Australia Day brings on a stoush

A cross post:

It isn’t a quiz answer from the film Slumdog Millionaire but January 26 is one of India’s national days celebrating independence from colonial Britain. It is also Australia Day. The difference is that our day is the anniversary of European occupation in 1788, known by many as invasion day.

An online debate about the appropriateness of this date was already simmering before indigenous leader Mick Dobson was named Australian of the Year on 25 January 2009.

More at: Global Voices

Kevin Rennie

124 Responses

  1. Kevin, that’s a good summary of the debate across the blogosphere but I don’t there is sufficient political heat to contemplate a change. However, I suspect there would be one hell of a backlash if a change of date was proposed by those who had the power to so do.

    Hate to say it, but I think most Australians just simply like the holiday and it comes at a good time in the year.

    BTW, what do you think? What’s your position?

  2. I urge everyone to go to the link that Kevin supplied to Global Voices. His full article is very very good and thought provoking.

  3. Nature 5

    The Global Voices roundups are supposed to be objective so I can’t include a viewpoint there.

    I agree that there isn’t enough momentum for a change. Perhaps after we become a republic we can focus on such national symbols.

    Chris Graham of the National Indigenous Times has a Crikey piece today: Black promises are little white lies Not sure if it’s subscription only.

  4. Thanks Kevin for including a reference to may article on my blog about Australia day – a celebration of genocide.

    I wonder if other people are becoming tired of this ‘drape ourselves in the flag hooliganism?’ Manly yesterday exemplified this when a gang of young people attacked Asians in the street, all while wearing the Australian flag.

    I think it says something about our psyche – namely that we are still a racist nation. Indeed the fact our nation is built on the bones of Aborigines means that racism is in part inherent in many sectors. I suspect that as the recession deepens this racism will increase.

  5. John Passant,

    “I wonder if other people are becoming tired of this ‘drape ourselves in the flag hooliganism?’”

    Certainly I am.

    “we are still a racist nation”

    Most definitely. But can you provide a contrary example?

    “I suspect that as the recession deepens this racism will increase.”

    Undoubtedly! The underlying tensions whether they be best explained in terms of ‘race’, ‘culture’, ‘class’ and the like will be exacerbated.

  6. Contrary examples – the march for reconciliation; the apology for the stolen generations (although it doesn’t add action to the words), the opposition from many sections of society tot eh NT invasion, the 1967 referendum, support for Mabo, a treaty etc etc. I am sure we can add many more.

  7. You bring good points Mr Passant, but the flag is not the cause, the stem is where the hatred came from and how it was decoded into violence.
    Racism is only know to those who are racist(often in denial) and the victim of it, the rest is in between on a cloud of normality.
    A stupid point of mine is, once as a child i watched these things on movies only(school of 89), now its reality. why are we so desensitized to watch or hurt.
    (another attempt at a serious comment)

  8. “I think it says something about our psyche – namely that we are still a racist nation. ”

    What a load of s**t. We are a far more tolerant nation than plenty of others in this world. Extrapolating the psyche of Australia from the actions of a few drunk tossers is something only a lefty idiot would do.

  9. We must be living in different countries pete.

    I live in Australia.

  10. pete

    I agree we are a far more tolerant nation than most others on earth. The “Racist” word is now being used by all and sundry to blame someone else for their own illegal actions if they are arrested or charged under the nations laws.

    Was there racsim in the past yes. Is there racism now, yes but it is a minute part of our country.

    People on this blogsite demand that we not brand all muslims as terrorists due to the actions of a few extremists. Well how about those bloggers also stop this rot of claiming we are a racist nation because of the actions of a few extremists and realise that the absolute vast majority of australians are not racist.
    What they are upset about is the abuse of our laws by those who migrate here and bring with them their own racial hatreds.

    Want an example look at the disgraceful actions of the tennis supporters in Brisbane as a result of ethnic lines in their homeland. Don’t bring it here.

    I have many friends of all races including aboriginal

    I will however detest anyone who steals an $1,800 lawn mower from my elderly parents that i purchased for them as it was self propelled, throws dog shit in bags in flames at the walls of my parents home, bashes the walls of my parents home to terrify them. Steals all of the lights out of my parents yard. Smashes down the back fences of my parents yard. Then uses their own legal team paid for with MY taxes to defend themselves and take up racist law suits against the police officers in the town. The fear of my family in testifying knowing full well the outcome if they do.

  11. Shane

    I understand your rage, and that is a very important point. I do not think that there is a major racism problem in Australia, but I still think it does exist and that it must be eliminated.

    And I think that the only way that racism can be eliminated is through education. When you learn that everyone is the same in the world, the reasons to be racist then dissappear.

  12. Joni @ 9:44.

    Excellent comments joni.

  13. Joni

    Everyone is the same, what I can no longer stand is the accusations of racism thrown in my face when it is fine for others to call me and my parents white c**ts. I have NEVER called anyone a black C**t or anything else for that matter as I don’t belive in doing that.

    If I did I would be up on charges of racism and slander and it would be world news.

    Yet others can call me what they like and then use a legal team paid for by my taxes to defend their racist remarks against me and claim they were not being racist.

    Racism is not solely a term to be used against anglo saxons, yet it seems to be the weapon of choice by any other race to attack anglo saxons and this is a disgrace.

    It works both ways yet it only seems the bleeding hearts support one side of the argument.

    Responsibility for your own actions is also required. We can educate all we like. Take a look at the roads, we all know speeding and drink driving are wrong and there is millions thorwn at the way way of education campaigns and media blitzes, yet it still happens.

  14. My problem is: when is one considered to be a dinky-di Aussie? For example in the US one can be an Afro-American, a native American or a Chinese American..however, still all Americans. Yet in Australia one might be a 3rd generation Aussie, but you’re still a Leb.

  15. Min

    In my eyes you are aussie from when you arrived and became a citizen or from when you are born here. I think it is a tragedy for Americans to call themselves anything other than Amercian. I don’t hear of African Australians, or Chinese Australians. They are simply Australians and rightly so. I think bringing an ethnic heritage to the addition of your own country simply serves no other purpose than to isolate and separate citizens who otherwise should be all called one name. Yes remember your heritage and be proud of it, but acknowledge you live in a different country by becoming solely a citizen of that country. I am not bitza australian. I am Australian.

    Regarding racism our small country town had the worst experience of racism when the chinese family that were loved by the town for over 80 years and regarded as being dinky die aussies, disowned one of their sons because he married a white local girl. The son still lives in the town with his wife but was ostracised from his family and lost his inheritance worth many millions. the son and his wife are much loved by the town. Now thats racism.

  16. Ah yes Shane and I agree I do not like the American habit of categorising their citizens according to ethnic origin however, at least they are recognised as Americans. This compares with Australians who could be 2nd or 4th or 6th generation but who are still labelled as wogs/wops/Lebs.

    Shane, you of course are one of the good people..but not everyone is the same.

  17. MIn

    They are recognised as African, Italian, Mexican or whatever first as the name is placed before American. Yet it was these races that decided to call themselves these names.

    Agree but there are by far many more good people in Australia than bad, yet the old racist card is thrown around at will these days and it has to stop.

    Regarding lebs, wops or wogs the only ones I have witnessed calling them these names is their own race young ones calling themselves lebs or whatever when, they get interviewed on the TV and they state I’m a Leb and proud of it. I have no doubt there is racism in Australia but the amount of racism pales into insignificance compared to the acceptance of all races and religions by the overwhelming majority of our citizens.

  18. And cuddles to a Leb. Hubby is a wog aka an Australian whose grandfather was an Italian.

    Daughter E has hair about the same as our beautiful Angel’s. This is not from the Italian side of the family but from the Irish side. E had been to the dentist and had a scarf wrapped around her head due to the anesthetic. She was spat on and had rocks thrown at her by several males.

  19. Min

    What year was she spat on and where abouts ?

  20. Shane, write to me privately. I am at minunderscorekelpie at yahoo dot com do au

  21. Shane, check your Inbox 🙂

  22. I did Min 🙂

  23. Shane, I think that I may have mucked it up and sent a large mega something or another into your inbox. Sorry.

  24. I’m not certain that we could reasonably be described as a “racist” nation. If a racist nation is one where various groups of people identify themselves by their racial heritage (albeit the groups representing a huge minority of that particular racial heritage), including those identifying themselves as “Aussies”, go about waging street violence against others identifiable by their racial heritage, then racist we most certainly are, at least as much because of the various ethnicly identifiable groups not classing themselves as “Aussie” as those that do. If we are talking about the majority of the population that, on the contrary, celebrate our nation’s multiculturalism by their dining habits, their expressed concern for the well being of their fellow humans regardless of race etc etc, then we are not. I don’t think it’s helpful to express what happened to Aboriginals as “genocide”. It wasn’t and it inflames the sort of racism, from both directions, that most of us would like to see disappear. Nor does it help for stupid emails to be sent around self congratulating “Aussies” and inviting unhappy residents to leave. Further, I don’t think it helps for well meaning people, including politicians, to be branded racist when trying to find solutions to quite awful problems which are certainly peculiar, or at least unusually prevalent in, a group of people with a particular racial heritage. We are a multicultural society. That requires that all of us, for the sake of harmony, to show a far greater degree of tolerance than is perhaps natural. Some find this more difficult than others. Thankfully, most seem able to achieve it and I’d prefer the media to spend less time giving credence to those that fail, or simply don’t try.

  25. I agree with many things that you say James, however what we did to the Aboriginal people was indeed genocide, the definition being trying to obliterate a race of people.

  26. Min

    Nothing wrong at the in box 🙂

  27. James

    Agree the media has a lot to answer for in creating tension and hysterical footage all in the name of a story.

    Why not report the good things ?. Oh thats right it doesn’t create sensation.

    Never have I ever heard the media report “Today was a great day and we have nothing negative to report”. If there is nothing bad to report in Australia they scoure the world to find the worst stories and then call it journalism. I thought journalism and the news reports good and bad but we seem to get 99% bad and 1% good.

  28. Min, the treatment by white settlers of Aboriginal people in many cases was undoubtedly deplorable by today’s standards. The term genocide carries the picture of rounding up every member of a race and slaughtering them en masse. It implies a totality that was never present. Many white (for want of a better adjective) Australians, whilst acknowledging the poor behaviour of their ancestors, object to this language because of its extreme connotation. This causes them to in some cases adopt an often extreme opposite position. In that context, it might be best to use a more appropriate term. Reconciliation won’t succeed if you require too extreme a mea culpa from one side.

  29. Two recent examples of that, Shane.

    For the last decade I’ve watched in dismay as a poor young teenage girl has been belted from pillar to post by a boorish, racist, pig of a father, who embarrassed her, mistreated her and held her out to the ridicule of an intolerant, unsympathetic public. Finally this young girl got up the courage to stand up and walk away from her abusive father, deal with the resultant mental issues, and return an unqualified success. Far from celebrating this brave achievement, and holding it as an inspiration for abused women everywhere, the media headline was something to do with links to a drug dealer. Jelena Dokic, what an effing legend!

    Also, have a look at the article in about Ian Thorpe today. It is disgusting in the extreme. No explanation necessary. Talk about an industry with little social conscience, that hides behind the right to free speech that is a foundation of freedom itself!!

  30. I just wrote this email to’s feedback line

    “Just wanted to say that your article about Ian Thorpe that I read online today is disgusting in the extreme. It goes a long way to explaining much of what is wrong with this country today. The achievement of your fiscal objectives regardless of the social cost. I hope the author and editor of this piece feel very proud.”

    I’ll let you know if I get a response…

  31. I agree with many things that you say James, however what we did to the Aboriginal people was indeed genocide, the definition being trying to obliterate a race of people. (Min).

    This is the only post I’ve read on this thread and it is spot on. I look forward to joining in after work some time. I’m guessing that there are some objections to Min’s views.

  32. James of North Melbourne: The term genocide carries the picture of rounding up every member of a race and slaughtering them en masse. It implies a totality that was never present.

    To the contrary James, most forms of genocide are via stealth. Examples include banning religions, banning marriages, banning education, banning the native language. Excluding people from voting. And this is just in Australia.

  33. Yoo Hoo, where is Midweek Mayhem? Or are you blokes still busy partying? I had to check the calendar and it is indeed Wednesday.

  34. Min, with respect, the term “genocide” has been in existence only since 1948 and is quite specific in its definition, and doesn’t include much of what you have stated in your definition.

    Certainly “stealth” doesn’t come into it, and certainly “intent” does. It is a very difficult charge to establish and many atrocities fall well short of its definition, despite the horror of the atrocity. That’s why I consider it unhelpful language.

  35. To the contrary James. I believe that an understanding that genocide isn’t necessarily an overt violent action but via incidious actions/reactions does indeed extend one’s understanding regarding the term ‘genocide’.

    See..I can talk clever too 😉
    Apologies, the devil made me do it.

  36. The term genocide carries the picture of rounding up every member of a race and slaughtering them en masse. It implies a totality that was never present. Many white (for want of a better adjective) Australians, whilst acknowledging the poor behaviour of their ancestors, object to this language because of its extreme connotation.

    What sounds nicer for the comfort of sensitive white Australians then, those who can’t bear to be confronted with the brutal reality of the word genocide? Would they prefer:

    deliberate and systematic destruction?
    mass killing?
    wholesale slaughter?
    destroy the existence of?

    The term genocide didn’t exist until 1944, it was invented following the holocaust. In the Nuremberg trials, top Nazi’s were charged with genocide described as:

    “[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

    All of the above happened to Aboriginal Australians at the hands of the white settlers, but just don’t call it genocide, ‘cos white Australians today, know their ancestors didn’t mean it, even though they did it!

    Poor behaviour? Genocide is much more than that.

  37. Sorry, forgot to link

  38. James

    So the massacre of the Armenians in 1933 does not class as genocide because the term had not been coined yet?

  39. Joni, I thought the massacre of Armenians happened during WW1 but it matters not, it was acknowledged genocide. That the term was only coined around 1948 (or perhaps 1944) doesn’t mean that it cannot be applied retrospectively. It simply means that its definition remains quite specific, and the treatment of Aboriginals by white settlers does not fall within its definition. Even Henry Reynolds says that the Tasmanian Aboriginals, probably the most extreme example of what we’re talking about, were not the victims of genocide. But we’re getting bogged down on one aspect of what was a much broader point about what is a racist nation. And I even threw in my idea of a beginning of a solution.

    Kittylitter, do you ever write anything that is not laced with the foul smell of vitriol and spite? What I wrote was an opinion expressed positively and uncontroversially and didn’t warrant your sarcastic, contemptuous response.

  40. back to Miss Klemm’s Class 1 English. You wrote ‘Do YOU ever write anything…’. Back to the naughty corner to do clear thinking exercises.

    One must never use the word YOU in a sentence but only as an object but never as a subject. Basic english.

    James you are wrong. Kitty was addressing the issues and made no personal comments towards yourself. You have made an attempt to transform Kitty’s worthy response into a personal attack against yourself. This isn’t going to happen.

  41. and the treatment of Aboriginals by white settlers does not fall within its definition.

    Says who, white Australians, white Australian historians and jurists?
    The people who see themselves and set themselves up as experts, and the conservative white legalistic types who only want the question framed in a way that discounts the oral and lived history of Aborigines themselves? What of the Aboriginal viewpoint?

    The charges were made in
    Bringing them Home: Report of the Forced Separation of Aboriginal Children from their Families (1997)

    Getting Over the Genocide Question:
    Australia and the Stolen Generations Debates

    “…As early as 1969 Aboriginal leaders were claiming that assimilation was a failed policy “which amounts to cultural genocide” (National Tribal Council, “Policy Manifesto” 1969, 13). Nearly twenty years later Kevin Gilbert introduced the personal narratives in the anthology of black writing, Inside Black Australia (1988), as documents to Human Rights violations amounting to cultural genocide (xxi). In the decade of the 1980s some Australian historians came to similar conclusions, beginning with Peter Read’s seminal 1981 essay “The Stolen Generation”. These prior references, however, carried little weight or legitimacy within the larger White Australian community.

    2. All this changed with the release of the Bringing them Home Report. There, as part of a nine page section on ‘International Human Rights’, the Report claims, “the Australian practice of Indigenous child removal involved both systematic racial discrimination and genocide as defined by international law” (266). Coming from a national Human Rights and Equal Opportunity inquiry, and chaired by a respected former High Court judge, the Report had clout…

    …12. This contrasts markedly with the legal, historical and political debates in Australia, which are carried on almost exclusively within and among members of the white settler nation. Historians and jurists become the “experts” while Indigenous commentators remain sidelined….
    …Instead of asking how Indigenous experience fits into white Australian history, we might begin to consider how White Australians fit into the history of separation…”

    I wasn’t aware that I was being sarcastic James, contemptuous maybe, but not to you personally (so don’t take it that way), more for the need to whitewash history so the ‘white blindfold’ brigade can feel OK about Aboriginal genocide.

  42. “The term genocide carries the picture of rounding up every member of a race and slaughtering them en masse”

    Google, & read up on, the trials & tribulations of Raphael Lemkin; the man who “coined” the term & devoted the majority of his adult life (only moderately successfully thanks to hinderance from the US) trying to ensure that such semantics couldn’t be used to mask the crime…they still are.

    “Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as

    …any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
    – Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2[2]”


    “Joni, I thought the massacre of Armenians happened during WW1 but it matters not, it was acknowledged genocide.”

    There are STILL those who refuse to officially recognise the Armenian genocide, & their number is filled by those with political & strategic allegiance to Turkey…some of whom are (shamefully, & against their better principles) large Western democracies.

  43. So what is the term for a state rounding up a whole bloodline and executing them???

    I think genocide is too loosely termed in our society and I don’t see why anyone that has emigrated here in the last century should shoulder any blame or feel any guilt because of what happened at all!!!

  44. Scaps..and you family emigrated when? You say within the last century. My family arrived over 150 years ago first to SA then to Victoria.

    My grandmother used to feed the lubras and the kids at the kitchen door when the were trying to take the children. She also hid them in the barn.

  45. Min, the roaring twenties…just enough time to get settled before the great depression.

    Just my grandparents as the rest were slaughtered in Russia.

  46. So when your grandies were escaping the carnage in Russia, my grandmother was a midwife in Victoria helping the people, the lubras and the kids escape much of the same.

  47. Is Lubra an aboriginal word or made up by the whites?

  48. James, is this not genocide?

    European ideas had a major influence on Australian political and intellectual life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s. Herbert Spencer’s theory of social evolution – based on Darwin’s concept of natural selection – was accepted by nineteenth century Australians as justification for their treatment of the Aborigines. Central to the theory was the ideology that the Aborigines, who were considered to be less evolved, faced extinction under the impact of European colonisation. Behavioural and physical characteristics were evidence of their alleged ‘primitive’ state. Government policies reflected this ideology.

    Protection policies were short term palliative measures of placing Aboriginal people in reserves, void of European contact, to await their eventual demise. However nature had not yet selected Aborigines for extinction – only the colonisers had – and the policy of protection underwent a subtle change to segregation. This policy legitimised and institutionalised racism.

    Concerned at the threat of ‘impurity’ to the white race as a result of the growing number of ‘mixed bloods,’ the policy of assimilation was adopted in an effort to breed out Aboriginality. These long term measures included the horrific practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families and assimilating them into European culture.

    Herbert Spencer’s theory of evolution in the social sciences (known as Social Darwinism), emerged as a major component of western views about race. Spencer, a laissez-faire liberal argued that societies evolve from simple to more complex forms based on Darwin’s concept of natural selection – survival of the fittest. The image of Aborigines in the nineteenth century was ‘remarkably consistent’ with this theory. The laws of evolution, it was confidently assumed, were pushing the race to the brink of extinction. There was little that could be done about it.

    Evolution and survival of the fittest, per se, produced a set of ideas which were very attractive to colonial societies in the nineteenth century. It helped justify colonialism and the doctrine that Aborigines would ‘disappear under the impact of civilisation. It supported the ideal of white dominance and the biological inferiority of the dominated. It also justified and legitimised racism.

    The task was not to find out whether the Aborigine was inferior to the European – this was already known – it was instead a task of confirmation, of mustering up the evidence . . . In this regard, the Australian Aborigine was the victim of an intellectual hiatus, for the theories of social, physical and mental evolution of man had acted as what was aptly called ‘an intellectual resting place’.

    Early applications of this theory were observed in the behaviour of the Aborigines. Behaviour, it was argued, that was driven by instinct and without the habits of forethought or providence. For example, their instinctive mating habits and the eating of raw meats – to an ethnocentric observer – clearly represented diminished intellectual development.

    The relationship between the colonisers and the Aborigines was also based on the social evolutionary theories. These theories, as mentioned, justified European colonialism, to which can be further added the justification of oppressive practices towards the Aborigines founded on their own perceptions of racial superiority.

    Destruction of the weak was the only way to assure success for the strong. Disease and ill health of the Aborigines and the impending extinction of the Tasmanian ‘natives’ provided no better confirmation to the ideology of Social Darwinism. Government policy making at the turn of the century embraced these beliefs. Policies built on such ideals have effectively contributed to Aboriginal dispossession and disadvantage. Three of the major policies were protection; segregation and assimilation.

    Protection was influenced by the evolutionary theory that Aborigines would die out as a result of European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done for them was to feed and protect them until their inevitable demise. The policy thus took on short term palliative measures that saw enforced concentration of Aborigines in reserves and missions – protected from European contact and abuse – to await unguided their closing hour.

    This policy, ‘to smooth the dying pillow’ was a humane one in terms of the assumptions upon which it was based. However the administrators eventually and willingly used protection policies as a device for social engineering and control. The policies of protection had changed its fundamental goal to segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: Aborigines were a dying race so they were protected from the wider community; the Aboriginal race had failed to die off, so they were segregated from the wider community.

    The social theories that legitimised and institutionalised racism were never more evident than in the practices of segregation. Segregation created two social and political worlds in Australia: one white and one black. Whilst the Aboriginal race had ‘ignored’ extinction, government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the 1940s they had still failed to progress since European contact. Sentiment thus ruled that continued segregation of the Aborigines from the wider community would ensure white racial purity.

    Segregation was pervasive in all aspects of public or political life. Church or social organisations discouraged Aboriginal participation, and access to community facilities such as swimming pools or theatres were severely restricted, if not refused altogether. Custom in many business establishments was also refused for fear of offending the white clientele. Perhaps the most damning indicator of this racism, however, was the neglect of medical treatment and health services by white practitioners. Policies of segregation were to degenerate into practises of apartheid when, in South Australia for example, association between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people became a criminal offence under Section 14 of the Police Offences Act 1953.

    The policies of protection and segregation were continued even though the Aborigines had not faced their closing hour. ‘Full-bloods’ remained on reserves until their demise, yet the problem for the government came in the form of the ‘half-caste’. The government worried that a group of people who looked increasingly like white people but lived and behaved like Aboriginal people was developing. To counter this trend some argued that people of mixed descent should be assimilated into the general population.

    Assimilation of the lighter-caste population was still an endeavour to destroy Aboriginality: by absorbing them into the wider community it was hoped that they would eventually disappear. This breeding out of the colour, the process of genetic change – to the pleasure of the dominant society – was possible without detriment to the white race.’ A radical suggestion that selective mating would breed out the colour was also proposed.

    Of the endless record of horrors associated with colonisation and racial supremacy, some of the assimilation policies adopted in the 1950s equal the worst. In particular the taking of children away from their families by the Protection Board – as their legal guardians – and disposing of them as they saw fit. As a prelude to the recent Reconciliation Convention, the federal government reflected on this practice: Children were taken away under government policies of protection and assimilation aimed at having Indigenous people adopt European culture and behaviour to the exclusion of their family and background. The assimilation policy presumed that, over time, Indigenous people would die out or be so mixed with the European population they became indistinguishable.

  49. Well illustrated miglo! definitive IMHO.

  50. TB, a Portscum with a brain must surprise you.

  51. A human first…a portscum for reasons unknown & unimportant. Never have doubted the presence of a healthy brain.

  52. James

    The Bringing them Home Report says clearly that the treatment of the Stolen Generations was genocide. I suggest you have a look at that report to see what genocide means. Roland Wilson, one of the authors, is no radical – he’s a former judge.

    That is just in relation to removing aboriginal children from their families with the intent to assimilate them.

    The original invasion drove aboriginal people off their land and destroyed their lives, culture etc. That’s genocide.

    This idea that this language is too extreme is wrong. It is a truthful language. We should not deny our past and those who claim we shouldn’t describe our foundations as based on the bones of the aboriginal people are hiding from the truth. There can be no unity while this truth, and it present day consequences (such as a 17 year life expectancy gap) continue.

  53. I see that 2% of the population is Aboriginal so it was attempted genocide in my opinion.

  54. “intent to assimilate them” would perhaps disqualify a definition of genocide in my opinion.

    Moving on from that, I was kinda making a broader point…..which appears to have been missed.

  55. Moving on from that, I was kinda making a broader point…..which appears to have been missed.

    Care to elaborate James?

  56. John Passant, on January 27th, 2009 at 11:00 pm said in response to my general point re:

    “But can you provide a contrary example?”

    I was thinking about all societies/cultures that by definition are ethnocentric to a greater or lesser degree.

    Do you think that Australians are at the extreme end of the spectrum? If so, more to the left or the right? And where do Aborigines sit on the ethnocentric continuum, given my original assumption that all ‘cultures’ are ethnocentric’.

    I should say that a ‘racist’ stance is much more damaging to a minority group than it is for the dominant group.

  57. the kilcoy massacre(all those deaths for revenge by a farmer), comes to mind.

  58. scaper…, on January 28th, 2009 at 5:17 pm Said:

    I think genocide is too loosely termed in our society and I don’t see why anyone that has emigrated here in the last century should shoulder any blame or feel any guilt because of what happened at all!!!

    There’s no blame to shoulder, but people shouldn’t deny it happened.

    Also, some of the racist policies which so severely decimated Aboriginal people and their culture have only recently been corrected. Voting rights were only granted in 1962, and Aborigines were only given full citizenship rights in 1967. this is all in our current living memory. Land ownership – the Mabo decision came down as recently as 1992. You must forgive Aboriginal people for not ‘getting their act together’ yet, they have a lot of catching up to do.

    We have no need to feel guilt, but we could feel a little empathy for a people who have not been in control of their own lives and livelihood until recent times. Some understanding of families who still weep for the children that were taken away, the children who suffered and still suffer from the trauma of the removal and just can’t ‘move on’. A little sadness that many Australians donate money to the poor and needy overseas, yet totally ignore the plight of our own Aborigines, some even dare to resent the assistance that they do get.

    “there is no greater injustice than to treat unequal people equally”
    (someone might be kind enough to inform me of whom I’m quoting here)

  59. kittylitter, on January 29th, 2009 at 2:36 am

    Aristotle…proportional equality.

  60. Miglo, yesterday at 2.28pm.

  61. Kitty our family already support a World Vision child in Africa and so I phoned World Vision about Aboriginal children/communities..and yes there is ‘a rule’ against it.

  62. James, correct me if I’m wrong, but is your argument over the use of the word “genocide”? My claim is that the intention of the colonisers and governments was to wipe Aboriginal people off the face of the earth, however way it could be done.

    This is a much more important argument than the interpretation of one single word.

    Are you in denial?

  63. Am I in denial? Miglo, I directed you to my original post and you have brought it back once again to an argument over the use of the term genocide. Denial in your context assumes a “blindness to the facts” so if you can point me to any facts that support your contention that “the intention of the colonisers and governments was to wipe Aboriginal people off the face of the earth, however way it could be done” I would be particularly interested. Not opinions, facts. Remember also that your statement is all encompassing. It doesn’t say “some governments” or even “many governments”. It says “the colonisers and governments”. So easy to disprove yet you ask if I am “in denial”. Please read my original post.

  64. Thanks legion.

    That’s interesting min, what is their (world Vision’s) reasoning? Could it be something about already getting government assistance so not seen to be as needy?

  65. one was forthcoming with informtion from World Vision. However reading between the lines, the suggestion was that 3rd world conditions ‘do not exist’ in Australia.

  66. hehe, I just had a read from that link legion, you know what? It was just just like talking to you!
    Did you swallow the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy? 🙂

  67. James, I am obviously wasting my time with you.

  68. James,

    This is from your first post where you mention genocide.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to express what happened to Aboriginals as “genocide”. It wasn’t and it inflames the sort of racism, from both directions, that most of us would like to see disappear.

    Now – I think that a few of the blogocrats have provided ample detail that what did occur certainly falls under the terms of what genocide was intended to mean. Which is why we use that term.

    I understand that you are reluctant to use that term, but to then say that it is up to Miglo to provide “facts” that the policy was deliberate and was documented as such is a bit rough.

  69. Thanks Joni. I thought that might lengthy blog last night had provided this to James.

    Maybe it was too long for him to read. I have noticed that his attention span is limited.

  70. Joni, be a bit fair please. I was making the point that inflammatory behaviour from all parts of the debate on racism fuels racism rather than dampens it. The use of the term “genocide” even if some believe its use is appropriate, does nothing to bring parties together. Nor do emails being circulated inviting racial groups to exercise their right to leave if they don’t like our country. I thought the post was pretty balanced yet I’ve been dragged into a debate on the meaning of the word “genocide” with no prospect of resolution of the broader point unless I agree to their definition. Miglo makes my broader point for me, really. The email I received, if the individual points are taken in isolation, is largely correct. I’m sure many have received it. I’ll forward it to you. However, the email also fuels racial hatred, therefore it is unhelpful. I am saying that to achieve harmony, all parties need to give some ground. Miglo, as an example will give not an inch. He insists on the use of the term “genocide”, which has a quite narrow and specific definition, of which “intent” is a fundamental part, I’m just pointing out that to use the term, it really does need to be established that the “intent” was there. Now it looks like I’m arguing against Aboriginal reconciliation. I’m not. In my original post, I placed myself slap bang in the middle of the opposing parties.

    And this is the thing. I watch in absolute despair as family members, communities, political parties, and nations refuse to give ground in the resolution of their differences. It happens at every level. A simple refusal to look at things from the other perspective in order to achieve a resolution. And look at the damage everywhere that results. And it’s getting worse.

  71. Fact is: there was a generation of people ‘stolen’ or removed because they were half castes. Fact is: this was done as a decision of government. Fact is: the reasoning behind this was that it was decided that the Aboriginal people were ‘too primitive’ to survive in a modern society however half and quarter castes might make excellent house servants and farm hands. Fact is: this is the reason why one sibling might have been taken while a brother or sister wasn’t. It was all to do with the color of the skin, that is darker siblings weren’t taken.

    James, I am certain that you didn’t see much of this in North Melbourne but my grandies in northern Victoria and Miglo’s family certainly did. As I have stated previously my grandmother hid children in her barn who were at risk of being stolen.

  72. James, where did I insist on the use of the word genocide?

  73. James

    I do understand. Honestly.

    And I completely agree that you are in favour of reconciliation.

    And the bigger point is how do we achieve that.

    I think I said yesterday that the sooner that we all realise that we are all the same, the sooner that we can eliminate the reasons for conflict.

    Solve the cause not the symptom.

  74. the suggestion was that 3rd world conditions ‘do not exist’ in Australia.

    yeah, out of sight, out of mind.

    james and everyone,

    One of the definitions of genocide is:

    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    I only have to read the Minutes of the 1937 “breed the colour out” conference, to know that it was official government policy (which BTW, has been admitted by Rudd). A.O. Neville was a Protector of Aborigines and his view was that the full bloods left alone would die out and half caste or mixed breed children should be forcibly removed from their mothers and assimilated into white society.

    Mr. NEVILLE.—We have had much the same difficulty in Western Australia. Every administration has trouble with half-caste girls. I know of 200 or 300 girls, however, in Western Australia who have gone into domestic service and the majority are doing very well. Our policy is to send them out into the white
    community, and if a girl comes back pregnant our rule is to keep her for two years. The child is then taken away from the mother and sometimes never sees her again. Thus these children grow up as whites, knowing nothing of their own environment.

    At the expiration of the period of two years the mother goes back into service so it really does not matter if she has half a dozen children. Our new legislation makes it an offence for a white man to have sexual intercourse with a colored girl.

    LATELINE (14/02/2008)

    TONY JONES: To breed Aboriginality out of half cast children and have them be absorbed back into the white community physically?

    KEVIN RUDD: As discomforting as all of that is to those of us of humane and reasoned disposition, I think that just needed to be said, ’cause that’s what the protector of natives said explicitly, I think that was back in the ’30s, and I just think the nation just needed to confront that head on. It’s ugly, it’s not pretty, it’s discomforting it’s uncomfortable, but I think any part of a healing process for Australia means having a pretty no holes barred rendition of what happened and, therefore, where we need to move on to.

  75. James of North Melbourne, on January 29th, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Argument to moderation

  76. Apologies for the lengthy cut & paste, and the smiley was unintended!

    My post crossed with yours james. I see your reasoning, but can you tell me why it is so important for some Australians to deny the word genocide – what is so unacceptable about a word, when the actual deed has already been established?

  77. Thank you Kitty. I had a feeling that you might be here.

  78. “what is so unacceptable about a word, when the actual deed has already been established?” – kittylitter.

    Exactly what I’ve been trying to say. Thankyou for saying it for me kitty.

  79. Kitty and Miglo, my own perspective is that I cannot come to believing that settlers on the whole had as an objective the complete annihilation of the Aboriginal people. Certain individuals may have, maybe some in govt in WA did. Many, almost all, people, logically or illogically, prefer to honour the memory of their ancestors. This applies across all races. Many on the “white” (not right) side of the debate will simply refuse to acknowledge that their grandparents were complicit in an act of genocide. So there you have an almost insurmountable obstacle to reconciliation.

  80. James

    You are asking for the victims of genocide to “give ground.” Would you ask the same of the Jewish people?

    This idea that there is a middle ground, while well intentioned, ignores the reality of life from 1788 for aboriginal people and for our society, which has at its centre the idea that Australia was uninhabited and so could be claimed for Britain, irrespective of the fact that hundreds of thousands of aboriginal people actually lived here. ( Mabo changed this in 1992(?) but the reality is that we were founded on that principle). This in and of itself is genocide, since that intent – Aborigines do not exist as a people and so can be ignored – became coupled with practice – driving the aboriginal people off their land, destroying their lives and their culture.

    So while your intentions may be admirable, you are actually asking aboriginal people to give up what has been stolen from them, to accept the genocide and shut up and stop whining and carrying on.

    This reinforces the dominant Anglo-Celtic culture in Australia.

    I’m still not sure what you meant by contrary examples, but I wonder if you have read about colonial settler states. They have a common theme. From the US, to Australia, to South Africa to Israel, the theme is the same – the land is empty (except for a few ‘backward’ groups who don’t really count) and the land is ours to take, to dominate and exploit, by driving the original inhabitants away, or at least off the fertile and productive bits of the land. On this economic base a whole range of ideological justifications rise – terra nullius, there are no Palestinians, apartheid. Terra nullius and the impatcs of 221 years of genocide or its consequnces spills easily into racism in current day Australia.

    I think aboriginal people are quite justified in saying if you want to be inclusive, don’t celebrate invasion day. Pick another day, if there is one. And let’s get serious about a treaty and reparations for the genocide, something the bringing them Home report recommended, but Howard and Rudd (the HowRudd continuity) have both rejected, and that’s just for the stolen generations.

    As Peter Garrett used to sing – it belongs to them, let’s pay the rent.

    That would require non-aboriginal Australia recognising that its present wealth is built on the genocide of aborigines (and the consequences of that genocide today) and making recompense for that. Aborigines do not have to move to that position, or give anything away; non-aboriginal Australia does.

  81. Kittylitter, did you read all of those minutes to which you linked? If you did, I am absolutely staggered that you could conclude that those minutes are proof or even evidence of genocide.

  82. John

    HowRudd…. how perfect.

  83. James of North Melbourne, on January 29th, 2009 at 12:19 pm Said:
    Kitty and Miglo, my own perspective is that I cannot come to believing that settlers on the whole had as an objective the complete annihilation of the Aboriginal people…

    James. Imagine a time in history and you might choose a parcel of prime land, either as a squatter or as a selector. There were Aboriginals on ‘your’ you bring out the big guns, poison their water supply, call the constables until these people are driven from Your Land.

    And so the people were made to leave their homelands and to go where?

    And remember, there were no treaties as per Canadian and American indigenous peoples as due to Terra Nullis our people were classed as non-people. In the US you have for example the Sioux Nation and in NZ the Maori Nations whereas our people were never given the status of ‘nation’.

  84. John Passant, you are missing my point, and perhaps deliberately so. I agree that 26th January is an inappropriate day to celebrate Australia Day. I am about to commence a Law degree so I can combine that skill with my financial qualifications to help out disadvantaged people in a few years time. Including and especially Aboriginals. I am inspired to do this by my brother and his work with the Clontarf Foundation. And inspired by a general depression with the financial industry as a whole, well documented in other threads. Why do I feel as though I need to justify myself? Because I am feeling pigeon-holed as some sort of “denialist”. I simply said the term was unhelpful in achieving reconciliation. Removing unnecessary sticking points is not “false moderation”, but is about finding a way forward. Funny, in the strange not humourous sense, that I am being asked or expected to adopt a concept that I simply don’t believe, much as the church had the same expectation of me when I was younger. I don’t believe in original sin, and I don’t believe that the broad objective of white settlers and governments was the ultimate destruction of the Aboriginal people. It may have been the outcome in many cases, but it wasn’t the objective from the many texts that I have read, including the “Bringing them home” report and the minutes Kitty linked earlier. But it matters not what I believe. I am one person. It’s a much broader population that needs to be convinced of the terms of reconciliation, which if it is to be reconciliation in the real sense must be actively adopted by all rather than forced upon all.

  85. Just once in a blue moon Miranda Devine has something reasonable to say..


    In the end, the debate is all moot because as soon as the Queen dies and King Charles takes the throne, Australia will rush screaming to a republic and our national day will be whatever day we choose to make it happen.

  86. John Passant @ 12.22pm

    Good comments.

    What is the amount of recompense you suggest and how should it be paid ?.

  87. Shane recompense doesn’t have to come in $ terms although a regular garbage collection/water and sewerage connected to houses/enough seats in school houses/public transport (even if just once a day) might be good for starters.

    The fact that we are still having a debate about whether or not there was a government program aimed at the eventual demise of the Aboriginal people indicates that HISTORY should be included in all Australian children’s education, and not just rote learning about the Kings and Queens of England.

  88. Min

    Those services you advocate do come with a dollar cost, should it be an annual pledge to the whole aboriginal community as a whole, an annual lease payment for the rental of their land, a once off exgratia donation rather than an annual lease payment.

    I agree the History of Australia including Aboriginal history should be mandatory for our schools.

  89. Min,

    On a day that Miss Devine is sensible, Mr Akerman is sprouting about his support for democracy and free speech. Funny how he supports the removal of habeas corpus and detention without trial, but fails to mention that in his column.

    (PS. I accidentally read it in the Telegraph this morning when getting a coffee).

  90. Shane as a former shire councilor (shoot me) can you imagine the outcry if a white ‘burb was denied a regular garbage collection. However, in Aboriginal townships this situation has languished until decades.

    And then it comes back to unemployment, because if a majority of citizens have only the dole as income then they cannot pay rates. But then on the other hand will councils stop collecting garbage from suburbs where a majority do not pay their rates??

  91. Gotcha joni..Akers is talking about ‘freedom of speech’ because the ousted journos were employees of the The Fijian Times owned by the ‘Graph.

  92. Ahh…. see, I knew he had to have a reason.

    And this is the same Akerman who when sub-editor on The Times in London allowed an article to be edited that completely change the story (which was how the US lied when explaining how the Iranian jet was shot down). Robert Fisk details this in his book The Great War for Civilisation.

  93. Joni

    Mr Akerman should start in his own back yard by permitting readers responses that disagree with his.

  94. well Damn i got the tide wrong again and had to walk two hours in my scuba gear back to the car. But the flippers work well with quick release for those moments and these ones float.

  95. oops wrong blog again..

  96. That’s ok Aqua, not much above is on topic anyway 🙂

  97. Poor old aquanut. Wrong tide. Wrong blog.

  98. Now if someone could put up a youtube clip of Blondie and the “Tide is High” maybe we could get Aquanut back out to sea?


  99. Hi Min
    I have been in a great mood the last two days thanks to you and your information. Wife also wants to say thank you.(send you email later on).

  100. Dose that mean im your number one.(hope thats the right song)

  101. Aqua..that’s wonderful! It’s nice when things start to make sense. Hugs to you and special squishy ones to wife.

  102. LOL

    Very good….

    But… I’m not the kinda girl who gives up just like that, oh no !

  103. Looks like I popped in at the right time to help refloat aquanut.

  104. Tried to help get aquanut afloat but got spaminated 😦

  105. I got nothing, lol Joni. wish i knew more of the song.

  106. Enough of the dumb blondie jokes!

    This translates as more!! (Tried to think of one about breaking my heart of glass with laughter but they were, like that one, pathetic.)

  107. hi huh,
    You tried to do what to me? 😀

  108. Huh

    Your refloat has been refloated.

    And John P – good to have you join in with our spectacular humour.

  109. By gee you’re l’l D’vils. I had to go and hunt for it and found at:

    Excellent for kitchen dancing.

  110. Joni

    Only read Bolt in the Herald Sun when The age isn’t available at a coffee shop. GFC to blame?

    PS. When we get to 100 comments, confusion sets in about who said what/when. Is it possible to number comments like some other sites?

    My Mac is at meltdown. Bye!

  111. Don’t “call me” a RWDB!!!!! Oh Gawd!!

  112. Interesting…plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

    My experiences of the Ackerman Bog are that 99% of my comments go through to the circular file (admittedly I still only post there occasionally out of sheer perversity in knowing someone has to read it to delete it); and the 1% that make it under the limbo bar of moderator gate-keeping and into the pig-pen have usually been edited out of recognition so Piers (or whoever the hired help are) can slap a ‘witty’ rejoinder on a comment that’s stung sufficiently it’s had to be emasculated. My personal favourite among the editorial styles exhibited is when a word or phrase or two is abstracted from each sentence to yield a deliberately contrary comment-message to the one I submitted, and then posted in my name along with a counter-intuitive agreement from Piers with my sage stance; which unethical behaviour, I’d suggest, is the defining characteristic of Piers’ entire approach to ‘journalism’: de-contextualise, edit and skew ‘reality’ until it agrees with whatever the gonzo message du jour is.Legion Sun 14 Sep 08 (04:34pm)

  113. Kevin

    The problem is that the wordpress template we are using now does not number the comments. I am trying to find some time to modify the CSS so that it can happen…. but time is very scarce at the moment.

  114. were too quick for me.

    And joni, it’s emphasis on oh noooo.

    And how is George, George, George of the jungle going?

  115. A quick aside..what’s a RWDB? Several things have crossed old Auntie Min’s mind but I suspect none of them accurate.

  116. Min….. George is now back in my head…. Thanks very much!

  117. Well Huh – could you round up your mates? It is far too friendly here – needs more unreasonable grumpy, accountants.

  118. Joni..I did this deliberately (cheeky). How about: Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen…feared by the bad, loved by the good Robin Hood, Robin Hood.

  119. Great video clip even though i dont watch many.

    When piers makes a reply comment it shows how much he really cares about his work. Besides Piers is nothing without the abuse.

  120. Right Wing Death Beast……I had to ask because I had been called one so often. I’m not sure it necessarily applies in regards to either the adjectives or the noun, beast perhaps, but I was just trying to think of a gag sufficiently lame to warrant publication alongside the previous ones. I may have overplayed my objective.

  121. Pop in after having not been here for days and no sooner does my name appear…

  122. Hello James..I was thinking Redheaded Wonderful Darling Boy. But wasn’t certain if you were redheaded.

    Hugs MinXXX

  123. I am no Ranga, Min, I’ll have you know!!!!! 😦

    But the rest is correctamoondo!! 🙂

    You’ll get an email soon, just gathering data!!

  124. Just signing off for the evening. Naughty bad mechanic has taken over a week to do a something to our car to get it registered. Luckily hubby has my geriatric Nissan to get to work and back in. However, I am grounded.

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