Every political player realises the importance of recycling these days, and none more so than Noel Pearson, whose recent essay for the Griffith Review — saying pretty much the same things he’s said for the last 10 years about victimhood, passive welfare, crimes of the cultural left, etc etc — has had excerpts run in The Australian, the New Statesman, and now in The Age, as part of a speech given at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Your correspondent was half a world away and thus — oh bliss — not faced with the invidious temptation of paying to hear your own ideas caricatured, but judging by the numerous reports and excerpts, it would seem that Pearson is already preparing his excuses for the failure of the “national emergency”.

According to the Oz report, Pearson’s speech reached hitherto unachieved heights in its denunciation of the “cultural left” — the gang of Trotsky-fascist wreckers dedicated to immiserating aboriginal people — and it now appears that any failure of the “national emergency” will be the fault of the cultural left, apparently because they/we “willed” it to fail, as they/we willed the failure in Iraq.

So forget the fact that just about every Aboriginal leader but Pearson — including his one-time mini-me John Ah Kit — has come out against the NE; forget that its implementation was half-ar-ed, that the funding for long-term medical and social support services for any genuine amelioration of the problem has been explicitly refused by the Howard government, and forget that the Little Children Are Sacred report authors have denounced the approach as having nothing to do with the real problems.

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No, what will be seen to have done it down was a few articles, reports and discussions among a small group of leftists across the country.

Given Pearson’s disdain for traditional Aboriginal culture expressed in his paper — or his caricature version of it — you think he’d be aware of the dangers of mythical thinking, where effect is mistaken for cause. Apparently not.

Indeed for all the eskimo kissing with Kevin Rudd, this current round of speechifying may amount to Pearson’s farewell tour. Pearson fell when he failed to explicitly reject the Howard government’s sequestration of all Aboriginal welfare payments, whether people have managed their money or not. For, if you’ve spent a decade arguing that your people need to learn individual responsibility, to acquiesce to such a blanket denial of basic rights is simply to knuckle under.

Or to put it in language the pinheads will understand — it’s rewarding moral hazard. If you’re going to be treated like a piccaninny whatever you do, the temptation to not make an effort just got that much greater. That and the land grab explicitly go against everything Pearson has been working for — he just doesn’t have the guts to acknowledge it.

Nevertheless, the “national emergency” may eventually be to the good (except for the kids subjected to invasive medical exams, for a grand result of two arrests). From the unified front that’s emerging among all other Aboriginal leaders a new militant leadership may emerge that will demand rather than meekly petition for the long-term healthcare, subsidisation of housing, fresh food etc, that rural and remote whites have enjoyed for decades. Demand, hopefully, with menaces.

Then Pearson can focus on other matters — such as life-chances in his fiefdom of Cape York which, according to that lefty rag The Australian (“Cape Kids plagued by health problems”, 23/06/07), have gone backwards over the last five years.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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