Sorry Day

Some reflections on Sorry Day
i) I underestimated Kevin Rudd. He is a master politician in the class of Tony Blair.
ii) Dr. Nelson isn’t.
iii) It was a box-ticking exercise by most whites who can now continue to ignore indigenous australians but no longer feel guilty about the conditions in which they live.iv)  Compensation claims will soon be rampant.
v) The ‘war-cabinet’ idea is anti-democratic in the extreme. Who is now the Opposition?
vi) When will the H.C.Coombs-inspired Sorry Day take place?
vii) Will anything change for indigenous communities? 
Update; compensation claims move up a gear
Nelson apologises for his apology. 
Judge Bradley shows once again why she’s the poster girl for would-be rapists and paedophiles in search of aboriginal children.  plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.

42 thoughts on “Sorry Day

  1. I agree, Kevin Rudd knows how to play the popularity game.

    I don’t think anything was supposed to change after the sorry was it?

    I actually think a child who was forcibly removed from his parents is probably entitled to some compensation – and maybe the parents of that child are? But I don’t know much about the details of the stolen generation.

    Aboriginals need to stop getting treated differently by the law and the extra welfare needs to stop. There’s obviously problems with communal land ownership too.

    Also, some Aboriginals have bad attitudes in my opinion. eg/ Some Aborigianl bastard (part of a gang of about 11 aboriginals) punched my mate (walking to his car at night) in the face about two weeks ago near Hindley St. (in order to steal a whole 50c and 2 cigarettes) – it happens all the time here and in my opinion a significant number of Aboriginals hate white people and think the world owes them.

  2. I disagree on several points.

    1. Rudd’s political skills won’t be so masterful if there is a backlash against symbolic claptrap, as I expect. A large proportion of the population (ie 40% plus) will now start to view him as glib and superficial. Just as they were when One Nation was in the ascendancy, the government and media are out of step with the public.

    2. Nelson did what he had to do given the lack of agreement within his party. His statement about no compensation and ‘rescued’ rather than ‘stolen’ children will do him no harm among people who would consider voting Liberal.

    3. Compensation claims will go nowhere in the courts unless they can prove illegality or negligence. The main outcome will be luvvies complaining about the ‘lack of justice’ because the government won’t pay compensation voluntarily. That will go nowhere.

    4. If the ‘war-cabinet’ stops little abo kids from being sodomised and catching STDs, it will be worthwhile. Democracy is safe unless it becomes a ‘government of national unity’.

    5. Will anything change? That is actually the only important question. I doubt it unless they start listening to Noel Pearson.

  3. David

    I think you are way out of touch with the ‘touch-feely, hug-a-tree’ nature of most Western voters, especially younger ones. times have changed.

    i) people want ‘symbolic claptrap’. the media are not out of step with the public. they are commercial enterprises. if there was demand for ‘steely-eyed, stolid, rational, unemotional logic’ it would be met. The Australian has been the most unemotional in its reporting of indigenous issues to date. yet even it has succumbed to the emotion of the day. it’s job is to sell papers and it has obviously concluded that its readers don’t want scepticism. this was Nelson’s huge mistake.

    ii) a dwindling band

    iii) hasn’t a claimant in Tassy just successfully won compensation?

    iv) there are different viewpoints on how to improve the lot of aborigines. some think more welfare, some think free markets. if there is a united war-cabinet, how will voters be able to vote for a party that reflects their view.

    v) i agree he is the only person regularly worth reading on indigenous affairs.

    has anyone read Helen Hughes’ Lands of Shame?

  4. Tim R

    if white folk constantly prostrate themselves about how awful they have acted and how sorry they are and that it ‘not your fault’, i guess you tend to start believing it too.

    i strongly believe that the best thing us whitefellas can do for the aboriginals is to stop apologising, stop feeling guilty, stop excusing bad behaviour and start treating aboriginals as equals.

  5. I’ll spare the personal rationale and just note that Miranda Devine’s column in yesterday’s SMH summarises those aspects of the indigenous Australian tragedy that I feel are true matters of regret and maybe indeed meriting a national expression of that regret for the state of affairs past and present.

    However, I fear that focusing one one outcome of the past – separation by the state of families for the various reasons so intensely debated – has created a whole new class of people in a supposedly classless society and given them officially sanctioned Victim status.

    I am alarmed by the growth in the cult of The Victim – particularly arguments by the likes of Clive Hamilton and Ross Gittens that every modern consumer is a ‘victim’ of capitalism and advertising. Including this definition to the category implies that there is only a small cohort of Australians left who are aren’t Victims of one sort or another.

    The fear being that other groups will also climb aboard with this precedent and demand separate rights, recognition and recompense for their perceived or claimed injustices suffered.

    This is due to my admittedly cynical view of human nature that there are indeed a lot of ‘rentseekers’ in the Australian body politic. I hope I am proved wrong, but I suspect Sorry Day may indeed have been an historic moment – in opening up the floodgates of demands for recognition by other sectional interests.

  6. It’s hard to know about whether it was a “box ticking exercise by most whites”, but it’s not about white guilt in any case. There’s no particular reason why the vast majority of people should feel personal guilt, which is why very few of them do and why very few Indigenous people suggest that they should. What is rather more apparent is a significant proportion of non-Indigenous Australians feel (and express) signficant antagonism towards Indigenous Australians, and show little interest in the situation many of them face, open resentment at any talk of providing extra resources to address the undeniable disadvantage, and even less interest in the historical facts and actions which played a key role in them being in that situation.

    It was fairly obvious that many thousands of Aboriginal people took significant comfort, reassurance and strength from the apology. Quite why this is something to be dismissed, ignored or condemnded is beyond me. No one has ever said that saying Sorry would solve every problem, but to deny the positive benefits of such actions is to deny the personal reality of many people.

    If you don’t think monumental wrongs were perpetrated on Indigenous Australians over a prolonger period of time specifically because they were Indigenous, you haven’t (or refuse to) look very hard. Denying a blatant reality doesn’t help any of us, black or white.

    As for compensation, every other Australian has the right to use the courts to seek damages for unlawful harm done to them. Why should Aboriginal people be any different? In any case, the assertion that “compensation claims will soon be rampant” is way off the mark. The bringing Them Home report appeared in 1997 and all state Parliaments apologies not long after – why would a flood of claims start 10 years later? If there is any surge in claims (I doubt very much there will be more than 10 that will ever make it to court), it would be due to people relying on a legal principle established in a successful claim by someone else, not to do with a Parliamentary apology.

    The assertion that “a claimant in Tassie has just won compensation” is also somewhat off the mark – the Tasmanian Parliament (unanimously) passed a Stolen Generations reparations measure over a year ago, and the assessments and payouts from this have just occurred.

    Again, this is not unique – overarching compensation schemes specific to a particular incident or type of activity is an accepted way of dealing with an identifiable group of people who have been harmed by a particular practice. The payouts are normally far less (I think the maximum from the Tasmanian scheme was $20 000, which compares with the $700 000+ for Bruce Trevorrow’s case which went through the courts in South Australia), but it is generally better as it saves court costs, time, trauma and money, while still providing acknowledgement and recognition. Compensation packages for personal and for economic loss due to actions (or failures) by governments (or sometimes by corporations – e.g. hardies and asbestos) are not uncommon. It is not “special treatment” for Aboriginal people who have been demonstrably harmed by actions of government to ask for such a fund.

    There are widely accepted international principles regarding this type of reparition, which were detailed at length in the Bringing Them Home report ten years. The only reason we are having to deal with it now is because of the determined desire of the previous government to run a denialist agenda and demean and dismiss the substance of the report.

  7. My respect for Nelson has bumped up a notch. He didn’t take the easy road which entailed mere platitudes. I think that Turnbull for all his credentials as a small government guy would not be as good at unifying the Liberals at this point in time. Nelson thus far seems to have character and backbone without being pigheaded.

    I read somewhere recently that 36% of aussies oppose the apology. I bet a fair number of the remainder (including me) have mixed feelings and qualifiers attached. The hard core luvies are having fun in the sun and being noisey about it but thats not out of character.

    I don’t think voters are any more touchy feely than they have ever been. We used to cry when the Queen visited, now we get mushy about whales.Voters are just touchy feely about different things. Don’t forget that in 1967 aussies voted in droves (over 90% of the popular vote) for the touchy feely niceties of making special federal laws for aborigines constitutionally acceptable without much thought for the details or the downside. In sentimental terms we have turned this corner on aboriginal affairs many, many times before without really changing direction. Although more than ever we do today have something of a cross party concensus about the problems of passive welfare.

    Overall I think Australia is in a reasonably good position politically. We have the left side of federal politics in government slashing spending and standing by further tax cuts. Rudd is also supporting moves to privatise electricity in NSW. So far all the important noises are the right noises. Mean while it looks like we might even have an opposition that keeps it together and remains unified. Something we lacked somewhat when the ALP last governed federally.

  8. Andrew

    No-one is denying that significant wrongs were done to indigenous people, pretty much ever since Arthur Philip landed. that most of the wrongs were misguided attempts to help, should not detract from the fact that taking children from parents who are not causing them harm is simply wrong. i actually thought Rudd’s apology was rather moving.

    But we are more concerned here with raising their living standards today as opposed to relieving ourselves of the guilt of our grandfathers’ mistakes.

    You talk about ‘extra resources’ being made available. yet this is precisely why they are in such a mess today. they don’t need extra resources. they are not special. they are not circus-show freaks. they are not pets to patronise. they are simply ordinary australians who deserve to be treated as such.

    it is the racist condescension of today’s well-meaning ‘progressives’ that is now the problem.

  9. Andrew,

    I agree that within the community there is an element of antagonism toward aboriginies. Some of this is a case of determined racism. But a lot of it stems from resentment for special treatment (ie government racism). Ironically the special treatment is often poisonious anyway. We should not have different laws for different races.

    I agree that all people should be able to seek compensation from government for unjust treatment. I also agree that symbolic gestures like this apology can at times be a positive thing.


  10. Pommy – the Nelson speech was not a disaster. It just didn’t please everybody. I don’t think it has weakened his political standing in any significant way.

  11. Pommy, I really don’t think you have the historical context in Australia to be confident that times have changed.

    I recall the 1967 referendum and numerous other “turning points” in aboriginal relations, including the various Sorry Day events. Many Australians are now well aware that the government’s policies are only partly to blame, and that a fair number of aborigines won’t help themselves. Tolerance and benevolence runs out when they start sodomising their own children.

    As Terje implied, half of Australia would probably support a government apology to whales too. Whaling was once a major industry in Australia.

    Incidentally, in today’s Crikey newsletter Christian Kerr expresses much the same view of Nelson’s speech as my own. The luvvies are not in the majority, they are just the most vocal. Everyone gets a vote.

    As for the Australian, its stance depends on which Editor is responsible for that edition.

  12. Terje, I thought the ALP was only doing tax cuts this year (the election promised ones), and then stopping.

  13. Tim, tim, tim!!! They’ll save the tax cuts for the next election!!!
    I think you might be onto something with that Whale of an apology Day. We need more public holidays! Let’s sing to them, and we can engage in group hugs! Land Rights for Gay Whales!!! That will give us all a porpoise in life!

  14. libertarians need a day for national reconciliation. Our way of life and culture have been decimated by thoughtless and cruel government policies. Give me compensation for all the years of oppressive income taxes!

  15. “No one is denying that significant wrongs were done to indigenous people”

    Actually, some people are denying that (I’m not saying you are), and quite a few people (including some Liberal frontbenchers) specifically deny the whole reality of the Stolen Generations. Apart from this being extremely offensive to people who have suffered as a direct consequence of it, it doesn’t help us a nation (or our governments) in dealing with the here and now if we don’t (or won’t) know how we got to where we are.

    “most of the wrongs were misguided attempts to help” – without being dismissive of the many people who did (and still do) make genuine efforts in very difficult circumstances to try to help, if you look at the totality of the Aboriginal experience of colonisation, I would have to disagree with that (unless you have an extreme broad definition of ‘help’ – like ‘helping to smooth the dying pillow’)However, whlist I think being unaware of the past makes it harder to deal effectively with the present, I agree spending too much energy getting caught up in arguments about the past is not the best way to deal with the urgent problems of the here and now.

    I also don’t see how you can say Indigenous people “don’t need extra resources”. I think it is indisuptable that they do. Of course those resources need to be far more effectively spent than they have often been to date, and of course extra funding is not the only (or in my view even the most crucial) part of the answer, but I can’t see how you address some of the inequailities that exist without increasing resources from what’s provided now.

    For all the talk of ‘just treating Aborginal people the same as other Australians’, if you actually measure the money that goes specifically to Indigenous people, it is often less per capita than what goes to the wider community – and that’s in a context where there has been decades of neglect to be caught up on.

    Having a stoush about whether it is the ‘progressives’ (or for people who are more interested in the joy of mindless insults rather than effective outcomes, ‘luvvies’) or the ‘conservatives’ who are most to blame for the conditions faced by Indigenous people today ignores what I think are two core facts:
    (a) virtually every ‘solution’ put forward by every government of every political persuasion in this area has failed – usually dismally. Having an unbroken record of failure over more than a century suggests that governments and bureaucrats on their own are unlikely to produce the solution now;
    (b) the key common factor across this century of failure has been the almost complete absence of meaningful and ongoing involvement of the Indigenous people ‘on the ground’ who we are supposedly doing all this for. It’s hard enough to find the solution to such difficult problems, without excluding the people who are meant to be being helped. It is right to say that Indigenous people have to take more responsibility for their current situation/s, but we’re not actually making it terribly easy for them to do so in many cases – and I’m not talking about just tossing a bunch of money at people and saying something like “you’re in control now” (which is basically what some of the past attempts at so-called self-determination amounted to in some cases).

  16. I disagree somewhat with your historical perspective Andrew, but I agree that it doesn’t help to get caught up in arguments about it.

    I’m particularly glad you acknowledge individual responsibility is central to a solution. And even though I believe “you’re in control now” is the ultimate goal, a transitional process is clearly needed.

    No-one wants to see aboriginal culture lost, but we cannot expect most of them to live in a time warp, stuck between modernity and 10,000 years ago. They ought to be assimilated into modern society, without denying them their culture. It’s the same for Australians of Italian, Greek and Lebanese descent. They may be very proud of their origins and retain many of their cultural links, but they are still modern Australians.

    Obviously there will always be a place for those who actively live their ancient culture as a kind of living museum. The Maoris in NZ and Zulu in South Africa are examples of how that can occur.

    The key to bringing them into modern society is the dignity of employment and the pride of private property ownership. It’s never failed yet.

  17. Socialism has failed whereever it has been tried. From the comfort of our capitalist society, white Australians have played with the experiment of aboriginal socialism… and the outcome has been exactly the same as every other socialist experiment. Poverty. Low life expectancy. Poor health and education outcomes. Dependence.

    Despite what Andrew says, the solution to socialism is not more government money. Indeed — this approach seems so evil I find it hard to believe that proponents actually care about aboriginals.

    The first step to helping aboriginals is the same first step to helping Nth Koreans. End socialism.

    Of course, a needs-based welfare system will result in more welfare money going to aboriginals than non-aboriginals… and that’s fine. And there may be other ways to help. Though government “help” has a fairly poor track record. Compensation doesn’t worry me. One option would be to gift a block of land & a house to each family living in the homelands. But it would have to be free-hold.

    As for culture… all culture’s change. There is no culture alive now that is the same as the cultures alive 1000 years ago. This is neither good nor bad. It just is.

  18. The goal should not be equal outcome or even equal opportunity. It should be equality before the law and an economic environment that creates opportunity. And as John indicates that starts when you end socialism. Our minimum wage rates are unsuited to a remote economy where few people are not highly educated. We could start by removing such laws that make job creation a crime in those communities. Such price regulation leaves boot legging and sole trader arts and crafts as the only real alternatives to welfare. And whilst some communal land is fine most people should aim to own their homes. If the community leased land to individuals under a 99 year peppercorn rent arrangement that would be a great start. But we should not prop up failed socialist experiments. We should condem them loudly.

    I’m not against an apology or compensation for injustice so long as it deals with individuals not collectives. Even apologising to an entire generation is too broad. We should simply say sorry to the victims of our flawed and failed paternalistic policies and strive to do better. And then we should patch up the constitution so all are equal before the law and we never again creat cause for a race based apology.

    p.s. I’m glad you have joined for this chat Andrew. I welcome your perspective and agree with many of your points (on other topics also).

  19. p.p.s. Given that we know that free markets create wealth it is perverse that we work so hard to exclude poor Australians from markets.

  20. I agree with Terje. The minimum wage in remote areas does have the unintentional consequence of preventing Aboriginal Australians from gaining private employment. In the face of a lack of willingness of private capital being attracted to these regions, we are left with government programmes to create employment.

    I’d readily answer any criticism that having different regional minimum wages would be racist with the counter argument, what is more important to individuals, and by extension the communities they live in, the benefit of productive employment leading to the acquisition of skills, experience and greater opportunity, or sit down money and entitlement. Is passive welfare compensation or punishment?

    To argue that more welfare is the answer is to deny the fact that the last 35 years of progressive attempts to raise Aboriginal people to a level playing field have failed, with many indicators of Aboriginal standards of life retreating. You can’t deny that from Whitlam onwards, government policy has had benevolent intentions towards Aboriginals, to do so insults the efforts of the progressives who tried. They weren’t wrong to try, they just couldn’t foresee the path their efforts were taking them.

  21. Andrew

    It is perfectly appropriate for government to apologise to Aborigines for the abuses committed against them.

    It is also perfectly appropriate for governments to apologise to everyone else for the abuses committed against Aborigines, for doing it in the name of everyone else, and for doing it with money taken under compulsion from everyone else – money that would have been far more beneficial both to Aborigines and everyone else if left in the hands of its original owners, minus government’s meddling.

    The most disappointing aspect of the apology and the Aboriginal response to it, is the universal failure to identify that Aborigines have been the subject of well-intentioned race-based government schemes to improve them since 1788, that these schemes have been a disaster for Aboriginal people, and that is the endless expectation that government will fix Aborigines’ problems and remove or sponsor their differences that is the single biggest factor causing the problems socialists are trying to fix with more government action.

    It is precisely the group-think of conceiving of the problem ‘as a nation’ that is causing the problem. People have rights because they are human beings, not because they are a member of a biological race. Race-based schemes, no matter how well-intentioned, are wrong in principle and wrong in practice and can never be made good because they are fundamentally morally defective.

    It is also entirely false to think that the problem has been a lack of political will: the problem is the reverse! There has been no end of these know-it-all, force-based, race-based schemes: from the original act of dispossession which underlies the entire authority of the apology in the first place; to government’s failure to prevent, or participating in the massacres in the nineteenth century; to sponsoring patronizing schemes propagating the Bible and the plough by the missions; to the government control centres that replaced them; to the schemes for assimilation as a race-based servant class; to the fascist idea of social engineering by removing children; to the idea of subsidizing people to live in idle dependence and squalor in remote locations that have neither traditional nor modern economy; to the whole raft of race-based schemes of governmental patronage and Aboriginal wardship that government persists in perpetrating.

    It does not lie in the mouth of the socialists to condemn these schemes: they are entirely in accordance with their belief system, just as socialist are the most forward in urging an entire raft and portfolio of race-based schemes. It never occurs to them that government action may not have the knowledge or the capability of doing just anything they want it to do, and so the schemes just go on.

    It is fair enough to say that many, perhaps most, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people today consider Aboriginal culture as consisting largely of a special welfare status vis-à-vis the rest of society. Since in the welfare state, entitlement is based on victim status or disadvantage, this whole posture encourages a belief that Aborigines have a kind of material disability based on their race (as if an innately pathetic and incapable group of human beings), and therefore a special moral superiority and entitlement based on their race (like a kind of innate aristocracy) – the most abusive and destructive thing that government could do without physically attacking them. Yet the people most concerned about Aboriginal disadvantage are the most forward in urging these daft and destructive policies.

    The time will come when all Australians will recognize that these race-based schemes are wrong and destructive, and are the modern equivalent of ‘King Billy’ nameplates and infected blankets. The piety, self-preening and ignorance of the socialist utopians behind the continuation of these depressing patronizing perpetually failing schemes is the most disgusting aspect of the whole thing. Yet the more they fail, the more they are urged: the sure sign of an irrational belief.

    However ‘the truth will set you free’. They key to understanding the problem and the solution, is to understand that there is no reason to think that the descendants of a hunter-gatherer community can expect ‘self-determination’ and retention of their culture, at the same time as enjoying parity in the measures of wealth and wellbeing that characterize a modern division-of-labour society. Can’t you see the inherent contradiction in that balmy and destructive belief that underlies the entire Aboriginal portfolio?

    Even if the dispossession of the Aboriginal people had been entirely consensual, with fair and sufficient value being agreed and paid by both parties to the original transactions; and even if Aborigines has enjoyed the perfect legal equality and legal protection that government owed them but denied them from day one, that would still not result in Aboriginal people enjoying material parity with European society. One difference alone, that of literacy, would have resulted in a significant gap, and that not as a result of European discrimination, but of Aboriginal culture, which current policy is determined to subsidise.

    The point to understand is that these problems of inequality cannot be fixed by government. The condition of Aboriginal society today is the best proof of this. Government attempts to socialize Aboriginal culture can only make the problem worse not better. The best that government can do – legal equality – cannot fix the problems the socialists want to fix. Only time, legal equality, and coming to terms with the facts of modern life can ever achieve material parity, and traditional Aboriginal economy culture is no more. ‘Equal opportunity’ is unworkable socialist nonsense that will only perpetuate the problem of dependence, wardship, and officially-sponsored dysfunctionality.

  22. We have left our aborigine brothers and sisters in a situation of repressed shame. We have left them in a situation where they feel like failures. They feel like saying “Nam Wuz Hell” they feel like they need to blame someone for their failure but the have no Vietnam War to turn to.

    Like you can watch all those Vietnam movies. You can say that you have the “Thousand Yard Stare” and you can fail to adjust because you were in “Nam”

    But what happens if you don’t have Nam as an excuse?

    To be sure it is whitey who is to blame. But not quite for the reasons as advertised.

    You see whitey is willing to STEAL TO HELP THE ABORIGINES.

    But whitey is not willing to THINK TO HELP THE ABORIGINES.


    A word on this stolen generation.

    I’ve met people who genuinely assume they were taken for “care and protection”

    But the government is not so constituted as to do anything right.


    You see many of these kids may have been taken out of a scenario of neglect and squalor. And the families they were taken too were sweethearted Christian people wanting to raise them the best way they can.

    But if you need to take a kid for a few months because the place is unhygenic and Pop is always drunk………

    …. Now what if Mums crying at night leads Pop to sober up and realise he’s done wrong and try and get his baby back, even if only to stop his girl from crying?

    So thats where the real crime was. In the bureaucracy. The white parents that they took the kids to. They ought to have become “Auntie Vallery” or “Auntie Stella”…. And the Mother ought to have been visiting early on.

    Thats what everyone is not coming to grips with in this debate. Maybe it was 20% of the time the kids needed to be taken away for care and protection. And maybe it was 90% of the time.

    But they didn’t need to be taken so far.

    And they didn’t need to be taken for quits.

  23. “You can’t deny that from Whitlam onwards, government policy has had benevolent intentions towards Aboriginals, to do so insults the efforts of the progressives who tried.”

    Government policy has had benevolent intentions towards Aboriginals since 1770. Cook’s instructions were to respect native customs and property, and he tried to meet with and communicate with the local Aborigines. Phillip’s instructions were to cultivate friendly relations with the natives. While the massacres were going on the nineteenth century, government policy was to stop them. (Instead, not only to government not stop them, many government officials connived or participated in them.) What is now called the stolen generations was a well-intentioned social engineering scheme to address the same kinds of problems in the outlying communities that ‘send in the troops’ policy is directed at today.

    Whitlam’s well-intentioned schemes were entirely of a kind with the earlier set of failed well-intentioned race-based schemes that just happen to turn out, surprise surprise, to be abusive.

    What each generation of these vain and abusive improvers cannot avoid is that they must do it from the perspective of their own values, which change in time but which derive from contemporary trends in European history. But the constant underlying values are an amalgam of ostentatious piety (Look at me, how good I am, I care about the poor wretched Aborigines, who are to pathetic to conform to my view of how they should live), a neccessary element of paternalism and assumption that government has responsibility, and ability, to fix up Aborigines values and lives, and backed up somewhere along the line with some kind of force.

    The point is, these schemes don’t work because they can’t work. They are at cross-purposes with themselves, and with core values of both traditional Aboriginal and European society. They are a mess.

    While ever people believe, as Andrew does, that the basic idea of force-based paternalistic governmental intervention is good, that only the implementation needs a bit of tweaking, governments will continue producing these abusive results, and the people who caused the problem will continue to call for more.

  24. 1) Rudd has the ability to do absolutely nothing worthwhile (and damaging in the long term) and get away with it. Which does make him like Blair, which does not mean a great politician. And like Blair, he will be reviled for it.

    2) Nelson? Who the hell is that gimp?

    3) Agree with the box ticking bit. White middle class angst and loathing being pandered to. Its nothing to do with the ‘stolen generations’, its about ‘me’ and how I feel. Oprah politics, Princess Di politics. Absolutely nauseating to go through. Depressingly few people are asking how the hell one can apologise and show remorse for something one is not guilty of?? There are not many things in life so butt clenchingly cringey and patronising, a $5K payout to everyone who claims to be affected would have been a bit less disgraceful.

    4) Compensation claims would less disgraceful.

    5)Welcome to the end of politics, welcome to third way managerialism. Where have you been for the last 20 years?


    7) ‘Indigenous communities’ will only improve if they are given the respect that comes with not being viewed as indigenous or aborigine or whatever, and simply people like you and I. ‘Sorry Day’ has been set up to give these people a victim and special case identity to be patronised and patted on the head, to sustain them in their place in society.

    8) Can we have a Sorry for Rudd Day?

  25. While I pay little attention to domestic politics these days, I find the idea that there is a backlash building against Rudd’s “symbolic claptrap” bewildering. Having just had four terms of a rather hard-nosed, pragmatic, conservative administration, I think symbolic claptrap is exactly what people are in the mood for. A similar phenomenon is underway in the United States with the rise of Barack Obama, who is extremely likely to be the next president.

    Brendan Nelson is doomed. The Coalition understood that whoever was put in place as opposition leader for the first term would have no chance of actually becoming prime minister and they chose to throw Nelson to the wolves. He’s hopelessly unlikeable – I get the same viscerally negative reaction to seeing him on TV as I used to get with Beazley and Crean. His apparent incompetency in the Super Hornet purchase should have libertarians worried too – it was an astounding piece of government waste.

  26. GMB

    It is important to understand that the ‘stolen generations’ was *not* about what is today called ‘child protection’. Governments already had powers to remove children at risk of abuse or neglect. Indeed when the Bill for the new powers was going through parliament, it was objected that government already had what powers it needed. Those advocating the Bill replied that the powers to remove for neglect did not give them enough power to do what they want, which was explicitly a social engineering scheme.

    The problem was that there was a growing class of fringe dwelling ‘half-castes’ who were neither traditional bush-dwelling Aborigines, nor town-dwelling wage earners. They lived around the missions, which the governments were in the process of taking over.

    The idea was specificaly the social engineering of a ‘solution’ to the problem, just as today’s policy of sending in welfare and troops to these communities is.

    The underlying problem is, Aborigines have been living under socialism much more total and much longer than the rest of society. They have virtually been wards of the state since the mid-nineteenth century. Every aspect of life was controlled by the state. They could not work or go anywhere without permission.

    This continued up to the 1970s. My wife has a cousin, an Aboriginal girl who was adopted, (not fostered) from the Hermansberg mission. Even in the 1970s she could not get permission to visit her own cousins. As my wife says ‘It’s easier to move a horse with equine influenza than it was for that Aboriginal girl to visit her own cousins.’

    These remote Aboriginal ‘communities’ that are the site of so much abuse and dysfunctionality are entirely an artefact of the welfare state. They are based around the early missions. They have no traditional or modern economy.

    Of course the irony of this is lost on the socialists, whose idea of a solution is to pour more welfare into these dysfunctional carbuncles.

    Dogs have fleas, and Aborigines have social workers.

  27. Thanks for that link Perry. It is good to see aboriginal leadership backing the idea of 99 year leases. It is also good to see them taking the initiative to do it without the commonwealth government as a middle man.

    Aboriginal powerbroker Galarrwuy Yunupingu said yesterday he expected Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to honour the memorandum of understanding that the Yolngu leader sealed with the former federal government.

    Mr Yunupingu, formerly a staunch critic of the intervention into remote indigenous communities in the Territory, developed his own version of 99-year leasing last year to apply to his clan’s land at Gunyangara in northeast Arnhem Land. Under the plan, a head lease from the Aboriginal Land Trust was to be granted to the Aboriginal-owned Gumatj Land Corporation, with sub-leases granted to government and land-users.

    Maybe the idea of a property market in these areas is catching on.

  28. Mr Mundine, the former Labor president who first proposed the introduction of 99-year leases over community land, said it was time for Labor to abandon the communal land concept, which had done nothing but impoverish black communities.

    “We have 30 years of history that shows the failure of the communal land structure,” he said. “If communal land worked, we would see flourishing economic communities.

    “(We must) stop being romantic – we need to learn the lessons of the modern world. We need economic development in these communities. They will continue to live in poverty unless there are big changes.”

    Sounds kind of like a post by Mr. Humphreys a short time ago. He was accused of being racist by a socialist visitor. What will the commies call the aboriginal Mr Mundine? I guess he’s just a race traitor…

  29. It really is dreadful to read some of the discourse here. The talk of not treating Aboriginal people as special is either willfully or ignorantly ahistorical. There was no trouble treating them as special for 4/5 of our history, it’s just in that case the special treatment meted out was rather aimed at removing them from the landscape. It seems that many of the posters here would prefer to ignore the experience of just about all colonised people, hey the memory is unpleasant. Of course the victims and their descendants may not be so ready to forget and this is why the apology is an important starting point.
    I hope that we will see a treaty and then an allocation of of seats within the parliament for Aboriginal people, they are after all a sovereign nation within our own with whom we must negotiate, it’s just that most people can’t connect the dots.

  30. Patrick – a sovereign nation within our own

    My grandfather has traced our family roots back to the 18th Century. Our neighbours back in England fled Iran in the 1980s. Does this mean that i have special rights to British citizenship above and beyond my (now) British neighbours from Iran? Are my Anglo-Celtic-Norse roots to be granted ‘special’ status over those of non-Anglo peoples? Or are we both equal (British) citizens in the eyes of the law?

    Patrick – you are now part of the problem. Read the comments by Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Noel Pearson above. I assume you are well-meaning in your intent. But you and your disastrous ideas of enforced apartheid and socialism will consign aboriginals to another 100 years of misery. Thank goodness you and others like you represent a dwindling number.

  31. Patrick, they have race-based quotas in Malaysia, and they have communal violence: could it be because they are not treated equally?
    As for Mr. Mundine, if his name is tom, then he is uncle Tom, isn’t he?
    RE TREATY- who would you treat with? Treaties need at least two sides. Canberra says it speaks for non-Aboriginal Australians, but it would still need an Aboriginal body to make a treaty with. If we were to try to make separate treaties with every tribe, someone would first need to define the limits of the tribe, and then appoint a body to negotiate the terms. For every tribe- how many are there?
    As a minimalist, I’m all in favour of small governments, both in territory, and in power, but I want that for all individuals here in Australia

  32. Patrick, I agree that some of the discussion here seems a little ignorant of the history. But it is a history of race-based politics that is the problem.

    Kevin Rudd said sorry but to me it seems insincere. Aboriginals have a life expectancy of 17 years less than the average Australian. Sorry usually means trying to not do something again. Yet Rudd continues the race-based policies of Australia. He allows communal ownership to continue to ruin the hopes of remote aboriginal communities.

  33. Perry,

    Yes another good article and another good sign that the times they are a changing. 99 year leases are not going to work so well however if the permit system remains in place. There is not going to be much of a market for leases if those leases are in a locality that most people are not allowed to go to. I think that the Rudd roll back on the permit reforms is a setback. Roads and streets, airfields and jetties need to be opened up if there is to be market access. If permits are to be kept then those that issue and revoke the permits must be made more accountable to the communities they effect.

  34. Patrick B
    You are merely displaying the fake moral superiority that has been causing the problem all along. It is easy to say that Aboriginal people should have the best chance to enjoy the good things in life that other people take for granted. The question is how to go about it. The issue is as to the means, not the ends. By spruiking racially discriminatory laws you are implying that there is nothing wrong with the concept of forcibly privileging some people, and burdening others, on the basis of their race: it’s just that it wasn’t done properly. A bit *more* opinionated racist meddling is what is needed, apparently.

    What you are failing to address is the distinct possibility that this is what’s causing the problem in the first place. It is you who is being ahistorical. The entire history of European relations with Aborigines has been one of well-intentioned paternalistic race-based laws.

    The sign of an irrational belief is that, the more it fails, the more its proponents call for more of the same.

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