aboriginal flag
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

WAVING RIGHTS

The federal government has paid $20 million for the rights to the Aboriginal flag, bringing the long-running “free the flag” campaign to a close. Basically, this means the flag artwork is now free to use for the first time in three years, the Herald Sun ($) continues, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explaining anyone can put it on “apparel such as sports jerseys and shirts, it can be painted on sports grounds, included on websites, in paintings and other artworks, used digitally and in any other medium without having to ask for permission or pay a fee”.

Before yesterday, the licence was owned by the Luritja artist and creator Harold Thomas plus three companies called WAM Clothing, Gifts Mate, and Flagworld. Non-Indigenous company WAM Clothing’s co-founder was prosecuted by the ACCC for selling fake Indigenous art, as Guardian Australia reported at the time, and then he sent cease and desist letter to the AFL and NRL over their use of the flag during Indigenous rounds. They had to stop using the flag on their jerseys, The Australian ($) adds. Incredibly, an Indigenous-owned social enterprise that donates its profits to Indigenous health also received a cease and desist letter over their use of the flag.

Minister for Indigenous Australians and Noongar man Ken Wyatt was hyped about securing the free use of the flag, saying that now the Commonwealth holds the copyright, “it belongs to everyone, and no one can take it away”, as ABC reports. Thomas says he’ll use $2m to create a not-for-profit that will offer grants for furthering the interests of the flag, and also had the Commonwealth agree to two things: an annual scholarship worth $100,000 to get more Indigenous students into governance and leadership, and to invest all future royalties into NAIDOC, the SMH reports.

INVESTING IN FUTURES

Today Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will reportedly pledge $201.5 million to boost the well-being of students as well as an additional $238 million for school infrastructure, The Conversation says. Albanese, who is well and truly on the campaign trail, will say he’ll let the schools decide how to use the money but will suggest things like more school counsellors and psychologists, as well as camps and excursions to boost morale, and infrastructure upgrades like better ventilation in schools, more outdoor classrooms, and repairs to buildings. It comes as kids get ready to head back to school in Victoria and NSW, a move backed by child-focused charity UNICEF Australia, as The Advocate reports this morning, who said “the right to go to school and learn is central to every child’s development and wellbeing”.

Albanese will reportedly continue that Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s insistence that we “push through” is the wrong attitude, Guardian Australia continues. Albanese suggests we take this opportunity to create something better — his priorities are a strong public health system, slashing insecure work conditions, investing in our NBN internet, cheapening childcare, and boosting TAFE/training (to take on staff shortages), the Herald Sun ($) says. He’ll finish with a spirited message of inclusion ahead of Australia Day tomorrow, including his promise of a constitutionally-recognised First Nations voice to Parliament.

Morrison will get his right of reply when he addresses the Press Club next week. The PM’s not had a great week (hard to remember the last time he did) after his social media account on WeChat was taken over by a Chinese businessman — the guy poured water on Chinese interference theories by telling ABC he only bought it because the account had a lot of followers.

TENSIONS RISE IN UKRAINE

“Leave now” — that was the late-night message from the Australian government to 1400 Australians in Ukraine, the SMH reports, as the travel advice was upgraded to “do not travel”. The US and NATO have sent warships and aircraft to Ukraine in a coordinated effort as they brace for Russia to invade. There are 127,000 troops at the border, but the Kremlin keeps denying they’ll invade — a spokesman says information from the West was “hysteria” and “laced with lies”, as The New Daily reports. To hopefully deter Moscow from military might, there’s a slew of sanctions in the works, news.com.au reports, with one source saying the oil and gas coming out of Russia could be one.

Australia is helping the Ukrainian government with its cyber security — its top diplomat in Canberra says 70 government systems have been attacked so far. But there are no plans to send any Australian reinforcements. Foreign Minister Marise Payne says we’re openly on Ukraine’s side — “Australia strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we call on Russia to de-escalate immediately,” she says. Wondering what it all means? The SMH published a cracking analysis this morning that delves into it.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

On this eve of Australia Day folks, I thought you might be interested to hear of the history of Afghan Muslim Cameleers who settled in the outback and formed a strong bond with the Indigenous communities. SBS delved into the little-known story in 2019. In the 19th century, camels were dubbed the “ships of the desert” because they were such a handy form of transportation in arid conditions for essential supplies. One cameleer was needed for every 8-9 camels because the meandering beasts need specialised care for those long trips across the desert — trips horses often couldn’t manage.

So the Afghan cameleers worked closely with the highly specialised Indigenous trackers to learn about the land, ABC continues, while also being mostly shunned by the white communities. Yet without this collaboration between Indigenous and Afghan knowledge, those outback communities wouldn’t have survived. Cameleers bonded with the Indigenous communities, some falling in love and having families. It meant generations of Indigenous Australians who also had a strong cultural connection to Islam, one of the things that gave the faith a small “foothold” in Australia. The first mosque was opened in Adelaide in 1891 (if you live there, you could head along to this event tomorrow to learn more). SBS spoke to Sabah Rind, a descendant of a Baluch Afghan cameleer and also a Badimaya-Yamatji woman — she says she feels really proud of “all my identities”.

Hope tomorrow is one of reflection, respect, and gratitude. Your Crikey Worm will be back with you on Thursday morning.

SAY WHAT?

Well, people aren’t dying.

Barnaby Joyce

Patricia Karvelas’ first RN Breakfast show hit the headlines after the deputy prime minister said Australians were not dying from COVID-19. Yesterday 27 people were reported dead after contacting COVID-19. Joyce quickly backtracked after PK corrected him, apologising and continuing that, in his view, our mortality rate is low.

CRIKEY RECAP

Paul Keating lashes ‘deluded’ Britain. Does he have a point?

Truss, meanwhile, made concerned noises about Russia and China. But in the context of AUKUS, billed as critical to a safer, more prosperous Indo-Pacific, Britain’s reentry to the Asia-Pacific was tentative at best.

“For Keating, the whole thing was a ‘desperate’ attempt to promote Britain as a serious counter to the last gasps of an imperial has-been suffering ‘delusions of grandeur and relevance deprivation’ … Many of Keating’s views, always expressed with a dose of invective, aren’t fashionable among a foreign policy establishment that is far more hawkish on China.”


A view from the West: McGowan puts moral right over political might

Mark McGowan was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. He knew the decision to postpone opening the borders on February 5 would be unpopular in some circles, while others would breathe a sigh of relief …

“McGowan has looked at the other states and territories who have opened their borders and seen the consequences: rampaging Omicron, hundreds of deaths, tens of thousands sick, hospitals at breaking point, staff almost at the end of their tether.”


The road to reelection: how can Morrison pull off another miracle?

“But you can’t perform better if you think you’re already performing well. And one of the most important drivers for better performance by public officials is knowing they are being held accountable by the media …

“When the people who claim their watchdogs of the powerful tell you how well you’re doing, any politician will be inclined to believe them. We all prefer good reviews to bad reviews. But Morrison needs to hear what’s really happening in the world — and quickly.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

Bypass the BBQ and show up this Invasion DayRachael McPhail (IndigenousX): “We need you to have those hard conversations with family and friends. Support First Nations businesses such as Clothing the Gaps, by purchasing a product with a “Not A Date to Celebrate” slogan and spark important discussions. Why not sit down with your family and friends to watch “Incarceration Nation”, “Servant or Slave”, the Mabo film, or “Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky”?

“Perhaps you could attend a Survival Day rally, or find a First Nations social justice organisation to make a donation to, and lend your support to the First Nations community who are fighting for social change day in and day out? You could research the area in which you live — What is the traditional place name? Who lived here before colonisation? What massacres happened here? Maybe even write a letter to your local council and ask if they have a Reconciliation Action Plan yet? (don’t forget to add traditional place names to the address on the envelope!)”

I created the Aboriginal flag as a symbol of unity and prideHarold Thomas (The SMH): “I made the Aboriginal flag to lead a demonstration on the National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee, which started from Victoria Square, Adelaide, on Friday, July 9, 1971. There were black and white folk united. The memory has not diminished. It was where the expression of identity was stamped. That pivotal moment shaped what was to come …

“Fifty years have passed since the flag’s creation. It is a national flag of Australia and copyright now belongs to the Commonwealth, as custodian for the people of Australia. Before assigning copyright, I created the authentic digital representation of the flag, which I have minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) on December 21, 2021, to commemorate the 50th year of the flag, acknowledging the potential of NFTs in the digital art world. I will hold the NFT on an ongoing basis, on behalf of Indigenous communities.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange allowed to seek appeal against extradition to the US (CNN)

Lebanon’s former PM Saad Hariri suspends political career (Al Jazeera)

NATO steps up readiness in Eastern Europe to reassure allies (The New York Times)

Google deceived users about location tracking, new suit alleges (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Burkina Faso President Kabore ‘detained’ by mutinous soldiers (Al Jazeera)

[Former pope] Benedict admits being at meeting about priest accused of abuse (The New York Times)

Syria prison attack shows ISIL ‘absolutely’ growing stronger (Al Jazeera)

Bataclan survivor shocked as surgeon tries to sell her X-ray as NFT (The Guardian)

Pakistan’s first female Supreme Court judge sworn in (BBC)

Thierry Mugler: French fashion designer dies aged 73 (BBC)

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • The state and territory recipients in the 2022 Australian of the Year Awards will have morning tea at The Lodge with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese will speak to the National Press Club, a pre-election speech where he’s expected to expand on his vision for the country.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Journalist Stan Grant and Centre for Independent Studies’ Indigenous forum director Warren Mundine will get together to chat about issues facing Indigenous Australians. You can watch this on YouTube too — organisers say it’ll be added to the channel afterwards.

  • Learn the basics of using Adobe Photoshop at a free workshop in Cabramatta, in Sydney’s west.