over others patiently waiting in third-country holding centres for their chance of a new life in Australia. But the way that the policy was used for political advantage, with some success, has done lasting damage to Mr Howard's reputation. Still, it is worth recalling that the Labor Party supported the decision to push the Tampa back.
[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]The Tampa affair made the Howard government look racist, but the figures tell a different story. In the year to June 2005, Australia will have admitted around 120,000 immigrants, as well as almost 14,000 refugees. As a share of Australia's population of just over 20m, that is well above the number for America, which takes in around a million a year but has a population 15 times greater. Moreover, the Australian intake has been slowly creeping up during the Howard years. As with many things, it is better to look at what the government does than what it says.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]In 2005-06 the total is set to rise by 20,000 because of Australia's labour shortage. “We can take so many precisely because we control the borders,†says Amanda Vanstone, Australia's immigration minister. “And for our refugees, we aim to give priority to those most in need, not those who can pay for passage.â€[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]There have been changes in the mix of immigrants too. The “White Australia†era is long gone: these days, more than a third of each year's intake comes from Asian countries, and the proportion goes on rising. Around two-thirds of immigrants are now admitted on the basis of their skills, using a points system to pick the most useful people; the other third comes from reuniting families. The points allocations can change from year to year as the needs of the economy alter. Critics call this cherry-picking from poor countries that desperately need the services of the trained people they have invested in. But nobody disputes that the system benefits Australia. With unemployment so low, the country could easily take in a lot more immigrants—as many as 250,000 a year by 2025, reckons Phillip Ruthven of [size=-1]IBIS[/size].[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]To the visitor, Australia seems like a model of harmonious race relations. No matter where you come from, people assume you are a native because in this melting-pot of a place you might very well be. Ahmed, a Kurd who escaped from Saddam's Iraq in the 1980s and now drives a Sydney taxi, says he has never encountered any real racism. “This is a great country. If you want to work and stick to the law, people are going to welcome you here, and you can do well,†he says.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Some have done very well indeed. John So arrived in Australia as a poor immigrant from Hong Kong 30 years ago. Today, he is Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city, having twice been directly elected to the job. “Melbourne is a showcase for Australia's multiculturalism,†he says. Its Lunar New Year celebrations attracted 200,000 people, and Diwali and the Thai water festival also bring in the crowds. Australia has always been a land that welcomed people, a land of immigration, says Mr So: it is just the origins of the people that keep on changing. In other countries, he thinks, such high levels of immigration might not work. But what, after all, is Australian culture? It is always shifting. “That's how a Chinese immigrant can become Lord Mayor,†he explains with a smile.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]A quarter of Australia's population was born abroad, and another quarter is made up of first-generation natives. At a time of globalisation, this is a tremendous strength, and with unemployment at its lowest level for almost 30 years further immigration is unlikely to provoke much discontent. Parts of Sydney are already starting to feel noticeably Asian. The suburb of Cabramatta, in the south-west, has a large Vietnamese population: walk around its main market area, and you will hardly see an English sign. But it is not a ghetto: most people who live there work elsewhere, and as people get richer, they swiftly move to more affluent areas.
[/size][/font]

[font=verdana, geneva, arial, sans serif]The first shall be last[/font]
[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]If Australia has embraced its immigrants, it has been much less successful in coming to terms with its terrible past. When Captain Arthur Philip landed with the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788, the original Australians had already been there for 50,000 years. There were, perhaps, a million of them, members of some 300 distinct “nationsâ€. The settlers seized their land, driving them off it and shooting them if they resisted. Because the Aborigines did not practice settled agriculture, they were deemed to have no claim to the continent they inhabited. Today, there are just 400,000 Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (natives of the far north).[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]In every sense, the Aborigines are at the bottom of the heap in Australia. They did not get the vote until 1962. Their life expectancy is 21 years less than the Australian average, with double the rate of infant mortality. Aborigines are three times as likely to be unemployed as the average Australian, and 16 times as likely to be in prison. Even where they remained on their ancestral land and found employment under white farm-owners, new equal-pay rules in the 1960s worked to their disadvantage: compelled to pay Aborigines the same as other workers, the farmers preferred to fire them.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]In a remote town such as Katherine, in the Northern Territory, it is easy to see the scale of the problem. Wherever there is a patch of grass, it is likely to be occupied by a group of Aborigines who have trekked in from outlying communities, where there are no jobs and nothing to do, and are simply camping out. Often, they turn to drink. [/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]On the other side of the continent, in Dareton, a small township just north of Mildura in New South Wales, a group of Barkindji elders paint a picture of a dismal life. There is work for no more than four or five weeks a year, they say, picking fruit. There are development projects, but most of the money gets creamed off by “whitefellasâ€. The Aborigines are charged more in shops than the whitefellas, and they live in the most basic public housing. These are, perhaps, the most unfortunate of all the Aborigines: neither making their way in the cities, where some, especially those of mixed race, have done well, nor living the traditional life that still continues in the remoter north, but existing on the margins of the farmland that once belonged to them.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]There are a few signs of hope, but not many. One is that Aborigines are at last starting to take part in mainstream political institutions. John Ah Kit is a minister in the Northern Territory's government, one of only two Aborigines to hold such high office. Four of the 13 Labor members of the 25-strong state Parliament are Aborigines. “Our people used to feel excluded from government, but we're trying to change that,†says Mr Ah Kit. In New South Wales (where there are larger numbers of Aborigines, but they make up a much smaller percentage of the total), Linda Burney, a state [size=-1]MP[/size], is an eloquent and visible fighter for her people's cause. [/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Another undoubted bright spot is painting: aboriginal art, a haunting swirl of colours and shapes, has taken off in a big way in Australia and in the wider world. A third reason for optimism is minerals: many firms now accept that they should pay at least some royalties to the land's traditional owners, even though there is no legal obligation. [/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Australia has at last accepted the obvious, that a terrible injustice was done, and that restitution ought to be made. But how? The drive for reconciliation has taken two main routes. One is legal: in a ground-breaking decision in 1992, the Australian High Court accepted for the first time that there was such a thing as “native titleâ€â€”a concept that struck down the doctrine applied by the British settlers that the land they had found was terra nullius, belonging to no one.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Native title, however, as was clarified by further legislation and case law, is not usually the same as ownership. It involves a package of rights, such as the right to graze and to hunt, the right of access to sacred sites, and the right of transit. It does not, in general, confer a right to royalties from any minerals that might be found under the ground, and it can co-exist with other rights, such as pastoral leases. But formal leases take precedence, and can often extinguish native title altogether.[/size][/font]


[font=verdana, geneva, arial, sans serif]Ours, but not ours alone[/font]
[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Native title generally accrues to communities rather than individuals, and therefore cannot be traded. It is not, in short, all that valuable; and it is extremely difficult to establish in the first place. To assert it, a group must demonstrate a continuous connection with the land in question. As Rick Farley, a dogged campaigner on aboriginal and agricultural issues, puts it: “That's a bit hard if you can't get to your ceremony grounds because you've been out on a mission or reserve, or because the pastoralist wouldn't let you on to his lease, or because there is no record of your grandfather on his traditional country.†Native-title cases are also expensive to bring. The main beneficiaries seem to have been the lawyers.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Also promising at first, but in the end even more disappointing, has been a policy of returning land to the Aborigines. From the early 1970s onwards, a number of government-funded Land Councils have been charged with acquiring land for Aborigines. Again, the land in question does not go to individuals but is held collectively. The biggest of these schemes was set up in the Northern Territory, where Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders make up a quarter of the population. Four councils there own about 44% of the Territory, having bought it from existing owners or, more usually, having had Crown land transferred to them. Similar but smaller schemes operate in the other states. In all, around 16% of Australia is owned in this way. But there are no prizes for guessing that most of it is remote and unfarmable.[/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Noel Pearson, a prominent Aboriginal leader, has long argued that encouraging people to remain on such land, where they are almost totally dependent on the “poison†of welfare, is a disastrous policy. Some draw a comparison with the reservations on which American-Indians have become progressively more alienated from the rest of America. [/size][/font]

[font=verdana,geneva,arial,sans serif][size=-1]Sadly, the Howard government has come up with very little in the way of fresh or interesting alternative policies. Many Aborigines now seem to have nothing more to hope for than an apology for such terrible abuses as the “stolen generationâ€: Aboriginal children taken from their mothers to be brought up by whites, an evil that went on until the 1970s. And it is sadder still that Mr Howard stubbornly refuses to offer that apology. [/size][/font]


 

psylent

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This from The Age (www.theage.com.au) today.



Howard pledge on race relations



John Howard has moved decisively to engage Aboriginal leaders in tackling disadvantage, but conceded that achieving reconciliation will take "generations".

The Prime Minister yesterday declared himself willing to meet indigenous leaders "more than halfway" to meet "new and real opportunities to make progress".

Opening a two-day Reconciliation Australia seminar at the Old Parliament House, Mr Howard announced a push to increase Aboriginal home ownership, but said it would not be at the expense of communal land rights.

"The Government does not seek to wind back or undermine native title or land rights," Mr Howard said. "Rather, we want to add opportunities for families and communities to build economic independence and wealth through use of their communal land assets."

Although Mr Howard said reconciliation required a blend of symbolic and practical measures, he made it clear that he remained opposed to a formal apology for past injustices.

"I think part of the problem with some earlier approaches to reconciliation was that it left too many people, particularly in white Australia, off the hook," Mr Howard said.

"It let them imagine that they could simply meet their responsibilities by symbolic expressions and gestures rather than accepting the need for an ongoing, persistent rendition of practical, on-the-ground measures to challenge the real areas of indigenous deprivation."

Mr Howard's speech came five years after a crowd of about 250,000 walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge to demonstrate support for reconciliation.

Describing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes as "quite appalling", Mr Howard said he wanted an Australia where an Aboriginal child could grow up to reach his or her full potential. "I want that child to be loved and nurtured and morally guided, to be healthy, educated, optimistic, ambitious and to feel a full part of the Australian community."

After committing himself in his 1998 victory speech to the goal of achieving reconciliation by the centenary of Federation, Mr Howard said yesterday the journey was going to take "a very long time" and "be the work of generations".

Conceding that dialogue between the Government and many indigenous leaders had dwindled almost to the point of "non-existence" in recent years, Mr Howard said he sensed a new "spirit of hope and optimism" about what could be achieved.

The sentiment was echoed by indigenous leaders, including Patrick Dodson, who welcomed the "conciliatory note" in the speech. "I think we've got some cause to be a bit optimistic from what he's talking about," he said.

Reconciliation Australia co-chairwoman Jackie Huggins said most of the 160 participants at the workshop welcomed Mr Howard's willingness to engage and move forward. One, who asked not to be named, said it would take more than a rhetorical shift to build trust after years of disappointment.

Cape York leader Noel Pearson, who has led the assault on passive welfare, described Mr Howard's address as "a really strong base camp", adding: "I don't think that there was anything missing from his articulation of what the common ground might be."

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley used his address to propose a separate department of indigenous affairs, representative indigenous bodies and a national apology.

But Mr Beazley agreed to a bipartisan approach on Mr Howard's practical agenda, saying that if the Prime Minister wanted to move on indigenous health, education and other areas, "we say that's good".

Mr Pearson told the seminar that it was not a question of whether rights were more important than responsibility, or vice versa, but where the emphasis should now lie.

Declaring the focus should be on responsibility and building an intolerance of substance and alcohol abuse, he declared: "If we want our language and cultures to survive, our people have got to be sober."

Mr Pearson challenged his audience to mount an assault on racism and abandon responses that encouraged a sense of victimhood.

Calling racism a horrific assault on the soul, he cited an incident at the Cairns airport on the way to the seminar in which a group of white miners loudly gave "very inhuman descriptions" of Aboriginal people.

"It was a rude reminder that people are putting up with this in very mundane circumstances, whether it's checking in at an airport or visiting a shop," he said.

Mr Pearson said many conservatives were in denial on the extent of racism, but had a better understanding of victimhood than progressives.
 

RedZebra

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Howard said:
"I think part of the problem with some earlier approaches to reconciliation was that it left too many people, particularly in white Australia, off the hook," Mr Howard said.

"It let them imagine that they could simply meet their responsibilities by symbolic expressions and gestures rather than accepting the need for an ongoing, persistent rendition of practical, on-the-ground measures to challenge the real areas of indigenous deprivation."
What a wanker.
Is that his excuse for not saying "sorry"? - that it's "too easy, and lets people off the hook?"
He's talking out of his arse. As if he really gives a shit.

And now for something:offtopic:...
I learnt something on that "How art made the world" show last night - aborigine's were apparently the first people to purposefully use music and painted images together (in their ceremonies at cave-painting sites). Cool.
 
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