Thursday, November 29, 2007

Liberals remain committed to reactionary values

The Liberal Party of Australia has emerged from its massive electoral defeat in the Australia federal elections committed to the reactionary policies that eventually alienated ex-PM John Howard from the majority of Australians of voting age.

Voting is compulsory in Australia, so the election is a genuine national referendum and the Liberals were comprehensively beaten by Labor.

With Howard gone, three, and then just two, candidates emerged for the Liberal leadership.

Mlacolm Turnbull put himself forward as a candidate who would respond to the the new national mood, promising to honour Labor's mandate to scrap WorkChoices and to support an apology to the Aboriginal Stolen Generation. He saw his task as salvaging Liberal electoral credibility.

Former Labor Party member Brendan Nelson rallied the most reactionary wing of the Liberals behind his pledge to opppose the apology and to cling to the Howard legacy on industrial relations.

Nelson just doesn't understand anything but a settler view of Aboriginal issues.

He said: "In my view we have no responsibility to apologise or take ownership for what was done by earlier generations."

"Our generation cannot take personal or generational responsibility for the actions of earlier ones, which in most but not all cases, were done with the best of intentions."

He added, "...Aboriginal people were removed from what were often appalling conditions."

This is the normal trite and racist rubbish vented on talk-back radio and in on-line chatrooms by settler apologists.

"We're not to blame, it was well-intentioned and in any case, we saved them from a lousy life, so if anything, they should be grateful and not demanding that we say sorry!"

I thank a contributor named CoogeeGal for posting this today on On-line Opinion. If you are an overseas reader and are not familiar with the Report on the Stolen Generation, then this might serve as a bit of a condensed version of the full report:

I often read the posts on this site, but have never actually posted before. But I would like to share a story with you.

My mother was born to an Aboriginal woman and a white-Australian man. As such she is black but is not as dark as her family. For the government, this meant that she met all the criteria for assimiliation under the 'White Australia' policy.

Mum lived on a farm, in a timber house with both her parents and her two younger sisters. She was loved, cared for, and had a very happy life.

In early 1966, at the young age of six, two white men pulled up in ute and took my mum. All she can remember of this day was being completely terrified of the two strange men and her mother screaming and crying. Her father was not home at the time. She was only allowed to take her doll, nothing else.

Mum was taken to live with a foster family that lived in a rural town where she was the only Aboriginal person. She was treated like a slave, and was sexually abused on pretty much a daily basis by her foster father until she was finally able to escape at the age of 16. She was also forced to leave school after primary school, because her family wanted her to work in their corner store and told her that an education was wasted on a black girl.

She was not allowed to talk about her life before and was forbidden from trying to find her mother. But she never forgot who she was and remembered her mothers name. Thankfully, years later she was able to find her mum and they were reunited when she was 17.

Mum is now 47, and is still haunted by those years. She has built a wonderful life for herself and has a beautiful family, and every day she amazes me with the strong women that she has become.

It frustrates me when people talk about these things happened in the past. This happened to people who are alive now. How can we pretend that this isn't an issue?

And don't try to tell me that the government thought that what they were doing was right. That is a load of rubbish. This happened because Aboriginal people where considered second class citizens (which is reflected by the fact that they weren't included under the consitution until 1967 and where once classified under the flora and fauna act)and white Australia wanted nothing to do with them.

No one will ever convince me that what happened to my mum was the right thing.

This story can be told by hundreds of Aboriginal people across this country. Some have been stong enough to be able to move on with their lives, but can we really be blame those that aren't as strong and struggle in life today?

An apology by the government and the Australian people is not about accepting resposibility, its about admitting that what happened in the past was wrong. When I talk about this issue to my non-Aboriginal friends, I always say to them 'If I told you my grandmother died, or that I had found out my fiance was cheating on me.....what would you say?'. Without a doubt, they always respond with 'I'm so sorry' or 'Im sorry to hear that'. They aren't taking responsibility for what happened but are expressing their understanding of an awful situation.

I'm very greatful that I knew both by mother and my grandmother growing up, a lot of Aboriginal people today didn't have the same opportunity.


Nelson, and before him Howard, assist in the cultivation of a settler-sympathetic culture in which racism is free to flourish.

Young nungas (Aborigines) in South Australia have created a website to develop and share pride in their heritage, but they have had their page gate-crashed by charmers like Justin Samuels, whose inspired contribution reads: "best nigger is a dead one likes black cunts", and Ricky Goodyear who thought he'd be funny and paste a bunch of "abo jokes".

These are the lumpens who are encouraged by the respectable John Howards and Brendan Nelsons.

The apology to the Stolen Generation must be made, and if the Liberals don't want to be part of it, so much the better!

Bernie Banton: Pure of Heart

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
I cry for the cruelty they made you endure
Covered like a snowman in asbestos dust
Their workplace relations a breach of trust
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
They treated you like a bloody spare part.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They knew, they knew, they knew for sure
Asbestos was a vicious killing carcinoma
That horrid death – mesothelioma
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
How many lives did they tear apart?

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They damaged your lungs, there was no cure
But you fought the bastards to see justice done
Not just for yourself but for everyone
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Yet they laughed at you right from the start.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Laugh last, laugh loud, to know that you’re
The one who took it up to them
That they’re the ones whom we condemn
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighting to the end their greedy black art.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Insulted by Abbott - that human manure
“Never take no for an answer” was your advice
They couldn’t buy your humanity for any price
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighter for all right from the start

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
The qualities of the worker, not the entrepreneur
How bad was the pain against which you struggled to live?
“I wouldn’t wish it on a Hardie’s executive”
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
I’d wish it on them and their profit chart!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bernie Banton - rest in peace!

Bernie Banton has died. Bernie Banton's name will shame the rich and powerful forever. He was as game as Ned Kelly in taking on James Hardie and their mongrel apologists in the Liberal Party. His spirit will forever permeate the great Australian trade union movement. Henry Lawson should be alive today to write a poem in his honour. My sympathies to his family and loved ones. You rest in peace now Bernie, because we'll never rest so long as injustice is done to working people!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NT Aboriginal Vote Calls Intervention into Question

The grassroots organisation Women for Wik, which has been monitoring the Federal intervention in the Northern Territory, has called on the incoming Rudd Labor government to honor its pre-election promises to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

"When they were at that election place, Aboriginal people said 'We don't want that CLP paper, we want that other paper, that good paper," said Rachel Willika, of Eva Valley community (left, in blue). "We didn't want that intervention government that is doing that intervention. We voted for that good government."

Newly re-elected Labor MP for Lingiari Warren Snowden received an unprecedented vote in remote communities. The Maningrida booth in the Top End got a 94 per cent vote for Labor, while four other mobile remote area voting booths returned Labor votes at a rate of between an 84 and 95 per cent.Aboriginal people from remote communities in the Northern Territory have supported Snowden's call for the re-instatement of the permit system and for cessation of the move off CDEP to work for the dole.

"That new government should stop those Centrelink people moving us on to work for the dole," said Ms Willika, "Those Centerlink people are coming to Eva Valley tomorrow. We don't like that work for the dole. We want real jobs."

"We voted for Labor to stop that intervention and to get our permit system back," said Nell Brown, senior traditional owner of Bagula clan lands, Barunga community, "We've been fighting to get our permit system back."

"We need to meet with Mr Rudd as soon as possible. We supported Labor through the electoral process, and we want address the issues," said Eileen Cummings, former Policy Advisor to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (centre, right).
"The Federal government took away our rights. We want these rights reinstated and we want a proper consultation process. We want to work with the Rudd Labor government to work out the best way forward for the benefit of Aboriginal people. "

"There needs to be a meeting as soon as practicable, given that aspects of this intervention are causing enormous hardships and distress', said Olga Havnen, CEO of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT."We need to re-align the intervention so that there are better outcomes at a community level, and a more effective focus on the protection of children."

"The results of this election calls into question the legal basis of the NT intervention-the circumvention of the Racial Discrimination Act on the basis that the intervention was for the good of the affected people," said Associate Professor, Claire Smith, a social scientist with 20 years research experience in remote communities in the Northern Territory."What is for the 'good' of people has to be judged by the individuals themselves. Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have clearly judged that the intervention as currently implemented is not benefiting them."

John Howard's Funeral

No-one has more right to celebrate the death of the Howard Government than the Aboriginal people. Howard's hostility to Land Rights, his drive to turn the clock back to the dark days of assimilation, his disrespect for the Stolen Generation, and his military invasion of Northern Territory Aboriginal communtities gives Aboriginal people pride of place in seeing the arse-end of Australia's worst Prime Minister. The icing on the cake is the defeat of Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough in his seat. To purify the nation and create the conditions for its healing, members of the Adelaide Aboriginal community, introduced by Tauto Sansbury and led by Kaurna elder Uncle Lewis Yeloburka O'Brien, held a smoking ceremony at Hindmarsh Square the day after the election.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day to Give Thanks?

I've filched this from Left Henry's website. As the US celebrates Thanksgiving today, this piece of writing reminds them that the First Nations of North America have nothing to celebrate. It has obvious resonance with the experiences of Aboriginal Australians. This is a voice that is not transmitted through the Murdoch media or any other branch of the capitalist press.


(The following is a piece written by Ward Churchill on Thanksgiving and the genocide of Native Americans it celebrates. Ward Churchill is a prominent political professor at the University of Colorado who has faced a large amount of political persecution being the central target of neo-conservative witchunt against professors in Universities who speak out and challenge the ruling classes version of history and current events. Horowitz, who believes black people are indebted to America for slavery, once said that there is one Ward Churchill but there are many like him all over the country and that they must all be denied tenure and essentially fired, as Ward Churchill has been. With that said, Churchill is in my view, a symbol of academic dissent against the ruling class. His piece basically addresses everything that is important to remember as you enjoy your Thankstaking.)

Thanksgiving is the day the United States celebrates the fact that the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony successfully avoided starvation during the winter of 1620-21.But from an American Indian perspective, what is it we're supposed to be so thankful for?

Does anyone really expect us to give thanks for the fact that soon after the Pilgrim Fathers regained their strength, they set out to dispossess and exterminate the very Indians who had fed them that first winter?Are we to express our gratitude for the colonists' 1637 massacre of the Pequots at Mystic, Conn., or their rhetoric justifying the butchery by comparing Indians to "rats and mice and swarms of lice"?

Or should we be joyous about the endless series of similar slaughters that followed: at St. Francis (1759), Horseshoe Bend (1814), Bad Axe (1833), Blue Water (1854), Sand Creek (1864), Marias River (1870), Camp Robinson (1878) and Wounded Knee (1890), to name only the worst?

Should we be thankful for the scalp bounties paid by every English colony -- as well as every U.S. state and territory in the lower 48 -- for proof of the deaths of individual Indians, including women and children?How might we best show our appreciation of the order issued by Lord Jeffrey Amherst in 1763, requiring smallpox-infested items be given as gifts to the Ottawas so that "we might extirpate this execrable race"?Is it reasonable to assume that we might be jubilant that our overall population, numbering perhaps 15 million at the outset of the European invasion, was reduced to less than a quarter-million by 1890?Maybe we should be glad the "peaceful settlers" didn't kill the rest of us outright. But they didn't really need to, did they? By 1900, they already had 98 percent of our land. The remaining Indians were simply dumped in the mostly arid and unwanted locales, where it was confidently predicted that we'd shortly die off altogether, out of sight and mind of the settler society.We haven't died off yet, but we comprise far and away the most impoverished, malnourished and disease-ridden population on the continent today.

Life expectancy on many reservations is about 50 years; that of Euroamericans more than 75.We've also endured a pattern of cultural genocide during the 20th century. Our children were processed for generations through government boarding schools designed to "kill the Indian" in every child's consciousness and to replace Native traditions with a "more enlightened" Euroamerican set of values and understandings.Should we feel grateful for the disastrous self-concept thereby fostered within our kids?

Are we to be thankful that their self-esteem is still degraded every day on cable television by a constant bombardment of recycled Hollywood Westerns and television segments presenting Indians as absurd and utterly dehumanized caricatures?Should we tell our children to find pride in the sorts of insults to which we are subjected to as a matter of course: Tumbleweeds cartoons, for instance, or the presence of Chief Wahoo and the Redskins in professional sports?

Does anybody really believe we should feel honored by such things, or by place names like Squaw Valley and Squaw Peak? "Squaw," after all, is the Onondaga word for female genitalia. The derogatory effect on Native women should be quite clear.

About three-quarters of all adult Indians suffer alcoholism and/or other forms of substance abuse. This is not a "genetic condition." It is a desperate, collective attempt to escape our horrible reality since "America's Triumph."

It's no mystery why Indians don't observe Thanksgiving.

The real question is why do you feast rather than fast on what should be a national day of mourning and atonement.Before digging into your turkey and dressing on Nov. 23, you might wish to glance in a mirror and see if you can come up with an answer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reinvigorating Malaysia' s progressive tradition

James Wong Wing On is a progressive journalist and author and a member of the 8th Parliament of Malaysia. I visit his blog from time to time to catch up with news of Australia's neighbour, Malaysia (for example, the November 10, 2007 mass rallies for democracy). The following item is from James' blog. It refers to photos that can be accessed on his original post.

This morning, former Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) social science lecturer Dr. Rohana Ariffin (second from right), well-known public intellectual and writer Rustam A. Sani (left), editor of the Chinese-language malaysiakini Yong Kai Ping (right) and myself spoke at the Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in downtown Kuala Lumpur to launch the second volume of the memoirs of a veteran of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) Abdullah CD and relaunch of the autobiography of another legendary woman anti-colonial fighter Shamsiah Fakeh.

The forum was chaired by publisher Chong Ton Sin (second from left) of Gerakbudaya and the widely acclaimed and award-winning documentary produced by Fahmi Reza, Sepuluh Tahun Sebelum Merdeka was screened.Also attending the launch and forum were Samsiah Fakeh's China-born and Mandarin-speaking son Jamaluddin Ibrahim as well as Dr. Syed Husin Ali, Dr. Mohamad Nasir Hashim and Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj.

Shamsiah herself was absent because of health reason.

In launching Part II of Pak Abdullah CD's memoirs Penaja dan Pemimpin Regimen Ke-10, I said the most central element of the progressive tradition in Malaysia, which was built on the blood of the martyrs of all races, is the uncompromising committment to multiethnic solidarity and fraternity in the continuing struggle to enlarge the realm of democratic freedom for all, advance social justice for the working people and preserve the independence and sovereignty of the nation.

I also pointed out that appreciating the contribution and sacrifice of the martyrs and forerunners of all races in their struggle against colonialism, fascism and imperialism which began in the mid-1920s and drawing inspirations as well as lessons from their struggle is as important as building and defending tombs and monuments, and the great and glorious tradition serves to balance against bookworm'ism although analysis of the current and future situations needs to be scientific and intellectual enough to answer questions of a new age.

November 17 Rally Against NT "Intervention"

Karranjal John Hartley, Coordinator of EarthSong Consultancy and adviser to the SA Branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), delievered the following speech at a rally against the Federal Government's Northern Territory "intervention" on Saturday 17 November 2007.

The speech is reproduced below:

I firstly acknowledge the Ancestors and continuing culture of the Kaurna People in whose country we gather.

Brothers and Sisters

My name is Karranjal John Hartley I am Ku Ku Yalanji and my mothers people are from the rain forest country of far North Queensland

I work in the area of Family violence I want to be clear today that Family Violence and in particular child abuse in all its forms is both culturally abhorrent and unacceptable.

Family violence affects each and every one of us regardless of race, country, class or gender.

Allow me to acknowledge all those surviving the trauma of such abuses and the many brave Aboriginal Women and Men who have for decades been at the forefront of raising these issues within our communities.

Brothers and Sisters

We gather here today to rally support for the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory and call for the immediate repeal of the NT Emergency Response Legislation.

We are here to demand that governments of all persuasions listen to, consult, negotiate and support Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory in addressing issues within their communities consistent with the Little Children Are Sacred report.

I would like to spend my brief time here today to talk on the need for us to break through the veneer that John Howard and Mal Brough are acting for the “good of our children.

It is important that we break through the manufactured perception created by both John Howard and Mal Brough that the extreme racist measures they have devised are needed to effectively tackle child abuse in Aboriginal communities that their measures are in fact, in the interest of children and for the ultimate good of Aboriginal people.

It is important we look beneath the Howard / Brough veneer, so that we may bring to the light of day the hidden mainstreaming and racist agenda that lay buried within the 500 plus pages of the “so-called “ Northern Territory emergency response legislation.

Howard and Brough argue any means to an end and that if you are not with them - you are therefore against them and by some warped definition either an abuser of children or at minimum prepared to accept child abuse as a functional way of life.

This of course is absurd. But what it does do quite effectively is inhibit people from speaking out for fear of being branded a pedophile. I am here today to dispel that fear
I vehemently disagree with both Howard and Brough and let me repeat; child abuse, in any form, in any culture is abhorrent and absolutely unacceptable

Brothers and Sisters

In non - Aboriginal urban mainstream communities where child abuse has been substantiated on the basis of clear evidence the child is removed to ensure the safety and future of that child - who would argue with that?

But is the whole neighborhood then held responsible?

Are all your houses, land and community assets then confiscated?

Are all your wages, unemployment or pension payments then quarantined?

Are you then told with what is left of your money were, when, why, how and with whom you can spend it with?

Are your businesses taken over and placed into the hands of Government managers?

Are all your workplaces shut down?

Brothers and Sisters

If it were simply a case of more policing - a matter of establishing law and order as is often heard. Why is child abuse on the increase in mainstream society?

Why does a child die approximately every three-days through child abuse with barely a headline?

Why is pornography openly for sale at our local news- agents and corner shops?

Why is Canberra known as the porn capital of Australia?

Brothers and Sisters

Ask yourself how many children have been removed under protective orders in targeted Northern Territory Aboriginal Communities since the intervention?

Ask yourself how many charges have been laid against offenders?

Brothers and Sisters

What is happening in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities is a return to failed ideologically driven social experiments of the very recent past.

What is happening in our name is unfair, unjust, un-Australian and unworkable.

Brothers and Sisters

On each occasion the racial discrimination act has been suspended in this country, it has been to the direct detriment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

This intervention is racist to the extreme and we must demand the immediate repeal of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Legislation. These back to the future polices never worked before and they will not work now.

Black Yellow Red or White we can only do this together. Let us throw whatever resources we may have, whatever they may be to bring about the abolition of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Legislation.

Lets us hold up the Little Children Are Sacred report as a first step in ensuring the safety and future not only for the children of the Northern Territory, but for all children everywhere.

Thank you for listening.

Adelaide, South Australia. Parliament House Steps National Day of Action
For the abolishment of the Northern Territory Emergency Response Legislation.
17th November 2007.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nepal's Comrade Gaurav speaks in London

Comrade Gaurav (C.P. Gajurel), who is in charge of the International Bureau of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)-CPN (M)-made an important speech at Goldsmiths College in London on Thursday 15/11/07. Comrade Gaurav made a series of important and inspiring points. His speech was well-received by an audience of students and British sympathisers with the revolution in Nepal.

Comrade Gaurav urged a united struggle by the CPN (M) and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) against the Congress-led Interim government.

However, Comrade Gaurav stated that the CPN (M) did not want to take power at this current time. He argued that in the present situation, the party could do little to benefit the people, if it was part of the government. However, he was confident of the CPN (M) achieving power at the appropriate time.

Comrade Gaurav explained that Nepal Congress was in a serious dilemma at the moment. This is because of the fact that they have lost a recent vote in the Interim Parliament on the issue of the establishment of a republic and a fully proportional voting system. If Congress sticks to its position, it will be going against the will of the people. If it changes its position, this will be seen as a significant reversal of its policy.

It was made clear by Comrade Gaurav that the CPN (M) sees the parliamentary struggle as only one front in its fight for revolution. As Marxists, they do not believe that power can be achieved by parliamentary means alone. The decision to engage in parliamentary struggle arose from the need to win over the urban masses. Critics who ask why the CPN (M) did not continue the People’s War in 2006 fail to acknowledge this need. Despite its power in the countryside, the CPN (M) was not politically strong enough to lead an urban revolt in 2006 to complete the revolution.

Comrade Gaurav spoke of the dangers of foreign intervention led by US imperialism to prevent the success of the revolution in Nepal. Comrade Gaurav pointed out that Nepal was perfectly able to withstand an economic blockade by means of economic self-reliance and through the determined spirit of the people. Comrade Gaurav also pointed out that the disruption to the regional balance of power caused by intervention in Nepal would not be tolerated by interested parties among the Asian nations.

Finally, Comrade Gaurav stressed that the CPN (M) was making its revolution for all the people of the world. The main enemy of the people of Nepal is U.S. imperialism, he stated. Comrade Gaurav hoped that the example of the CPN (M) would inspire people around the world in the struggle against imperialism.

The meeting was hosted by Goldsmiths College Centre for Culture Studies, Nepali Samaj and the World People’s Resistance Movement (Britain)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black Armband 4: The Angepena Atrocities

Angepena Station is a pastoral run near Copley in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia.

It is currently the subject of a dispute between the Adnyamathanha people, who are the traditional owners, and “Operation Flinders”, an SA-based Foundation that runs a boot camp style program for young offenders and youth at risk.

This dispute will be dealt with in a later post.

This post looks at the disputes that arose from the unsettlement of the area by pastoralists in the 1850s, and at incidents that could only be described as atrocities.

An atrocity is a term used to describe crimes or excesses ranging from an act committed against a single person to one committed against a population or ethnic group.

In general use, an atrocity designates a politically or ethnically motivated killing of civilians.

I use the term “Angepena Atrocities” to describe such actions in and around Angepena station (see homestead, below).

The chief source is the writing of John Wrathall Bull, perhaps better known in South Australia as one of two claimants to the title of inventor of the Stripper (below, left), an agricultural implement that dramatically increased the productive forces of the farm sector in colonial times.

As a twenty-one year old, Bull took charge of a cattle-run owned by John Chambers, at Bobmoonie West, to the north of Oratunga in the Flinders Ranges in 1856. One of his first jobs was to drove seven thousand sheep from Oratunga to Franklin Harbour at Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula.

The droving was not without incident, and Bull recounts one incident in which a group of about two hundred Aborigines threatened his progress near Port Augusta. He shot some of the old rams in the flock within sight of the Aborigines in order to impress upon them the lethal nature of his weaponry, and then gave them some of the meat. The Aborigines followed him to Minbrie, about twenty kilometres due north of Cowell, and then left.

On arrival at Minbrie, James Shannon, the manager, asked Bull about Pongilta, an Aborigine, saying that if he was among those that had threatened Bull he would find him and shoot him as he had robbed a shepherd’s hut a month previously.

Bull confirmed Pongilta’s presence and recorded that Shannon “went after him but whether he got him or not I never knew.”

What he did know, beyond doubt, was that there were only Aboriginal women at Minbrie homestead. He was surprised and asked them the whereabouts of their men. He was told they were “crackaback”, or dead. “All about white fella shoot ‘em,” they reported.

On his way back to Oratunga, a 4-day horse ride, he stopped at Wilpena and Aroona in the Flinders Ranges and, as he had at Minbrie, only saw Aboriginal women and children in the camps.

“They told me, ‘White fella shootem all about blackfella,’” he wrote.

Thus, the dispossession of the traditional owners and the unsettlement of their societies were accompanied by atrocities directed mainly at the adult men.

It was targetted, genocidal murder.

But it was not only the men who were the subject of atrocities by the unsettlers.

That same year Bull went from Bobmoonie West to the neighbouring Angepena to arrange for a cattle muster. There he met John Stewart, who ran the place. It was late in the day, and he noticed a “native camp” not far down the creek from Stewart’s hut.

“Stewart took me down the creek,” he wrote, “and showed me a camp of lubras and children all cut to pieces with the stockwhips.

“The women’s breasts were cut open and little children six to twelve months old were bleeding all over.

“They said they were coming through Pernunna and went to a little spring to get a drink.

“They said ‘No bullocky there, master,’ meaning they were doing no harm, as there were no cattle there to be frightened away by them.

“They said Arkaba Charlie and Jack Morrow galloped down on them and ‘Whip give it’.”

Similar reports from other observers throughout South Australia make it clear that denying Aboriginal people access to water holes was a common practice at the time, and that in any case, sheep and cattle soon left natural water holes fouled and undrinkable.

Bull and Stewart went mustering cattle the next day, leaving Stewart’s hut-keeper James Mitchell in charge. When they returned several days later, they found that Mitchell had been killed by Aboriginal men enraged at the treatment of the woman and children.

Mounted police were sent to find Mitchell’s killers and an Aboriginal male named Warrioota was captured, fastened “with a dog-chain and a rope around his neck so (the troopers) could each take an end to lead him.” However, Warrioota escaped on the third day, rejoined his people and was never recaptured.

Undaunted, the troopers arrested a second man whom they believed to be Puttapa Bob, another of Mitchell’s assailants. The arrest wasn’t easy – “Puttapa Bob” resisted and was stabbed and cut by a sword and shot through the arm. Thus wounded, chained and handcuffed, the captured man was forced to walk to Mt Remarkable, a walk that took several days. He was seen there by Bull who recognised immediately that it was the wrong man!

Bull wrote that the innocent “blackfellow was ironed and chained down to a large ring-bolt in the middle and stank…He died a few days after I saw him and there was nothing said about it. I knew it was no use saying anything at that time.”

He commented that the Aborigines “look upon the white man as their general enemy taking the water and hunting grounds from them and giving them no recompense for it, but shooting them down.”

The situation in and around Angepena remained “unsettled” and a police station was maintained there for ten years until drought forced its closure in 1867.

When Prime Monster John Howard announced his proposal for a Constitutional “affirmation of the unique place of Indigenous Australians” at the Sydney Institute on October 12, he simultaneously reiterated his disdain for “shame, guilt and apologies”.

The truth will out. The facts are plain.

British colonialism was guilty of unsettling the traditional owners of the land, of dispossessing them, and of carrying out this unsettlement and dispossession with atrocities and massacres.

This is what is required to be stated in the Constitutional Preamble!

Monday, November 12, 2007

NT Intervention Damages Sacred Site

Monday, 12 November 2007

The grassroots organisation Women for Wik (see link opposite), which has been monitoring the Federal intervention in the Northern Territory, expressed dismay at the revelation that a pit toilet has been built on a sacred site in the Aboriginal township of Numbulwar, one of the 73 communities directly affected by the intervention.

"This has occurred despite repeated assurances by Prime Minister Howard and his Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, that sacred sites would be protected", said Olga Havnen, CEO of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the NT. "This is an example of how the whole approach to the intervention is fundamentally flawed. The desecration of sacred sites is not something that can be repaired."

In his 25 June Address to the Sydney Institute, the Prime Minister stated that 'The permit system for common areas, road corridors and airstrips for prescribed communities on Aboriginal land will be scrapped. Private residences and sacred sites will continue to be protected.

'"What a mob of idiots! Where is the consultation process?" said Eileen Cummings, former Policy Advisor to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. "You don't just go in and build something without talking to people. How can people know what is sacred and what isn't if they don't ask?"

"I am not surprised that this could happen, given that the Federal government is employing a deliberate policy of not consulting with Aboriginal communities. Even Telecom wouldn't put a line down without talking to the traditional owners."

"The Northern Territory has some of the most important archaeological sites in the world, and this government has put in place a process that is damaging sites, when it should be protecting them. This government is not fulfilling its duty to the Australian people, or to the international community" said Claire Smith, President of the World Archaeological Congress.

"We are now in the bizarre situation whereby sites of global significance are under threat by the actions, and inattention, of an Australian government," said Associate Professor Smith.

"Independent contractors are engaged to conduct work without being given any proper cultural training or supervision. This is due a failure in oversight."

"This blatant disregard for Aboriginal women's culture shows the flaws in the heavy handed and insensitive approach taken by this intervention. Mal Brough said that sacred sites would be protected. He lied" said Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney.

"This shows that we were justified in our concern that the abolition of the permit system would result in damage to sacred areas" said Ms Cummings. "Warren Snowdon expressed concern about this some time ago, but Mal Brough assured us that this would not happen. Well, Snowden was right, and Brough was wrong."

"This government is showing a complete lack of respect. They would not dare do this with any form of property owner in the country", said Ms Havnen. "Try telling someone else in suburban Australia that you are going to erect a shed in their backyard, or rip down their carport, or remove their clothesline. They would not tolerate it. And these are hardly sites of significance."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A villanelle on a new comrade joining us at work

Raise the willing arm and let the red flag fly
Let the wind-thrashed flapping be our song
Shout the thrilling words: “The struggle is nigh!”

The land of Soviets by traitors let die
The land of the Long March prolong
Raise the willing arm and let the red flag fly

In buildinged tunnels echoed voices cry
The wisdom without of the throng
Shout the thrilling words: “The struggle is nigh!”

Grasp that flag pole and thrust it high
The banners there, move them along
Raise the willing arm and let the red flag fly

You’ll be welcome here at work where work means we try
The people’s great cause to belong
Shout the thrilling words, “The struggle is nigh!”

The great storm will come without asking why
We must stand as the vanguard’s prong:
Raise the willing arm and let the red flag fly
Shout the thrilling words: “The struggle is nigh!”

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The con job of "private" education

Let me start by saying that we sent both of our children to the local public school, and have never regretted it. It was well-resourced, although not to the level of elite private schools, one of which my wife attended.

I am concerned, however, at the trend towards greater federal funding for private schools. Public schools teach almost 70 per cent of the kids but now only receive 35 per cent of Federal education funding.

Yes, the state governments are responsible for funding government schools, but they also fund private schools. In SA this means that they pay for the School Card (a subsidy for school fees), for fee remissions (picking up the tab for non-payment of fees by non-School card parents), contribute towards boarding costs, pastoral care for boarders, Aboriginality, index of rurality for country schools, funding per student based on an index of disadvantage, special needs funding, plus a per capita grant.

Independent? No. Private/sectarian? Yes.

Surely the only obligation on government, as an executive of social responsibility, is to provide quality public schools throughout the community. If people wish to opt out of this, let them do so at their own expense.

Unfair? Hardly - or at least no less unfair than the social responsibility of governments to provide quality public roads.

No-one suggests that private roads be built at taxpayer expense for the drivers of luxury imported cars, or for left-hand drive vehicles, roads from which the Private Roads Board could exclude Toyota drivers and Datsun drivers. And imagine the public derision - comparable to that directed at the bunyip aristocracy in colonial times - that would erupt if our elite and sectarian car owners did start to duplicate the public road system!

But we let it happen with schools - the very institutions in which we impart our values of fairness and equity. And the real losers? Amongst others, and ironically, those very parents who succumb to the ideologies of "private is better" and "choice above all", and who pay, on top of their taxes, fees of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be better spent, as someone pointed out, on helping children getting a start with a house or a career.

What a shameful con job is "private" education. And how contrary to the ideals of the great country I'm still proud to call "home"!

Monday, November 05, 2007

More boss class thuggery

Last August, three low-paid US workers toured Australia and provided details of life for the working poor in the US (see here).

Last Friday, the following report was released by the Service Employees International Union (SIEU). It details the harassment that can face workers in the land of the free when they dare to stand up for their rights.

Despite all the carry-on here about "union thugs", the real thugs are the bosses who, in their selfishness and greed, cannot see the worker as a fellow human being deserving of dignity and respect.

The report follows:


Three Hospitalized Following Unprovoked Attack While Speaking Out For Workers’ Basic Civil Rights at Mall Management Office

Hayward, CA—Three people, including two janitors and a union organizer, were hospitalized yesterday after being beaten and pepper-sprayed by Southland Mall security officers during a peaceful 25-person mid-day delegation to the mall’s management office to speak out against civil rights abuses against the mall’s janitors, who are forming a union in order to gain a voice on the job.

“Everything was going well but when we started chanting ‘We Want Justice’ the security guards lost control and started attacking us,” said janitor Maricela Flores. “Why did they have to react so violently?” A mother of two, Flores and two other members of the delegation, janitor Sonia Sharwood and union organizer Raúl Cardenas, were brought by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Hayward after the unprovoked attack. Respectively, they suffered from impaired vision and tearing, general pain in the limbs, and difficulty breathing after being beaten and pepper-sprayed at the hands of approximately five mall security officers.

The officers are employed by Valor Security Services, a company that is symptomatic of the low standards that plague the mall security industry, where poor training, low wages, and few if any benefits contribute to high employee turnover and inexperienced officers.

For several months workers at more than 20 General Growth Properties malls nationwide have joined with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to win living wages, affordable health care, and a voice on the job. In many malls, janitors have been met with alleged interrogation, surveillance, discrimination, and even firing of janitors who support their union.

According to charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board, there have been 61 alleged violations of janitors’ basic civil rights at GGP malls throughout the country, including alleged interrogation, intimidation, and discrimination at Southland Mall itself.
With 1.9 million members, SEIU is the nation’s largest labor union and represents more than 225,000 janitors and 50,000 security officers in 30 cities throughout the United States.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Management Thuggery

The Howard Government has turned union bashing into an art form in the lead-up to November’s Federal election.

Shamefully, Rudd and Gillard give substance to Howard’s attacks with their disgraceful treatment of people like Dean Mighell (Electrical Trades Union) and Joe McDonald (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union).

However, nothing is said or done when bosses make threats.

Take the case of TransAdelaide general manager Bill Watson. Watson lost his cool at an enterprise bargaining meeting with SA Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union officials on August 7.

Referring to documents about the relocation of the Adelaide rail depot yards to make way for a new hospital, Watson threatened to “hunt down and kill” anybody he found who had leaked details to the media.

Ray Hancox, and organizer for the union, said “I objected and said those remarks were a bit out of place, a bit strong, and to retract them and he basically repeated what he said before that he would hunt them down and kill them.”

Union secretary Ashley Waddell wrote to Watson on August 21 asking for an apology, and one was eventually received on September 10.

That’s a full month and three days since Hancox’s original request for a retraction. Seems some people take a long time to regain their composure.

What we won’t see though are Howard Government TV ads featuring Watson’s photo with “Management Thuggery” stamped across his forehead.

And I won’t hold my breath waiting for Rudd to say anything either!