Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘Indigenous Australians’ Category

Polling Day in Surry Hills

Just past 8am and the polling booths will have just opened for today’s election. There will be no surprises in Surry Hills where Labor is 100% sure to win. But nation-wide? There were those at last night’s meeting still saying “landslide to Labor” but it does seem it will be a very close thing.

I have to say I thought Noel Pearson’s dummy spit yesterday was impolitic. He could have saved that for after the election. I really wonder too whether he bothered to look beyond the campaigning hype (on both sides) at actual ALP policy on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs, particularly Constitutional Recognition Of Indigenous Australians. All he has done is tarnish his own reputation for a degree of balance and originality — for which I have up to now tended to respect him — and made life difficult for himself if Labor gets elected.

Here in Surry Hills it is a grey morning and the sound of crows fills the air. Is this ominous? If so, for whom? I go coaching in Chinatown shortly and will vote either on the way there or on the way home, depending on the crowds. Meanwhile I note, if this relates to anything, the relative readership figures for the past 21 hours on my blogs here at WP:
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Fully Australian

I found this when Googling for Tom Uren that great-hearted figure from the good Labor Left of perhaps another era, but a truly great Australian respected, I think, by most Australians. The blog, Desert Star is now on my blog roll, and the accompanying site Aboriginal Art and Culture: Desert Dreams I will add to the classified links.

He is none too fond of John Howard.
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Written by Neil

October 27, 2007 at 12:01 am

National Coming Out Day 2 — Australia

But what a strange day it became. The syllabus itself turned out to be a model of cultural bipartisanship; for every cricket milestone mentioned, there was a nod to multiculturalism or a reference to Patrick White. Mr Howard modestly omitted the election of his own Government from the digest of “interesting things that happened between 1976 and 2000”, but included the inception of the multicultural broadcaster SBS.

If all that were not enough, the Prime Minister bobbed up last night with the casual revelation that he was planning a national referendum to include a new acknowledgement of Aboriginal Australia in the constitution.

On hearing this, Mr Howard’s culture warriors might well be forgiven for surreptitiously arranging an assessment by the platoon’s medical officer. In terms of reversals, it’s quite a doozy – imagine Shane Warne confessing a sudden fondness for sushi, or Elton John a distaste for sequins. What next? An honorary Howard chair in surfing at Griffith University? An Order of Australia for John Pilger? Vegetarians in the Lodge?

Today, the cultural battlefield will stand silent with genuine, bipartisan bafflement.

Indeed, Annabel Crabb!
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Written by Neil

October 12, 2007 at 9:10 am

Now I will confess…

I am a closet listener to country and western music. Mind you, not all country and western music. But there’s some that is just good honest stuff, so why pretend to look down on it? And this one contains images close to home.

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Indigenous update

Courtesy of Journeyman Pictures, a wonderful source of documentaries — “London’s leading independent distributor of topical news features, documentaries and footage” — I preface this with David Bradbury’s Jabiluka: The Aboriginal Swindle (1997). You must visit the video here, as embedding is disallowed.

The lure of Uranium has proved irresistible to successive Australian governments and Australia’s Environment Minister has dismissed the Mirrar people’s objections to the Jabiluka mine. This lucrative project could sever the Mirrar people’s spiritual links with the earth and the sights of sacred significance throughout the valley. “I was born in the bush” Yvonne Margarula tells us, “sleeping on the ground with the fire”. Twice Academy Award nominated director, David Bradbury, explores the effects of this cultural devastation on the lives of a people and a land inextricably joined.

Rare archive footage shows how Yvonne’s father and his people were bullied into giving their legal consent to a lease over Jabiluka. The traditional landowners were encouraged to consider not just their own wishes but that of Australian progress as a whole. But they thought they were negotiating for a land claim, not another uranium mine. Yvonne’s father Toby was weakened by stress and spent most of the fateful meeting lying down. His sigh “I’m tired now, I can’t fight any more” was taken as all the consent needed for the mine to go ahead. He received a silver plated pen for his trouble…

Ten years on we have had the Howard government’s intervention, which I have treated with a degree of caution and doubt: Some thoughts on the events of June 2007, and recent posts tagged Indigenous Australians here.
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Written by Neil

September 21, 2007 at 8:29 am

Friday Australian Poem #5: Judith Wright "For a Pastoral Family"

This poem is in the 1985 collection Phantom Dwelling, in a section labelled “Poems 1979-1980”. My correspondence with Judith Wright, who supported Neos from Issue 1, began in 1981. We exchanged only a few letters, but I really treasured them. Of “For a Pastoral Family” and the later poems, Ted Kennedy, late and famous Redfern turbulent priest, has written:

Tim Bonyhady, an art historian, asserted (Sydney Morning Herald 15/7/00) that Judith Wright’s poetry suffered in her distraction into activism. I found what he said disappointing, in that nowhere does he credit Judith herself with any opinion at all about the debate over the so-called tension between poetry and her impulse to fight social causes. It appears to me a tribute to the accuracy of her own self awareness that she could accept that her capacity to write poetry could not be divorced from her need to express shame and responsibility regarding Aborigines, and for the destruction of the environment. She saw herself as now “grown up”. In her maturity she developed a real concern for Aborigines and what whites had done to their race. She saw her activism as the expression of the one poetic sensibility where the same sensual passion was at work and all the different levels of concern played the same tune. “It’s communication and memorability that make a good poem. It’s got to be memorable enough to keep it with you,” she said.

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Just something to think about…

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following video may contain images of deceased persons.

I spent so much time last night responding to Adrian’s comment on my The Secret River post that I missed Enough Rope on the road in Mt Isa; still that’s not a problem these days, is it? We can all watch it now…
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Written by Neil

August 14, 2007 at 10:01 am