I have just had a long conversation with my Aboriginal nephew in Queensland. I had been hoping to, in view of recent events. Naturally I asked him about those events. He doesn’t know Noel Pearson personally, though he does live not far from Pearson. What he did say, and I think it is true, is that what John Howard and Minister Mal Brough have done is not what Noel Pearson proposed. In fact my nephew said recent events are pretty disgraceful, in his view, and given the systematic slashing of all manner of Indigenous programs in the term of this government, he agrees with my suspicion that the agenda does involve an ultimate land grab, and an ideological and practical unravelling of any consideration of Indigenous Australians being in any sense a special group with special needs and a special place in our history: in short, the ultimate mainstreaming agenda — which weakens Indigenous rights as there are so few Indigenous Australians. Mining companies and developers would be salivating. Now that really is a big point of difference between Noel Pearson and the government, as whatever else Noel Pearson might advocate he has always been an advocate of the specialness of Indigenous Australians.
My nephew, I should add, is very active in promoting and supporting Indigenous business ventures, and that was what the call was actually about.
At the same time, I do commend Jim Belshaw’s latest entry on this topic. I should add that my nephew, an ex-Army man himself, would no doubt be very familiar with Norforce, but we didn’t get to talk about that.
I don’t doubt the passion of Minister Brough, who I have come to respect, but at the same time I can’t help feeling this whole affair, if it were the Iraq War, might be thought by some to actually be (thanks, Brendan Nelson!) about oil… Or uranium perhaps, in this case… That is not to accuse Brough personally of hypocrisy, or to deny that some good may come of the information gathering now happening and of some of what may be put in place in terms of health and welfare.
See Beware the Bennelong Society #1 on Bruce’s blog, which tends to sustain my less charitable feelings about what the agenda of the government actually is — whether Mal Brough is entirely cognizant may perhaps be moot, but I find Bruce’s evidence persuasive.