Thursday 28th of September 2023

the benefits of invasion.....

The Indigenous Australians minister [Linda Burney] says she feels betrayed by senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price's comment that First Nations people are not being affected by colonialism because "we now have running water".  

Key points:
  • Jacinta Nampijinpa Price said she does not believe First Nations Australians are currently being affected by colonialism 
  • Linda Burney says the idea colonisation does not have far-reaching effects is "simply wrong" 
  • Ms Burney highlighted incarceration rates, education outcomes and life expectancy as struggles faced by Indigenous Australians

Senator Nampijinpa Price was asked during her National Press Club address if she felt there were any ongoing, negative impacts of colonisation on Indigenous Australians.

"No, there's no ongoing negative impacts of colonisation," she said.

"I'll be honest with you, I do not think so. A positive impact, absolutely."

The Northern Territory senator added: "I mean, now we have running water, readily available food."

Minister Linda Burney said she felt betrayed and shocked by Senator Nampijinpa Price's comments. 

"The idea that colonisation in any country where there's been a colonisation process doesn't have long and far-reaching effects is simply wrong," she said. 

Ms Burney took the opportunity to highlight issues that First Nations Australians face today that she hoped a Yes referendum outcome would assist with. 

"Life expectancy, education outcomes, overcrowding and incarceration rates," she said.

"It is so important to recognise the full story of Australia."

Ms Burney said First Nations people she had spoken to after Senator Nampijinpa Price's comments said the remarks had made them feel distressed and disgusted. 

Australians will head to the polls on October 14 to vote to enshrine a constitutional Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians. 

The Voice would act as an advisory body on issues pertaining to First Nations people.

Burney 'inundated with racist abuse'

When asked if he agreed with Senator Price's comments, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton avoided a direct answer but said she made the comments "in context". 

"She's a brave Indigenous woman, and we either accept that people have views, a broad range of views, or we don't," Mr Dutton told Channel Nine. 

"You've got somebody on display who … had to stand up for what she believes in." 

When pressed on the life expectancy rate of Indigenous Australians being shorter than the rest of the country, Mr Dutton said Senator Nampijinpa Price's view of First Nations Australians not being affected by colonialism should not be ignored.

He then accused Ms Burney, who is a Wiradjuri woman born in regional NSW, of having a "capital city view". 

Speaking to New South Wales Premier Chris Minns while handing out Yes pamphlets in Sydney, Ms Burney described recent weeks as "gruelling".

This week Ms Burney had been the target of a consistent stream of questioning from the opposition about Voice to Parliament advisory body proposal and about comments from Indigenous academic Marcia Langton.

Whilst discussing the recent sitting weeks, Ms Burney said she had been treated "appallingly" during a "gruelling week of parliament", and had been the subject of racism and bullying.

Both sides have called for the Voice debate to remain respectful in the remaining four weeks before Australians vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

"In recent months, my office, social media and email accounts have been inundated with racist abuse," Ms Burney said in a statement. 

"Racism takes its toll.

"But I will never allow racism to weaken or diminish my resolve to see Australia embrace constitutional recognition through a Voice.

"My message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are experiencing racism is this: hold your head high, be proud of your identity and who you are."





vote yes.....

Thousands of Australians are preparing to “walk for yes” at events across the country. 

The ‘yes’ campaign for an Indigenous voice in the constitution will hold more than 40 mass walks in every capital city and regional centres with rock legends to lend their own voices to the chorus of supporters. 

Paul Kelly, Peter Garrett, Dan Sultan, Missy Higgins, Bernard Fanning, Spiderbait and John Butler will perform over the weekend. 

Garrett, the Midnight Oil frontman, took to social media to encourage Australians to join in the marches. 

“I’ll be performing acoustically, as Music for the Voice forms to publicly show support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in the upcoming referendum,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Yes23 campaign director Dean Parkin said the weekend – which marks the start of a parliament-free run up until voting day – would be a unifying moment for the ‘yes’ camp.

“We are a people-powered campaign and this will be on show over the weekend as Australians from all walks of life show their support for a ‘yes’ vote,” he said.

“Australians will walk together this weekend just as we are asking them to walk together with us on October 14 to recognise, listen and deliver better outcomes for Indigenous people.”

The tail end of the final parliament sitting week before the referendum was dominated by accusations of racism being levelled across the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps as both blamed the other for trying to divide the nation. 

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has pledged to hold a second referendum purely addressing constitutional recognition if elected but somewhat walked back his comments on Friday.

He said he didn’t necessarily want a second vote, but was looking for reconciliation.

“I don’t believe people, if they vote ‘no’ on October 14, are voting against helping Indigenous Australians,” the Liberal leader said.

“I don’t believe they’re voting against recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution, but they are voting against the voice.

“Nobody wants a second referendum, we want this referendum to be a unifying not a dividing moment.”

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says a unifying moment lies ahead of the nation if they accept the hand that has been outstretched by Indigenous Australians and listen to what they’re asking for – a voice that cannot be erased by successive governments.

The referendum will ask voters whether they want to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by enshrining an Indigenous consultative body in the constitution. 

The make-up and operation of the body will then be determined by parliament if the vote is successful and will not be able to veto government decisions or legislation.





media silence....

Voice proponents flood the streets of major cities as Australian media battles its ‘cult of forgetfulness.’

Senator Jacinta Price’s National Press Club speech last week generated a lot of publicity – mainly about whether what she said was accurate or not – which it transparently wasn’t.

Senator Nampijinpa Price, when asked if she felt there were any ongoing, negative impacts of colonisation on Indigenous Australians, replied “No, there’s no ongoing negative impacts of colonisation” – despite a literature which would fill a library demonstrating that she is wrong.

Her comments are an insight into the historiographical problem of what constitutes a nation, what contributes to nationalism and national memory and how it all gets distorted.

Such problems were addressed in Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The Invention of Scotland which looked at how much of Scottish history is infected by myth and legend. Eric Hobsbawm’s and Terence Ranger’s The Invention of Tradition, which looks at similar problems, is one of the most important and revelatory historical works published in modern times. There is also an increasing historical interrogation of national myths of countries from Russia and the US to Australia and Ireland.

Senator Price, in the vein discussed in these works, argued that conversation around colonisation and its ongoing impacts can do harm – which is true according to the reflexive attitudes of a passionate woke observer – but hardly what you would expect from a Coalition parliamentarian supposedly talking about history.

But the bigger problem is not the discussion of the problem (which she also says doesn’t exist as well as saying it is harmful to discuss it) but rather ignoring what W.E.H. Stanner talked about in his Boyer lecture, After the Dreaming, where he described a ‘cult of forgetfulness’ which he termed ‘the Great Australian Silence’ in which Australians don’t just fail to acknowledge the atrocities of the past, but choose to not think about them at all, to the point of forgetting that these events ever happened.

It also raises the issues Ernst Renan discussed in his speech What is a Nation? delivered at the Sorbonne in March 1882. There he said: “A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things which properly speaking are really one and the same constitutes this soul. One is the past, the other is the present. One is the possession of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present consent, the desire to live together, the desire to continue to invest in heritage that we have jointly receive.”

“Messieurs, man (it was the 19th century after all) does not improvise. The nation, like the individual, is the outcome of a long past of efforts, sacrifices, and devotions,” he said.

Renan also said: “Forgetting, I would even say historical error, is an essential factor in the creation of a nation and it is for this reason that the progress of historical studies often poses a threat to nationality and results in the belief that ‘deeds of violence which took place at the origin of all political formations’ must be extinguished.

“A great aggregation of men (again remember this was in 1882) in sane mind and warm heart create a moral conscience that calls itself a nation,” Renan said.

Meanwhile, back at Voice media coverage the major dailies did their usual job on the Yes marches. The Age managed to underestimate the number of marchers by 20,000 according to the difference between their and police estimates. The Herald-Sun pushed it off the front page for Ron Barassi.

The Australian put it on the front page but the headline made it clear they regarded it as a one-day wonder. It was almost reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 when Hal says: “Wisdom cries out in the streets and no man regards it.” A bit like where Shakespeare got it from – Provebs 1:20 “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets.”