Blue Steak on Lygon Street: The Mario Corniola…

“Is it blue enough?” he growled in affectionate inquiry, referring to the…

The Morrison government has no sense of urgency…

Jon Williams owns a very progressive engineering business employing 75 people. But…

Crisis, chaos, collapse

Serendipity has resulted in my living in the capital of the Northern…

Report finds gig economy workers ‘deliberately’ abused –…

By William Olson  Fresh on the heels of a study and report released…

Vulgar Militarism: Expanding the Australian War Memorial

It was a decision both rash and indulgent. In November 2018, Australian…

COVID-19: Where was it born: China, the United…

Continued from: COVID-19: Where was it born: China, the United States or…

JAGGED #6 - Mental Illness and the Law

Follows on from JAGGED #5Chapter 16: Mental illness and the Law.Have you,…

Ex-greenie apologises for telling climate truths

Climate change has been reignited by the claims of a greenie activist,…


Michael recently retired from the Public Service and is studying law in his retirement. His interests are politics, media, history, and astronomy. Michael holds a BA in Aboriginal Affairs Administration, a BA (Honours) in Aboriginal Studies, and a Diploma of Government. Michael rarely writes articles for The AIMN these days, but is heavily involved with the admin team.


Donald Trump and the tweet that stopped the world

Some events, catastrophic or otherwise, have been known to stop the world. They are events that captured the eyes and ears of the entire planet.

I can think of a number of them in my lifetime:

The Cuban missile crisis

The assassination of JFK

The first moon landing

The Apollo 13 drama

The Tiananmen Square massacre

The Chernobyl disaster

Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

The fall of the Berlin Wall

The death of the Princess of Wales

The events of 9/11

A tweet by Donald Trump.

”What! A tweet by Donald Trump?” you ask.

“Yes indeed. His tweet of this morning has stopped the world.”

A tweet so stupid, that the whole world has stopped in stunned, gob-smacking amazement. You just have to see it:

Well there you have it.

You can now pick yourself up from the floor and carry on with your life safe in the knowledge that this “stable genius” is the apparent leader of the free world, and that everything you ever knew about the moon was wrong.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a screenshot of one of his tweets from three weeks ago, proposing, of all things, that we should go back to the moon.

Sometimes … just sometimes … I am lost for words.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button


January 1: Exclusion and the White Australia Policy

Is there a day on the calendar that draws as much debate as January 26? While a large proportion of Australians celebrate this as Australia Day, there is a growing number who refuse to celebrate what they refer to as ‘Invasion Day’. On January 26, 1788 the Union Jack was raised on our shores, and Aboriginal ownership of the land was usurped.

The call to change the date of Australia Day from January 26 has been growing louder each year, to one where all Australians could feel included. January 26 does not offer this to the First Australians. The obvious choice espoused by many is January 1, which celebrates our federation in 1901. But history reminds us that this is as equally insulting to the First Australians as January 26.

Let us look at that history and build a case why January 1 should not be considered.

This is not a short read, but I hope for those who have the time and patience to read through it will gain an appreciation of why January 1 should not be the day we celebrate Australia Day. (Please note, for this article I have drawn together much of two of my previously published articles: Federalism and why we have it on Cafe Whispers, and Aborigines: They’re gonna die out anyway here on The AIMN, however, here they are presented with a different intent).

Perhaps the most debated reason behind Federation was the (then) popular concept of a common policy on immigration. The colonists, being mainly Britannic Australians, wanted it kept that way. Australia’s geography – further from the colonist’s ‘home’ than almost any place on earth, and separated by only a narrow sea passage from the teeming millions of Asia – resulted in the development of a xenophobic, isolationist world view, in which psychological barriers were erected against near neighbours, and intervention in foreign affairs was only at the behest of Mother England.

Arguably, the cornerstone in the foundation of Australia is racism; and that Federation was the opportunity to maintain white superiority. (England was, at the time, anti-racial). In drafting the Constitution the intention was to grant the Commonwealth power over the limited rights of immigrants, and subsequently the first act of the new Parliament was the Immigration Restriction Act: better known as the White Australia Policy.

But what concern is this to the First Australians, and why should it be offensive to them to adopt January 1 as the date to celebrate Australia Day?

Colonial Australia was determined to maintain what it believed was its racial homogeneity. If the Indigenous peoples continued their perceived decline towards extinction (and other migrant races were excluded or expelled), a ‘pure race’ could logically result.

Even before colonisation, the construct of the Aborigine saw them positioned in the landscape as a savage: a subsequent depiction that evolved in the minds of European imagination. The English, especially, considered themselves well-credentialed. As the first Englishman to encounter Aborigines, William Dampier instilled in other Englishmen’s minds the preconceptions about these people when he wrote that they were “the miserablest people in the world.” And the image of the Aborigine was to leave no impression of excitement or significance on James Cook, a later visitor, merely accepting the Aborigines as Dampier had earlier reported. Cook had also brought with him images of Indigenous peoples as noble savages, largely the antithesis of Europeans. Cook was probably influenced by the writings of Rousseau, whose saw native peoples as unadulterated by the evils of civilisation. These idealistic views were modified after 1788, however these early explorers saw no, and reported no positive attributes among the Aboriginal people and believed in their own superiority. The land was declared terra nullius … and the various Aboriginal nations declared uncivilised.

Earlier constructs of Aboriginal people were no less flattering. Constructed by Europeans in their absence, Australia’s Aborigines were placed low in the order of humanity based on their perceived lack of intellect and active powers. These conceived attitudes were carried throughout colonial Australia and helped secure the fate of the Aborigines.

Image from Pinterest

The preconceptions had thus germinated by 26th January 1788 when the history of European-Aboriginal interactions began as the British flag was raised at Port Jackson. Accordingly, Governor Phillip and others brought their own preconceptions about Aborigines and also their intentions of their future. Based on these preconceptions they would be considered a part of Australia’s past.

Contemporary writers offer a picture suggesting that in January 1788 amicable relations between the Europeans and the Aborigines were established with comparative ease. They wrote liberally of pleasant interactions, confidently suggesting that the Aborigines would soon discover that the colonists were not their enemies, and noted that the Aborigines were treating the whites as their equals. However, as Aboriginal people had nothing the invader wanted but their land, attempts to maintain diplomatic relations with them were abandoned.

Nevertheless, Aborigines were to be treated as equals of British subjects – without actually being British subjects – in order to allow the Governor some semblance of control over actual British subjects.

Regarding the legal status of Aborigines in the early days of colonial settlement, official correspondence frequently drew a distinction between British subjects and the Aborigines, treating the two groups differently. However, as interaction between the groups increased, Aboriginal people came to be treated as if they were British subjects, albeit for some purposes.

At the outset of white settlement the British government claimed ownership of all land for the crown. London espoused the ethnocentric viewpoint that Aboriginal peoples who did not cultivate the land and who showed no signs of permanent homes were not accorded any legal rights to the lands. Instead, the Aboriginals were to be treated as coming under British dominion, subject theoretically to the same laws which applied to the European settlers. Just as the colonists were allowed to manage their own affairs, so the Aborigines were left to themselves to do as they like so long as they do not interfere with the colonists. If an effort was made by the government to benefit them by trying to induce them to adopt a civilised life, it is left entirely at their option whether they permitted themselves to come under the provisions made for their benefit or not.

However, as the colonies later became self-governing in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the influence of London declined, Aboriginal people were increasingly displaced, legally and physically, as a distinct people. This change was to be dramatic in the latter half of the nineteenth century when the distinctive differences could be explained, classified, and sanctioned.

The year 1859 saw the publication of a rather important book: Charles Darwin’s The Origins of Species. In his book Darwin suggested that species were not permanently fixed, that they were all undergoing change by natural selection. If a species did not adapt successfully, it was liable to become extinct. Only the favoured survived and prospered in the struggle for life.

Darwin’s theories also suited the social order. Even before The Origin of Species, the idea of ‘the survival of the fittest’, a phrase coined by Herbert Spencer, was being used to justify ruthless competition between individuals, classes, nations and races. Although The Origins of Species did not relate natural selection to humanity, it seemed to give a scientific – and therefore moral – sanction to repressive social relationships. For the remainder of the century, Social Darwinism, as this misapplication of Darwin’s ideas came to be called, was used to justify the oppression and exclusion of the Aborigines. Darwin’s ideas seemed to justify what happened when the British expanded their empire, populated new lands and dispossessed Indigenous peoples. Before Darwin had published The Origin of Species, the extinction of the Aborigines was being explained away as ‘the design of Providence’. Darwin’s theories gave such sentiments an aura of scientific legitimacy.

Following the publication of Darwin’s book the view of evolution was quickly applied to the study of racial groups. Herbert Spencer considered the development of society and human intellect in evolutionary terms and argued that the dominant races overrun the inferior races. Spencer’s premise that a general law of evolution could be formulated led him to apply the biologic scheme of evolution to human society. The doctrine of social structure and change, if the generalisations of his system were pertinent, must be the same as those of the universe at large. In applying evolution to human society, Spencer, and after him the Social Darwinists, was adding integrity to its origins. The survival of the fittest was a biological generalisation of the cruel colonial processes at work in late nineteenth century society. Spencer himself wrote that the whole effort of nature is to get rid of such, to clear the world of them, and make room for better. Nature is as insistent upon fitness of mental character as she is upon physical character.

Spencer, significantly, was more concerned with mental than physical evolution. This doctrine confirmed his evolutionary optimism. For if mental as well as physical characteristics could be inherited, the intellectual powers of the race would become cumulatively greater, and over several generations the ideal person would ultimately be developed.

Spencer’s theory of social selection was written out of his concern with population problems. In two articles that appeared in 1852, seven years before Darwin’s book was published, Spencer had set forth the view that the pressure of survival upon population must have a beneficent effect upon the human race. This pressure had been the immediate basis of progress from the earliest human times. By placing a premium upon skill, intelligence, self-control, and the power to adapt through technical innovation, it had stimulated human advancement and selected the best of each generation for survival.

Darwin precipitated the development of this new perspective on ‘race’. If the human race had evolved, it was perhaps natural to suppose that the human races might represent evolutionary stages. Social Darwinism was subsequently to become one of the leading strains in conservative thought and was used to defend racial conflict. Although Darwinism was not the primary source of the belligerent ideology and dogmatic racism of the late nineteenth century, it did become a new instrument in the hands of the colonial theorists of race and struggle.

Spencer’s theory had considerable influence in European social evolutionary thinking. Within a few years of the publications of Spencer’s work he was known to a considerable body of American readers and the following article from The Atlantic Monthly 1864 draws parallels to the ideologies of the colonial Australian and articulates the influence of his work:

Mr. Herbert Spencer is already a power in the world . . . He has already influenced the silent life of a few thinking men whose belief marks the point to which the civilisation of the age must struggle to rise. . . . Mr. Spencer has already established principals which, however compelled for a time to compromise with prejudices and vested interests, will become the recognised basis of an improved society.

The doctrine of Social Darwinism had thus produced a set of ideas that were to be very engaging to the colonial society, and colonial Australia proved an attractive spawning ground for Social Darwinist ideas since it was an area of new Anglo-Saxon settlement where racial conflict needed to be explained away. Although Darwin only gained real acceptance in Australian scientific circles towards the end of the century, at a more popular level his ideas enjoyed a very wide currency. In the first place, they provided a comforting, seemingly scientific explanation for the actual destruction of Aboriginal society. Previously, Europeans had been convinced of the inferiority of the Aborigines, but that did not justify their extinction. Social Darwinism did.

In a period that witnessed Aborigines being hunted like animals, dying in their thousands through imported diseases, and reportedly murdered at the hands of punitive colonials, the emergence of a law which not only justified the extermination of Aborigines but argued that it was beneficial to the human race, was gratefully accepted and enthusiastically endorsed by many sectors of colonial society.

Popular literature of the nineteenth century depicted an image of the Australian Aborigine that reinforced these colonial ideals. We are to assume that the contemporary reader of the following extract from David Blair’s History of Australasia, when published in 1879, foreshadowed, perhaps demanded, the inevitable extinction:

As a race the aborigine is a savage in the strongest sense of that term.  Alike cruel and treacherous, he loses no occasion of wreaking his vengeance on an enemy, and indulges in the most bloodthirsty propensities.  The practice of cannibalism is general among the natives: for a long time this was doubted, but it has been proved, beyond the reach of question, and the practice often found accompanied by the most revolting ferocity – as the sacrifice of an infant by its own mother for the mere pleasure of eating its flesh.

It is arguable that evolution and survival of the fittest, per se, supported the colonial racist ideology of white dominance and the biological inferiority of the dominated (or displaced). The laws of evolution, it was confidently assumed, were not only pushing the Aboriginal race to the brink of extinction, but there was nothing that should, or could be done about it. Such demands, it was debatable, influenced by publications such as Blair’s as well as the dominant ideology, were being called for throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. In colonial discussions about the Aborigines references to racial struggle and the survival of the fittest became commonplace from the 1860s onward.

A strong correlation can hence be seen between racist thoughts and the racialist practices that developed. A definite inner-relationship can be drawn between the structure of a contact situation and the ideas and the theories which evolve from, and in turn, serve to strengthen that structure. The violence and rapid population decline, especially focusing on their apparent trend towards extinction in Tasmania, confirmed the emergent ideology of Social Darwinism, proving the inevitable consequences of colonisations … Australians were told not to trouble themselves about the disappearance of the Aborigines.

This doctrine conveniently helped justify colonialism and the favourable tenet that Aborigines would eventually disappear under the impact of civilisation and hence supported the ideal of white dominance and the biological inferiority of the dominated. To support this convenient doctrine it became a task to provide evidence as to whether the Aborigine was inferior to the European. This was already known. It was instead to become a task of confirmation. The Australian Aborigine thus became the victim of an intellectual hiatus. During the latter half of the century, it was increasingly to the writing of natural science that Europeans subsequently turned to find the most credible and compelling support for their racist suppositions.

The data that lent themselves most readily were clearly those of biology and natural history. Extended to human affairs, the pervasive spirit of simplicity sought to reproduce for social relations the sort of simple order thought to be inherent in nature. Hence there was an application of categories of racial classification to human groups on the basis of natural characteristics. This racial ordering also implied a behavioural expectation and that perhaps the major assumption underlying classification was that identification of races in terms of their differentia is adequate to establish the laws of behaviour for their members.

Early applications of this theory were none-too-soon observed in the behaviour of the Aborigines. Behaviour, it was argued, that was driven by primitive instinct and without the habits of forethought or providence. For example, their instinctive mating habits and the eating of raw meats – to an ethnocentric observer – clearly represented diminished intellectual development. Even the absence of nets or fish-hooks in some coastal Tasmanian societies was taken as an indication that the local Aborigines had not yet evolved to the point were they needed one of the most basic of human foods. Hence terms such as ‘the childhood of humanity’ were liberally and needlessly applied and the evolutionary theory enforced.

At this time, and certainly based on observation, few Europeans in colonial Australia doubted that other races were inferior, but many felt the need to establish some scientific basis for their belief. The evolutionary notions of Aboriginal inferiority were then founded on scientific racism. The most conclusive evidence to support the Aborigines’ low level of intellectual development was thus obtained through scientific proof. Science found a way to satisfy the ideology that primitive intellect was confirmed through recognisable primitive characteristics. One such conclusion was derived through the study of craniology: the examination and measurement of crania.

The crania of the Aborigines supplied fertile ground for evidence of their primitiveness: long heads with a sharp, sloping brow; prominent ridges and heavy bone structure; and significantly, a smaller, lighter (and presumably less complex) brain than that of a European. These structural features were considered ape-like, to which other physical similarities were unduly drawn. Such conclusions served to support the view that the Australian Aborigines were a relic of the oldest type of humankind, or indeed, even living fossils.

The science of phrenology was credited with further advancing consistencies of primitiveness in that the astute European could now – through even more elaborate scientific reasoning – develop a model for character analysis also drawn from cranial properties. Popular in the Australian colonies in the nineteenth century, phrenology was a pseudo-science based on the twin assumptions that specific areas of the brain were responsible for particular moral and intellectual characteristics and that the shape of the skull reflected the inner structure of the brain.

Phrenologists professed to discover an individual’s mental faculties from identifiable peculiarities of skull formation. With racist suppositions the colonial scientists elaborated Aboriginal inferiority based on phrenological evidence. Their prominent bumps or ridges on the skull – as an example – were a signature of depravity or other abstract qualities; and the smallness of their brain (or internal capacity of the skull – as compared with an average European) was the cause of miserable manifestations of mind; and even the mere thickness of the skull alone was a sure indicator of low mental ability, moral character, benevolence and conscientiousness. The conclusion was drawn, that based on the evidence of phrenological interpretation, the Aborigines possessed only a few of the intellectual faculties so evident in white Australians.

Image from

The colonisers therefore had no compunction in applying erroneous scientific theories as justification for extermination. Science had confirmed the inevitable: that the Aborigines as primitives faced extinction and every assessment of their situation, every evaluation of policy, took place in the shadow of that certainty.

The relationship between the colonisers and the Aborigines was fundamentally based on the social evolutionary theory. This theory justified European colonialism, summarising that destruction of the weak was the only way to assure success for the strong. Subsequently, government policy-making in Australia embraced these racial beliefs. These government policies took on a short-term palliative nature to ‘protect’ Aborigines by isolating them on state regulated reserves away from European contact and abuse in wait of their demise and by removing most of the rights they had enjoyed as citizens. The policies of ProtectionSegregation (and Assimilation which was sanctioned in the twentieth century) reflected this ideology.

Protection was influenced by the theory that Aborigines were certain to die out as a result of the European contact. Subsequently, all that could be done for them was to protect them until this inevitable demise. However nature had not yet selected Aborigines for extinction – only the colonisers had – and the policy of protection underwent a subtle change to Segregation. Their differences are difficult to identify although their purposes are not: Aborigines were a dying race so they were protected from the wider community; the Aboriginal race had failed to die off, so they were segregated from the wider community.

Whilst the Aboriginal race had survived, government policies reflected the attitude that, nonetheless, by the twentieth century they had still failed to progress since European contact. Sentiment thus ruled that continued segregation of the Aborigines from the wider community would ensure white purity. Such practices would not only expedite the demise of the Aborigines, but would hasten the emergence of the Australian national.

The Australian type was believed to be a new product of the multiplying British stock, the race which, in the heyday of British imperialism and legitimated by the now immensely influential ideology of Social Darwinism, saw itself as superior to all other races and therefore possessing the duty and destiny to populate and civilise the rest of the world.

Interest subsequently increased in using evolution theory for justification of a strong state in Australia. It is this racialist concern with a distinctively Australian type that under-girded the White Australia Policy, which was sanctioned by the adoption of the Immigration Restriction Bill in 1901. The Imperialist and racist ideology drew on generations of conquest, slavery and exploitation, and on a whole language of black inferiority and white superiority, bolstered in the nineteenth century by the new sciences. This ideology proved useful and flexible in rationalising the bloody violence, dispossession and incarceration of Aboriginal people, necessary to clear the way for the white nation.

The Darwinist explanations of evolution asserted that given equal competition, the fittest societies would survive and the inferior would die out, and links the attempted and hastened destruction of Aboriginal societies based on this theory. The British, being industrious and capital driven, accepted themselves as superior to the improvident Aborigines and accepted that as racially doomed and undesirable were destined to die out, and provided encouragement to hurry on the inevitable result of colonial contact. Such acts, it could be argued, sidestepped issues of morality by assertions that such conflict was beyond the reach of normal moral or social concern, being driven by irresistible forces of species survival. Destruction of the weak was the only way to assure success for the strong.

And from that doctrine … Australia was born on January 1, 2001.

As January 26 will always be remembered as Invasion Day, perhaps January 1 can be remembered as Exclusion Day: the date the First Australians were officially excluded.

The First Australians were no longer considered Australians.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

The true guardians of Australia

History, so goes the old saying, tends to repeat itself. But the tragedy unfolding in the Murray-Darling basin is unprecedented. This is new. You won’t find a parallel in the history books. It is a tragedy caused by human intervention. It is a tragedy caused by today’s governments trying to alter the course of nature.

Oh what poor custodians of this land white Australia has been. The Murray-Darling is but one example.

But why?

To answer, we must look at the attitudes of land, from a non-Indigenous and Indigenous perspectives. It’s not a simple case of black and white.

In most western societies land ownership is considered a form of security or an expression of status. Most non-Aboriginal Australians aspire to own a piece of real estate, and to meet that dream they work, they save, borrow and mortgage their lives away. Land ownership is confirmed with a Title Deed which is identified with a Volume, Folio and sub-section number on which the land dimensions and boundaries are clearly marked. On this land the owner may build a dwelling, grow or raise produce for income, or rent out the land for profit.

In rural Australia most land is used for growling cereal crops or raising live-stock. This is done within the boundaries of the owner’s land. These ventures are filled with risk: Dramatic seasonal changes; fluctuating market prices for the produce; diseases; cash flow problems; farming on unsuitable land (poor land management) and a host of other variables could force ownership to be relinquished.

Image from

Traditionally, Aboriginal people do not own land. Instead, they are a part of the land and this link was formed during the Dreaming. In the Dreaming, people were created from the land and this is the land they still inhabit. It is on this basis that Aboriginal people are claiming legal title to land, supported by the belief that the spiritual ancestors who shaped the land still inhabit it; the land still embodies the sacredness of the Dreaming events. Traditional ownership was validated if your Dreaming Ancestors inhabited a particular area of land. Traditional ownership certainly does not shield Aborigines from some of the dangers that face western land owners. However their land management techniques and their attitudes to the environment make the land more sustainable.

As Aborigines are not land owners they feel that they have a responsibility to the environment. The environment, the land, and even the sky were created in one – as were the people – and all are related. With this attitude/belief is it any surprise that the Aboriginal people never took anything from nature? Aborigines are the original conservationists and their use of land management promoted ecological health.

An example of this is fire stick farming: The burning of undergrowth in wooded areas that would promote the germination of new plants, and thus attract the animals that were an important part of an Aborigine’s diet. This burning was carried out before the dry season and was done carefully and systematically. No more was burned than necessary. Burning was also more than just sound land management; it was evidence that the land was healthy and being fully utilised. There was also a religious significance to burning: As the Ancestral spirits of the Dreaming still inhabit the land, the burnings provided these spiritual inhabitants with lands on which they could hunt.

Conservation was also extended to all practices of hunting and gathering. No more food was taken than required and no food source was over exploited. In some societies prohibitions were placed on the taking of immature plants or animals. In times of crisis, such as drought or flood, land ownership need never be relinquished. The resources have been preserved.

The western attitude to the land did not encourage sound management or preservation techniques. Whereas the Aborigines were careful in their exploitation of resources, the westerners unwittingly created vast tracts of land devastation. For instance, the over grazing of stock has rendered many areas infertile. The senseless chopping down of forests has destroyed delicate eco-systems. The salinity of the waterways is largely due to pollution. It is evident that no consideration had been given to the protection of natural resources. How little are the changes of attitudes since 1788? Land exploitation was used to advance British colonisation and became the rationale for European land ownership. It is ironic that most European-Australians view Aboriginal lands as inhospitable, barren or unforsaken, when it could be argued that the reverse could apply. Need we say more:

Image from

Whose guardianship do you trust?

It has only taken Europeans 230 years to destroy what the First Australians preserved for over 60,000 years. In another 230 years there may be nothing left to preserve.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

This is why I vote Labor

The first time that I published this post was in 2012 on the old Cafe Whispers blog, and republished it on The AIMN prior to the 2013 federal election. I hesitate to publish repeat posts but on this occasion I have made an exception, and present it again (slightly edited).

Why am I doing this?

Two reasons. Firstly, I want people to know the LNP that I know and from what I’ve seen this makes Labor a better alternative.

Secondly, to shut the critics up. I am a Labor voter, despite some noisy people thinking otherwise. And to those critics who might ask; “If you’re a Labor voter then why are Greens voters given a voice on this site?” My short answer is; “They are allowed to and they’re welcome to. It is their site too.” We are a left-leaning site – I won’t hide from that – and we all do our bit to put an end to the horror nightmare currently governing us. My bit is to vote Labor.

Here’s my story …

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam in 1972 and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

Although my short-lived interest in politics was well behind me, in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion). In fact, I was rather angry at the whole affair.

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect. But again, my interest – or knowledge – of politics was not vast. Rather small, actually.

It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back, Paul. All is forgiven”.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!

But I digress.

After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 1999 it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal hundreds of skilled and experience policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some really beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.

It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.

The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.

The answers weren’t that complex.

From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of individuals those in the LNP government were. And it t didn’t take me long to discover this too! Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably, and public servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect a###hole, that is.

I often wished that those people interstate who worshipped him in their millions could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable #### he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.

But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited the Liberal Party was (and still is).

I am not at liberty to give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies for the Rudd/Gillard Governments that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Abbott Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Labor Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing for the average Australian … and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.

At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a public servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?

I saw enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.

In my opinion, however, I think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good he was. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.

It’s the same manner Tony Abbott used to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government was. And the friendly media were happy to keep printing his lies.

Again, I’m digressing.

The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.

Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No. Of course not. I’ve worked for them and not once did they convince me that ordinary Australians matter.

Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.

I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment … and that’s the Australian Labor Party.

It’s time. Again.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Christmas comes but a hundred times a year

For my school holidays in 1965 I was staying with my newly-wed brother and his wife’s family in country NSW. On Christmas Eve my brother drove me to the town’s telephone booth for the obligatory call home.

Wow, a telephone booth! As a kid growing up on Kangaroo Island a telephone booth was an invention ahead of its time. I’d never seen one, let alone ventured into one. Exciting steps indeed.

Back in those days the making of a long-distance telephone call wasn’t as ‘modern’ as the booth we were making it from. One was required to book a trunk call, and the waiting time – on this occasion – was two hours.

Two hours of picking up stones and throwing them at fence posts.

It was, you could say, a ‘remote Christmas.’

Fifteen years down the track every Christmas the parent’s house was packed to the rafters with family and friends. It was the only true annual get-together that we and others families would enjoy, and everybody made every effort to share it.

“Christmas comes but once a year,” so went the old saying. And it was that once in a year opportunity to see family from afar and actually speak to them face to face.

And that was the Christmas scene for the next few decades. Christmas 1965 seemed many lifetimes ago.

But is 1965 catching up to us?

Over the last few years I’ve heard more and more people announce with a sigh of relief that “our Christmas will be spent with just the two (or three or four) of us. Quiet and relaxed.”

With more than a touch of irony, one wonders if modern technology is the vehicle that has allowed 1965 to catch up.

Through modern technology we no longer have to wait for Christmas for the rare get-togethers. Phone calls are a breeze to make, we can Skype (or face-time) friends and family afar, we email each other what seems a hundred times a week, we can share family photos on Facebook or Instagram, and we can now fly interstate relatively cheaper than we once could. Friends and family are with us … always … and not just in our thoughts. Some would say they are in our faces!

After a year of constant communications and visitations … Christmas is the opportunity for some to take a break, wind down, and put the feet up.

And that’s what a lot of people from our generation propose when we ask; “Whachya doin’ for Chrissy?”

Maybe that will one day become the new tradition. After all, we can now have (a sort of) Christmas about 200 times a year.

History will, of course, prove me absolutely wrong, so in anticipation of my complete failure in predicting one of the greatest social upheavals of our lifetime all that is left for me to say is …

Merry Christmas, everybody, from Carol and I.

Kaye Lee once said that we at The AIMN are all a family, and it is a family that Carol and I are proud of, whose company we cherish 365 days a year. If you’re not doing anything on December 25, this is one family you are welcome to spend some time with.

Nobody works hard like Donald Trump. Nobody.

Just too funny. Too funny not to share.

Poor Donald Trump.

The President of the United States has too much work to do and, alas, can not take his taxpayer-funded golfing vacation at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

(Sort of ironic that, given that 800,000 public servants won’t have much of a Christmas either, given the Trump-inspired partial shutdown of the US government).

But the work must be done, and let’s give credit where it is due … Donald Trump is doing it!

He said so.

In a tweet.

A tweet with a picture as proof.

A tweet that read; “Some of the many Bills that I am signing in the Oval Office … ” (you can read the rest below).

But, but, but …

Zoom in to the document he is allegedly signing. What do you see? Nothing. It’s blank.

Now zoom in to the pen in his hand. What do you see? A pen with the cap still on it.

Oh dear, Mr President. Oh dear.

Perhaps you better take that holiday after all.

“We need to change the rules in this country”: Doug Cameron

Doug Cameron knows how to command an audience. The ingredients are all there: hugely popular (and undoubtedly Labor’s most likeable senator), that fabulous Scottish accent, the passion in his voice, and the fire in his belly.

Speaking at the North East Border Trades and Labour Council he had found another captivated audience. And all the ingredients were there.

Doug Cameron is among the last of a rare breed as far as politicians go. His working-class background sets him aside from the modern-day politician who was likely to have attended an elite school and graduated from university with a law degree, or something equally ‘prestigious.’

Unlike most of today’s politicians, he knows what it’s like to do it tough, and he knows that working-class Australians are now also doing it tough. That’s why he fights for them. Relentlessly. Tirelessly.

And Doug Cameron has dedicated his time in parliament – emulating his union background – for that one cause: “Looking after working people.”

This was the theme of his talk, and it was echoed throughout.

Here is what Doug Cameron had to say on a range of important issues:

Unions and the Working Class

“My job was to look after workers and see the good decent rate of pay and make sure they had safe working conditions.

Without a strong trade union movement what do you get? Wage stagnation. Without a strong trade union movement what do you get? You get exploitation. Without a strong trade union movement what do you get? You get workers maimed and killed on the job. If there’s any basic reasons why you need a strong union movement, it’s decent wages, decent conditions, and the right to go to work and come home safely.

We do need to change the rules in this country.

I know that workers need strong unions … to advance the interests of workers and their families.

I never thought I would see the day that the Arbitration Commission would end up taking penalty rates away from working-class people in this country. You’ve got the Liberals doing the boss’s bidding in the Senate and you get all these speeches that workers need to be more flexible. Bosses don’t need to be flexible. What a terrible word, ‘flexibility’. Workers have got to be more flexible, but bosses don’t. All they want is to put more and more money in their back pocket at the expense of working people. So this flexibility is all one-way at the moment, and that’s why it’s important that Parliament actually makes the changes that allow working people to rebuild the union movement in this country. We need the union movement out there lifting the standard of living in this country, because no-one else will do it.

[Some politicians] reach out to working-class people using fear and racism as their weapons to divide the working-class. And we need to organise against that. We need to educate against that. And we need to start controlling those outcomes … because we don’t want to go down the path of Donald Trump in this country, where workers get screwed every day when they go to work.

We need to make sure we get good people in the Senate – and in the House of Reps – that stand up for working-class people and make sure that the first and final position they take is the support of the working-class in this country.

A senior Labor politician once said to me, ‘Doug, you’re a politician now, not a unionist.’ I said, ‘I will always be a unionist. Because I wouldn’t be in Parliament if it wasn’t for my union. I wouldn’t be in Parliament if it wasn’t for unionists like Sally McManus, and I hope that I have paid back the support that I got’.”

Climate Change

His dislike for one of the biggest threats to the environment – coal – could not be hidden:

“There is no long-term future for coal.

There is no long-term position where we can continue to pollute the atmosphere because everyone here will either have kids in the future or have grandkids and what we have to do is leave an environment at least similar to what we’ve enjoyed in our life because it’s unfair not the look after the environment and give kids of the future a decent life.

I say this as someone who brought my family up off the back of steaming coal.”

Free Trade Agreement

“I have never once voted for a free trade agreement. I have argued for fair trade… not free trade. Because what we get now is certainly not about free trade, and certainly not about fair trade. It’s about giving big business more and more power, and giving American companies intellectual rights over the rights of companies in this country. It’s given the right for overseas companies to attack our wages and conditions. I just think that is wrong. I opposed the free trade agreement in the Caucus, I then moved a resolution that we bring it back to the Caucus to resubmit it, and I was done over twice. I am now bound by that Caucus decision, but that doesn’t mean to say that the Labor Party member can’t get out and point out the problems with these free trade agreements. And it’s good to see that Bill Shorten has been out saying that when we win government – and I think we will win government next election – we won’t be signing any agreements.”

A Shorten Government

“There are a range of issues that we need to deal with. We need a decent education system and a decent health system. We need workers to be able to buy or rent houses at a rate that isn’t putting them into poverty. We need to make sure that big business don’t get $80 billion in tax cuts. Because when you hear people talking about small government, small government means less tax for the rich, and less services for the working class. That’s the bottom line. And never let any of the Coalition tell you that they are better economic managers than Labor. Labor brought this country through the global recession which left workers around the world in poverty. We built 150,000 jobs during that period by investing in infrastructure.

I’ll ask this, “What was Tony Abbott’s economic policy?” He cut the education system, funding for health, the ABC and the SBS. Young unemployed people were told they could starve for six months, and family benefits were cut. That was his first economic strategy. Then when Malcolm Turnbull came in, what was his first economic policy? He increased the GST. Now who does that hurt most? It doesn’t hurt the rich … it hurts working class people. That policy lasted about a week, then his final policy was trickle-down economics: $80 billion of tax cuts to the big end of town, the multi-national corporations and the banks. That was his economic policy.

And look what they did to marriage equality. They did everything they possibly could to stop Australians who loved each other from ever getting the same rights as other Australians. It was an absolute disgrace.

We want a Shorten government … looking after health, looking after education, changing the rules on industrial relations, and looking after working-class people … to bring back the TAFE system in this country, to make sure that TAFE is the backbone of the vocational education system.

Labor has good policy on the environment, good policy on industrial relations, good policy on health, and good policy on education. We want to make this once again one of the great egalitarian countries in the world.”

For me personally, what came to mind most was Doug Cameron’s difference to the modern politician: he puts people first. He is the heart of what Labor stands for.

Doug Cameron has chosen to retire from politics at the next federal election. His rapport with the working classes will be sorely missed.

“This country belongs to whoever shows up”

Imagine what sort of government we would get if only older people voted.

Well that’s practically what happened in the USA, where only 46.1 per cent of people 18-29 years old voted in the 2016 Presidential election, and 58.7 per cent of people aged 18-29 voted. That’s not a good return, is it?

The older cohorts, however, stampeded to the polling booths. Of the 45-64 age group 66.6 per cent voted, while 70.9 per cent of those aged 65 and older ticked the box.

Remember, of course, that voting is not compulsory in the United States.

Donald Trump can thank those older people who turned up to the booths, and can thank those younger people who didn’t.

Of the 65 and older voters, 52 per cent voted for Trump, while Clinton received 45 per cent. The figures weren’t much different among the 45-64 cohort.

Voting habits haven’t changed a lot since 1980, and with Americans voting in the mid-terms on November 6, one can safely assume that the trend will continue.

Why am I mentioning all this, you might ask.

A satirical election ad (created by NAIL Communications) is going viral in America begging the young to again stay away from the booths in the mid-terms. It is titled “This country belongs to whoever shows up, and do you know who shows up for every election? Old people.”

If only the older people turnout, then it’s an endorsement for Trump, and the Democrats lose all hope of controlling the House of Representatives, let alone the Senate. That’s the way older voters – who are happy with Trump – want it. If the young discard their apathy, then the much anticipated Blue Wave is real.

The short ad is too good not to share with you. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you pass it on to a young Australian who – you guessed it – doesn’t bother to vote.

If any ad is going to get them to a polling booth … this one will.

“The one big soul that belongs to everybody”

The response to our appeal in Wanted: three hundred good people to help with meeting our server costs was humbling to say the least, and because of your support The AIMN lives on. Your donations have gone a long way in covering those costs for the next twelve months and for this Carol and I say “thank you.” Let’s make that a big “THANK YOU.”

We were actually able to upgrade to an even bigger server than we had twelve months ago, and with this being an election year … we’re going to need it!

The quote from the movie of John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath (that we’ve used in our featured image; “A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody” could easily have applied to all of us here. Among the comments over the years it has often been said that The AIMN is like a family. No greater compliment could ever be said of us. We are all but pieces in a very large family. All just little pieces of a big soul: the writers, the people who comment, the readers, the moderators and the admin.

One piece of the soul that gets no recognition are the poor sods who day-in day-out scroll through the spam comments that flood our site. In just over five years we have attracted 735,000 spam comments (sometimes as many as 1,500 a day), and they must all be read because as systems aren’t perfect, the occasional genuine comment gets caught up. It’s a tedious job. But it does have its up-side …

The Angry Grapes

Sometime in the mid 60s one of my teachers told his amused young class of a famous example of when words get lost in the translation: When The Grapes of Wrath was first published in Japan it was published not as the title Steinbeck gave it, but as The Angry Grapes. Oh how we laughed.

Of the 99.9 per cent of spam comments that are genuine spam, we too get a laugh. Some poor under-paid soul somewhere tries their best to sound English when they throw us a comment filled with praise in the hope that we’d click on a provided link and buy something uninteresting like clock parts. (Clock parts are the flavour of the month with spammers. The month prior it was school-bell systems. We all own a school, don’t we?)

I am aware that many people who comment on The AIMN have English as their second language, and I hope that these valued contributors take no offence at my mocking of the non-English speaking spammers, but there are some wonderful ‘Angry Grapes’ moments that you will enjoy. Here are some recent examples of spammers and their ‘Angry Grapes’ comments:

Newton Morrow

I want to show my appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this trouble. Just after surfing throughout the world wide web and seeing methods that were not helpful, I assumed my entire life was gone. Existing without the strategies to the difficulties you have resolved all through your good guide is a serious case, and ones which may have in a negative way affected my entire career if I hadn’t encountered your blog post. The natural talent and kindness in dealing with every part was vital. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come upon such a subject like this. I’m able to at this point look forward to my future. Thanks so much for your impressive and result oriented help. I won’t think twice to propose your blog post to anybody who needs and wants guidance on this problem.

Marquetta Cidre

An impressive share, I just with all this onto a colleague who has been doing little analysis on this. And the man in reality bought me breakfast since I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending enough time to debate this, I feel strongly regarding it and really like reading on this topic. If you can, as you become expertise, could you mind updating your blog post with more details? It is highly ideal for me. Huge thumb up in this article!

Josphine Ealick

I am writing to let you know what a magnificent experience my wife’s child developed going through yuor web blog. She mastered several pieces, which included what it’s like to possess a marvelous coaching nature to have other individuals without hassle completely grasp various very confusing issues. You undoubtedly exceeded our own expectations. Thank you for supplying such warm and helpful, healthy, educational as well as easy tips on this topic to Evelyn.

Jonah Beyl

I¡¦ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this website. Studying this information So i am satisfied to exhibit that I’ve an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I so much undoubtedly will make sure to do not forget this website and provides it a glance on a constant basis.

Lashawn Eisbach

Magnificent site. Lots of helpful information here. I am sending it to some friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you for your sweat!

Lissette Bausley

I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following.unwell unquestionably come more formerly again asexactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

Madaline Dismuke

Magnificent website. A lot of helpful info here. I am sending it to several pals ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks to your effort!

(There’s that word “delicious” again. Last month their favourite word was “fastidious”).

Wesley Mccorkle

I beloved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The comic strip is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nevertheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you would like be delivering the following. unwell undoubtedly come further beforehand once more since precisely the similar nearly a lot steadily within case you protect this hike.

Kurtis Gnagey

I simply couldn’t depart your site before suggesting that I actually enjoyed the usual info an individual supply for your visitors? Is gonna be again incessantly in order to inspect new posts

I have learn several just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you put to make this kind of excellent informative website.

We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with helpful info to work on. You’ve performed a formidable job and our whole neighborhood shall be thankful to you.

(I somehow don’t think his or her name is “I have learn several just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you put to make this kind of excellent informative website.” But I could be wrong).


Hi! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from
Kingwood Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent work!

(Of course you’re from Kingswood Texas. The name “ที่ปรีกษาระบบไอทีสารสนเทศในโรงงานเพื่อการพัฒนา” is as American as apple pie).

Codi Hursey

Wow, awesome weblog structure! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog glance easy. The whole glance of your site is magnificent, let alone the content material!

baby photography Wokingham

Pretty section of content. I just sttumbled upon your web site annd
inn accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoued account your blog posts.
Anyy way I will be subscribing to your augmenmt aand even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

Damn … now we’ve got to put up with this stuff for another year! 😀

It’s New Year’s Day! Didn’t we just have one?

New Years are sneaky little things: you just don’t see them coming.

I tend to think that the Aboriginal concept of “time” might be on the money. To them, time is circular and travels like a boomerang. “White man’s” concept of time – they say – is linear, in that it travels like a spear.

I reckon our First Australians got it right, because these New Year’s Days keep whizzing on past.

And here we are at another one.

If we reflect back on 2017 what do we see?

Above anything, we see a year where the disconnect between the political set and mainstream Australians grew larger by the day, and because of it so did inequality.

It is reflected in the growing number of homeless people, the gap between the rich and poor, countless Australians living below the poverty line, the rise of extremism in our country, our disregard of people in need, our ignorance to the suffering of the First Australians, turning our backs towards victims of domestic violence, tightening our borders to people desperate to seek a better life here, continued ignorance of the perils the planet faces, and on it goes.

It’s fair to say in that regards 2017 wasn’t much different to 2016. Slightly worse, sadly.

We cannot let 2018 be just another reflection of 2017. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say; we cannot let our leaders make 2018 just another reflection of 2017.

If we don’t get the opportunity to change our governments, we still have the opportunity to change our national psyche. Small steps, as they say.

We’d all like to take big steps, but we’ve seen how hard that is. Nonetheless, we will never stop trying. Not here at The AIMN. Not here with the tenacious, gutsy group of writers we have. Not here with the fabulous group of commenters and readers who demand less inequality.

At times it must feel that we’re losing the battle. But we’re not. We’re only just getting started!

To all those who have come with us this far – and who will march in solidarity with us again in 2018 – may you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Michael and Carol.


Your card is in the mail … email!

“We haven’t received many Christmas cards this year,” said a somewhat bemused Carol.

Christmas, as we all know, is a time for giving and caring, but I disregarded all that and had a moment of meanness:

”Bugger them, then,” mocked I. “Take a note of who didn’t send one and we’ll cross them off the list for next year.”

Then came the moment …

The moment I checked our email and logged into Facebook.

And what should arrive by the bag full? Christmas cards! Christmas cards and Christmas greetings from all the people I’d threatened to cross off our list. And cards from people who weren’t even on our list (though they will be added to next year’s list).

I guess that traditions change … and that’s just one of them.

Here’s another:

I was always led to believe that Christmas was for the children. Not anymore, apparently. These days it’s for … wait for it … the pet dog.

Yes, you heard right.


A friend noticed a lineup in Sydney of people waiting to meet Santa. The line stretched out the building, along the footpath, and around the corner. But young kids weren’t in tow, instead, lining up with them were their excited canines. Tails wagging, slobbering at the mouth, waiting to jump on Santa’s knee, having a chat with the old bloke, and hopefully pose for a snap.

And I hear it’s not just Sydney! All over the world, dogs have embraced Christmas.

One would hope that Santa has strong knees. Imagine posing with a great dane perched on lap.

What’s next? Goldfish? Horses? Canaries? The prized bull?

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yes … Merry Christmas from Carol and I to all our writers, admin team, regular and new commenters, our readers, and those who donate to The AIMN. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing on Christmas Day, may you be filled with peace, happiness, and good health.

Our most sincere regards to you and your loved ones.

Sally McManus: Speaking words of hope

Of the thousands of words in the hundreds of articles written about Sally McManus none describe her more passionately – or more succinctly – than these offered by Trish Corry:

“Sally McManus is everywhere. Fighting the good fight. Travelling all over Australia. Standing with workers. Speaking words of hope [my emphasis]. Fighting for workers. Standing in Solidarity with the unemployed. Fighting for all of us. Knocking down walls. Smashing the insidious thought that has permeated our culture since Howard, that “Workers will get what they are given.”

Telling us to stand together to not back down. A consistent strong unwavering message of hope and fairness, every, single day. Every, single day.”

These were the words that I carried with me when I was fortunate enough to be invited to hear Sally McManus speak to an enthusiastic crowd at the North East Borders Trades and Labour Council. These words were all I needed to know. Sally McManus filled in the rest.

And I was not disappointed. I was, in fact, inspired; inspired to hear a champion of the people who so clearly and precisely – and with passion – expressed her wish to help bridge the inequality gap in this country.

Ms McManus spoke of many things, but it was the way she expressed her concern for this vital issue that hit home for me, and which I will now focus on:

“Inequality is at a 70 year high, and the question to ask is how did we get here? How did we get to this situation where wage growth is at records lows? Where 40 per cent of working people are in insecure work? How did we get to this situation?”

“We got here because for 30 years federal governments have followed the ideology of neo-liberalism – trickle-down economics: An ideology that we should privatise everything we’ve got and we should attack worker’s rights. We should create a smaller government and we should should give tax cuts to the rich. This ideology follows that we should hand over our money to the wealthy.”

“So what have we now got? A fall in the number of steady jobs. Casualisation of the workforce. Record low wage growth. Inequality.”

“Those at the top now have so much wealth that policies work in their favour. Their money goes overseas and they get tax breaks. In the meantime, worker’s rights are being taken away.”

“There are two ways we can address this: We can make everyone pay their fair share of tax; and we can give workers stronger rights so they can get fair pay rises.”

“Worldwide the ideology of neo-liberalism has failed. And we need to replace it.”

“But who can we rely on to bring on this change? We can’t rely on the government, so who do we rely on? Us. Our parents did it. Our grandparents did it. Now it’s up to us.”

“We need to give people hope that there is a solution. But we need to move public opinion.”

“However, ready to stop us is the right-wing media and the government itself.”

“But people are up to it. We just need to give them hope.”

“We don’t want the next generation after us to have the same problems that neo-liberalism has given us.”

It was a simple message: Without activism now, the next generation will have fewer opportunities and the many benefits of a wealthy society will not trickle-down to them. Instead of their future being one of security; of employment, housing, education … it will be one of continued and ever-increasing inequality.

The reason we have so much inequality is because so many people have so little power. The time has come to change this imbalance. We need to swing the pendulum back.

The growing inequality can no longer be excused away and now is the time to take action.

There are so many people in the community who simply aren’t aware of just how serious is the issue of inequality and its ramifications for the future well-being of our nation. Sally McManus is bringing this awareness to the community, however, in spite of her clear and obvious talent in representing the hopes and dreams of so many, Sally McManus cannot do it alone.

Let’s stand by her.


August 15, 2017: the most important day in the future

They say we can’t predict the future, but I’m damn sure we can do a lot to control the course of it.

When we look back on our own past, our country’s past, or even the world’s past … there will be a hundred signposts that we missed that could have taken us down a better path. Maybe it’s our job to now leave our own signposts. The events of tomorrow can only be guided by the events of today. If we decide to do nothing today then nothing will happen tomorrow.

Let us assume that the straight line we call ‘time’ continues on its merry way, and as we follow it to see what has happened – or not happened – we’ll be able to see that much of the events in the future are not without our influence. August 15, 2017 is a very important date in the future. Probably the most important day, as it is the first day in our future, and every event beyond this tiny 24 hours will be shaped by it.

Shall we follow that line? I’ve found the line here, at Future Timeline and a lot of what awaits us is unpleasant, yet clearly our doing. Can it be undone? Probably not, but we can control the scope of it. Anyway, let’s get moving, there’s lots to see:

2020: Glacier National Park and other regions are becoming ice-free.

2035: The Arctic is becoming ice-free in Summer.

2040: Average global temperatures have risen by two degree.

2045: Major extinctions of animal and plant life.

2050: 45% of the Amazon Rainforest has been destroyed. Air quality and visibility is declining. Bushfires have tripled in some regions. The Dead Sea is drying up.

2060: Global mass migrations of refugees. Flood barriers erected in New York.

2070: Average global temperatures have risen by 4 degrees.

2080: Polar bears face extinction. One in five lizard species are extinct. Deadly heatwaves plague Europe. Traditional agriculture is decimated.

2099: Sea levels are wreaking havoc around the world. 80% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost.

2100: Extreme drought is effecting one-third of the planet. Emperor penguins face extinction.

2190: The West Antarctic ice sheet is starting to disintegrate. This area will later be populated by over 1 million people who settle on the exposed land surface.

2200: Artificial intelligence dominates the planet.

I’ve only selected a handful of the zillions of things that await us in the future, but of those, are they really beyond our control? Can they be changed by whatever happens on August 15, 2017?

They say we can’t predict the future, but I’m damn sure we can do a lot to control the course of it.


We have failed the First Australians

“Her paintings have been exhibited in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo and Milan. But in her old age, renowned Aboriginal artist Kathleen Ngale lives on a mattress outdoors, unable to walk, kept warm during cold desert winter nights by about a dozen dogs who sleep alongside her.” (ABC article; “Utopia: Aboriginal elderly sleeping on ground with dogs amid calls for improved aged care“, by Neda Vanovac).

Isn’t it appalling, saddening, disgraceful that an Australian lives like that? Many do. They might be young or old, from whatever walk of life, or from whatever culture. I do not know who they are. But Kathleen Ngale is an Aboriginal Australian, and I have some understanding of the history that put her where she is today.

I once heard a comment that went something like this: “The aspirations of Aboriginal Australians are expressed through a political system designed, first and foremost, for the white majority.” In my many years in Indigenous affairs and as a student of Indigenous history it was a theme that dominated my public and academic life.

Australian history has left a legacy of Aboriginal inequality and disadvantage. In our self-congratulatory celebration of egalitarianism and the fair go, we conveniently overlooked that fact that our treatment of Aborigines amounted to a contradiction of the very values we claimed to espouse. The inability to regard Aborigines as equals has never really left the ‘white’ consciousness.

There are a number of measures that can be used to establish the degree of inegalitarian treatment accorded to Aborigines: legal equality; political equality; economic equality; equality of opportunity; and equal satisfaction of basic needs. I could broach social injustice, government ineptness and bureaucratic mis-management in emphasising these inequalities.

There are many disadvantages suffered by Aborigines that need remedying, but what needs to be dealt with, and in what order? Is it inadequate housing? Is it the parlous state of Aboriginal health which still results in unacceptably high infant mortality rates as well as a diminished life expectancy? Is it the rapid loss of Aboriginal culture? Or the high rate of Aboriginal unemployment? Undoubtedly the problem is complex, but where do governments start to seek remedies? What are the political solutions?

History illustrates government inability above all else to deliver any remedies, due mainly to the makings of the Australian polity. Federalism stands out, and in particular the complex space that Aboriginal affairs occupies within our political system. In a federation like Australia it can be very difficult to achieve uniformity of power. Why cannot governments that perceive the existence of a regional or national problem, for example Aboriginal health, work constructively to eradicate the problem? Who is to be blamed, Commonwealth or State?

Aboriginal affairs involves many areas of governmental responsibility, including education, health, sanitation, land use and relations with police forces, which are all State government responsibilities. When Commonwealth and State governments disagree in such matters, whose view should prevail? A great deal of essential service delivery falls within the responsibility of State governments, but these governments often fall short of delivering full and satisfactory programs.

However the argument goes much further than being based on pure politics. In a polity like Australia, where the development of the land by both farmer and miner has for so long been described as basic to Australia’s prosperity, it is difficult for governments to ignore claims from such powerful interests. The mining interest has fought particularly strongly against land rights and native title. The propaganda battle is rarely won by the central government. It is easier for a State Premier to claim that the Native Title Act threatens peoples’ backyards than it is for the Commonwealth to explain the complexities of the legislation.

This is but one of the many shortcomings if we focus on program failure or distortion, for it is in these results that many hopes and expectations are deflected, destroyed or frustrated. An analysis of service delivery reveals that the problem is multi-faceted, not only having to do with the nature of modern bureaucracies, but also with the activities of politicians, the attitudes of white Australians, and the perceptions of Aborigines themselves.

In this arena of political and public perceptions, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) used to come under some heavy fire; from politicians, the media, and the wider community. Perhaps there was resentment because ATSIC had given Aboriginal people a voice in the political system.

The argument on this was compelling. Many Australians watched distrustfully as, under Whitlam’s grandiosity in 1972, large amounts of money were directed to Aboriginal affairs.  As a result there was a great deal of importance placed on the need for ATSIC, in particular, to be accountable for its operations, reflecting no doubt the uncertainties of mainstream Australians concerning the standards of operations of Indigenous institutions. Following accusations of the misuse of money, audits were made of various bodies, again nominally ATSIC, and government funds for many Aboriginal services were reduced, and eventually, ATSIC was wiped from the political and social landscape. Yet claims about ATSIC’s waste of public money usually ignored the difficulties that that body had in delivering any worthwhile services to the Indigenous community. ATSIC had an unbelievable array of demands on its finite budget and was simply not in a position to meet every demand.

Also, political parties are demonstrably divided on Aboriginal issues. The Howard Government, for example,  was less sympathetic to Aboriginal issues – or too cautious in the invocation of Commonwealth power for the benefit of Aborigines – than were the previous Labor Governments of Hawke and Keating. (It was forcefully argued that Howard was indeed influenced by the claims of the more powerful interest groups). Political parties’ views are extremely important in helping explain the place of Aboriginal people in the Australian political system. A series of questions that were asked of a sample of members of parliament* revealed the existence of varying party views that form an important framework to the development of Aboriginal policy. Some of the differences between Labor and Coalition MPs were imposing. It is worth having a look at some of these answers as they clearly identify who did and did not support Aboriginal causes. Consider them as a backdrop to discussions on issues such as Mabo, Wik, Native Title, the Stolen Generation or the more contemporary Northern Territory intervention.

Members of parliament – support for Aborigines

  1. Government has responsibility to grant land rights: ALP 93.2%, LNP 40.8%
  2. Settle land claims before development: ALP 78.2%, LNP 24.2%
  3. Aborigines should have special cultural protection: ALP 76.7%, LNP 43.7%
  4. Approve of treaty recognising Aboriginal rights: ALP 85.6%, LNP 11.2%
  5. Law should allow for Aboriginal customs: ALP 60.0%, 21.4%
  6. Constitution should recognise Aboriginal self-government: ALP 29.0%, LNP 4.6%
  7. Aborigines should not be assimilated: ALP 80.3%, LNP 42.2%

I could attack the media with as much veracity as I do the political interests. Press coverage should help ensure that the area of public policy is kept well and truly on the political agenda, for without it would be very difficult for Aboriginal interests to achieve anything of importance. Perhaps the best example in recent years has been the manner in which the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody disappeared from sight once the report became public. Such a lack of sustained coverage makes it easier for governments to ignore many matters of short-term notoriety. The desire for a story often overrides considerations of accuracy or fairness. Who could argue with this? Drunkenness, rioting and poor living conditions are given more attention than the stories that could show Aborigines playing a positive role in the general community.

It just isn’t good enough.

If you are as appalled as I am about the lack of services to Indigenous Australians, why not let you local member know? They can be contacted here.

*This survey was taken during Howard’s prime ministership and goes a long way in explaining Howard’s commitment to the reduction of government spending in Aboriginal affairs. If it is representative of the Abbott and Turnbull governments, this I could only speculate. Given the apathy and funding cuts since September 2013, perhaps it does.

[interaction id=”595c3a40f7ddd65e0bcdfd90″]

The window of life

Climate change is one of the hottest topics (pardon the pun) when it comes to discussion on this site but we haven’t published many new climate articles recently so readers, justifiably, have sought out the older articles to continue the exchange of ideas and opinions.

A new article is clearly overdue.

And I have just the thing!

Well, it’s not exactly new. It’s a piece I wrote many years ago for the now defunct Café Whispers, but for want of a ‘new’ article here on climate change … I’ve taken the easy option. Nonetheless, it is just as pertinent today as it was at the time of writing.

I wrote:

Life, whether it be teeming in the universe or just the rarest of miracles, has either way been lucky to find a home on our fertile planet; that small, insignificant rock (in galactic terms) that just happens to be sitting in the right place of our solar system for life to survive.

It’s quite nice here. Apart from the extremities it’s not too hot, not too cold. If we keep it like that then I’m sure our stay here won’t be tenuous.

But just how lucky are we mortal types to have found this nice little spot to populate?

Immeasurably lucky, actually. Paradises like planet Earth are as accidental as the creation of life itself. It is like an oasis amid a burning, scorching desert devoid of surrounding life.

The galactic desert that surrounds us does not welcome life. Even our own sun, without which our planet would be sterile and without life, is miraculously at a safe distance so that life can prevail.

It is worth considering how fortunate we are to be able to exist on this small rock.

The center of the sun is a ‘mere’ 14.5 million degrees Celsius. A piece of it the size of a pinhead would generate enough heat to kill a person from 150 million kilometres away. How wonderful that the outer layers of the sun are much ‘cooler’, thus enabling life to exist on this planet. The coldest places in our solar system can be found at its edges where it is minus 273 degrees. How wonderful that our planet isn’t any further, or closer, to the sun.

Under what temperature extremes could human life survive? I’m guessing somewhere from a chilly minus 40 to a blistering 60. In planet Earth the gods have offered us a very small window of life.

Why then, are we so determined to damage it?

Look at the sludge that this planet has become. Look at the filth in the air, in the water and the earth of western countries and developing countries. It’s beyond belief. We see industries which are happy to choke the land, waterways and air for the sake of more profits.

The planet, obviously, isn’t important any more. Our term here is considered a right, not a privilege.

As it is it is a hostile planet: no-one gets off alive, but it’s still the best home we have.

What was once the solar system’s paradise, is now its rubbish dump. If we keep trashing it, destroying it, polluting it, playing with its climate … how long before we receive our eviction notice? How long before the window of life closes on us?


Scroll Up