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Feb 15, 2012

The tent embassy: fact v fiction, black v white

There is perhaps no event in the last few decades that better sums up the divide between black and white Australia than the debacle that engulfed the Embassy celebrations.



There is perhaps no event in the last few decades that better sums up the divide between black and white Australia than the debacle that engulfed the Embassy celebrations. It had everything: media misreporting; white political mischief; black political disunity; police violence; frustrated activists. And it had the odd rat-bag, black and white.

If nothing else, the debacle that engulfed the Tent Embassy celebration has once again exposed to the rest of the world the racist underbelly of a very ignorant nation. But first the facts, because a lot of people have formed opinions on the Embassy based on media reporting.

And that is almost always a bad idea.

The Embassy celebrations kicked off with a large march through the streets of Canberra. It was loud and proud – by some margin the most inspiring march I’ve been to. It was a festival atmosphere and a celebration in every sense of the word. There was virtually no mainstream media present, certainly nothing comparable to the pack that would descend on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy a few hours later.

The rot began to set in shortly after lunch on January 26, when one of Julia Gillard’s senior media advisers, Tony Hodges, phoned Kim Sattler, a union official who was visiting the Tent Embassy.

According to the official version of events Hodges told Sattler that Tony Abbott had just been interviewed by media about the Embassy, and he expressed the view that it was time to move on. But what Sattler passed on to Embassy activists was something else altogether.

Audio of the exchange between Sattler and young Central Australian Aboriginal leader Barbara Shaw, reveals that Sattler says Tony Abbott has just told the press the Tent Embassy should be “pulled down”, not that it’s time to move on. 

It’s a pretty subtle difference, but Shaw relays that message – pulled down — to the crowd, word for word.

Shaw then directs people to The Lobby Restaurant, a few hundred metres from the stage. The rest, as they say, is history. Or in this case, the whitewashed version of history.

Several hundred protestors descended on the restaurant. A small handful of them began banging on the glass walls on two sides of the building. The crowd was chanting ‘Shame’ and ‘Racist’. The object of their anger was Tony Abbott.

Anyone who has seen the footage can understand that Abbott, Gillard and in particular their security minders had reason to be concerned. Protestors were furious at what they’d been told Abbott had said.

After half an hour, Gillard’s security detail is captured by a Channel 9 news crew informing the Prime Minister that they’re becoming increasingly concerned for her safety, and have decided it’s time to go.

The subsequent images of Gillard being bundled out of the restaurant are startling. Gillard looks terrified as she’s rushed to her vehicle, surrounded by her personal security team and police, including one with a riot shield. Not surprisingly, the story made headlines around the world. The fact that Gillard stumbled and lost her blue suede shoe in the process only added to the colour.

Also not surprisingly, the vision sparked widespread outrage among average Australians – news sites that offered the opportunity for comment on the issue were inundated. Overwhelmingly the responses from readers were negative.

The coverage from the ABC – supposedly the moderate national broadcaster – best sums up the unfolding media circus: ‘Gillard puts on brave face after riot rescue’.

It’s a pretty compelling headline. It’s also complete bunkum.

The ‘riot’ – at a glass-walled restaurant, mind you – saw not one pane of glass cracked, let alone broken. There were no arrests and no injuries. It was a loud, angry protest. Nothing more. Of course, it did have the potential to get out of hand, but all protests do. It’s worth noting, the only damage to the Lobby restaurant was to a door – the one which Gillard is rushed through as she exits the building. And who caused the damage?


The National Capital Authority, which owns the building, inspected the Lobby the day after the protest, and confirmed to Embassy organisers that the AFP had broken the door in its haste to leave. Not only was there no riot, but there was never any actual threat to Gillard’s safety, nor that of Abbott.

As footage that emerged after the media had already written the script clearly showed, the only people pursuing Gillard and Abbott when they were rushed from the building were police, journalists and photographers. There were no protestors within coo-ee, and certainly none chasing down a terrified Prime Minister nor an Opposition Leader, who can be clearly seen smirking and smiling as he’s rushed to the car.

But that’s not such a newsworthy story.

So instead, we got this, from Channel 9:

“They made for the safety of a getaway car. The only thing between them and an angry, raging mob were police with shields.

“The Prime Minister, cradled by an officer, lost her shoe, stumbled slightly in the mayhem, the moment of terror, captured here on Julia Gillard’s face.

“Tony Abbott was pushed to the waiting car.

“When she got to the vehicle you can see Julia Gillard shoved inside.

“And in a sign of the danger, the rare sight of Mr Abbott bustled in beside her.”

The media reporting gave the widespread view that Gillard had somehow been attacked, as the comments on news sites consistently showed. But in defence of the Channel 9 journalist, he did get one aspect of his story right: he noted that AFTER the Prime Minister’s vehicle left, the violence began.

One of the most memorable images from the ‘riot’, at least from the Aboriginal perspective, is footage captured by a news crew of a police officer punching an Aboriginal man – dressed in traditional costume and carrying a spear – in the face). It can be seen 15 seconds into this clip.

The images were replayed around the globe – BBC World News, for example, used the footage over and over again during its coverage of the event.

Alternative footage, captured by an embassy activist, sheds new light on this officer’s behaviour, and what led up to the assault. Shortly after Gillard’s vehicle has left, the protestor’s footage shows the officer unleash a barrage of abuse – and blows – at protestors and media.

At 1:05 he comes into the shot screaming “Media f**k off or get out. Get out media, get out”. He turns his attention to a cameraman from SBS and yells, “F**k off c*nt,” before manhandling a sound technician. The exchange clearly shows the officer as the aggressor.

At 1:17 the cop starts yelling, “Move rear, move rear. Move f**king rear,” as he continues to push and swing at protestors, before finally hitting one of them in the head (at 1:28).

At 1:30,a second cop stars in the video, with wild eyes and a huge grin on his face, nodding his head and willing protestors to take him on, all the while pushing and manhandling them.

As soon as one protestor yells “Get him on camera”, the cop seems to realize he’s being filmed, wipes the smile off his face and steps back from the crowd.

The camera pans back to the red-headed officer, who is now in full-swing, literally. He’s screaming “Get back off the road idiots” as he pushes more protestors. You can hear one off camera respond, “Little f**king big man. Little big man, pushing people eh?” It draws the attention of the officer, who responds by pushing him in the chest.

The protestor replies, “Hey, you push me, I’ll spear you brother.”

The cop pushes him again, and you see the protestor push the cop back. The cop looks down at his own chest – an act which people widely interpreted to mean he was spat on (he wasn’t) – then hits the protestor in the head. You can’t actually see the hit – it’s slightly off camera. But it’s of such force that you can certainly hear it. The news footage BBC ran shows it nearly knocked the protestor off his feet.

What follows is one of the more ironic images from the demonstration. Tiga Bayles, an early Embassy activist and a former Queensland Father of the Year, steps into the frame and blocks the cop, saying ‘No, no, no, it’s alright’. Other protestors – including the first man assaulted — also surround the cop to prevent further attacks.

It’s not often you see groups of peaceful protestors having to step in to try and calm a police officer down.

The cop keeps pushing and swinging until a female protestor puts her hand on his shoulder (at 2:04) and says, “You are inciting, you are inciting.” Like his colleague earlier, the cop’s demeanor changes completely – he seems to realise that everything he’s just done has been captured on film.

He stops yelling, and starts pleading, “I’m just trying to get you off the road.”

Seconds later, Sergeant Chris Meagher – a community liaison officer who spent the five days working cooperatively with Embassy officials — can be seen walking into the shot, and removing both officers from the front line of the confrontation. A protestor can be heard yelling, “This officer here is way too pumped up. The officer in the middle, this one right here.”

You can hear someone reply, “Yeah, we got him.”

And remember, all of this occurred AFTER Gillard has left the scene. The supposed threat has gone. So why the police violence?

A measure of how pumped up the red haired officer was before confronting protestors is captured in this video. 

It shows him mistaking one of Gillard’s personal security team for a protestor, and then elbowing him in the head as Gillard’s car speeds away.

Officially, the Australian Federal Police are happy with the conduct of officers.

Unofficially, the officer’s conduct is under review, with the possibility of ‘retraining’, particularly in relation to his dealings with media.

Hysterical commentary aside, the media reporting before, during and after the event was typically very poor. It was also laced with a thousand missing facts.

One of them is that Michael Anderson, one of the original founders of the Tent Embassy was approached by Kim Sattler and told that the Prime Minister’s office was on the phone, and wanted to speak to him. He didn’t take the call because he was in the middle of a radio interview.

The point being, it wasn’t a simple case of the PM’s office relating Abbott’s whereabouts to a third party, who then passed the information on to the Tent Embassy. Gillard’s office actively sought to provide the information directly to the Tent Embassy.

That puts quite a different complexion on events from those advanced by Gillard – that Hodges had merely passed on the information to a colleague, who then blabbed it to the Embassy.Media commentary has also missed the stark shift in Gillard’s rhetoric before the details of her media minder’s involvement emerged, and her rhetoric after. A few hours following the event, Gillard played the role of ‘no big deal’ in a clear pitch to try and capitalise on widespread outrage against protestors, and sympathy for the way she was supposedly treated.

“I am made of pretty tough stuff and the police did a great job,” Gillard said on the evening of protest.

It was a brand of spin that worked – a Herald/Neilsen poll released a week after the Embassy debacle showed a six point rise in Gillard’s popularity, despite the involvement of her office in the leak. There’s a very good analysis of the poll – and the embassy debacle’s affect on it – by Phillip Coorey.

It is Gillard’s highest rise in the polls since taking office.

But the morning after the event, Radio 2GB was reporting allegations that Gillard’s adviser had staged the whole event. Realising she was firmly back in the frame – but this time at risk of losing public sympathy – Gillard went on the offensive. The target was the Embassy protestors, who had suddenly become “violent”.

“The people who initiated those violent acts, the people who were involved in those violent acts are responsible for the violence that was there,” Gillard told media (indeed they were, and we all look forward to the police officers responsible being charged).

In the course of her press conference, Gillard referred to violence seven times.

Of course, she never actually saw any (unless you count her tripping over one of her security advisers and losing her shoe as violence), because as Channel 9 accurately reported, it occurred only after Gillard had left, and then, as the footage showed, only at the hands of police.

Gillard’s attempts to fit the blackfellas up when it’s clear her office had set out to orchestrate the entire incident is disgraceful.

It goes not only to her credibility and her fitness to hold office, but it speaks volumes about her ethics, her cowardice, and her willingness to play politics with the nation’s most disadvantaged people.

And then there’s Tony Abbott. It was Abbott’s comments, after all, that sparked the whole debacle. Granted, he did not call for the Tent Embassy to be “torn down”, although that was how media reported his comments.

Australian Associated Press paraphrased his comments, noting that the embassy should be “pulled down”. Like a game of Chinese whispers, media then embellished it further until finally it was reported Abbott wanted the Embassy “torn down”. The AAP story was posted on news websites around the nation. It remained uncorrected for two hours (and is now the subject of an internal AAP investigation).

But having been asked on the very day Aboriginal people were celebrating 40 years of resistance what he thought about it all, Abbott could have elected to say nothing, knowing what an important day it was for Aboriginal people.

Instead, he chose to twist the knife that he has plunged into the back of Aboriginal people on countless previous occasions. Imagine the reaction if Aboriginal people came out on, say, Anzac Day and told Australians it was time to “move on”?

The events that followed his comments have also taken the focus off the full text of what Abbot actually said. Apart from calling for the Embassy to “move on” Abbot said:

“Look, I can understand why the Tent Embassy was set up all those years ago. I think a lot has changed for the better since then. We had the historic apology just a few years ago, one of the genuine achievements of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. We had the proposal which is currently for national consideration to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution. I think the Indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian.”

A couple of points Tony.

Firstly, the Tent Embassy was set up “all those years ago” because Aboriginal people were demanding national land rights, a treaty and sovereignty.

Call me a cynic, but last time I checked, there is still no treaty, still no national land rights, and still no recognition of sovereignty. Indeed, the Aboriginal are still demanding precisely those things 40 years later.

Secondly, you and your party opposed the National Apology during your 12 years in office. Thirdly, you’re refusing to offer bi-partisan support on Constitutional Recognition if it involves amending the legislation to remove the power of your parliament to discriminate against Aboriginal people.

As to your comment about “the respect in which they are held by every Australian”, you’re clearly not familiar with the myriad of Australian race-hate pages on Facebook, not to mention the views of the extreme right wing of your own party.

Have you not met Wilson Tuckey, a man whose nickname ‘Ironbar’ came from him flogging an Aboriginal man in a pub? Have you not heard of Pauline Hanson, or David Oldfield?

Abbott’s comments are clearly complete nonsense. Indeed they are Howard-esque in their ignorance (who can forget the former Prime Minister refusing to accept racism was a factor in the Cronulla riots, or predicting that the $2 billion NT intervention would cost “some tens of millions”).

Abbott, however, is rather blessed when it comes to media analysis. Don’t hold your breath for media to revisit and analyse Abbott’s original remarks or Gillard’s deceit. And don’t wait for the media to correct the public record about the riot that never happened.

And don’t expect media to scrutinise the use of the nation’s most disadvantaged people as a political football by both major parties, and as a metaphorical football by overzealous cops.

History has already been written. In the words of Abbott, it’s time to “move on”.

Tomorrow — the tent embassy incident and what it means for grassroot activism v boardroom blackfellas…

* Chris Graham is the Managing Editor of Tracker Magazine. He is a Walkley Award and Walkley High Commendation winner, and has twice won the Human Rights Award for his reporting on Indigenous affairs. He served as the Embassy’s media adviser for the 40th anniversary celebrations in Canberra.

CORRECTION, 16/2/12: A line in the original version of this story identified union official Kim Sattler as Aboriginal — that is not correct. The copy has been amended to reflect this.


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96 thoughts on “The tent embassy: fact v fiction, black v white

  1. Brian62

    Good read Chris balanced insights,while I don’t for a moment condone the rash actions of the politically inept Hodges methinks the bedside manner of Abbott’s regular dog-whistling is akin to SAS-like head surgery.

  2. Lyn Gain

    Brilliant article. First one I’ve read that said that 40 years on indigenous people still haven’t got what they wanted when they set up the first tent embassy. It is a pity that the media coverage has obscured the current tent embassy message ‘Corroboree for Sovereignty’. A very good article by Ruth Forsythe has just been published which looks at the Australia Day debacle in the context of what sovereignty means for Aboriginal people. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2012/australian-identity/the-meaning-of-indigenous-sovereignty/

  3. Jim Reiher

    SB- please read this article!!

    Here is the heart of it:

    [The ‘riot’ – at a glass-walled restaurant, mind you – saw not one pane of glass cracked, let alone broken. There were no arrests and no injuries. It was a loud, angry protest. Nothing more. Of course, it did have the potential to get out of hand, but all protests do. It’s worth noting, the only damage to the Lobby restaurant was to a door – the one which Gillard is rushed through as she exits the building. And who caused the damage? Police. The National Capital Authority, which owns the building, inspected the Lobby the day after the protest, and confirmed to Embassy organisers that the AFP had broken the door in its haste to leave. Not only was there no riot, but there was never any actual threat to Gillard’s safety, nor that of Abbott. As footage that emerged after the media had already written the script clearly showed, the only people pursuing Gillard and Abbott when they were rushed from the building were police, journalists and photographers. There were no protestors within coo-ee, and certainly none chasing down a terrified Prime Minister nor an Opposition Leader, who can be clearly seen smirking and smiling as he’s rushed to the car.]

    The disturbances that followed all happened after both Gillard and Abbott were gone.

    Great article, thanks.

  4. Limited News

    Thumbs up from me, great journalism.

  5. Jim Reiher

    PS – an indigenous mate of mine tells me how he and his mates picked up the lost shoe, and they tried to return it to the PM, but she was gone by then. They tell me they debated selling it on ebay, but in the end handed it to a party official.

    All very “riotous”… not.

  6. shepherdmarilyn

    That cop was a security officer, not a cop. Talk about wildly foaming at the mouth.

    But why the whereabouts of Abbott had to be a secret is beyond me, is this North Korea?

    The thing is we have two packs of savage cowards in the parliament who love bashing up gays, aborigines, refugees, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed and a racist media who let them.

  7. Suzanne Blake

    Now we have heard what Kim Sattler said and there can be no dispute a riot was incited.

    The tone of the voice and the actions prove it completely.

    The fact that Gillards version and Sattler version is completely different also shows the huge amount of cover up, and this has been now uncovered completely.

  8. Col in Sydney

    Eureka. Crikey has caught up with the comments I was leaving on this website the day after all this happened. Congratulations! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one making comments to this effect – but even now this author hasn’t managed to grasp the real point of this whole event and the media coverage and political commentary it has attracted since.

    The important point about this even, indeed the only point of significance in this event, was that the police officer whose job it was to escort the Prime Minister to her car (and his boss) are incompetent morons. Yes indeed, there was never ever any physical threat to the PM from protestors who were standing in a neat group on the restaurant verandah watching the bozo police from a safe distance.

    The only reason any of this – who told people Abbott was there, what they said, what the protestors did, everthing – is in any way newsworth was because that moron police officer first knocked Julia Gillard over and then – as recently shown footage demonstrates very graphically – he TWICE banged her head into the car door frame trying to get her into the back seat. He is just a useless idiot.

    The fact that Julia Gillard then came out and said that the police had done a wonderful job was where the whole event descended into the most murky political waters. By doing that, Gillard demonstrated again that she will tell bald-faced lies until her face is blue and that she has zero capacity to stand up to men doing “security” work. She has no capacity for command.

    It was because she was not able to push this idiot away and say, “Leave me alone!” that she was subjected to the worst physical humiliation of any prime minister in our history. It was because she was then personally incapable of standing up to her own “security” personnel to simply state that the police had hopelessly and incompetently overreacted that she set off the following fiasco.

    Because Gillard insisted that the police had to be taken seriously, she had to then go on and say that there had been a serious risk, which meant Abbott could then complain about the “security breach” involved in someone telling the protestors his whereabouts, which were already widely known, which meant Gillard then had to denigrate and falsely blame the protestors.

    This all comes down to Gillard’s personal failings – she has no personal authority, she has no presence, she lies when she sees an advantage in it, she lies about other people without concern for the damage it will do to them or others, she saddles blame for her own shortcomings on her junior staff, she defends the indefensible while attacking the blameless. She is just a disgrace.

    But, anyway, good to see that Crikey was only weeks late in publishing something to the point.

  9. Pamela

    A friend from Christmas Island pointed out that this behaviour by the AFP was played out on CI last year when they incited riots in the hated NW point Detention Centre. That violence was perpetrated on Detainees and SERCO guards so did not count! They got away with it becasue the media witnesses were unable to get closer than the Hill in the dark.

    Pumped up aggressive and brain dead but just look at their ANNUAL REPORTS to see how they have profited from the pumped up brain daed politicians in Canberra running on the adrenalin of the non existent terror threats.
    As you sow so she ye reap….

  10. paddy

    Excellent work Chris. Best thing I’ve read on the whole debacle.

  11. Chris Graham

    Thanks folks 🙂

    @ Suzanne Blake: “there can be no dispute a riot was incited”? Have you actually even read the article, or are you only reading the bits that attack Gillard? 1. There was no riot. 2. The matter has not been completely uncovered… watch this space.

  12. Michael Chessell

    Thanks for the enlightenment Chris, interesting how a litle bit of leg work from a proper journo can reveal the facts that dissolve away all that the political and media spinmeisters can vomit up, and reveal it for what it really is – agitation and propaganda (agitprop). It leaves you with little respect for either group, but a lot of anger and contempt.
    And what of the actions of the police – the individuals and the organisation? From their perspective it seems there was only one thing wrong with their actions – it was done ‘in camera’! Can just imagine the reprimand the ‘Ranga Rambo’ got – “listen maaate, nothin wrong with a bit of state sponsored thuggery, just don’t get caught on video”.

    Arrgh, what a world!

  13. Venise Alstergren

    Yes, thanks Chris. Excellent article. The whole thing seemed so hysterical and confused I gave up on it. But you have explained a lot.

  14. Mark from Melbourne

    Interesting article which adds to the overall picture but still seems to be missing some parts (that I have read elsewhere) and makes substantial leaps in logic to get to it’s conclusions like most of the MSM.

    Gillard trying to fit the blackfella up, indeed…

  15. michael crook

    Good article Chris, interesting comment Pamela.

    The recent behaviour of police has been a great cause of concern. While here in Queensland we generally have very well behaved police there is still a residual ( at least I hope it is residual) racist element.

    The Melbourne police actions in breaking up the occupy protesters were a terrifying harking back to the Joh days in Queensland when police brutality was viewed as a sport.

    NSW ditto.

    The involvement of Queensland police in removing the occupy movement in Post Office square was extremely disturbing and I intend to gather my facts and write to the police commissioner.

    The week before an assistant commissioner had declared in the media that the occupy assembly was doing no harm and were of no interest to the police. So what changed, what prompted the calling back to duty of very tired police, many of whom had only finished their shift at midnight, for a briefing at 2 am and an intervention action at 4am.

    I consider that the actions of Queensland police in moving on the occupy assembly was in fact a breach of Queenslands “right of assembly” laws passed during the Goss years.

    For those of us in Queensland who remember the seventies and eighties this is very very disturbing. The community needs to build bridges with the police force that is there to protect us and it is only by supporting our police that this will occur. But not, I repeat not, by pandering to the the Queensland Police Union, which, when confronted with any criticism, responds with hysteria.

  16. Advokato

    Good read which pretty much sums up the political machinations behind the whole debacle.

    However, though it wasn’t implied, I still feel obliged to point out that the alternative footage seems to demonstrate one bad egg in the AFP rather than institutionalised police brutality. When you’re asked off the road by police, you get off the road. If you want to stay and argue with the police (or blow your top and try and push them back) you’re going to be forcibly moved out of the way, and it could very well hurt. Police get frustrated too, and expecting them to retain some Zen-like calm in the face of a group of shouty people is more than a little deluded.

    That being said, this particular officer needs swift punishment – his conduct was aggressive, entirely unprofessional, and completely out of line with the rest of the AFP officers present. He was overly and pathetically ‘pumped up’ and is in need of some serious deflation…

  17. Chris Graham

    Interesting Mark – I backed up every claim with a fact. You make broad claims, with no facts to back them up. By all means elaborate.

  18. geomac

    Yes it was blown out of proportion and the cop/cops didn,t handle it well . Whats missing from the article is why a chinese whisper was taken as fact and they raced off to confront Abbott . It certainly didn,t do the tent people any good PR wise or advance their cause .
    I am a bit puzzled why the advisor resigned as he passed on remarks already aired on public media . The function wasn,t a secret or the attendees including politicians , recipients and their families . What are we to make of seniors being bussed in to parliament by political hacks or more generally the fizzer the truck convoy was ? Those involved direct involvement not just passing on already aired comments . No mention of the AAP in the article regarding their original correct reporting of Abbotts comments and the later reporting that indicated a pull down scenario . Who was the reporter who asked the question that prompted Abbotts remark and what relevance did it have appearance at the opera house setting ?
    No matter who did what and when the final result is the tent embassy shot itself in the foot . Abbott , Hodge , Sattler , police and the AAP all contributed but the tent embassy people suffered because they went like sheep . Was there nobody in that crowd asking questions or was up with media regarding the embassy ? The comments were after all reported on both tv and radio .

  19. Advokato

    Also @ Chris, regarding Suzanne Blake:

    Sounds like your typical political staffer to me, just typing in a bit of unsubstantiated rubbish to try and cast some doubt over the accuracy of the article. Why they think it’s worth posting Daily Telegraph-esque comments on a left-leaning publication’s website is utterly beyond me.

  20. Liz45

    Thanks Chris! Good article!

    SB – Tell me, if Abbott intends to spend a week in an aboriginal community if elected(please NO!) why couldn’t he and Julia Gillard too for that matter, spend some time at the Tent Embassy? Why didn’t he participate in the PEACEFUL march earlier in the day? Why make that comment at a media conference, why not face to face at the Tent Embassy? No guts! Like all bullies!

    If he couldn’t speak to aboriginal people face to face due to earlier commitments, why make the comment? If HE didn’t want it to be misconstrued/why run the ‘risk’ of being misreported – unless he wanted it to be that way?

    We’ve all heard the ‘other’ meaning of ‘move on’? It’s used by the police to protesters, up trees for instance, or blocking roads etc. If they fail to ‘move on’ the police then move in to arrest them. Why did Abbott use this language when he must know how it’s frequently used?

    Turn the whole thing on its head. What if Abbott did it on purpose? To deliberately stir up trouble so that he could blame the PM?

    We’ve all played that party game about the story at the beginning of the line, and how it’s distorted etc by the end? I recall it as being a game at Tupperware parties etc. Quite funny really. Clearly shows how people just repeat ‘hearsay’ rather than fact!

    IF there is culpability on the PM’s side, there should be too on the side of the Opposition leader!

    This article reinforces what I said from day one. That the only violence I saw was that by the police/AFP etc? The media always depict aboriginal people in a bad light if they can get away with it. I’ve commented before. They trot the same old footage out of a park in Darwin or???Been doing it for decades!

  21. Jim Reiher

    Chris Graham – Suzanne Blake is determined to ignore all the facts and stick to her bizarre belief that there was a riot and labor was to blame and Labor was trying to get Abbott physically hurt or even killed, … because she was saying that kind of thing yesterday in another crikey article blog space. The timing of your article has been most helpful to put her frightened ideas to rest. Pity she just cant accept the facts.

  22. David Hand

    A lovely spin followed by another lovely spin. Beautiful to watch. Yep, all Tony had to do was step outside for a friendly chat with a crowd of people interested in dialogue. Julia could have sat with him for a glorious new paradigm of a civilised Australia.

    Yeah right.

  23. Venise Alstergren

    @JIM @ADVOKATO: SB lives in a rural area. This means she gets all her lack of information from The Weekly Times.

  24. Jim Reiher

    David: nobody is saying that there was not a frustrated and noisy crowd there that day. But think about it: not a pane of glass got smashed, or even cracked. No cars turned over. No cars set on fire. No rocks thrown at the police…. And the only actual phsycial violence between some protestors and police happened after all the main politicians were gone.

    So: a riot?….. No way. Those who say that are nuts. Since when is a noisy protest a riot? Isn’t that a part of democracy? Freedom to protest, freedom to call politicians to account? Freedom to assemble?

    For those who call what happened a riot, they are falling into the 1984 Orwellian double speak: Changing words to mean new things so that they can rewrite history the way they want to.

  25. Bill Hilliger

    Footage showing the sheer look of terror on Tony Abbott’s face whilst being hustled away by police behind Julia Gillard said it all – he will always run in second place when the going gets tough. I’m surprised not to have heard Tony in this instance exclaim “oh well, shi*t happens”! Instead the usual opposition effort to blame Julia Gillard personally for aiding and abetting in setting it all up was entirely predictable. Thanks to Chris Graham for the excellent article we now find out how overblown (by the media) and farcical the whole fiasco really was. The supressed panic look on Tony’s face was priceless.

  26. feelgoodcause

    You only have to be in the thick of a protest with a handful of particular protesters who are a small minority to the majority of well behaved to understand those particular protesters will do ‘anything’ to draw the pack media of which only happened when there was a perceived danger. They travel the country to fill their people with hatred.

    Last time I was amongst a particular indigenous person who attended a protest day the said person had enthralled so much anger in nearby indigenous a large kitchen knife was produced; a day when the Prime Minister was prior present and observed by police.

    The end result was a stunt that had the officers take reasonable cause for caution based on past previous scenarios. As usual the media will focus on officers indiscretion outnumbered by some ignored disgusting aggressive dangerous behaviour based on a whisper. Yeah, intelligent bunch of people right there.

    Then there was the flag burning footage and the child spitting on the Australian flag. If my child spat on an indigenous flag Id clip him round the ear then drag him off for the spray of his life.

    The media divide and conquer, the same minority ‘professional’ protesters divide and conquer again inciting violence. Professional protesters that disgrace their elders and the future indigenous children that receive the result of their actions. Tony Abbot has more respect for their children than they do.

    Its same old, same old. Next!

  27. feelgoodcause

    Imagine if it was The President of the United States?

    Bang, bang, they shot me down?

  28. davidk

    Yes great piece. It seems that if video footage is available any construct of the facts is acceptable to the MSM, and the more dramstic the better. Truth comes a very poor third.

  29. Peter Ormonde

    Innit interestin’ … here you have a “race riot” – sorry RACE RIOT – right on our very national doorstop on our very national day… and all anyone can talk about is who said what to whom when… gossip and conspiracy.

    Nuffin at all – not a bloody word – about why they were there these black ambassadors … again, after all this time. Not a word about why these outraged people sniffing out conspiracy and scandal are quite comfy with the idea of a RACE RIOT… like well what else would you expect… saw it coming… we’re always having RACE RIOTS here. The real scandal doesn’t get a mention.

    Aside from the glaringly obvious – that this looked more like a family Christmas gathering than a RACE RIOT – it speaks volumes about how issue-shy – how de-politicised – how trite and trivial our political discussion has become.

    Maybe in five years time we’ll be seeing real riots. Then who will we blame?

    You did it. No you did. No she did. … and meanwhile the reality of Aboriginal life and death grinds on.

    Orestraya … where only the ore is refined.

  30. gatekeepercb

    Im thinking down the same line as David. Whatif (sorry Greens 🙂 either Abbott or Gillard were supported by someone who had the nous and the manners to go outside and invite identified tent embassy leaders to come inside and chat about what caused the group to come over to the restaurant and the window banging. Abbott and Gillard could have showed their fibre as leaders and convinced the tent embassy leaders they had been misled. Once this was established turn a speaker around and point it out the window then let the tent embassy leader speak, settle everyone down. Once this has happened all leaders could walk outside and shake hands with those gathered in a united stand agains divisive mischief. Now this is not a far fetched scenario, if only the people close to power had recognised that there were leaders outside who could be invited inside and this is the point. Instead of the result of wisdom we saw the result of fear – entirely fabricated. We do need leaders.

  31. Wrigbe

    Also it is almost as if the Police were also set up. After all it was a lunch to honour emergency services workers that was interrupted. That must have distressed some police officers particularly if friends or colleagues were being honoured. Really if you were delibrately trying to start a riot the circumstances could not have been more ideal from every angle.

  32. Apollo

    Race riot, or be ing rowdy Ostrayan way? According to footage I saw, they were chasing after the PM then her car, surrounding, and tapping or slamming it so the security acted approriately. No law was broken, no charges were la id, riot pigs*ass f*cken simpl eton.

  33. Peter Ormonde


    “We’ve all heard the ‘other’ meaning of ‘move on’? It’s used by the police to protesters, up trees for instance, or blocking roads etc. If they fail to ‘move on’ the police then move in to arrest them. Why did Abbott use this language when he must know how it’s frequently used?”

    More than that Liz. The “move-on power” is employed by Police to control public drunkeness and other forms of public social misbehaviour. Or potential misbehaviour.

    It was considered one of the Holy Trinity … the trifecta that ends up filling our remand centres and gaols with Kooris…. drunk and disorderly, refuse to follow a lawful direction (move on) and resisting arrest/offensive language. Not sure of the law now (I know they’ve just beefed these police powers in NSW in 2009 and the Queensland laws are even tougher, but I don’t know how it works in other states.)

    So telling an Aboriginal person to move on has a deep and bitter taste to it. It happens a lot. It’s loaded. Like a gun. Provocative even if unintentional. Just a typically stupid Abbottism.

  34. Bob Durnan

    It seems part of what we have here is yet more “media misreporting”: possibly some “white political mischief” by a “frustrated activist”, or, perhaps, from an “odd rat-bag”?
    I say this because, whilst the whole shebang had many lessons and implications, several of which are dealt with well in his article, Graham’s account is not totally devoted to “the facts” and an honest analysis.
    David Hand (Posted at 4:49 pm), and ‘feelthecause’ (Posted at 5:28 pm) seem to be more on the money in certain respects.
    [‘gatekeepercb’ (Posted at 6:06 pm) fails to understand that the anti-Intervention groups, which seem to have been in charge of things at the Tent Embassy on the day, have a clear track record of opportunism, inaccuracy and incitement in their propaganda and at their demonstrations].

    Chris Graham, whilst neglecting to acknowledge the forensic work (on which he has based much of his article) done more than two weeks ago by several diligent journalists (see particularly Bill Hoffman in the Sunshine Coast Daily http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2012/02/01/tent-row-lesson-media-too/ ), proceeds to mislead us on one very important point, and in so doing unfairly scapegoats the security detail and possibly the bulk of the police.

    “The rot began to set in shortly after lunch on January 26” says Chris. But wasn’t there already a set of potentially significant problems present prior to this?
    The vital component omitted from Graham’s picture is this: although the majority of those present were undoubtedly sincere and responsible supporters of genuine Aboriginal grievances, the 40 year anniversary event appeared also to have more than its fair share of the vulnerable and alienated lost souls and very angry people who have been attracted increasingly to the Tent Embassy site over the years – i.e. the marginalised, disaffected victims of colonialism and racism; plus the usual rag tag collection of disorganised and undisciplined half-smart activists, and a fair whack of aggressive oppositional egotists who habitually occupy the anti-Intervention bandwagon.
    A lot of these people do not identify as Aboriginal, but presume to know better than many Aboriginal leaders how Aboriginal demonstrations should be conducted, and behave accordingly.

    As Graham himself writes: “Several hundred protestors descended on the restaurant. A small handful of them began banging on the glass walls on two sides of the building. The crowd was chanting ‘Shame’ and ‘Racist’. The object of their anger was Tony Abbott. Anyone who has seen the footage can understand that Abbott, Gillard and in particular their security minders had reason to be concerned. Protestors were furious at what they’d been told Abbott had said.”

    This situation went on for “half an hour”. Graham admits “it did have the potential to get out of hand”.
    Understandably, the security people and politicians were alarmed and apprehensive about how all this would turn out, with no signs of leaders attempting to control the demonstration, or constrain the hot-heads amongst the protesters, and no end in sight of the growing anger. What if panes of glass did shatter? What if more protesters arrived, or those present surrounded the one door still available through which the political leaders could attempt to exit? What if one of the young blokes with a spear had a short fuse, or one of the undisciplined ring-ins tried something very stupid? Under these circumstances it is unsurprising that some on both sides would be “pumped”.
    Graham neglects this important aspect when examining the conduct of the security people and the anger of some police. Of course, police should be trained to contain their anger, and should have been much better supervised on the day. By the same token, capable responsible leaders on the protesters’ side should have been aware of the potential problems in such a situation, and should have taken steps to calm and control their crowd, and communicate with the security people and police. Graham’s article exonerates the protest leaders from not having exercised their responsibilities.

  35. SBH

    Imagine what would have happened if Gillard had gotten all prime ministerial and gone out to address the protesters. The media would be hailing her courage and leadership. in stead we have what we have.

  36. Mal White


    Your attempts to blame it on Tony Abbott for his comments are really drawing a long bow.

    His comments, while clumsy, were well meaning.

  37. Peter Ormonde

    Mal …

    No Mal wrong end of the sights mate …

    I’m not blaming Abbott – for anything other than being the insensitive boor he always is. I’m not saying that he intended to offend anyone by saying “move on”…. just that anyone who knows the slightest thing about the daily lives of Aboriginal people would know that is a loaded expression, would not use it, would think before he opened his trap. Too much to ask. But I’m not blaming him or saying he is responsible – just that he’s actually rather dumb and insensitive. In fact – there’s really nothing to be responsible for… just a protest and a hypervigilant undertrained police force. A bit of fair dinkum Aussie expression. Most appropriate.

    I would be blaming the governments and the voters who have allowed the circumstances necessitating such a protest to remain virtually unchanged for 40 years. That’s the only scandal here.

  38. Schnappi

    Do not listen to radio at all,but those who do might know what I have read as 2UE or 2GB actually broadcast that abbott had said they were to move the tent embassy.
    If so the inflaming could have come from there .
    Why would the PM want to be disturbed when she was handing out medals,sort of begs the question why was abbott even there,he could of been elsewhere filliting a fish,or maybe being there was his stunt for the day.

  39. Schnappi

    He is always clumsy,but never well meaning.he now uses Aspirations instead of core or non core outright lies.

  40. Edward James

    schnappi most of us have listened to the video and heard what was said. Some of us have listened to the ABC interview with tony abbott early that morning in Sydeny and we know what he said ” time to move on! ” Edward James

  41. Mal White


    One of the problems with our politicians is that they are so careful not to say the wrong thing, that they end up using lots of words to say very little at all.

    It is frustrating listening to long contorted answers from our leaders to very simple questions.
    I think we would be better off doing the opposite of what you suggest. That is be less demanding on minor slip ups.
    If not the ability of politicians to carefully waffle on without giving anything away will only get worse.

  42. Schnappi


    But why are you and the media ignoring what one or more radio stations have said,news travels quicker by radio .

  43. Steve777

    The Australia Day incident at the Lobby restaurant seems to have provided a licence to many to vent r-cial h-tred and ab-se. Have a look at some of the comments on this Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phtBQBzuw5g

    The arrival of an Asylum Seeker boat can invoke a similar response in the tabloids, blogs and talkback radio. I’ve been shocked at hearing people say that the Navy should fire on refugee boats. Do they know what they’re saying?

    I’ve heard about Godwin’s law but comparisons to the N-zis is warrented here. How did a sophisticated nation like Germany succumb to madness. I think there is a dark side of human nature that lurks just below the surface in many people, suppressed most of the time but which can break into the open in times of great stress, for example a major depression. Should the economy in this country go belly up, I think there will be lots of willing recruits to an Australian N-zi party.

  44. feelgoodcause

    Your right, pollies have now to structure sentences in manner that they cannot be edited out by the media to be interpreted in another light later on. This avoidance of entrapment has left news boring and sentences that unstructured the sentences almost mean nothing.

    You can see how Abbot made a statement then people like Sattler have chinese whispered it to protest organisers who then handed a flaming torch to professional protesters. Abbot was baited with the question.

    The professional protesters then built the fire of anger to give the pack media something worth getting in their cars for to come down and see a crowd disrupt some very worthy emergency services personnel who saved lives have acknowledgement of saving those lives by risking their lives.

    Mountain out of a mole hill and untold disrespect to service workers.

    All on a whisper. No respect. Bunch of dickheads which includes Sattler.

  45. feelgoodcause

    And here is one of the protesters pictured in The West giving the finger to people inside the building. The protester is now back in Western Australia on Heirisson Island. Low and behold, The Greens


  46. merlot64

    @Mal, look at Abbott’smovements on the day. Instead of being present at the Australian of Year ceremonies in Canberra in the morning, he is participating in a budgie smuggler photo op swim in Sydney (classic “What would Putin do?” moment). Then, having changed into a suit, takes part in a faux interview with the Opera House as a back drop (nice bit of iconography). He makes a series carefully crafted statements that are contrived to deliver the maximum implied offence with the minimum explicit reference. It would be interesting to find out if the questions had been written, or vetted previously, by Abbott’s press office. He then flies to Canberra to attend a single event which, coincidence of coincidences, is taking place less than 100 meters from the Tent Embassy. If SB wants to talk about incitement, here might be a good place to start.

  47. shepherdmarilyn

    Which part of nothing much happened don’t people understand.

  48. Suzanne Blake

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Like with other issues, you are perhaps Liz45 and the only people saying ‘nothing’ happened. The Sgt Schultz defence.

    Same with the illegals.

  49. merlot64

    You are of course right SB, something did happen. Tony Abbott displayed his complete lack of understanding of Aboriginal history and the issues facing indigenous Australia.

    Everything that happened after that was consequence.

    Once again, just like the “shit happens” incident, he has displayed that he does not possess the presence of mind to lead a scout group, let alone this country.

  50. Blaggers

    Great article Chris. Looking forward to your next one.

    I keep making the point that the question asked of Abbott was:

    Mr Abbott, today is also the 40th anniversary of the Tent Embassy in Canberra. Is the Tent Embassy still relevant or SHOULD IT MOVE? (emphasis added)

    It all goes back to the answer he gave to this question which was Yes, and hence was reported as the tent embassy should be removed. As so far as i see it, his comment was reported correctly.

    You quite correctly point out that “Abbott, however, is rather blessed when it comes to media analysis.” The media fail us repetedly in pandering to Abbott and Liberal ideas, and in later reporting of what he said on the day have always failed to include the question asked of him which i fell places his answer in a whole different light. They ignore the question to seemingly protect him. Why?

    The point made here in the comments and i have made before, had we had leaders of any calibre, they would have addressed the crowd then and there.

  51. Mal White


    Thanks for putting me straight and now I get it.

    Abbott made the unforgivable mistake of using the words “move on”. He should have foreseen the chain of events that his abusive words would cause. It was a clever Tony Abbott conspiracy all from the beginning. He must have been quietly smiling at his cunning as he watched Gillard getting dragged away.

    Sorry Merlot but I think the cover up about UFOs stealing NSW dairy cows is more believable than your conspiracy theory.

  52. Peter Ormonde


    I don’t think anyone here is seriously saying Tony Abbott thought this all out – I know I’ll really kick up the ant nest – before he opened his mouth. That’s the problem – he doesn’t think. Remember his “shit happens” contribution in Afghanistan. Strewth… the bloke only opens his mouth to change gear sometimes.
    Not all the time.

    The poor bloke carrying the can for Abbott’s unguided tongue is actually poor old BMI challenged Joe Hockey. Joe’s gotta come up with some sort of coherent way of paying for Tony’s thoughts of the moment. Bit like log-rolling.

    So no we’re not “blaming” him. We’re just saying his a boorish dolt.

  53. Peter Ormonde

    “he’s” obviously. Bad attack of the phonetics.

  54. Wombat

    NEWSFLASH: Police officer turns out to be an aggressive wanker

  55. malibbis

    When Robert Hill was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, he said we know what the problem is, and asked the Indigenous population how he could fix it. He went on to become CEO of Red Cross. Tony Abbott in the same portfolio said we know what the problem is, and asked, can’t you people just get over it?

  56. Mal White


    “I don’t think anyone here is seriously saying Tony Abbott thought this all out..”

    Perhaps you should read Merlot64 (2:29am) again, he sounds pretty serious to me.

  57. Hummingbird

    Wonderful article Chris, thank you so much for putting it together. Two other articles in Independent journals that you may also be interested to read are:


    The Nimbin Good times by Omega Breakspear that has some great pictures and stories of the Tent Embassy 40 year Anniversary celebrations http://nimbingoodtimes.com/archive/pages2012/feb2012/NGT-0212-1.pdf

    Keep up the truth telling Chris, thank you again!

  58. merlot64

    @Mal – Not a conspiracy as such, but it’s a classic piece of Abbot photo op mischief making. He made a statement that were calculated to raise passions and be divisive.

    Is there a single point that in the sequence of events that I have outlined that you want to dispute?

  59. Schnappi

    The mouth has said he will live one week a year with indigenous people,how long before he does a backflip on that,being a coward,someone will inform him that those guys have spears.Will wait for another backflip,probably after the election as well .

  60. Bob Robson

    Jehovah abided in a tent. I liked there, moi’s situation room amongst other things.. ..and I was black and I don’t mean like Al Johlson (sp?). I’m serious. I’ve rarely been more serious in 8 billion years.

    Leave us blacks alone, whitey. Erect your own tent.

  61. jennie

    My young children and I visited the Tent Embassy a few days before Australia Day. We all shook hands and my kids were invited to help unload the wood from the ute to put on the fire. I had a chat with one of the care-takers who was a public servant who was very excited about the 40th anniversary. Nicest bunch of people I met on my trip to Canberra!

  62. Owen Gary

    I guess these are all side shows & distractions for the (No-Alition) it hides them from policy scrutiny!!!

    We all see through “Phoney-Abbott

  63. shepherdmarilyn

    Why are the whiners still going on? Nothing happened.

  64. Venise Alstergren

    FEELGOODCAUSE: The fact that they have to protest should tell you something. The verbal majority doesn’t have to protest.

  65. Venise Alstergren

    Bad English. Don’t have to protest.

  66. Venise Alstergren

    FEELGOODCAUSE: “”said person had enthralled so much anger”” WTF are you trying to say? Go and get some English lessons. It’s you’re, not your. In fact your sentences should be read as comedy. Enthrall means to spellbind.

    “”This avoidance of entrapment has left news boring and sentences that unstructured the sentences almost mean nothing.”” I don’t suppose you would care to translate your own sentence?”” Thought not.

    “”said person had enthralled so much anger in nearby indigenous a large kitchen knife was produced; a day when the Prime Minister was prior present and observed by police.”” How can I take your comments seriously when you can’t even communicate? Your comments cannot be commented on because no one understands what ‘you’re’ saying. NOTE It’s you’re for you are. Not your.

    Moderating machine: why can’t you moderate a shocking command of English grammar instead of indulging in morphological cräp.

  67. Boo Mer

    Excellent reporting and exactly what I saw… Except I didn’t arrive till about just after lunch and as I was walking to the tent embassy I heard shouting and saw a few people running to what I soon learnt was a cafe. I walked over with the people I had come with. I saw about 15 maybe people standing in front of the glass walls a few shouting and a few tapping on the glass. I asked around me what was happening and someone mentioned Tony Abott was inside and that he’d said something about that embassy being closed down. For a while it seemed not much was happening, for 15 minutes or so more media were appearing and police were barging through but with no comment to anyone there. So it seemed no one was going to tell anyone off for any current behaviour of the ‘protesters’ there. Police were guarding the glass walls but not one made any action to stop someone tapping the walls. (I filmed from the moment I got there pretty much) All of a sudden you could hear people saying Gillard was coming out the other door (I didn’t even know there was another door) People rushed, with police to the exit to see. As I followed, all I saw was a couple of cars speeding off but a lot of people being pushed on and off the roads by police. There was probably a crowd of 30, including police 50… The cars sped off and everyone was left standing on the street and then suddenly the police formed a row in front of everyone and one held up a spray can to our faces, they were reaching for they bats. I stood still, still filming feeling very confused as to why they were now making such a presence over everyone. As I stood my sister was pushed off the road by a police man then he pushed me and yelled “get off the street!” I walked back towards him and he pushed me again but this time higher with his hands on my neck. I couldn’t believe that until now I hadn’t felt any danger, until these man starting using ridiculous force. Anyway you can see how quickly it changed and how shaken it left me.


  68. feelgoodcause

    Yeah, sorry Venise. Abbott should have two t’s

    Grammatical polymorphism is something I do when Im in a hurry.

    Sorry I didnt read all your posts

  69. Liz45

    Funny how the trolls have dropped off! SB still insists, although evidence is to the contrary that there was a riot. Using the Goebells technique – ‘it’s easier to sell a big lie than a small one’ SO, let’s go with the biggie. The shock jocks are as revolting as Pyne’s defence of Julia Gillard today. How does that person live with himself? What does it say about his attitude to the electorate? He treats us with repugnance and thinks we all have memory issues!

    IF Abbott is a Rhodes Scholar, one would assume that he has at best some semblance of intelligence. I submit that he knew damned well what would happen when he (at best) used the phrase, ‘time to move on’? I submit that he either allowed his goal to live in the Lodge, above any sensitivity for the issue. What did he think would happen when he used such dog whistling language?

    Why didn’t Julia Gillard and/or Tony Abbott visit the Tent Embassy on such a remarkable day? If, as they allege, they’re ‘fair dinkum’ about narrowing the gap etc, they’d use some sense of care and engage with those across the road from the event. They did not, because both parties have ingrained racism into their personal psyche and is manifest in their racist attitudes, policies of the past.

    Imagine if 400 middle class males died in police custody since 1980? The shock jocks would have screamed themselves hoarse, and every Attorney in the country would be hogging the news each night, wringing their hands in anguish? Neither major parties have introduced just one suggestion from either the ‘children are sacred’ report, the Royal Commission into black deaths in custody, or the Bringing them Home reports – except for the (what we know now) lip service via the Apology.

    The racist policy of the Intervention is only causing more grief, and is racist – otherwise, why would they have to stop the Racial Discrimination Act? There are appalling acts of drunkedness, alcoholism, violence including domestic violence, child abuse including child sexual abuse in the suburbs predominantly housed by non-indigenous people, and yet not one “invasion” has taken place. Hospitals are taking up valuable time and resources with vile drunks at the weekend, to the detriment of other urgent cases and hospital staff. By contrast, less than a handful of people in the NT have even been charged with these crimes?

    I understand that pretty ugly pornography is easily accessed via the Internet.(reports by SMH about the alleged criminal that has escaped the NSW police) Why is it still there? Why single out the men in the NT as perpetrators while allowing non-indigenous people off scot free! How many partners of the recently charged(allegedly for awful child pornography evidence) 30+ have had their incomes halved? How many forced out of their homes? How many are threatened with all sorts of repercussions if they don’t give up their land?

    If I was an indigenous person I’d be very angry. I support them in their anger, and I deplore the revolting racist attitudes in the country. I chose not to read any of them. Those shown on Media Watch were enough! I apologised to my indigenous friends! What shame!

  70. Peter Ormonde


    For the first time I find myself disagreeing with you.

    And it is with great sadness. Not that disagreements are to be avoided … but that the subject is an awful one… one which is far from black and white.

    The report “Little Children Are Sacred” is a tragic document … it is a record of a people committing suicide … a mass act of genocidal despair – of cruelling their kids – in every possible way. .. and demolishing their future. Of violence, alcoholism, poverty, domestic violence, neglect and disintegration.

    Not everywhere – far from it – but enough to make it a real threat to the survival of what remains of Aboriginal culture and society.

    Have a read of Bob Durnan’s comment above. He’s an old hand at this stuff. 40 years or more I’d reckon. From the front-lines in the NT. And he knows what he’s talking about – and speaks only from conviction and compassion.

    So does Bess Price … have a listen to her session on radio national several weeks ago. Google her up.

    No one is comfortable with this paternalistic white man’s burden nanny state stuff. But it cannot continue as it was. Building appropriate houses, medical checks and care, increasing police protection for women and kids, getting kids to school and fed… These are basic human rights in Australia. And no one – not us, not the community leaders, not the state was protecting them and ensuring these rights were protected.

    This is temporary. Part of the solution is getting authentic Aboriginal organisations and leaders who are not tainted by their previous tolerance or ignorance of the practices in that report, and who have a genuine commitment to self-management – both the rights and responsibilities to the vulnerable.

    Good things will come from this Liz. Not now. Not much is good now. But in 5 or 10 years time when these kids who are being forced to read and write and learning to argue, start standing up. And they will be informed by living under the tyranny of our good intentions. A reminder.

  71. Daryl...

    It really annoys me that a pack of Aussie haters like this rag’s writers dare to take as their name a word that is extremely Aussie in background.

    The botom line, of everything that came after the initial event, was that Gillard’s office incited this riot. Either she was complicit and looking to gain politically from this act of deception, or she was ignorant of it and is running a totally incompetent administration. (Both could be true given the performance of the taxing labor party)

    My grandfather’s grandfather was born here, and his forebears walked the land in chains. Why is my families story less important than theirs?

    I am as indigenous as any of the blackfella protestors, and I find this continual slagging of my culture to be extremely offensive. I have to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and so should everybody else.

  72. Edward James

    We still support a form aparthide in Australia. It exist in part because many in positions of power insist on different treatment for some Australians because of their race! Edward James

  73. Liz45

    @PETER ORMONDE – You have mistaken what I said. Point to anything I’ve said that condones any form of abuse, particularly in relation to children. My whole point is, that the aboriginal population make up about 500,000 people – a small % of the population. The invasion of the NT for the reasons given by Howard was a farce. If the abuse of kids was his reasoning, why hasn’t the Army invaded Bondi or the western suburbs, or Adelaide or??? In just a few months in recent times, over 30 people were arrested and charged with having horrific pornography on their computers, lap tops etc – and there are more arrests to come. Where was the army? Why didn’t the families of those arrested removed from their homes, and have their incomes quarantined?

    I have NEVER advocated taking any sort of abuse lightly, nor have I ever condoned it, not in all my 66 years. I abhor the abuse of women and kids wherever it occurs. This costs the Australian tax payers over $13.6 BILLION per year (recent figures) Is this costing only to do with indigenous people? Of course not. In fact, I suspect that much of this amount is for the wider community, and non-indigenous people.

    I listened to Bess Price on the radio national program, and agreed with her. But I don’t believe, that just because some aboriginal people retain the violent aspects of their ‘culture’ that all aboriginal people should be stopped from living their culture. There are descendants of the Irish population in Australia, does that mean I should no longer embrace my love for Irish music? Of course not. Violent aspects of anyone should be fought against and stopped.

    Part of the NT invasion, the quarantining of incomes, together with the many employment opportunities and realities has only brought more hardship for people. For example; in order to purchase grocery items, those with only 50% of their income can only shop in designated stores – set down by the Federal Govt. Many aboriginal people don’t have cars. They have to travel by taxi for many miles, which can cost hundreds of dollars. The only way they can afford this is for several to travel together. Prior to the invasion, there were community stores where people could buy staple foods in bulk – such as flour, sugar etc. Taken a look at the cost of fresh fruit and veg in the NT lately? Prior to the invasion, there were CDEP programs, where people were growing some vegetables in community type gardens – where people were employed. The CDEP programs were shut down because the Fed Govt couldn’t quarantine incomes from people engaged in these essential programs.

    Many of the community based programs ceased when Howard invaded the NT. All the men in the NT felt that they were being classed as sexual abusers of children, even though to this day, barely anyone has been arrested and charged, let alone faced court and jailed. If you know any different, please inform me.

    Prior to the invasion, there were about 180 applications before Govts for mining leases. The last time I was made aware of it, there were in excess of 400. Aboriginal people are being forced off their homelands with bribes and bullying. The people feel that they have gone backwards – decades backwards. After their struggles for land rights, and winning those struggles, that is now being overturned, first by the Howard Govt, and continued by the Rudd/Gillard Govts.

    There are more new dwellings for non-indigenous public servants(overseeing the invasion) than for those aboriginal people screaming out for decades for housing. There was a 7 year investigation conducted re indigenous housing. The report was handed down last year or ’10. It found that many houses did not have adequate kitchen facilities (essential for preparing food for kids, one would think); there were light switches on architraves, but no wires going to the middle of the ceiling for a light fitting. Internal doors could not be locked; bathroom facilities were either non existent or not able to function? The Report could probably be found on the ABC website or perhaps the Fed Govt. I heard about it on The World Today!

    I went to a rally in a neighbouring city, where indigenous people came down from the NT. It was revealed, that an aboriginal person working side by side with a non aboriginal person, was only paid a Centrelink payment, half of which was quarantined. The non aboriginal worker was paid the correct and award wage – no quarantine of any income? I also travelled to Sydney to support aboriginal workers in the NT receiving the same wages and conditions as non aboriginal people. Many of the major Unions were there to lend their support at both of these functions.

    I also went to a rally at the same aboriginal cultural centre, where the residents of Muckaty Station addressed us as to their opposition to a nuclear waste dump. The Secretary of the South Coast Labor Council, plus major unions affilliated to same were in attendance and passed a Motion of support.

    I attended a rally up the Coast at Thirroul, where the Elder from an indigenous area in the NT addressed us re the Intervention. He autographed a small book put out by many aboriginal people called, ‘What we really said’? It contrasts with what we’re being told by Jenny Macklin and her staff. She does NOT communicate with indigneous people. Her staff have a set agenda and only speak to certain people(of like mind with say, Noel Pearson and Bess Price, but ignore those who have a contrary point of view. They don’t even acknowledge that there are other view points. So much for democracy!

    The overall situation is grim. The Govt has the attitude, that the NT is far away from the gaze of most Australians, and anyway, the role of every tier of Govt for so long has been one of ingrained racism and paternalism.

    There have been 400 black deaths in custody since the 1980’s. Not one of those recommendations have been implemented. In the more recent horrific incidences, not one person in authority has been arrested, charged and found guilty of even neglect, let alone manslaughter or murder. This would NOT happen in non aboriginal situations. Imagine if the dead were white and the alleged custodians were aboriginal? I submit those outcomes would be very different. Take for example, the situation on Palm Island. Those aboriginal people who rioted after the death of that man were charged and at least one was jailed. He’s out of jail but not allowed to speak to the media. This is just one incident!

    Anywhere in the world where indigenous people have had ‘problems’ similar to Australia, not ONE step forward has occurred UNLESS the indigenous people have at least had a say in the policies, programs to combat them. Aboriginal people feel that they are being treated with the same attitudes of the last 200 years. The same old paternalism and patronising ‘policies’ are being trotted out, but cleverly called something different. If we’re really fair dinkum about addressing these issues, we consult, LISTEN to all involved, and then put in place programs/policies that the MAJORITY believe will work. We’re not doing that now!

    Over past years, I’ve paid particular attention to how the electronic media covers aboriginal ‘stories’, and it’s very disturbing. Almost every news ‘story’ about the intervention or aboriginal disadvantage etc results in trotting out a choice of about three bits of footage. There’s either a park in Darwin, where a few/group of aboriginal people are drunk and not dressed very well; or a remote and neglected community near Uluru or some such place, (again, with a few aboriginal adults and kids, plus dogs) or?????How many times do you see, read or hear about the ‘ordinary’ aboriginal family with homes just like yours or mine? How many times is the issue of Rheumatic Fever brought up? How many of the children with hearing problems due to awful infections were seen by Ear Specialists? I suggest not too many. Why does a Cardiologist only visit remote areas about twice a year? How far do aboriginal people suffering diabetes have to travel to see a specialist? What about those people who need kidney dialysis? How much does it cost, and what inroads have been in operation? I suggest that the answers to these questions aren’t much better if any, than prior to the Intervention?

    Finally, if Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott cared as they profess – they’d have visited the Tent Embassy, not just on Australia Day, but frequently over past years. They were across the road almost, and neither bothered to acknowledge the 40 year commemoration of the Tent Embassy. They’re ‘falsers’? Not fair dinkum at all!

    I repeat that I’m against any and all sorts of abuse of any kind, particularly that suffered by women and kids. I just don’t think that the action/s taken are either addressing the real issues, or have a genuine goal re removing racism and educating the broader community, and in too many cases, much money is spent on creating positions for public servants; that there’s lots of toyota 4 wheel drives in the NT, but companies are still able to pump septic sewerage into areas where there’s either a school, homes or both! Out of sight, out of mind! Many photo ops for politicians, but no real endeavours to further the lot of those people living in third world environments that the rest of Australia removed after WW2!

    As for the education of aboriginal kids. Those people who know state, that the best way to teach aboriginal kids to read, is to first teach them in their own language, and then in English. They’ve been ignored. So much so, that speaking in native languages is BANNED for the first 3 or 4 hours of a school day. This seems like what happened to the stolen kids, who were bashed for two reasons – crying for their mothers, or speaking in their native language! How far have we really progressed!

    I have an aboriginal friend who lectures at a large University in an adjoining city. She thinks I’m remarkable, and wonders why I have the attitude that I do, and how refreshing it is for her to find a non aboriginal who is conversant with the overall picture. I felt ashamed by the ‘public’ attitude, and determined to find out the reality. I hate injustices of any kind, and I realise that with my upbringing and education, that I was programmed to be racist. I’m aware of that, acknowledge it, and try to keep informed of the reality. In fact, about 20 years ago, I found that the most racist town in NSW was where I spent about 5 years of my life. I felt ashamed, and it made me think about many things that I wasn’t aware of then – I was only a child at the time.

    Dividing the views of aboriginal people, or any group that is marginalised is an old tactic of those who are behind the injustices. It’s still happening. Putting one aboriginal person against another is a great way of diffusing the issue and playing the racist card in this instance. Just wait for the media activity re our racist Constitution in the weeks and months ahead? I hope I’m pleasantly surprised, but I think NOT! Very sad – after 200+ years!

  74. Liz45

    @DARYL – There was NO riot. The police Sargent who was there said there was no riot. In fact, if you read a couple of recent articles, plus a video of events you’ll see, that the altercations came AFTER Abbott and Gillard left. The only acts of violence were a couple of thuggish AFP who punched people in the face (which can be clearly seen) and slagged people off trying to get a rise out of them.

    You say you’re indigenous, and maybe so, but you haven’t got the real story. How do you know that the whole thing wasn’t set up by Abbott? Why did he use inflammatory language such as ‘time to move on’? ‘Move in’ is a term used by police around the country prior to them starting to arrest people for???failure to follow police directives.

    Why didn’t Abbott or Gillard cross the road and speak to people at the Tent Embassy? They have nothing to say! Nothing that aboriginal people haven’t heard over the years. Platitudes and condescending sentences! That’s all!

  75. Dagney_Taggert


    what is your alternative? Leave them alone and allow them to perish?

    From the 2011 Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report Indigenous children are 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous to be the victims of abuse. Nearly 1 in 20 children (0 to 17 years old) are on care and protection orders, compared to 1 in 200 for non Indigenous (source: http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/111609/key-indicators-2011-report.pdf)

    Aren’t you mortified by that? What can be done? Should non-Indigenous Australia step back, afraid of being labelled colonialist or paternalist or racist? Walk away and let Indigenous Australia sink or swim on their own? Give them Sovereignty? What would that do? As much as the Apology?

    I remember as a young soldier on exercise around Wyndham in the late 80s hearing the screams from the shantys when hubby came home drunk. Would start just after sundown and go on most of the night. We were told to not interfere. It was all very disturbing.

    How long do we allow it to go on? I honestly have no idea what to do about it. Whatever we try never seems to work, and we get lambasted by all and sundry for getting it wrong. What is the solution? Forced integration? Education in reading and writing English first, and cultural studies last? I know what is more likely to help a child be successful in society today. Make the youth move to where the work is?

    I’m keen to hear your solution.

  76. Dagney_Taggert

    @Liz (again)

    I highly doubt that Abbott managed to setup the Australia Day “incident”. He is guilty of his usual crime of speaking before thinking. I don’t consider “move on” to be inflammatory in ordinary speech, but maybe he could have been more sensitive.

    As far as the over enthusiastic police officer, well, he is a ‘ranga and they aren’t generally known for their impulse control. In any case, the protestor he walloped gave him a push just before, and was carrying a spear, which most people would consider a weapon. Given the tension at the time, having it was not a particularly good idea.

    It seems to me to be a poorly conceived “cunning plan” from the PM’s office to stir up some trouble for Abbott.

    If I was Abbott or Gillard, I wouldn’t have gone to the tent embassy to speak that day – the crowd was clearly agitated and angry.

    The aim of the tent embassy was to raise awareness of the desire for sovereignty. What does that mean (in practical terms) and how will it work? A split between “us” and “them” with different parts of the country? Is it a unified Aboriginal national government, or will it be many? Does everyone else pay them rent?

  77. David Hand

    Keep banging the drum Liz. Call it what you want. Rowdy protest, security incident, riot. Gillard’s own security detail were sufficiently concerned about the risk to her safety that they decided to run for it. The fact remains that the confrontation was conceived from within Gillard’s office. It was dirty politics and Sattler’s words to the tent embassy were clearly inflammatory.

    Re-write history all you like Liz. We saw what we saw.

  78. Peter Ormonde

    Dagney Taggart,

    Yes the road to here is paved with our “good intentions”. .. and our worst. I say this as I’m mapping massacre sites in the region in which I now live.

    The awful numbers you report above are even more distressing when it is realised that the numbers under orders and in care are a fraction – a fraction – of those who needed it.

    Few years back I wrote this:


    There are no easy answers,
    it’s a history of lost chances,
    broken schemes and chronic failures
    show the measure of past care:
    fragment families living scattered,
    mission towns that never mattered,
    and they’re poor and sick and shattered.
    And that’s just how they live out there.

    Couldn’t get it published here but the yanks were interested. One Australian editor suggested, helpfully, that I try publishing it in the Koori press… I guess she meant where people were interested in that sort of thing.

    If we are serious – we don’t just dump people like this. If we are serious, we get them resources and services we regard as basic and essential. Somehow. And fast. Especially the kids. Safety, food, schooling, housing, water, sewerage, healthcare… things we take as our birthright.

    Ideally it would be excellent if the communities themselves could provide this… certainly manage it at the local level at least. But for that you need a community that works, that will not tolerate violence or abuse and looks after the vulnerable. Some communities do that. Some cannot. There is no off-the-shelf, one size fits all answer.

    The intervention – despite all its paternalistic characteristics – was a emergency response. Hopefully it will give us all some breathing space to work with Aboriginal people to develop something that gives them a tangible, prosperous and healthy future.

    Needs something smart, flexible, well watched and well cashed-up.

  79. Blaggers

    @Daryl – Point of difference being that your family’s culture was able to be celebrated and nourished? I’ll bet they wern’t they made to feel any less just for being who they were?

    @Dagney_Taggert – The Tent Embassy was NOT clearly agitated and angry. Where you there? I wasn’t either and from the reports i’ve read, the reports i’ve listened to shows the majority were not agitated and angry. 50 or so does not represent the whole, but believe what you will. Had they had any leadership quality and fortitude they WOULD have spoken to those agitated. They would have known exactly what caused the uproar directed at Abbott.

    Yes, cultural studies would help, but not just for the Indigenous but for ALL Australians. Once we ALL have an understanding of and can be proud of our Indigenous past and English recent past and multicultural present then we can move forward.

    Again, the minority is representative of the whole, from the experience you detailed. The thing that shames us most is that the culture, society and civilization we have brought to the indigenous and are so PROUD of, is thrown in our faces by the alcoholism, sexual abuse, violence and disenchantment in the communities. They just reflect/mirror what we are blind to or are unwilling to admit are the real failings of the so called “civilization” brought forth by invasion.

    @ David Hand – You saw what you wanted to see. The truth is out there, be blind to it if you so wish. Ignorance is pure bliss, eh?

  80. David Hand

    Great, Blaggers.
    “The truth is out there” ha ha ha. Good one. (Cue X Files music).

    I saw what I wanted to see? Get real.

    I did not want to see the Prime Minister fleeing a rowdy mob because her security detail feared for her safety.

    I di not want to see angry aboriginal protesters disrupting an awards ceremony for emergency services personnel.

    I did not want to see a senior Union official in Canberra utter the words, “They’re both in a reception at The Lobby restaurant, which is just up the corner, and Abbott’s just made a statement to the press that the tent embassy should be pulled down.”

    Did you see what you wanted to see?

  81. Peter Ormonde


    Yes obviously one of those “seemed like a good idea at the time” moments isn’t it?

    Radio is telling everyone Abbott says “move on”… keen staffer rings a mate and it’s off …

    But not a riot … and certainly not a RACE RIOT.

    Riots are deeply deeply ugly. No one walks out of a pile of burning cars and looted shops holding the PM’s slingback. They go to hospital or the morgue.

    Could have been a riot … had the coppers been even sillier and decided to disperse the crowd with force rather than do a flit, ungracious as it was.

    As for me I wouldn’t have talked to them. I would have stayed inside and skipped the next flag wagging ceremony, waited until the coppers could provide a secure and dignified exit out the back, or send someone out to talk it down. But you would not send Abbott. Not Gillard. Not to the mob that turned up at the Lobby banging on the windows. RACE RIOT indeed. Bob Durnan above is spot on.

    But to be honest, given the zeitgeist, I actually found myself taking a dark delight in watching our PM and her smirking shadow being whisked away sans dignity and a shoe. Whipping boys for the lot of us. Representative Democracy at its best. Fix this stuff.

    Should be an annual event – a tall poppy day – for cutting the self-important down to size. An Australia Day backyard game – so the kids can take mum and dad down a peg with some sort of conspiracy or prank. Like Holi in India with the food dyes and the water. Or the water festival in Thailand. And there should be a shoe.

    A day for not taking ourselves too seriously. Just once a year of course.

  82. curaezipirid

    I think it is a bit bloody obvious that the coalition have used the whole set up, to scapegoat Julia Gillard and her office, and encouraged more public perception of contention between Rudd and Gillard.

    What is not so obvious, is that the experience of the majority of Aborigines in Australia, is that under coalition governments the police are obviously more brutal, more racist, and more likely to let Aboriginal men off the hook only when they were involved with drug dealing. These are the cold hard facts, I got told about often enough, ever since 1988, when old enough to want to care, but then got slapped in the face with the first time I camped at the tent embassy myself, in 2002-3, after disclosing the “probability” of indigenous ancestry intermarried among my own European ancestry. I say it is about time this country wakes up into recognizing what happened to the many too many indigenous families experiencing excessive incarceration, and wake up into realizing, that as the largest minority, if not majority (at one QLD prison), in the prisons, Aboriginal men DO KNOW what the deals were going down at any time, between organised crime, corrupt police, (who were are never supposed to witness any evidence of, because if we witness that, and mentioned it, we can be held suspect under the anti-terrorist legislation, according to certain sources among police), and politics funders, lobbists, and backers.

  83. Blaggers

    David, Glad you picked up on that reference.

    I did not want to see the opposition leader incite our indigenous people.

    I did not want to see the blame game played by both sides of politics.

    I did expect just a little leadership.

    I did not want to read the racist and vile comments that made me for the first time in my life not want to be Australian.

    …and while we’re at it….

    i did not want to see a world in which poverty, hunger, disease, mistreatment, superiority, misinformation, ignorance… exist. But here we are.

    You comment to Liz45 about rewriting history, yet you cannot even take in (comprehend?) the reports written by those that were there. So yes i reaffirm (as do you by your comment), you see/read/hear what you want to take in, what confirms your beliefs. All else must be lies. (cue X files music)

  84. Liz45

    My lengthy response is still awaiting moderation! I can’t type it again, my arms are painful!

    I agree that there is abuse of children. I agree that there’s violence full stop, but why is the govt using a different method than in the rest of the community? Where the majority of people aren’t aboriginal, and there’s no resources under foot? What about the kids in Wollongong or Woy Woy or Adelaide? Is there no abuse there? Are those kids less deserving of protection? What about those (mainly men – at least 30 of them) who’ve been charged with having “horrific” images on their electronic media? I don’t think any of them are in jail awaiting trial even. Why not? Are their families still living in the family home? Is their income quarantined? If not why not?

    All statistics clearly show, that while other crimes have reduced, crimes of violence, particularly against women and kids has not – Australia wide. I live in one of the highest incidents of DV in NSW. There’s no intervention, no removal of the Racial Discrimination Act; no dry areas and no ban on pornography. In fact, there’s adult ‘centres’ and many clubs are open 19 hours per day!

    If anyone can supply me with details of how approximately 5 years of occupation has assisted those affected by violence, then I’ll take note. I follow this issue closely. I’ve been and LISTENED to what aboriginal say is their reality, and the majority of them are depressed, angry and feel isolated by the actions of the three most recent Fed Govt’s.

    The ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report was the 13th. It was not conducted by the Federal Govt, but the NT Govt. In fact, many indigenous women who’d been imploring the Howard Govt via senior Ministers were being fobbed off about domestic violence etc.

    The bottom line is – if a Govt singles out aboriginal communities to correct or address serious issues in a vastly different manner to the rest of the community, then it’s racist, patronising, paternalistic and going back to the dark days of the past. At least, it puts people off side and so positive results are not the result. There’s ways of dealing with people, and ways not to do because once you raise people’s hackles, you just say good bye to anything positive. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work it out!

    In Weekends Sydney Morning Herald (18-19 Feb.inst.)on page 3 is an article headed, “Girls at greater risk since intervention”. The article goes on to state that “The rate of suicide among Aboriginal girls is believed to have greatly increased since the NT emergency intervention was introduced five years ago to combat systemic child abuse and neglect”.

    You can read the full article on line!

  85. Liz45

    As for sovereignity. Aboriginal people aren’t even included in the Constitution, except in the Flora and Fauna sections. We’re the only Western world with blatant racist Articles in the Constitution.

    What if the Constitution replaced the word aboriginal and substituted it with ‘Asians’ or ‘Greeks’ or Malaysians? It would be met with hostile responses. Why then is it OK to refer to indigenous people like this?

    Aboriginal people never relinquished ownership of their land. There was a war for over 40 years, and conservatively, 20,000 aboriginal people were killed. Over 200 years has passed, and aboriginal people are still/again being forced off their land.

    Other countries have, in good will, reached an ‘Agreement’ with their indigenous peoples. we haven’t. We’re too bloody racist to even admit to the wrongs of the past. Even Australian History Lecturers were ignorant of the real truth pertaining to European Settlement – Henry Reynolds. He’s written several books on this issue, and did indepth research.

    I recommend his books to anyone wishing to further their knowledge of this issue.

  86. Liz45

    MY other posts are not being posted.

    I suggest people go to ‘stop the NT Intervention’. On there you’ll see over 3,500 sites, including ‘Jobs with Justice’ etc.

    Most enlightening!

  87. David Hand

    We all want world peace.

    Your faith in the accounts of Aboriginal activists who were there is touching. Pity they don’t quite line up with the compelling TV pictures and sounds. But you only see what you want to see.

  88. Liz45

    Thank you Chris and/or Moderator for posting my comments – even though the first one is lengthy?

    Re Henry Reynolds. Henry is a Lecturer in Australian History. He was teaching history in Tasmania then moved to Queensland. He was confronted by awful racism which made him wonder about the past. He started to investigate, and was horrified to learn that his education had been sadly lacking. He could not recall any thing about the effects on aboriginal people re European settlement. He corrected this omission, and has written several books. There are two that stand out as my ‘awakening’ moments – ‘This Whispering in our Heart’ and ‘Why Weren’t we Told’? I’m currently reading another one called, ‘AN INDELIBLE STAIN – The question of genocide in Australia’s history’. Most confronting indeed!

    Henry is about 7 years older than I am, and my education was lacking also. The fact that I went to catholic schools probably didn’t help, as their past records aren’t something to be proud!. Since I started to learn the truth, I’ve only been encouraged to seek more information.

    I’ve also read Peter Stewart’s ‘Demons at Dusk’ which took 20 years of research prior to writing it. It’s about the Myall Street Massacre – the awful murders of 28 aboriginal people including elderly men, women, children and babies. This book stayed in my head for weeks – not because of the brutal description of that awful crime, but because it wasn’t. In about half a page it started and stopped – just basic information. It’s probably the only massacre where the culprits were brought to justice, let alone hanged(I don’t agree with the death penalty – ever) but the fact that the guilty were all European was a stark reality. The role of the media and govts etc was telling. It was just horrific.

    These books are available at my local library! So there shouldn’t be any trouble accessing them!

    If these crimes had been perpetrated in the opposite, there’d be monuments dotted all over the country, and at least one day each year would be set aside to commemorate these atrocities. The fact that we’ve all been fed bs, that even today those who should know better choose to ignore these vital parts of our collective history and shame is a damned good reason why aboriginal people are so traumatised, resentful and angry about our ONGOING racist behaviour/s.

    The basic point re both Gillard and Abbott still must be put – if they’re really fair dinkum about the plight of indigenous people; if they had just some semblance of sensitivity, they’d have realised the importance of Jan. 26 last. As public officials, they must share the responsibility for what transpired. IF either one deliberately inflamed the situation, they should be condemned.

    They should be called upon to answer a couple of basic questions? Where did all the money go that came about via removing resources from aboriginal land, and why have past governments used ‘jack boot’ diplomacy in relation to very serious social issues? Why aren’t the Army and Police driving down Pitt St or its equivalents around the country, in order to stop all forms of violence against children. Why, even after pleading from hospital staff, Clubs, Pubs and other places are allowed to sell alcohol almost 24/7, when it’s very clear how serious overuse of alcohol has been for many years – and getting worse – in non-aboriginal communities?

    Regardless of how it’s put, the NT Intervention is just one more reality of abuse and use of indigenous people under the banner of caring about kids. If the problem was so severe, show us the police records. How many white men have been arrested etc for bribing young aboriginal girls for sex? Why are the basic social needs like housing, sewerage, garbage collection, education and other essentials that the rest of us take for granted, lacking in too many indigenous communities? Why were the employment programs shut down, and why aren’t aboriginal workers paid the same as their non-aboriginal colleagues who work beside them, performing the same or similar tasks?

    Could the proposed 10 year extension of the Intervention just be the same number of years as the mining boom for the resources under the feet of indigenous people is anticipated? No! How could I think such terrible things? Shame on me!

    The answers to all these questions are damning! It’s an old tactic to blame the underprivileged and dispossessed for their demise. Women who are raped suffer the same fate, as for too many years, women suffering domestic violence were also! I know. I’m one of them! A Chamber Magistrate told me to “go home, be a good wife, and cook his favourite meal’?

  89. Liz45

    @DAVID HAND – What glasses did you have on while you watched? How many aboriginal people have you spoken to? What have you read? What do you know of past history – and don’t say it shouldn’t count, because in reality it does? We’ve all been made aware of the ramifications of trauma years after the event/s. If people in war zones require counselling; if people who’ve witnessed awful things like car accidents, assaults etc then it stands to reason that if you live under constant oppression, it has a damaging effect on your psyche.

    Why are people in the NT treated differently to the rest of us? No abuse in our communities? No, there’s awful neglect and abuse, but non-indigenous people are treated differently. Why is that?

  90. Peter Ormonde

    No you are quite correct Liz, there is abuse neglect and violence in our communities too.. but outrageous and unacceptable as it is, it was not threatening our very survival. It was an endemic in Aboriginal communities. It was the norm.

    I am not for one moment doubting your sincere convictions and sympathy for the plight of Aboriginal people. But what could be done?

    The old regime of sit-down money and official neglect led to this. If the intervention can provide enough of a breathing space, hopefully the communities of the NT – particularly the women – can respond to the challenge of regaining control and purpose.

    But returning to the old system, restoring the power of these “elders” who presided over, ignored, tolerated or excused this violence and abuse, will do nothing to resolve the problem. Aboriginal communities, their leaders and their organisations must protect the vulnerable and nurture the future. If they don’t, who will? Us?

  91. Liz45

    Peter, as with non-indigenous people, the ones to seek out, LISTEN to and work with are the WOMEN! In fact, in many communities the women are doing great things, sometimes with none or few resources. IF aboriginal communities had access to the same resources as the rest of the community, these problems would not have got to this stage. When successive govts demonstrated their ingrained racist attitudes, they never cared about any form of abuse, let alone women and kids. It wasn’t that long ago in my area, that aboriginal women had to take a friend with them to buy a dress, as they were not allowed to fit on any clothes? Amazing isn’t it?

    In all areas, women are doing amazing things, and as usual, monies are never enough, but as a woman on the Council of a Women’s Health Centre; and also on the Committee Against Domestic Violence, the programs that both the Federal Labor Govt and the previous NSW Labor Govt have set up are very positive and producing good outcomes for vulnerable women and kids. There are police people attached to major police stations; there’s a non-police person attached permanently to a city police station, who is the Liason Officer with all the people in the Illawarra. There are NGO’s attached to police stations who just work with victims of violence, going to Court with them etc. There’s counsellors for rape victims, young victims of child sexual abuse etc and these people are doing great – even tough we need more refuge places.

    There’s ‘Staying Home, Leaving Violence’ in NSW (started by Labor) where the perpetrators of DV have to leave the home not the victims. This was a great step forward on past realities. Women were often forced to move away, set up another home, with all that entails(particularly if you have kids) and this was really costly, in every respect.

    It’s unfair and unjust to put all “elders” into tohe same pot. Some of the elders are most supportive of women and kids, (just like the elders in our communities – like me for instance?), and of course, some of the elders are women! “Elder” is not a term just for males?

    While the ‘do gooders’ in Govt speak and act with a false tongue, there’ll never be solutions. They mouth all the motherhood comments with microphones in front of their faces, but then turn their backs and initiate realities that dehumanise, denigrate and belittle indigenous people. I for one would rile against their paternalistic attitudes. Speaking over me and then ignoring what I have to say wouldn’t impress me at all!

    It suited those in the past to hand out the ‘sit down money’? At the same time, they with-held the wages of those aboriginal people who worked – usually long hours for very little money. Those monies still have NOT been paid to those worker. Show me any worker in the rest of the country that would cop that? For decades?

    Most aboriginal people love their families, just like you and I do. To lump all people into a demoralising and pre-emptive bunch is not just. I’ve seen the ramifications of how too many men feel, due to being lumped together with pedophiles and other abusers? This does not lead to productive solutions. How would you feel if just because a man in your suburb had revolting images on his property, you were lumped in with him? I can’t think of anything worse for an innocent person to confront. When you’re demeaned because of the colour of your skin, this is just one more ‘weapon’ that is used against you!

    “Message Stick” has done a few programs with these men speaking out. It’s also had at least one program where perpetrators of DV spoke out about their past actions, and the awful stories of violent childhoods perpetrated against them. Many have turned their lives around, but our media, that supports stealing aboriginal land for the resources, has a vested interest in painting lying realities to those who can’t be bothered to research but quick to condemn! It suits them to blacken the lot of them! Easier to deny basic human rights then!

    Under NO circumstances do I condone any violence, or the revolting use and abuse of kids for sexual gratification – it sickens me to my stomach, but surely we don’t have to sacrifice justice and decency in order to combat it? We don’t throw innocent people in jails (except occasionally we get it wrong???) from our communities, why is it OK to do it to aboriginal people?

    You could probably access these past programs on both Message Stick and Living Black. Jenny Macklin won’t even go and speak to people. She prefers to only listen to the mouth pieces for industries; some of whom sadly, are aboriginal people, usually on a 6 figure sum – politicians or others???Even when there was a health scare re raw sewerage that was dumped near residential areas (including a school) not one person was sent there from her Dept. The people finally got sick of it and walked off! The motive? To save money?

    How many people have been convicted in the homelands for sexually abusing kids? Do you know? I don’t! If it was as the politicians said, why haven’t we heard about ALL the trials/convictions/prison sentences etc? Could it be that it just has NOT happened?

    How many programs in schools cover relationships in the NT? Any? White Ribbon Day has been using a program in NSW schools. The numbers are getting bigger each year. The plan is to extend it to all States. Is the NT on the list? You can access their web site by just putting those three words into your search engine, then go to the applicable site! It’s just an awesome program!

    One in 4 women will be sexually abused by the age of 18. One in 3-4 will be physically abused. Too many women experience their first instance of physical abuse when pregnant for the first time. The same number of older women are also being physically, and financially abused. A woman is murdered by her husband/partner every 10 days in Australia. These stats are horrific in the general community, and much worse in the aboriginal communities. But we don’t use the same draconian measures to combat this violence in non-indigenous communities! That just about says it all, really!

    Finally, with the life expectancy of aboriginal people being way behind the rest of the community, soon there’ll be none or few of those “elders” left? As I said, there’s many who love and protect their kids/grand kids, just like I do! It’s evil to condemn them all – and most unjust! But that’s what’s going on, as we speak! Shameful!

  92. David Hand

    I understand what you mean.
    I saw the Prime minister being bundled into a car by security people whose job it is to keep her safe. What was I supposed to see?

    The fact that it was aboriginal protesters is embarrassing for the protesters and I understand that. More bad press for the aboriginal cause.

    I also understand people like you charging in defending their anger and behaviour. Next you will be saying the Australia Day riot was my fault. In fact you are hinting that in your prose already, and I understand that as well.

    I also understand that nothing whatsoever will cause you to criticise boorish behaviour from the Tent Embassy protesters.

  93. Liz45

    @DAVID HAND – I find your last comments offensive. “Boorish behaviour” covers a pretty large number of people. I think “boorish behaviour” is being used here by a couple of people. Insulting people who stand up and speak out for justice, equality and common sense is “boorish”?

    I watched a video of the events of that day, and, as the person who put it up stated, the violent behaviour started via the police people – one or two in fact. I’d find being punched in the face an act of violence perpetrated ON me! I’d try and defend myself, in fact, out of sheer shock and anger, I’d probably lash out myself.

    Nobody from either the Tent Embassy or those outside the Lodge/eating house? were charged? Why is that, do you think? Perhaps, the police wouldn’t like images of their awful violence displayed in Court? It’s also interesting to note, that as far as I know, the police officers involved haven’t even been admonished, let alone charged with assault. Surprise, surprise! Something like the fact, that of the 400 black deaths in custody since the 1980’s not one person has been charged with any murders????On the contrary, the protestors venting their anger at this reality have themselves been charged and in some cases, jailed! But that’s OK though. Not as though they’re real people is it? They’re usually black!

    It appeared to me, that the only risk to the PM was from the brute strength used against her by a so-called ‘security person’? It was unnecessary. All the while, Abbott had a ‘gleeful’ look on his face! He threw the ‘grenade’ and then whined about what happened after! Sickening! Isn’t he surposed to be a Rhodes scholar? Wouldn’t you think he had a smattering of common sense? At his age, wouldn’t you think he’d show a bit more sensitivity on that day in that environment? No, as he himself has said on more than one occasion – ‘he’d sell his a**e to win an election’? or words to that effect!

    What’s led to this stage is the fault of all of us! That includes you and I.

    I don’t condone violence, but I have no problems with noisy demonstrators, in fact, I’ve been one on many occasions. Every Reclaim the Night Rallies, or International Women’s Day when we try to raise the sexual violence against women during wars etc. Even the UN is concerned about this reality, but I don’t suppose you bother to educate yourself about that reality.

    My boys were still in High School when we participated in Hiroshima Day rallies – in fact, I helped organise the first one in my area? I have a long history of angry demonstrations – that doesn’t make me a criminal – nor does it give any police person the right to bully or mishandle me! When that is condoned, I’ll give it all away!

  94. David Hand

    You weren’t there, Liz. You are hostage to the same TV pictures as the rest of us and I accept that you believe the propagandists from the tent embassy are objective and unbiased. You are in no position to judge how friendly or threatening the happy and motivated tent embassy people politely knocking on the window to get Tony’s attention so he could come out for a nice friendly chat were.

    You’re offended by “boorish”? Well I trust the opinions of Julia Gillard’s security detail, professionls who decided the threat was such that they had to bundle the PM to safety. They were there, Liz. I was being kind with “Boorish” How about “Threatening and offensive”?

  95. Liz45

    @DAVID HAND – This may come as a huge surprise to you, but I really couldn’t give a flying fruitcake what you think!

    In your view, the Embassy probably should’ve gone years ago. The reasons why it was started are still valid today. Abbott is wrong, but so what’s new?

    Racism is “threatening and offensive” too! Ask those who experience it almost on a daily basis!

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