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Federal

Jan 20, 2012

Removing race from our constitution

We don't collectively identify as racist. And yet there is the undeniable reality that our constitution as it stands still contains two sections designed specifically to discriminate.

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Some critics have voiced concern and confusion over the report by the 22-person panel on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples released yesterday, namely how the issue of race (or racist elements of the constitution) can be removed and yet seemingly emphasised at the same time by introducing a section on the role and importance of indigenous Australians.

But the panel contends that they’re suggesting the subject of race is removed entirely from how we view and talk about Aboriginal Australia. As one of the chairs of the panel which presented the report, Mark Leibler, wrote in The Age:

“Some people might question why you would want to remove race from the constitution and then replace it with a power to legislate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I would say we have to get away from this 19th-century idea that Aboriginal people are members of a ‘race’. Their identity is based on ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems, not race. We need to have laws that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people just as we do for many groups in society — women, the elderly, the disabled, veterans, people living in remote areas — but these laws should be based on need and the national interest, not race.

“Need because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain Australia’s most disadvantaged citizens. The national interest because their cultures and languages are unique to this country to be celebrated as part of our common heritage.”

And there’s the rub: this mooted change extends beyond benefiting the first Australians, the nation as a whole has much to gain. As we continue to remain ignorant about the plight of indigenous citizens, so too do we miss the chance to learn from and value their vast knowledge. We are all the poorer for it.

As a nation, we don’t collectively identify as racist, or uncaring, or ignorant. And yet there is the undeniable reality that our constitution as it stands still contains two sections designed specifically to discriminate against non-Caucasian races. Add the appalling incarceration and suicide rates amongst Aboriginal people, the demonstrably lower standard of living, and in many instances a lack of basic human rights. This constitutional change, if the referendum is framed correctly (and that’s a big if) is a chance to reject that legacy and, to use the PM’s favourite phrase, truly move forward.


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30 comments

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30 thoughts on “Removing race from our constitution

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    The constitution is still in effect the white Australia policy and we use it to beat up innocent people of different ‘races” every day.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/09/09/1094530739868.html?from=storylhs

    And this case is one reason we need to change the constitution and get rid of the race powers.

    It was a disgrace then and it is a disgrace now.

  3. drsmithy

     women, the elderly, the disabled, veterans, people living in remote areas

    These can all have an objective, measurable benchmark placed against them to judge whether or not individuals fit into those categories.

    What proposed measurements of “ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems” will stand as the objective benchmarks for whether or not someone can be considered “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” ?

    More importantly, when did it suddenly become ok to discriminate based on “ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems” ? Does this mean it’s ok for me to insist at least 50% of my employees must be Catholic Irish immigrants ?

    Why on Earth would we consider changes to the constitution that explicitly define an “us” and “them” division in Australian’ society ?

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    DrSmithy misses the point = the constitution is already us v them with all aliens excluded.

  5. Peter Ormonde

    Gee I like Pat Dodson.

    It was nice to him back on TV again the other night handing the report over to the PM. Everyone was smiling. I think it was ticking.

    They’re dead right of course, this panel. To have real meaning this change should be more than an act of tokenistic respect to a mob of previous (purportedly “extinct” if not conveniently remote) owners. It should be a bold assertion of principle and a rejection of those darkly white notions and fears set in stone by our colonist founding fathers.

    So in the hands of Pat Dodson and the team it becomes not just about righting a historical wrong – sorry recognising it (whatever that means) – it is now modern and current – it is about Iraqis and Afghans, it is about leaky boats and borders and who we are now. Who we will be. An SBS sort of future. Tops I reckon.

    My only concern is that such a referendum will take serious long-term campaigning and a broad consensus to have any chance of success. That means a majority if not a consensus of states, the support and involvement of political leaders past and present, lots of community panel persons – you know TV chefs, singers and publishers… churches, you name it.

    So for me the important thing is that the government undertake the necessary strategic steps to build on and develop this idea…to have a dinkum discussion – hopefully to build community support and understanding. Get onto Good Morning Australia or whatever those things are called. 3 years I’d reckon. For a start. Deep spade work.

    It is only by carefully convincing people and placing the responsibility for the outcome in their hands – that this constitutional change will have meaning at all beyond mere words.

    Worth making sure we win.

  6. drsmithy

    DrSmithy misses the point = the constitution is already us v them with all aliens excluded.

    I don’t see that “point” being argued by anyone except you.

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    Well read the bloody constitution then you twit.

  8. Captain Planet

    How about you quote, or summarise, the relevant sections for us, ShepherdMarilyn, I for one do not understand in what manner the Constitution can be considered racist.

  9. Peter Ormonde

    Aw struth….

    Google up race powers and you will be drawn to Section 51 xxvi of the Constitution.

    Lazy lot.

  10. Peter Ormonde

    Did youse av a look? OK … there it is – in Black and White… quite literally.

    But this power to make specific laws about any race they so choose was not just about Blacks. It was about Yellows, and Browns and swarthies of all persuasions. It was about “border protection”.

    Now some of youse out there might not like to admit this, but when our bewhiskered founding fathers from our respective colonies did this merger business they built in some ugly stuff.

    It was the time of White Australia – of the Yellow Peril – of “Australia for the White man”… half a nose-hair away from Suid Afrika.

    It was a deep cultural and political issue then this “race” business. It transcended class and gender, town and country.

    It’s not uncommon where a new mob move in and pinch someone’s country. It’s a characteristic of the colonial settler state. It’s all about us and them innit? About hanging on to the stuff we’ve found.

    It was a huge deep ugly selfish ignorant issue then – I don’t think it is now. Only with the ugly, selfish and ignorant. I don’t think there are too many of them left actually. We will see.

    But the journey starts with accepting the reality of both the history and the present. Then we can start to discuss what we want to be doing and saying in the future. And none of it should have anything to do with this archaic bogus notion of “race”.

  11. drsmithy

    And none of it should have anything to do with this archaic bogus notion of “race”.

    But “ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems” (that is to say, the attributes collectively and colloquially known as “race”) are ok ?

  12. Peter Ormonde

    DrSmithy…

    Well yes actually more than OK.

    Ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems are cultural. We ourselves choose what if any part they play in our lives. For many people they are significant. I am rather despairingly proud of my Irish roots for example.

    But “race” as it was and is constructed is determined by skin, by appearance, by difference as observed. It is not “chosen”. It is imposed by birth. It is imposed by others.

    And it is a rubbish notion. I’m not sure what you doctor in or whether you are more the Lost in Space type of doctor, but the genetic variations within “races” are equal or even far greater than those between.

    And where do we draw the line … 1/4 castes? white-looking enough? frizzy hair? Who’s in, who’s out? Such philosophical quandaries have beset the minds of eugenicists, scientists and death camp commanders throughout history. And none of it matters a toss.

    Cultural differences, religious intolerances, old hatreds and angers, old wounds… these are enough to deal with. The notions that the differences between us are somehow “racial” – that is, genetically determined – is at best trivial, at worst inhuman. We are responsible for what divides us… not our genes.

  13. shepherdmarilyn

    It was the white Australia constitution, how can that be anything but racist in an aboriginal country and it’s aim was to exclude all brown people.

    Are some of you so ignorant of Australian history you can’t see that?

    Now we have Abbott again bleating about turning around boats and murdering innocent people in a refrain from the Chinese on the Afghan who were sent away by one and all.

    Never mind trifles like laws and human rights to Abbott, brown people must be excluded to protect our borders even as we invade other nations.

  14. drsmithy

    Well yes actually more than OK.

    Ok. Good to know you think it’s just fine to discriminate against people based on skin colour and place of birth (that would be “ancestry”), cultural practices (that would be “ethnicity”) and religion (that would be “beliefs”).

    Ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems are cultural. We ourselves choose what if any part they play in our lives. For many people they are significant. I am rather despairingly proud of my Irish roots for example.

    Right. So at which period in your life did you choose to have Irish roots ? Was that before you were born, or while you were still a baby ?

    And where do we draw the line …

    Well, this is the million dollar question, isn’t it ? The proposal on the table here is not only that we enshrine discrimination into our constitution, but that we apparently don’t apply any objective definition as to when that discrimination is to be applied.

  15. Peter Ormonde

    Ah … yes it’s more a Danger Will Robinson sort of doctoring then innit?

    No. It’s not OK to discriminate AGAINST people on the basis of anything at all – in my book. It is more than OK to provide support and repay the debt we owe Aboriginal people and try to make sure they can survive and prosper in our new order.

    Racists are concerned with where people are born, what colour their skin is, what they look like…. how different they are… no, how different they look. Normal people are not.

    As for my interest in my Irishness this emerged as I grew up and developed a sort of identity. Not at birth. Not as a child. Not to me anyway. But it did to others. Some people (English habit I’d reckon) were deeply concerned about Irish Catholics filling the place up with their papist idolatry. Wasn’t anything I did – but how I was born.

    Still it’s nice to see that such people are still afraid of difference and change – used to be the Irish menace, now its the Asians, muslims and the Africans. It’s a scary world out here – full of foreigners and an amazing diversity of opinions and beliefs. All of them must be a bit frightening I guess.

    Now DrSmithy what sort of tests would you propose for the new discrimination? South Africa had some beauts – like the comb test for fuzziness.

    The real question is why the old constitution mentions “race” at all. Why it continues to mention it and why we cling to it.

    As for the current proposal, it’s not about “race” DrSmith… it’s about ancestry, ethnicity and beliefs. And those things shouldn’t frighten anyone. But apparently they do. Even now.

  16. drsmithy

    No. It’s not OK to discriminate AGAINST people on the basis of anything at all – in my book.

    Then why are you arguing for changes that want to do that ?

    It is more than OK to provide support and repay the debt we owe Aboriginal people and try to make sure they can survive and prosper in our new order.

    I’m a little mystified about this “debt” that “we” supposedly “owe” them.

    However, that aside, how about we focus on supporting *everyone*, rather than picking and choosing who is and isn’t worthy of “survival and prosperity” based on who their parents were and whatever myths and legends they happen to believe in ?

    As for my interest in my Irishness this emerged as I grew up and developed a sort of identity.

    That wasn’t the question. The question was when did you choose them.

    Now DrSmithy what sort of tests would you propose for the new discrimination?

    I wouldn’t propose any tests because I don’t think the basis for any form of discrimination should be there at all.

    The real question is why the old constitution mentions “race” at all. Why it continues to mention it and why we cling to it.

    I doubt many people have any interest in “clinging” to it. Their concern, like mine, is going to be that the proposal on the table is not to remove mentions of “race” from the constitution, but to simply replace them with a different way of describing the same thing.

    As for the current proposal, it’s not about “race” DrSmith… it’s about ancestry, ethnicity and beliefs. And those things shouldn’t frighten anyone. But apparently they do. Even now.

    Yes. Defining one particular group of individuals who happen to share particular (undefined and subjective) traits as special in the constitution does scare me quite a lot, as it should everyone – because it leads to all those things you are claiming to be against, but are arguing in favour of.

  17. Peter Ormonde

    Oh Dr Smithy – you’re white! I didn’t realise. Everyone’s equal – at least from what you see. Of course you wouldn’t understand.

    I’m not sure what aspects of the report you would see as establishing a basis for discrimination against anyone on the basis of “race”. Do let us know.

    Those black fellas should be grateful we came and developed the place for them and organised the dole and bottle shops and stuff. Sorry to have troubled you.

    Danger Will Robinson- danger!!!!!

  18. drsmithy

    Oh Dr Smithy – you’re white! I didn’t realise. Everyone’s equal – at least from what you see. Of course you wouldn’t understand.

    This is another example of you not discriminating based on race, I assume ?

    I’m not sure what aspects of the report you would see as establishing a basis for discrimination against anyone on the basis of “race”. Do let us know.

    That would be the part where they want to make special provisions for “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders”.

    Danger Will Robinson- danger!!!!!

    Stay classy, Peter. Stay classy.

  19. Captain Planet

    Ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems are cultural. We ourselves choose what if any part they play in our lives.

    Ancestry is a cultural choice???

    No, ancestry is your genetic heritage, it is not a cultural construct and you cannot choose it. Nor, in the instances where genuine social constructs such as racism and discrimination exist, can you “choose what if any part” it plays in your life.

  20. Peter Ormonde

    Hang on Dr Smith… let me try and understand…

    You are saying that it is racist to discriminate in favour of anyone based on ancestry, ethnicity or belief systems. So you would have no problem then with removing all mention of race in the Constitution. Good, we can agree on that at least.

    But I take it that for consistency’s sake you’d be opposing existing special welfare and support arrangements for Aboriginal people and TI’s yes? That in your words, you are “a little mystified about this “debt” that “we” supposedly “owe” them”. I guess they’re just losers.

    Here we will just have to disagree I’m afraid. I think we should pay the rent myself. Especially while we are still living on what we’ve found. Or did you think we got our standard of living from our well-known hard work and cleverness? Our superiority as a race?

  21. Peter Ormonde

    Capt.

    No, ancestry can or need not be significant to a person. We do not choose our ancestors Captain – but we choose whether they are significant to us. If it is of significance to me then it matters – if it doesn’t matter to me, it’s not significant. But one thing is certain – it is not anyone else’s business to tell me about my ancestry or to think it is important on my behalf.

    So yes, I’d agree with the last sentence you wrote – that where the state for some reason is interested in “race” – in my genetic inheritance – there is little element of choice. Although you would be surprised to find out how many Aboriginal people in country towns do not identify themselves as being of Aboriginal heritage. They choose, for whatever reason, not to “admit it” as my next door neighbour puts it.

    But they can get away with it see – cause they don’t look like David Gulpilil. They look like me. They don’t fit the racial stereotype – just ask Andrew Bolt. But they’ll pop off for funerals or to visit an aunty or two over the holidays.

    So are they or aren’t they? Would you want one marrying your daughter? Living next door? How do we test? How do we measure and classify? Why should we bother?

    My Irish ancestry is of – as I said – source of a despairing pride. I would feel somewhat more passionately about it if employment and to let ads still read “No Irish need apply” as they so often did.

    What you calls me is one thing. What I calls meself tis anudder ting altogedder.

  22. drsmithy

    But I take it that for consistency’s sake you’d be opposing existing special welfare and support arrangements for Aboriginal people and TI’s yes? That in your words, you are “a little mystified about this “debt” that “we” supposedly “owe” them”. I guess they’re just losers.

    You’re welcome to “guess” whatever you want.

    My point is we shouldn’t be rationing out special assistance based on race.

    Here we will just have to disagree I’m afraid. I think we should pay the rent myself. Especially while we are still living on what we’ve found. Or did you think we got our standard of living from our well-known hard work and cleverness?

    Considering the value of unimproved land vs the wealth generated from exploiting it, I’d have to go with “yes”. However, you’re welcome to go and live in a tent out in the bush if you consider that to be a higher standard of living.

  23. drsmithy

    No, ancestry can or need not be significant to a person. We do not choose our ancestors Captain – but we choose whether they are significant to us. If it is of significance to me then it matters – if it doesn’t matter to me, it’s not significant. But one thing is certain – it is not anyone else’s business to tell me about my ancestry or to think it is important on my behalf.

    The issue at hand is not how “significant” an individual decides their ancestry is to them. This issue is how much special assistance they’re going to be getting from everyone else solely because of that ancestry.

    So are they or aren’t they? Would you want one marrying your daughter? Living next door? How do we test? How do we measure and classify? Why should we bother?

    We shouldn’t. Which is the point that keeps sailing over your head due to your need to label everyone not agreeing with you as racist.

    The easiest way to avoid concerns about whether or not someone “passes the test” or is sufficiently “measured and classified”, is to simply avoid the need to do so in the first place.

  24. Peter Ormonde

    Ah yes the divine mission of the invader… they just didn’t know what to do with the place… didn’t deserve it… couldn’t make use of it… it was God’s providence… our historical duty to turn up and start digging the place up. We don’t owe them nuffink.

    And I guess they just all bowed down before our white cleverness and hard work and went away these locals? No “Hungry Hills” on your maps then? No punitive expeditions? No open seasons? No epidemics? No VD? No “half-castes”? No cleared forests? No rapes? No Abo drives? No fences? No trashed water holes?

    And of course yes WE value “our” “improved” land quite highly… we make a quid out of it. That’s what it’s all about this value business innit – us making a quid? That’s what we value. That’s all we value. And gee can’t you make a quid here?

    And where did it come from this unimproved land that we have made bloom with coal mines? We just found it of course … there for the taking. And take it we did. And look, now there’s CSG and all sorts of other stuff people will want somewhere.

    Not a guess any more Doc. It’s obvious you reckon they’re just losers… don’t deserve nuffink. Pests – like rabbits.

    Just remember how we actually got this higher standard of living you keep complaining about.

    How did it go again – “[Race] was a huge deep ugly selfish ignorant issue then – I don’t think it is now. Only with the ugly, selfish and ignorant. I don’t think there are too many of them left actually. We will see.”

    Got one.

    Anyway I hope that some desperate, overpopulated, hungry country doesn’t get to feeling the same way about our empty paddocks and spare population. Or maybe the little green guys from planet Zog … They might just think we don’t deserve the place. And you’d be agreeing with them I guess.

    Invasion – all depends where you’re sitting.

  25. Peter Ormonde

    DrSmithy,

    I’m not calling you a racist – I actually don’t use that word unless it’s in a very specific context like the constitution … racialist is a much better word.

    No I’m calling your ideas about refusing to recognise Aboriginal people in the constitution – at all – but your views on this matter are ugly, selfish and ignorant.

    Acknowledging and making policies to benefit Aboriginal people is the way to recognise them as a continuing living culture – and one to whom a considerable debt is owed by us all who live on this stuff we’ve found.

    When some people were thinking about “recognising” Aboriginal people in the Constitution they obviously thought some line up front like “Oh yes, there used to be Aborigines here” would settle the matter. Not quite. Here then. Here now. Here together. And deserving of special treatment based on the ancestry, ethnicity and belief systems. Based on what we took. What we take. I like to pay my debts. Or try to.

    But after all they’ve had “special treatment” for a long time now. Done with the “very best of intentions” by the welfare state. This has gotta be different.

    But no I’m not calling you racist. You are just silly enough to say what a lot of people think.

  26. drsmithy

    Ah yes the divine mission of the invader… they just didn’t know what to do with the place… didn’t deserve it… couldn’t make use of it… it was God’s providence… our historical duty to turn up and start digging the place up. We don’t owe them nuffink.

    This is what’s called a non-sequitur.

    The rest of your post is just the usual rhetorical ad hominem. Can’t you at least come up with something original ? Maybe even a point to debate ?

    I’m not calling you a racist – I actually don’t use that word unless it’s in a very specific context like the constitution … racialist is a much better word.

    Sounds like a distinction only you can either understand or make.

    Acknowledging and making policies to benefit Aboriginal people is the way to recognise them as a continuing living culture – and one to whom a considerable debt is owed by us all who live on this stuff we’ve found.

    What for, exactly ? Why should we value their culture any more highly than the myriad of others that have made Australia the country it is today, or will in the future ?

  27. Peter Ormonde

    An interesting distinction between racist and racialist actually. Look it up.

    Nothing non-sequitur. It’s just paraphrasing what you are saying above. Or am I wrong? Don’t blame me for the illogical conclusion – it’s yours.

    I’m really not up to giving you a crash course in ethics, responsibility and humanity. Far too late and really not enough to work with. Some people just don’t like paying their debts.

    Now I’m off to continue a chat with some people who read and understand history.

    Dr indeed!

  28. Captain Planet

    Peter,

    For somebody who has spent the majority of this thread arguing that “race” is an archaic notion with no relevance in the modern world, and a concept best extinguished, you are now displaying an awful lot of “them” and “us” in your arguments. Intriguing how you reject the concept of race, but identify Dr. Smithy as “White”. You could claim that this is just a physical description, not a racial description, but the context makes it clear that you have in fact made a judgement based on your beliefs about his race.

    As for the concept that “We” have a debt that we owe “them” for the wealth and riches of this land, let me point out the glaring inconsistency in your argument.

    Who is this “we” who owe this debt?

    White Australians?

    What about those white Australians who are not of English descent, but whose parents migrated to Australia from Poland, Romania, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, in the last 40 years?

    Do they owe a “debt” to Aboriginal people for the Common Wealth of Australia?

    What about non whites? (If they can be defined as such… but your labelling of Dr. Smithy as “white” presumably allows for the definition of “non white”, despite this being a concept which would appear to allow for the concept of race…?)

    Do the more recent immigrants from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Yemen, Thailand, China and India, also owe a “debt” to Aboriginal people?

    Your accusation that “We” owe a debt to “them” clearly needs more clarification.

    Do “We” owe this debt because “we” stole this land from “them”?

    If so, who is “We”? Is it restricted only to those of us who are of Anglo descent? What a ridiculous concept. And what a racially divisive concept. What “us” and “them” thinking.

    Let’s establish the facts.

    200 + years ago the process of dispossession of the Aboriginal People of Australia commenced. Those responsible were primarily of English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish extraction. They are all dead.

    Those of us who now live in Australia, from whatever racial stock we originate, even though there is no such thing as race, did not participate in the invasion of Australia or the dispossession of the Aboriginal people at that time. We therefore owe no debt to anybody, whether we are from Asia, Africa, Europe or the Americas. One cannot be held culpable for the past wrongful misdeeds of one’s race (I mean one’s chosen ancestry and cultural belief system).

    On the other hand, reasonable people in today’s Australia would acknowledge that Aboriginal people have been historically mistreated, dispossessed and marginalised, and as such need, deserve and should receive special assistance to help them overcome the historical and social legacy of that shocking and cruel inequity. this can be achieved without resorting to guilt – laden concepts of “debt” firmly embedded in ludicrous racial constructs of “Us” and “Them”.

  29. Peter Ormonde

    Nah Cap’n, I just called that Smith fella White cos he can’t understand nothing.

    Did not participate? Wasn’t us. Besides that was then, this is now. I’m from Poland, Italy, China . Oh well that’s OK then … that was our grandfathers who went out to cleaning up the pests. Nothing to do with us. We just inherited the place. History means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Aboriginal people are not just historically mistreated. It is still happening today. It’s not necessarily deliberate policies. We are still just cleaning up the walking backwash. And we often do it with the very best of intentions.

    Have a yarn to anyone working for NSW DoCs about what they do for a living. We are still taking kids away. For all the “right reasons ” of course. But it is still happening. Have a wander through the exercise yards at Silverwater Remand Centre. Have a look at mortality rates. Ask the family of Mr Ward who was literally cooked to death in a prison truck a year or so ago.

    And it is still happening – with new mines, new gas plants… digging up stuff, desecrating precious country. Dispossession is ongoing. It’s not just history. It is Now.

    Every day Aboriginal friends of mine are reminded – by someone – that they are not trustworthy, not clean, not welcome, not “one of us”. Tiny little things. On good days they laugh it off.

    See Cap’n, I’m not at all opposed to a bit of rhetorical “them” and “us” ism. But my Them looks more at what people do and think and say than how frizzy their hair is or the shape of their nose.

    Now … specifics: Yes, I reckon everyone who comes here – from wherever – who gets the opportunities – “owes” …. They owe both an acknowledgement of how we come to be here, of doing something to minimise further damage and help rebuild strong Aboriginal families and communities. We all owe it. Call it rent.

    What an interesting bit of historical analysis of the last 200 years you posit Cap’n.

    The people who came here initially were actually rather impressed with the locals. Have a read of Tench or the Dawes journals. … just lovely stuff. But first up it was sneezing and the odd rash. Disease wiped out many hundreds in one hit in Sydney. And everywhere else one must assume. Quite quickly most likely – even before a white-fella even got near them.

    But when we started doling out land grants, bringing in free settlers, squatters, fences, cattle, sheep, fights over water holes… things started to heat up with cleaning the remaining Koories off the farming country. It was a mission. In some places it became a sport.

    It was primarily an English squatocracy with a sprinkling of Welsh and Scottish – us laboring, chopping, digging Micks were more worried about the Chinks. So don’t youse go blaming us fer dis mess.

    Now speaking of your Irish in history – would you be knowing that fillum Chant o’ the Jimmy Blacksmith… a ripping yarn. Now the ting is dat your Blacksmith fella in his life had a brown head thatched in flaming red hair.

    Look Cap’n there’s really very little excuse not to know this stuff. Kate Grenville’s Secret River et al are well worth a read. This tells us how what was theirs became ours … this Commonwealth.

    Not all were grasping hungry mongrels bent on genocide – far far from it in fact – but the dominant culture – the spirit of the times – the mood of progressive nationalism if you like – was in many places savage, violent and brutal. It was “necessary”.

    And that’s how our founding fathers got it. And that’s how we come to get it too. And we are still getting it Cap’n.

    Now I’m not talking about living a life drenched in guilt. But I would like the local museum here to have something other than pioneer relics on display. I would like people to acknowledge that by finding all this stuff – these endless paddocks and reefs of gold – we have built a lovely place, full of happy (more or less) people with something (more or less) like stable government and so on. All good things. None of it possible if someone sometime hadn’t turned up and “claimed” the place for the King. If we did not have this wealth to make so common.

    In law it’s called stealing by finding…. look it up.

    But the thing is Cap’n – it’s not just history. It is still happening…slow genocide. And we benefit. Like I said… call it rent…. not guilt money – a debt. And the meter is still running.

  30. Captain Planet

    Hello Peter Ormonde,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    I’ve not only seen The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, but read the book. Didn’t know he had red hair, but it’s not surprising – the book, true life history, and most Aboriginal Australians today repeatedly demonstrate the truth of the intermixing of Anglo – Celtic and indigenous genetic pools.

    As someone who lives in the North West of Australia and interacts with indigenous people daily, I am fully aware of the disadvantage faced by indigenous Australians.

    I reject, however, any concept of racial guilt.

    I reject that I “owe” Aboriginal people anything on the basis of guilt by racial association with their past abusers.

    I reject the claim that I “owe” anything to Aboriginal people for the minerals and Does Twiggy Forest “owe” them something for the Iron Ore? Sort of…. actually he owes royalties to the state of Western Australia, and every single one of us who now lives here: We actually all own the “common wealth” equally.

    As an individual of scottish descent, do the people now living in scotland who are descended from the English “Owe” me “rent” for their ongoing occupation of my ancestral lands, and their exploitation of its coal and crops?

    Do those English people descended from the Normans “Owe” some “rent” to those English people of Saxon descent, for the “theft” of the country and its resources in 1066?

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