Monday 17th of May 2021

going backwards...




















Thirty years after the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission, is it time we admit that reconciliation is failing?



By Stan Grant


More than that, isn't it obscene to talk about "reconciliation" in the face of ongoing Indigenous suffering?

Achieving reconciliation was one of the recommendations of the commission, but how can we speak of coming together, healing or unity when Aboriginal people remain locked up in such shocking numbers?

Three per cent of the population comprise nearly 30 per cent of those behind bars. Look closely and it becomes even more alarming. In Western Australia, 40 per cent of prisoners are Indigenous. In the Northern Territory, it is more than 80 per cent.

Among youth it is even worse. Half of all children in detention nationally are Indigenous. In the NT, more than 90 per cent of all juveniles detained are black.


Let's try another ‘R' word: rejection

The federal government rejected the Uluru Statement from the Heart which called for a voice enshrined in the constitution to allow Indigenous communities greater input into government policy.


A voice that would come from the community and be accountable to the community, that could offer the hope of better policy outcomes, help keep people out of prison. Rejected.

Truth telling: rejected. The Uluru Statement asked for a full reckoning of our history.

Still today, Australians are woefully ignorant of the truth of Australia: of invasion and massacre and segregation and stolen children.

Australian political leaders still cannot utter the word genocide. We use weasel words like "settlement" and "discovery" and "dispossession" because we cannot use words of truth.

There is still no plaque on the War Memorial's Roll of Honour for the Aboriginal warriors who fought and died defending their land in Australia's frontier wars.

 Peace making: rejected


The Uluru Statement wanted a Makarrata Commission (named after a Yolngu word meaning to come together after a struggle).

The Makarrata Commission could have negotiated a just settlement overseeing the terms of agreement.

Instead what we have is reconciliation. No treaty, no meaningful recognition: just reconciliation — a word that rings like a hollow drum.

Reconciliation itself was always a poor substitute for another unutterable "R word": rights.

The reconciliation project was born of failure: a substitute for then prime minister Bob Hawke's promised treaty in 1988.

Three decades later, there is still no treaty. Reconciliation has become measured by employment targets, apologies or welcomes to country.

Meaningful talk of rights or sovereignty are banished from political discourse. But not from Indigenous peoples themselves.

Here's another 'R' word: refusal

Many Indigenous people are practising an ethical refusal to grant honour to the nation. Refusing to sing the national anthem or stand for the flag; refusing to acquiesce to a country that has failed its own test of equality, egalitarianism or justice.

The political claims of First Nations people ask hard questions of Australian liberal democracy.

Those claims challenge the legitimacy and the virtue of the nation.

How can a country that boasts of its tolerance, cohesion, multiculturalism, peace and prosperity allow such gross injustice, marginalisation and misery for so many of the First People?

Why is Australia apparently so comfortable with that suffering?

We could fix this

Australia has shown its capacity to deal with a crisis with its response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Public will and political leadership saw off the worst of the pandemic. As it surely passes, Aboriginal people will still die 10 years younger than the rest of the population, will remain the most impoverished and imprisoned people in the country.

If Australian democracy can apparently work for the greatest number of the population, why does it so fail the people of the First Nations?


Sydney University professor and philosopher Duncan Ivison, in a recent book, poses the question: Can Liberal States Accommodate Indigenous Peoples?

It is a pertinent and timely enquiry. Globally, liberal democracy is being tested.

We are in the midst of a democratic recession. Populists, demagogues stoking political tribalism and exploiting fear and anxiety, have distorted democracies.

People are losing faith in institutions and the soft guard rails of democracy — free and robust media, independent judiciary — are being eroded.

Democracies are rotting from within, crippled by gross inequality, concentration of power and wealth, and a historical legacy of racism and sexism.

It happens at a time when a rising and powerful China presents an authoritarian threat.

We're failing our own test

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week called for people to fight to preserve liberal democracy. Yet here in Australia we are failing the test of our own democracy.

After 200 years of liberalism and more than a century of federation, the First Peoples of this land are still locked up and dying in our jail cells.

The Uluru Statement, Duncan Ivison argues, presented an opportunity for "a refounding of Australia".

For Aboriginal people to accept the legitimacy of the state, Australia would need to "embrace a more historically informed approach to justice".

It would mean putting rights and justice ahead of comforting notions of reconciliation — going beyond an apology or a welcome to country — that currently does more to assuage white sensitives than truly recognise the rights of Indigenous people.

Ivison is a liberal idealist: he believes in liberalism's redemptive power and capacity for renewal.

Indigenous people burying their dead too young, mourning deaths in custody and seeing another generation lost to prison would have every right to be cynical or even dismissive.

Instead of reconciliation here's another "R word" that captures the mood of Indigenous people: rage.


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Yes I know. Bill Leak died and I should not sully our memory of him... But in the later years of his life he worked for the Murdoch empire and it is ny view that he sullied himself with cartoons that were below par like this one I used to make up the one at top.

















Free Julian Assange Now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


and things got worse...

There was a time when Bill Leak was more understanding...