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Category Archives: Your Say

For Yunupingu

By Kerri L

As many Australians over these two few days have mourned the passing of yet another member of the Yunupingu family (of Yothu Yindi fame) – whose groundbreaking song “Treaty” has been ringing in my ears since Sunday morning – I am saddened and shamed by the simple fact that even with a hit song 32 years ago that pleaded for the non-indigenous Australian community to recognise and acknowledge the Indigenous community that has existed on this island before we upended their lives 235 years ago, we still have people like Opposition spokesman for Indigenous Australians, Julian Leeser, even at yesterday’s press club lunch, claiming that the referendum on recognising our Indigenous citizens and their rights to some degree of autonomy over their lands, their peoples and their rights and laws has been “rushed”.

It has been 32 years since Yothu Yindi released that song FFS!

32 years of Indigenous pleas for recognition that I am aware of!

And even though Mr Leeser was a mere 14 years old when that legendary tune awakened so many to the calls from Indigenous Australians, he appears to have lived those 32 years with his fingers firmly in his ears whilst claiming to support Indigenous recognition.

The LNP do not support Indigenous recognition unless that means Indigenous Australians should remain overruled by laws we create in the desert lands, not fertile zones, with health issues we introduced them to and recognised for making boomerangs and dot paintings for tourists so that wealthy miners and stockholders can continue to use native lands for whatever suits their bank balances.

Lest we forget?

We slavishly self-flagellate over our “diggers” and ANZAC heroes from a mere 108 years ago yet we continue to treat the peoples who have inhabited this land for over 60,000 years with the utmost contempt.

I am sure there are LNP politicians who treat their own offspring with more adult deference than they choose to confer on our First Nations peoples.

Like I said, it saddens and shames me.

We are no better than the USA for the way we treat our citizens of colour.

We are, in fact, worse than South Africa in our treatment of our First Nations peoples because at least South Africa recognised and abolished apartheid whilst we sit on our hands and continue with the suppurating excuses of the extreme-right who want nothing but what they want for themselves.

It disgusts me.

I am actually sneering whilst I type this.

Kevin Rudd, Paul Keating, Gough Whitlam: These groundbreaking politicians made changes in an attempt to start the ball rolling on Indigenous recognition and on some form of long overdue restitution.

The LNP prefer to bury their heads in the sands of time and pat our Indigenous community on the head with a “there, there, now run along and play in your sandpit” paternalistic attitude.

Vote yes to The Voice because it’s about bloody time we did something for the original owners of this great land we all love but only some of us have a say in.

At least do it for Yunupingu.


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Ante eulogy for a political pornographer

By Paul Smith

In anticipation of the day when John Howard shuffles off this mortal coil and clichés and platitudes rain down like an apocalypse.

Johnny who?

What a pathetic coward. John Howard waits until he’s out of the country before he makes any comment about current affairs in Australia, and when he does, (in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington on Thursday 6/3/08) he pretends that he wasn’t given the most humiliating thrashing any political leader in Australia, and possibly the world, has ever had. Howard slams the Rudd government for abandoning WorkChoices as though it wasn’t the single most significant issue on which Labor won the 2007 election. Oh, and he makes no reference to the fact that the party he lead to utter ignominy abandoned every last link to WorkChoices after being thrashed yet again by public opinion when Julie Bishop foreshadowed opposing the abolition of AWAs in the Senate. This is not mere denial: it’s outright contempt. And it gets worse. Howard’s Washington speech was entitled “Sharing our common values.” Our common values?

Yes, that’s right, the man who lost the right to speak for the nation in the most excoriating repudiation of the values he embodied for eleven and a half years still presumes to know what Australian values are, and pretends to have the right to speak on our behalf, as if we didn’t know what we were doing when we sacked him and his fawning cling-ons at the last election. The fact that he was not prepared to say to Australians in Australia what he said to his mates in a foreign country really says it all. He’s a gutless wonder. No that’s giving him too much credit. He’s just plain gutless – the most damning proof of which is actually something else he failed to do in this country. Who was conspicuous by his absence when Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations?

Little Johnny has never embodied the values that underpin this country – doesn’t hold a candle to the Anzacs, for example, whom he was so fond of cuddling up to when in office, because he hasn’t learned anything from defeat, behaving more like Saddam Hussein claiming a great victory after the first Gulf War.

Howard hasn’t actually claimed a victory. He’s just refused to accept that he and what he actually stood for has been repudiated. Yet in his speech he said:

“… a number of the more conservative social policies of my government have been endorsed by the new Australian government… The sincerity of its conversion will be tested by experience of office.”

The man is utterly shameless. Not to mention narcissistic. He implies that the policies he refers to are his gift to the nation, and that only he could pull them off, when the truth is that they were opportunistic caricatures of what is actually needed: the NT intervention being the prime case in point. His brazen claim to be the better economic manager is another one. And the appalling state of our defence equipment is its own comment on his claim to be the bulwark of the nation’s security. Name any policy that Howard claimed to be the best at and you’ll find a white-anted reality behind a façade of political machismo.

The measure of Howard the coward is that he can’t admit that he was wrong. Worse still, he hasn’t got the guts to say in his own country that he still believes that his policies are the right ones for Australia. He has to skulk off to Imperial Capital to be feted by the powerful effete (sic).

Two further observations in closing.

Firstly, everyone in Australia is aware of the fact that the only other Prime Minister to lose his seat at an election lost it over industrial relations. What most people probably aren’t aware of is that the only other political leader who clung to government beyond his parliamentary term, as Howard did in 2007, also lost the election. There’s probably a lesson in that. Anyone want to write an opera about it?

Secondly, remember “Aspirational Nationalism”? Remember all those discussions about what it could possibly mean? Well, here’s another one from when Howard was treasurer: “Incentivation”. Remember that one? Remember the bagging he got for it? My point is, he didn’t learn anything from that episode. He continued to live in a world of his own out of which he thought he could gift the nation with words and phrases that didn’t even have what it takes to become clichés. John Howard is not just a coward. He’s a empty vessel. In the end it really was appropriate that he did not attend the Apology. He isn’t worthy of it.

Let him have his day in the land of the brave and the home of the free, by all means. Let him wallow in the fantasy that he is the suffering servant rejected by his own household. But please, let’s not have a blow-by-blow account of it in the media. Not because as left-Liberals, which he so contemptuously labels anyone who recognises him for what he is, we don’t want to hear “good news”, but because we’ve had a gut full of political pornography.

Note: I originally penned most of this in 2008. My opinions of the man have not changed since then.


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When you’re in the sights of trolls, they will never stop

By Georgia *

The following is the story of how I became the victim of cyber bullying in a NewsCorp run mothers’ group, for breastfeeding and supporting mothers struggling to breastfeed.

It started with an innocent post of me breastfeeding my daughter, captioned: ‘If you’re still breastfeeding keep going, you’re giving them the best!’ and I never would have imagined how bad it would get.

Right from the start I was told I was shaming mums just for showing the act of breastfeeding. My only goal, being there to rescue mums from the jaws of ‘advice’ that destroy a much wanted and chosen breastfeeding journey. I was there to inform breastfeeding mothers and provide the information and facts, but like a bunch of rabid dogs, other women (my bullies) did not let up.

No matter what I did I was harassed. My only crime, not subscribing to the affirmation ‘fed is best’ because breastmilk is the only biological infant food, and it’s better than infant formula and always will be, a basic fact we all know. Whether a mother breastfed or not, these facts remain unchanged. Information, education and support is best, aka ‘Informed Is Best’ because any other term undermines breastfeeding and the difficulties breastfeeding mothers face.

A group run by News Corp/KidsSpot, this is what they allowed to happen before silently removing me (or so they thought) after a coup of women (also mothers) was formed, demanding my removal over a rumour one sad individual gave life to all on her own one day.

Over the course of being a member in this group, NewsCorp/KidSpot allowed all of this to happen.

This is what I was subjected to on an almost daily or weekly basis, for breastfeeding, sharing my breastfeeding journey, sharing breastfeeding facts, stating breastfeeding facts and encouraging discussions around breastfeeding, but mostly for supporting breastfeeding women.

They started a poll about me, they tormented me, they sent me PMs with pure abuse. They told me to leave because no one wanted me there. They called me names constantly, they laughed at me, my appearance, my brother’s suicide, my ADHD and neurodiverse responses. They made fun of me because I’m a medical scientist. They said feeding my child a low carb diet is child abuse. They called me a nutjob, a c*nt, a pyscho, a bitch and many other names. They insinuated my breastmilk was diseased; and referred to my child in a derogatory manner saying they didn’t want to ‘see IT, sucking on my boob’. I was told my breasts and my breastfeeding photos were offensive and that they, along with others, needed a trigger warning. All while admin removed my comments and posts and kept theirs. The only comments and posts and the only narrative that was allowed was infant feeding that didn’t include breastfeeding. Admin even removed my attempts to clarify and defend myself as I showed examples of what actual mum shaming is versus what it is not, but admin declared it ‘bullying’. Admin even limited my ability to post for a month when no one else was silenced. I was censored at every turn and eventually, every breastfeeding post I made was deleted. They wrote constant posts about me, even when I wasn’t there, they tagged me directly insulting me, they spread rumours about me, tried to contact my work and doxxed me. Admin did not remove the person who doxxed me. They told me my family didn’t like me and my friends didn’t like me. They threatened to turn my family against me.

Then when that didn’t satisfy them they created another group to specifically exclude me and made it very known to me by tormenting me about it, telling me everyone was welcome but me. They also harassed me in another group and before I knew it I was removed from that group too. They claimed I was the bully, whilst enduring some of the most intense bullying I think I’ve ever endured in my life. But I held my head high, and stayed for the new mums who used the ‘post approval free’ group, as a platform to cry out for breastfeeding support all hours of the night and day. New mums who needed support to breastfeed, not formula feed, new mums posting and battling useless comments in a sea of misinformation and false affirmations from women who suggested formula instead-advice that did nothing to support their struggles or breastfeeding journey.

On Tuesday the 17th of January, I was removed from New Mums Australia, my bullies, waiting in the wings constantly checking to see that I was a ‘former member’, made a post in celebration, whilst I looked on from the screen shots of concerned bystanders who offered their support. The slander and defamation of my character continued. Admin took their time removing this celebration post. Some people who I thought were supporting me actually turned on me with no explanation. All of this, despite I have very very clear and concrete evidence of constant bullying, happening under the watchful eye of 7 women employed by NewsCorp. I know they were there, because they removed my posts as it was happening and many were witness to the sudden and record removal of my posts. On Tuesday the 17th of January, the admins of this group run by NewsCorp Australia, DID NOT remove my BULLIES, only me. My bullies are still there.

NewsCorp has ignored my attempts to contact them and even ignored an email sent by partner asking them to take action on my behalf. Every word of the above is true and I have the screen shots to prove it. I have almost 70 accounts of me and only me being subject to their humiliation, despite repeatedly being degraded and told I was the bully. I never once called anyone a name, except I did inbox 2 individuals who laughed/taunted me about my late brother’s suicide, but in my defence, it was his birthday. One individual who taunted me about creating a group to specifically exclude me, claims I created a fake profile and sent her a nasty message. She told the group that my name was attached to the message but refused to show proof. This is not only completely out of my character, but it is also completely untrue, it is a completely false accusation. If a message was sent to one of my bullies, it was not me.

When you’re in the sights of trolls, they will never stop.


Georgia is not the writer’s real name. We have changed it as to protect her from any more vicious abuse.

Admin at The AIMN have dozens of screenshots of the abuse Georgia has been subjected to. They are too repulsive to publish.


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Reform in Qld ALP Still Needed: MORE THAN EVER

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

A strong history of Social Democracy

The Australian Labor Party was founded by striking shearers during the Australian Shearers strike in 1891 under the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine. Unlike the Eureka stockade in 1854 where rebelling unionists striking on unfair mining licenses against the Victorian Colonial Government were acquitted after the battle. One of the leaders Peter Lalor became the Speaker of Victoria’s Parliament. The striking leaders of Barcaldine were not acquitted and forced to serve time on St Helena in Brisbane’s Bay side.

Like the leaders of Eureka these leaders ended up becoming engaged in parliamentary politics as social democrats. William Hamilton, William Fothergill, Julian Stuart, and George Taylor all served sentences on St Helena for a time. Upon their release after several years in prison. Hamilton later became the MP for Gregory, and later the Qld Legislative Council and its President. Fothergill became a Barcaldine Alderman, Deputy Mayor, and later Mayor. While Stuart and Taylor returned to Western Australia.

In 1899 the world’s first Labor Government was elected in Queensland under Anderson Dawson (which only lasted 7 days) followed by Chris Watson who would become Australia and the world’s first Labor Prime Minister (in 1904 in a government that last 3 and half months). In 1904–1907 Qld Labor governed in a coalition government with Liberals. Labor in the 1890s–1900s became a successful political force. It also held the balance of power in the Australian parliament in coalition with the early protectionist government of Barton and Deakin in 1901–1904, and 1905–1908, before gaining enough support on its own to gain its first majority federally in 1910 under Andrew Fisher, while TJ Ryan won a majority as Premier in 1915 in the state parliament (Dyrenfurth, N. Bongiorno, F. 2011).

Ever since, the Australian Labor Party has been a political force to reckon with on the centre–left, with social democrats achieving significant reforms as a nation building party of the Australian political system. We all have welfare benefits, workers’ rights, the weekend, 40 hour week, penalty rates, universal healthcare in Medicare, superannuation, the NDIS, post war migration, Snowy River Hydro scheme, infrastructure like the Sydney Harbour bridge (Sydney), Story Bridge (Brisbane) Anti-Discrimination Act, no-fault divorce laws, Sex Discrimination Act, Native Title, Environmental protection of Antarctica, the CSIRO, ASIO, easier accessibility into high school and tertiary education, an Apology to the Stolen Generations – all thanks to Labor Governments. Labor has had a successful track record as social democratic movement compared to political movements globally.

With strong track records on both the state and local level as well: 70 years in Qld, 69 years in Tasmania, 63 years in NSW, 57 years in Western Australia, 54 years in South Australia, and 51 years in Brisbane City Council across all the voting electoral history of Australia since the 20th century.


A long history of internal party reforms

Despite Labor’s successes, there are moments where reform internally was needed. The first being the conscription issue. Where members of the ALP led by Labor figures like Frank Anstey (mentor to John Curtin) and TJ Ryan successfully pushed Billy Hughes out of the ALP as Prime Minister in late 1916 during the height of World War One. There were also figures like Ted Theodore who as Treasurer in the Scullin Government unsuccessfully advocated for Keynesian economic stimulus which Labor Premier William Forgan Smith advocated in his economic policies funding many of his programs which included benefiting the unemployment on construction projects at the University of Qld, and Story Bridge. Whilst Theodore was unsuccessful his policies were later adopted by both major political parties in Labor and the Coalition during times of economic hardship over the next century, particularly during the 1960s recessions, GFC, and COVID–19 pandemic.

At the time Keynesian methods were seen as controversial and split the ALP with Joseph Lyons and his supporters joining the Coalition to lead Australia as Prime Minister on the right and Jack Lang on the Left thinking the reforms didn’t go far enough forming their own Labor Party during the 1930s (Depression years). Former journalist John Curtin – who advocated against the conscription during the First World War – would become the new Labor leader and Opposition Leader during the Depression wildness years for the federal ALP. Ben Chifley and John Curtin were tasked with the necessary reforms needed to rebuild the ALP into a political body able to become electable particularly in NSW where the 2nd split did long-lasting damage to the party’s chances. The conciliatory leadership of Curtin and Chifley rebuilt Labor, uniting it in time for the Second World War (particularly in NSW) which Labor successfully led Australia through until its early post war years from 1941–1949, pushing for post-war reconstruction and benefits to assist everyday Australians.

As the post war years set in with Cold War hysteria and Labor once again faced a 3rd split, this time on Communism, and the hysteria of the Vietnam War which Labor opposed under Arthur Calwell (former Curtin/Chifley minister and Fabian). Fabian member and reformist Gough Whitlam rose through the ranks to lead the ALP in 1967 with a strong focus on Australia moving away from the White Australia Policy and advocated a strong reform agenda on national health cover, free education, land rights for Indigenous people, funding the arts, improving relations with Asia and China and withdrawing troops from Vietnam. To win government Whitlam had to focus heavily on the participants and Fabians like Race Matthews and Barry Jones, reforming the Victorian ALP away from oligarchic rule of old dominant Left faction at the time which continued with the help of the Independents in the 1970s–1980s in the Victorian ALP.




Whitlam was elected in 1972 as Prime Minister at a time that Labor had spent 23 years federally in the wilderness. Under Whitlam’s Treasurer and successor as Labor leader Bill Hayden from Qld advocated for strong reform in the party particularly in Qld which the Communist split cost Qld Labor government in 1957. The factions of the Old Guard left-wing Trades Hall controlled the ALP until the intervention of 1980–1989, where Labor did not win a state election for a record 32 years where the Country/National party reigned supreme under Frank Nicklin/Joh Bjelke–Petersen and successors.

The reform group were particularly focused on environmental, civil liberties for First Nations peoples and LGBTIQ people, and women’s issues. Led by Denis Murphy, Manfred Cross, George Georges, Wilf Ardil, Terry Hampson, and Mike Reynolds aligned with support from party organisers Peter Beattie and Wayne Goss. The intervention laid the groundwork where the branch rank-and-file could have more of a say whereas prior to 1980 it was a union-controlled party (Yarrow, S. 2015). The reforms made Labor electable over the next decade where Wayne Goss became Premier of Qld (1989-1996). Under Goss much of the issues Qld ALP reformers and Fabians advocated for, became government policy; such as the decriminalization of LGBTIQ status, the Fitzgerald Inquiry recommendations into corruption, and ending sand mining on Fraser Island. Labor also benefited from Hayden’s party reforms for 13 years federally under the leadership of PMs Bob Hawke/Paul Keating who reshaped the health system, environment, welfare, and both Indigenous and women’s rights.


Political Wilderness under Howard era (1996 – 2007) to the Rudd/Gillard (2007 – 2013) era

During the Hawke/Keating era, factions of the ALP became more institutionalized, thanks to the reforms of Hayden. Factions have always existed in political parties since time immemorial, but they became more accepted during the 1970s-early 1980s of the ALP as society changed and to avoid party infighting having learned from the lessons for 3 party splits federally, and 4 on a state level. William Kidston objected to the socialist objective in 1907 and resigned from the ALP as Premier. Hawke also organised the Labor Accords with the business and trade union communities to ensure stability. Factions exist but perhaps more in Labor where it was used by the Coalition during the Menzies era to the Coalitions advantage when highlighting the “Faceless Men of the ALP”. Because they are so entrenched in Labor they can be a tricky area to manoeuvre. I was in 2 during my Young Labor days having been a whip in the Young Left state conferences, socializing with the Soft Left subgroup and recruiter while also assisting the moderates in the Old Guard Unity in my mid-20s after becoming disillusioned on certain social circles, preselections, and party policy areas relating to First Nations issues and the environment.

On the left is the ETU (electricians), UWU (miscellaneous; representing blue collar workers who are; cleaners, childcare workers, disability support, hospitality, health, aged care, logistics, supermarket supply, security, farming, manufacturing, and market research), the AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Union), the CFMMEU (Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union) and on the Right is the AWU (Australian Workers Union), the TWU (Transport Workers Union), and the SDA (Shop Distribution Association) which had been controversially known for its part in the Industrial Groups in the 1950s-1980s and the DLP (Democratic Labor Party) during the communist split. The Left has usually been more in favour of economic interventionist policies while supportive of social justice issues, while the ALP right has been more politically liberal.

In most cases factions worked within the system of the party and through conferences, meetings, conciliations to cut deals on matters of both senate local preselections via the electoral college, which the union bosses to this day have some say over. Not all unions in the ACTU are part of the ALP despite some of their staff being active in the party. But a majority of the unions involved in the ACTU and Qld Council of Unions are affiliated members of the party. Most ALP staff and unionist organise around themselves being in a faction to climb the political ladder and have sway over their preferred candidates and policies. But most ALP branch members are not aligned with a faction, nor are all of Labor’s politicians. In 2003 former Labor and ACTU leader Simon Crean sacrificed his leadership by granting more say for branch members in preselections. The unions in turn turned from Beazley to Crean, to Latham to Beazley upon defeat after defeat.

During the Rudd/Gillard era Labor abolished the controversial and highly unpopular WorkChoices laws introduced by the Howard government, introduced the Fair Work Commission, increased LGBTIQ financial rights, apologised to the Stolen Generations, stimulated the economy during the GFC maintaining a triple-A credit rating, introducing a Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, the NDIS, the NBN, improved international relations with Asia particularly India and China, paid parental leave, reforming the Murray River water management, transforming federal/state health funding, reforming secondary education and expanding tertiary education, withdrawing troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan and instituting a carbon price. Despite these achievements the Rudd/Gillard era was eclipsed by the egos of constant leadership spills and revolving doors which was due to several contributing factors; personality politics, union bosses, reliance on 24/7 news cycle and polling. On the mornings of 24th June 2010 and 27th June 2013 Australian voters woke up to a new Prime Minister in both occasions where the Australian people didn’t have a say on the change of Prime Minister. True, this had occurred 4 times historically when Stanley Bruce and Earle Page rolled Billy Hughes in 1923 as Nationalist Prime Minister, Robert Menzies returning from an overseas trip to Britain to a divided Coalition unhappy with his first leadership term in 1941 resigning for Arthur Fadden, William McMahon rolling Liberal Prime Minister John Gorton in 1971, and the Hawke/Keating spills of 1991.



But due to a 24/7 news cycle and digital space the attention became more focused and refined from a time where print media was moderate in the public space and attention span. In response to the infighting a lacklustre federal election result in 2010 John Faulkner and former NSW Premier Bob Carr and former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks recommended more branch rank and file say in the rules and preselection process of the wider ALP in the form of a review. Rudd – during his brief second term as Labor leader – introduced the 50:50 leadership rules where the branch members and party members would have half of the proportional say in future Labor leadership elections or spills. Where the over half would be decided by the federal parliamentary wing of the ALP. On a state level in the aftermath election loss of Anna Bligh to Campbell Newman’s LNP where Labor had only secured 7 seats to the LNP’s 78 seats.

The party’s greatest success in structure also became its undoing in the 21st century, especially as unionists accused some reformers of being “anti-unionist” while reformers said of some union bosses of being “antidemocratic”. In some ways it was difficult to many internally who were pro-reform yet also proudly union. Unfortunately, like most institutions in a modern context union membership today sits at 1.5 million (estimate) according to 2016 figures while it was 2.5 million in 1976 (Bramble, T. 2008). As of 2020 at the start of the pandemic the ALP federally has 60,085 members with the Coalition on a similar number nationally. A big change when compared to the days when a major political party of Australia held a membership of almost 200,000 members in the 1950s and a declining primary vote since 1949-1972, exacerbated in the 1990s-early 2000s. [Figure 1.0].


Recent Reforms during Recent Wilderness and Rise of ALBO! (2013 – Present)

In 2013 after the federal election loss of Labor to the Coalition, local Labor was founded along with Open Labor in Victoria to support ALP party reform again in a more modern context. The QLD Labor branch introduced 30:30:30 as a compromise with the unions having a contributing say for branch members, and the parliamentary members in the State Parliamentary wing of the party. Most of the recommendations of Faulkner, Carr, and Bracks were largely ignored in NSW until after the 2015 election loss with the ALP out of state power since 2011. The captain’s pick of then Indigenous sports star Nova Perris as Senate candidate over long-term Labor Senator Trish Crossin (1998-2013), and Qld Senator Jan McLucas who won 57% of the branch vote but lost the union vote and support in 2016’s preselection in the lead up to the 2016 Federal election.

Local Labor was led by Stuart J Whitman; a Townsville Labor acolyte of party reformer and former Qld Speaker Mike Reynolds, Rudd staffer and supporter. He was assisted by Rudd staffers Brad Newman, Rod Biesel (Annerley Labor Branch and Leftie), Kevin Conway (former public servant, Labor Leftie, later state and federal Fabians Secretary), Mike Smith (Labor Leftie, public servant who also grass roots campaigned with the US Democrats in 2012’s US Presidential elections), Kerrie Kahlon (former Australian Young Labor President), Chaiy Donati (whom I originally had disagreements within Young Labor, who was originally from the AWU right and later moderate reformer who was the former President of Qld Young Labor). I also endorsed the reforms as Labor Branch Secretary, Vice-President and President (2012-2015, 2017) in the Cleveland area as well as being the Vice-President of both the Bowman FEC and Cleveland SEC and was the SEC Secretary for a time also assisting in a Labor Party conference vote as the Returning Officer for Bowman.

Before becoming disillusioned with the party processes in 2017 over First Nations and environmental issues surrounding the Adani and Toondah Harbour PDA issues, the ALP lost the 2019 federal election on negative gearing, tax policies and the Adani issue namely in Qld. I remained active in Labor LEAN only from 2017–2020 on the Toondah campaign, Assistant Secretary and Interim Secretary of the Qld Fabians (2016–2018) and advocating for the unemployed in the AUWU in 2020 during the pandemic before working in Cr Peter Cummings Wynnum Manly ward BCC office (former Labor leader of BCC 2016-2020). I was briefly the Local Labor Secretary in 2017 where Local Labor were successful in advocating for a code of conduct policy with the Qld branch of the ALP when former state MP Evan Moorhead was State Secretary. Considering former candidates being improperly managed or bullying in the party particularly in areas of Young Labor or across Branches. Such as the case of Peter Watson in 2012 who made neo-Nazi and gay slur comments or in some cases discrimination and sexual harassment.

As a proud union member and supporter more branch rank-and-file say could be seen as controversial but considering how less Australians view unions less relevant to them. Having union members encouraged to join the ALP to be part of the process as branch members could be a good thing. I’ll never forget an AWU organizer shouting at the 2013 Qld State Labor conference “If its broke don’t fix it!”. Not helpful comments considering how Labor at the time had lost elections across the board on every levels of government.

As Whitlam once professed in his speech in the 1967 annual conference of the Victorian ALP, “Only the Impotent are Pure” when describing the self-defeatism culture of the ALP then prominent in Victorian Labor. Members and former MPs also called for an independent dispute’s tribunal in the party. Former Labor leader Bill Shorten even called for increased membership involvement in preselection’s for the Lower House (70:30 split between local members and a central panel) and for the Senate (50:50 split), increased AA (affirmative action for women), and direct elections of delegates to the national conference(s) of the ALP. As of 2014-2017, there was shift to the ALP in Victoria (2014), Queensland (2015), and Western Australia (2017). Unfortunately, despite the good these governments did it was clear there was still room for improvement as was the case of Adem Somyurek (former Andrews Minister) who according to 60 Minutes was behind a massive branch staking operation in the 48th Victorian Parliament.

These issues mirrored the Shepherdson Inquiry in Queensland Labor in 2000 during the Beattie era, when 3 MPs and several party officials with links to the AWU right of the QLD ALP had links to falsified documentation of branch recruitment. One of which scenario included recruiting dead people into a Labor Branch from a cemetery. This saga saw the downfall of 3 state MPs including Deputy Premier Jim Elder, who was a long-term Goss/Beattie minister as well, and former State Secretary of the QLD ALP in 1993–2000, Mike Kaiser. all in the lead up to a state election. Like Peter Beattie in 2001, Daniel Andrews in 2022 used accountability front and centre to their election campaigns and Labor increased its vote. As the MPs in question relating to the branch stacking controversies resigned, a notable temporary reform pursued by Local Labor and Open Labor groups was the Labor Academy in South Australia to ethically train new ALP activist and staff on skills-based focused rather than the revolving door of using Young Labor factionalism as a means of recruitment.

Today in the current parliament there are several new independent MPs, namely the TEALs (environmentally savvy MPs funded by the group Climate200). The surge of Greens MPs in South-East Qld Brisbane seats and Melbourne which has steadily been rising since 2010 along with increasing TEAL aligned MPs. Although the ALP won a majority on 77 seats, and the majority of TEALs has mostly affected the Coalition moderate MPs base attracting middle–class progressive voters on issues like climate change action, feminism, and implementing a national ICAC. The Teals won 6 seats nationwide in 2022, including Zali Steggall, and Helen Haines who held office since 2019. In Brisbane Labor failed to win the seat as the Greens won the seat with Stephen Bates as Labor lost former Labor safe seat Griffith to Max Chandler Mather (a former colleague in the Young Labor Left before switching to the Greens). The LNP also lost its safe seat of Ryan to Elizabeth Watson Brown and the Greens. Labor only won all of its incumbent seats bar 1 loss in Griffith, with most of its gains in NSW, SA, Victoria, and particularly WA. The ALP to date only holds 5 seats in the federal lower house and 3 Senators when compared to the 2007 federal election when Labor last won from opposition when it won 15 seats including 4 seats in the Qld regions (Leichardt, Dawson, Capricornia, and Flynn). These seats failed to come close to Labor in 2022, which could be trouble for Labor at the upcoming 2024 Qld State election if it’s not careful.

Compared to Labor’s first elections in Qld federally it used to be the heartland of federal Labor with both Andrew Fisher and Frank Forde holding seats for a time; Fisher in Wide Bay (1901-1915) and Frank Forde in Capricornia (1922-1946). The Father of Medicare former Whitlam health minister (1972-1975) Dr Doug Everingham also held the Capricornia seat in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s. It had a strong Labor history of 87 years being held by Labor despite being regional in all of federation, with an increased margin of 14.60% towards PHON in the seat [Figure 3 & 4] and regional Queensland voters shying away from Labor to both the LNP, PHON and the KAP on preferences, particularly as Queensland transitions into renewables away from fossil fuels mining and transitions into mining lithium, cobalt, and nickel mining.

The 2022 Federal Election and 2017 and 2020 Qld State Elections which saw the election of Amy MacMahon of South Brisbane against former ALP Deputy Premier Jackie Trad in 2020, along with Michael Berkman in Maiwar in 2017. With the votes towards the Greens increasing particularly in Brisbane City Council wards in 2020 in 6 ward areas such as Walter Taylor, Paddington, Brisbane Central, Coorparoo, Pullenvale, and the Gabba, while the ALP is increasing its margins in 5 wards with its already held 5 Labor wards; namely Calamvale, Bracken Ridge, Enoggera, Jamboree, and Merchant. Hypothetically, if Labor and Greens were to do well in the 2024 City Council elections in Brisbane or beyond it would put the Greens possibly on 6 seats compared to Labor on 9-10 giving both parties a 15-16 majority the first time the progressive side of politics has done so since 2008 since Campbell Newman and the LNP sustained a landslide for well 16 years.

The LNP have adapted to greening Brisbane to hold off the rising surge in progressive voters. But this might not be enough as voters from further south have called SEQ home during the pandemic interstate migrations as well as an increasing younger voting population, and voter disillusionment with the major parties [Figure 2.0]. It may be a hard pill to swallow for Qld Labor, but it may have to negotiate both a preference deal and or coalition administration with the Greens in Brisbane City Council, considering that Brisbane is the largest City Council in Australia and home to 2.6 million people. It outranks the NT, ACT, and Tasmania put together in sheer size of population and administration, with a public service larger than some states and territories. It would follow the same steps Labor had to with the Greens in Tasmania (2010-2014), ACT (2012-present), and New Zealand (2017-present) under both Ardern and Hipkins. To do not do so could be political suicide.

The Greens have become cleverer, grassroots, particularly engaging in unionism among groups like the AUWU and RAFFWU where the SDA has failed members on industrial matters with Fair Work. It also doesn’t help when Qld has been the highest ratio of state Labor branches to refuse membership to new members without disputes tribunal process say and or on grounds of environmentalist pushing more people towards the Greens and Teal campaigns by being more inclusive. Labor too must adapt and change this.

The ALP and the labour movement are far from perfect; they are always evolving and changing. Remember that Labor while envisioning a working men’s paradise at the turn of the 20th century also strongly supported the White Australia policy well into the early 1970s. Although it created public assets for much of the 1910s-1970s, and privatised assets during the Hawke/Keating era like the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas, and QR Rail under Bligh in 2009 during the 2007-2008 GFC. Good and bad decisions are made, and good and bad people can exist in any Labor faction but for Labor to survive into the next century, in this century it must adapt to continue its democratic trend. The nature of the beast in politics is sometimes leaders are both faced with difficult circumstances and need to make difficult decisions as well. Perhaps Labor could also learn from the issues that have made both the Teals and Greens electable in seats in 2019–2022, such as the housing and rental crisis, including dental in Medicare bulk billing, limit overdevelopment in environmentally sensitive areas, limit gas and coal projects in favour of new industries, fight homelessness by initiating similar programs that William Forgan Smith did, support compulsory preferential voting. Considering that Labor only holds several regional councils in Townsville, Rockhampton, and Mt Isa. With most QLD regional City Councils being held by LNP Crs would it be so bad to implement compulsory preferential? It would mean increased Greens Crs, sure! But it would increase Labor candidates’ chances in local races as well as Independents regardless their politics which would be better for democracy.

As democracy is being challenged by extremist and “strong men” taking over the American Republican party under Trump, Putin in Russia, and Xi in China, now is the time for Qld Labor to showcase its democratic credentials and adapt to the times and it might even win more seats on any of the 3 tiers of government.


The 2022 Federal Election Results; House of Representatives ALP = 77 seats Coalition = 58 seats Independents = 10 seats o Teals = 9 seats o CA = 1 seat Greens = 4 seats KAP = 1 seat


Local Labor’s Patrons

Chris Haviland (Admin Committee NSW Labor, public servant, teacher, cricket umpire)

  • Campbelltown City Council Alderman (1987 – 1993)
  • Macarthur Federal MP (1993 – 1996)
  • President of the Bradfield FEC (LEFT faction)

John Faulkner (teacher, research officer, Assistant Secretary NSW ALP: 80 – 89)

  • Senator for NSW
  • Minister for Veteran Affairs (1993 – 1994)
  • Minister for Defence Science and Personnel (1993 – 1994)
  • Minister for the Environment (1994 – 1996)
  • Special Minister of State (2007 – 2009)
  • National President ALP (2007 – 2008)
  • Vice – President of the Executive Council (2007 – 2010)
  • Minister for Defence (2009 – 2010)
  • Father of the Australian Senate (2014 – 2015) (LEFT faction)

Janelle Anne Saffin (teacher, lawyer)

  • NSW Legislative Council (1995 – 2003)
  • Page Federal MP (2007 – 2013)
  • NSW Lismore State MP (2019 – Present)

Andrew Leigh (lawyer, academic author, professor at ANU)

  • Fraser Federal MP (2010 – 2016)
  • Fenner Federal MP (2016 – Present)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to Julia Gillard PM (2013)
  • Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities, and Treasury (2022 – Present) (RIGHT faction)

Fiona Richardson (political advisor) (passed away in 2017) (RIGHT faction)

  • Victoria Legislative Assembly (2006 – 2017)
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Education (2007)
  • Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance (2007)
  • Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence (2014
  • Oversaw the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2015

Curtis Pitt (public servant) (MODERATE RIGHT faction aligned with LEFT in QLD)

  • QLD State MP Mulgrave (2009 – Present)
  • Minister for Disabilities, Mental Health, ATIS Partnership(s) (2011 – 2012)
  • Treasurer of QLD (2015 – 2017)
  • Minister for Sport, Employment, Industrial Relations, ATSI Partnership(s) (2015 – 2017)
  • Speaker of QLD Parliament (2018 – Present)

Denise Allen (beauty therapist, modelling agency, retail business owner) (passed away in 2022)

  • State MP for Benalla (Victoria) (2000 – 2002)

Join us in Local Labor Qld if you would like to campaign in Local Labor Qld to advocate for compulsory preferential voting reform in QLD, social justice issues, and more democratic say in Labor for members! Contact me via M: 0450 359 863.

Contact Chris Haviland, or Nicole Campbell for INFO about NSW Local Labor (or) Janet McCalman or Eric Dearricott via the Open Labor Victoria website.


Extra Resources

1 Troy Bramston is senior writer and columnist with The Australian since 2011. He is also a contributor to Sky News and a former speech writer in the Rudd Government. This book analyses the need for reform in the ALP after the 2010 federal election hung parliament.

2 Australian Fabians



Figure 1.0 [Primary Vote(s) since 1949]


Figure 2.0 [Comparison of Generational Voting]


Figure 3.0 [Capricornia Primary Votes]


Figure 4.0 [Capricornia TPP = Two Party Preferred Votes]


Figure 5.0 [Australian Federal Election 2007]


Figure 6.0 [Australian Federal Election 2022]

Note: 1 regional seat is ALP in QLD (Blair) while the rest are LNP or KAP. QLD Labor only has 5 seats in the lower house.




Alexander, J. (2022). The rise of Australia’s teal climate warriors. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Barry, N. (2015). Longing for Labor to reform itself? National Conference may not provide it. The Conversation. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Bracks, S. Faulkner, J. Carr, B. (2010). Review 2010| 2010 National Review| Report to the ALP National Executive| Australian Labor Party (ALP) <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Bramble, T. (2008). Trade Unionism in Australia. A History from Flood to Ebb Tide. Cambridge University.

Bowden, B. (2013). Modern Labor in Queensland: It’s Rise and Failings, 1978–98. Labour History. Griffith University.<> accessed 05/03/2023.

Clarke, P. (2013). Whitlam The Power and the Passion. [DVD] ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Davies, A. (2020). Party hardly: why Australia’s big political parties are struggling to compete with grassroots campaigns. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Dyrenfurth, N. Bongiorno, F. (2011). A Little History of the Australian Labor Party. University of New South Wales Press.

Giuliano, C. (2022). Voting Patterns to major parties by generation. Australian Parliament. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Grattan, M. (2022). Age and education key demographics in government’s election loss: ANU Study. The Conversation. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Green, A. (2020). Brisbane City Council Election 2020 Results. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Green, A. (2022). Australian Federal Election 2022 Live Results. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Jabour, B. Hurst, D. (2012). Labor teen regrets wording of gay slur, but stands by racism. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Manwaring, R. (2011) The paradox at the heart of Labor’s review. Inside Story. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Massola, J. (2012). ALP must change or be changed: Crean. Financial Review <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Mccalman, J. (2021). Open Labor. Non – aligned Victorian Labor politicians poster 1970 – 2018.

Parnell, S. (2020). Labor’s one – time rising star Mike Kaiser lands back in government ranks. IN QUEENSLAND. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Sansom, M. (2015). Asset sales dominate NSW and Qld elections. Government News. <> accessed 05/03/2023.

Wahlquist, C. (2022). Teal independents: who are they and how did they upend Australia’s election? The Guardian. <> accessed 05/03/2023

Yarrow, Susan (2015). Split, intervention, renewal: the ALP in Queensland 1957 – 1989. MPhil Thesis, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, The University of Queensland.

<> accessed 05/03/2023.

Callen Sorensen Karklis, Bachelor of Government and International Relations.

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University. He was a co-host from time to time on Workers Power 4ZZZ (FM 102.1) on Tuesday morning’s program Workers Power. He currently works as a public servant in Qld and the Secretary for Qld Local Labor.

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BRICS: The opponent awe of the West

By Isidoros Karderinis

Brazil, Russia, India and China originally formed the bloc in 2009 after a series of meetings and understandings. The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16 of the same year, where the heads of states in question agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between them.

The following year, in Brasilia, Brazil in April 2010, the second Summit was held, where the leaders of these countries emphasized the necessity of a multidimensional global intergovernmental system.

Then, at their third meeting in New York in September 2010, the BRICs agreed on the entry of South Africa. South Africa managed to join after a strong effort as a result of its active foreign policy, this coalition of states changing it from “BRIC” to “BRICS”.

At the Fourth Summit in March 2012 in New Delhi, India, a first announcement was made of the establishment of a New Development Bank (NDB), which was formalized at their Fifth Summit in Durban, South Africa in 2013, with the clear intention of independence of BRICS by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the US and the European Union. The agreement for its establishment, after resolving disputes over organizational issues, was finally reached in 2014, during the sixth BRICS meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The BRICS countries comprise 40% of the world’s population, which amounts to over 3.1 billion people. BRICS co-exists countries with different degrees of development and different strategies.

Brazil is the largest country in South America, both in population (about 213 million) and in area, since it occupies 1/3 of South America by itself. It is also the fourth richest country in the Americas in terms of GDP. However, it does not have the appropriate infrastructure (inadequate road and rail network, inadequate port infrastructure, etc.) and in combination with extreme economic inequality (1 in 4 citizens lives in absolute poverty) do not allow it to emerge as a economic superpower. According to the World Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, Brazil ranked 108th among 137 economies in 2017 in terms of the general quality of its infrastructure. Corruption scandals are also present in the country. Brazil deals with regional issues.

Russia, which is the world’s largest transcontinental country of global influence and a large economy, also possesses the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and enormous military power, which it has used in Syria and now in Ukraine. Russia provides the best standard of living for its residents, compared to the rest of the BRICS countries, with 3.5% of GDP spent on education and 3.1% on public health. The number of residents living below the poverty line amounts to just 0.2% of its population. The Russian economy suffers, however, from the critical problem of corruption-which exists in all countries to a greater or lesser degree-as well as from the significant lack of banking infrastructure, due to insufficiently developed financial markets, difficulty in obtaining loans and limited investment options.

India is an emerging world power with an ever-growing economy. It is currently the fifth largest economy in the world based on its GDP, while its territory is home to the second largest population in the world, after that of China, reaching close to 1.4 billion people. The country’s GDP growth has been among the highest in the world over the past decade, achieving an annual growth of between 6-7%. However, India has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, while facing huge social problems at home due to poverty. India has the lowest percentages of GDP spent on education and health among the BRICS, at 2.7% and 1.2% respectively. India is regionally oriented.

China, which is home to 1.4 billion people, is expanding rapidly with economic penetration in Asia, Latin America, Africa and other regions of the world. It is the economic giant of the East with an annual growth rate of 6.6%, thus threatening the economic primacy of the USA. China has been the world’s leading exporter since 2014. At the same time, China, although it is the second largest economy in the world, remains a middle-income country as its per capita income is still only about a quarter of that of countries with high income and about 375 million Chinese live below the poverty line of $5.50 a day. Finally, corruption appears at particularly high rates.

South Africa, due to its geographical position at the southern tip of the continent, which gives it access to two oceans, is a hub country. South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa. At the same time, hundreds of Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, are currently active in the country. South Africa’s economy is the second largest on the African continent behind Nigeria’s. It has natural wealth in gold, silver and coal but also one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. The richest 10% of the population owns about 71% of the net wealth, while the bottom 60% owns 7% of the net wealth. It is a country with particular political weight in Africa as the only African member state of the G20 group, which, however, needs a reform effort for its further economic development.

The BRICS are, therefore, the opposing camp of the West, whether this is expressed politically, by the US-Anglo-Saxon countries-European Union alliance, or militarily, with NATO, or economically, with the international economic organizations of American origin, such as the IMF, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization. The bloc’s strategic direction is close cooperation to effectively and successfully counter the US-dominated international financial architecture.

After fifteen years, during which many questioned the viability of the scheme, the existing global balances lead to the enlargement of the bloc. Many countries have expressed their desire to become members of BRICS, such as Argentina, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Vietnam, Bangladesh and others.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the agenda of the BRICS, which have succeeded in consolidating their position on the global political and economic scene, leads to the reduction of the dominance of the USA and the Western world in general and to the establishment of a new multipolar reality.

Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and columnist. He studied economics and completed postgraduate studies in tourism economics. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world. His poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish and published in poetic anthologies, literary magazines and literary newspaper columns. He has published eight books of poetry and three novels in Greece. His books have been translated and published in the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

Facebook: Karderinis Isidoros

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Business as usual: the opposers keep opposing

By Paul Smith

“Whitefellas know best” has failed as the way to “look after” Blackfellas. The Voice is the way Blackfellas propose to look after themselves. Most Whitefellas agree that that’s the way to go, but some won’t have a bar of it. They claim that the opposition of some Blackfellas to The Voice justifies preserving the status quo. At stake is ability of supporters of The Voice to achieve a morally sustainable Australian nationhood; and, for its opponents, the preservation of the colonial project – dare I say it … white privilege.

Let’s look at the arguments:


It won’t close the gap

The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament as a means of improving policy development and service delivery to overcome historic disadvantage – in other words, to close the gap.

The Nationals oppose The Voice because “it won’t close the gap”.

This is business as usual – the latest instance of Whitefellas asserting that they know what’s best for Blackfellas.

But what about Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price (JYNP) who opposes The Voice because “it won’t close the gap”? Shouldn’t she and those she speaks for be heard? Isn’t that what The Nationals are doing?

Non-indigenous Australians have to choose between contrary views within Indigenous Australia on The Voice.

So, yes, what about JYNP? Is she “a majority of one” or “the exception that proves the rule”?


Unduly influential, more right than her peers

Two phrases may be useful in considering the role of Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price in the debate on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament: “the exception that proves the rule” and “a majority of one”.

When a person is drastically out of step with everyone else yet insists that theirs is the correct position or point of view, they can be regarded as the exception that proves the rule. It’s sarcasm which uses illogical construction to mirror the perceived quality of the dissenter’s reasoning. Such a person may be regarded as ludicrous but harmless.

The phrase a majority of one has a similar but more sinister meaning, i.e. someone feeling entitled to assert, and, if possible, impose himself in ways that, though welcomed at first, become intrusive, and irritating to others until rejected as illegitimate. Such a person comes to be regarded not just as presumptuous but as unduly influential; requiring courage and endurance on the part of others to put one man of abundant gall in his place. Yet this phrase once had, and can still have, the exact opposite meaning.

Andrew Jackson is alleged to have said, “One man with courage makes a majority of one.” David Thoreau coined the phrase when he said, “Any man more right than his neighbours constitute a majority of one.”

So, there are two ways of being a majority of one: the way of egotism and the way of integrity.

The question is, how can we know what we are seeing when someone defies what we think we know to be true?


Courage? Or the desire to be noticed?

Those who might, without giving it a second thought, prefer the Nationals’ position on The Voice are likely to regard Price as “a majority of one” in the sense in which Jackson and Thoreau used the term.

Likewise, those who might, with unquestioned certainty, support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, are likely to agree with Noel Pearson who, though he didn’t use the phrase, “the exception that proves the rule,” explained Price’s opposition to The Voice as the result of being caught in a “tragic redneck celebrity vortex”.

Is Price fearless and courageous, more right than her peers; or is she indulging the desire to be noticed and punching down on other blacks to get her fix?


The stakes

Framing these starkly contrasting versions of Price together sharpens awareness of what’s at stake.

Price ceases to be just anyone with a dissenting voice and becomes a crusader at the head of an insurgency bent on “taking the country back” … from … what? Woke culture, of course; and supporters of The Voice, sensing the prospect of decades of progress, towards an agreement on whose country it is, voided by a failed referendum, feel the imperative of righteous cause burning not in their heads but in their guts.

So, what is at stake?

What’s at stake for The Nationals, and anyone they speak for, is the perpetuation of the Colonial Project; and for supporters of The Voice, a consolidation of the project of a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.

Both in their own way about “taking the country back”.


The Colonial Project and morally sustainable Australian nationhood

Historically, the Colonial Project was the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land; the murder of an estimated 50% of their number; confining the survivors in ghettos; erasing their languages and cultures; denying them agency in every aspect of their lives; stealing their wages; fomenting and maintaining an attitude of contempt towards them as people, and much, much more.

The Colonial Project is also all the material prosperity achieved at the expense of the people whose land was taken away (stolen) from them. All non-indigenous Australians participate in and benefit from the persisting Colonial Project.

The Constitution is the formal framework by which the Colonial Project operates as a Nation State.

The Constitution continued explicitly to exclude Indigenous Australians.

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is not about privileging them with something that no one else has access to.

It rectifies the exclusion of Indigenous Australians from the project of Australian nationhood.

The ongoing Colonial Project manifests as policy making at all levels of government and non-government enterprise that maintains and perpetuates the material conditions that originated in dispossession. Even when policy has purported to remedy those conditions it has always been on the basis of a non-Indigenous understanding of those conditions.

Effective policy cannot emerge from colonial assumptions about the situation. Redressing the effects of the Colonial Project in Australia requires a response from the lived experience of colonised Indigenous Australians. There is no other transit from the Colonial Project to a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.


Decolonisation!? Who … us!?

(1) Perpetuating established relationships, and (2) responding critically to a changing world, are the diverging priorities shaping our post-Second World-War political trajectory. The triggers for critiquing and reforming pre-war norms were twofold: our knowledge of and response to the Holocaust; and Decolonisation.

A quest for respectful and inclusive relationships emerged as a response to the Holocaust. Ideas and actions denigrated as Politically Correct or Woke are some of the fruits of post-Holocaust recalibration of the moral compass.

Decolonisation – self-determination – enabled the overwhelming majority of people in the world to seize back their own voice, and that in turn became the opportunity for us in the West to redefine who we are: no longer masters but partners.

But not in Australia.

All former colonies achieved independence after the Second World War, either by returning fire against the violence of colonial powers attempting to reinstate the status quo ante, or by the power of moral persuasion and diplomacy.

Self-determination became the self-evident moral right of people living in their own land.

In countries where the colonisers became, and will, therefore, always remain, the majority population, treaties were made between colonisers and indigenous people; and though repeatedly broken, treaties legally recognised the prior occupation of the land by, and ongoing presence of, Indigenous people.

Only in Australia is there still no treaty or other form of recognition.


Demanding and delivering recognition

Indigenous Australians have been asserting their right to recognition since 1934. In 1972 the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was hoisted as an umbrella and later erected as a tent in front of Parliament House, to demand land rights and to assert Sovereignty and the right to Self Determination… and remains the oldest continuing protest occupation site in the world.

The right to Constitutional Recognition was acknowledged by John Howard in 2007.

A decade of negotiation and consultation with Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth. A further two years of co-design involving senior Indigenous leaders and representatives of the Australian Government, and ever ongoing public consultation, produced a comprehensive plan for the implementation of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

In 2022 Anthony Albanese committed to holding a referendum to enshrine The Voice in the Constitution.

The Referendum is this generation’s opportunity to end the colonial relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians; and to begin decolonising all of our minds as we undertake a shared journey towards a morally sustainable Australian nationhood.


Ignominious excuses

235 years after the British penal colony was dumped at Warrane, later known as Sydney Cove, Australians are on the cusp of moving on from the Colonial Project but there is some resistance, ostensibly to the means of doing so, but in fact to doing so at all.

There can be no valid reason to maintain the Colonial Project.

The shameful hope of doing so is, therefore, disguised as red herrings and lies about the means:

there is no detail;

it would represent the interests of Redfern and not the diversity of Indigenous Australians;

it would be a third chamber;

it won’t close the gap.

There are 272 pages of detail in the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Final Report which was twice presented to the Federal Cabinet. “There is no detail” is a barefaced lie.

To withhold support for The Voice because “there is no detail” when there is a fully articulated design and rationale is disingenuous.

To oppose the Voice despite the “fact” that there is “no detail”, is absurdly inept at best or blatantly obstructive and even intentionally adversarial.

The report provides for thirty-five Local and Regional Voices to inform the National Voice. The imputed dominance of urban interests is a malicious wedge.

The function of The Voice is “… to make representations to the Parliament”. The wording makes it clear that it is not conceived as part of the Parliament.

“It would be a third chamber” is a deliberately shameless misrepresentation of the words and their intent.

The failure of “Whitefellas know best” is the whole point of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. The assertion that “it won’t close the gap” is a breathtaking assertion that “Whitefellas still know best”; and a blatant disregard for the principle that policy should reflect the interests and awareness of those about whom it is made.


Ideological intransigence or realistic relationship

Some high-profile Indigenous Australians oppose The Voice, the most prominent being CLP Senator Jacinta Yangapi Nampijinpa Price, former Liberal candidate Nyunggai Warren Mundine and Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe.

Such exercise of free choice is expected of non-indigenous Australians, but considered problematic if replicated by Indigenous Australians. For example, non-indigenous Australians who don’t support The Voice cite its lack of unanimous support among Indigenous Australians as a reason to continue with business as usual and oppose it.

Yet when the Federal National Party announced its opposition to The Voice, it exposed the lack of unanimity within its own ranks. It unveiled a fault line between ideological intransigence and recognition of the need for a realistic relationship with Indigenous Australians.

The push back from within its own party room and State Divisions of the party affirms Noel Pearson’s account of gaining the widespread support of National Party members for The Voice throughout Australia.

What, then, accounts for the federal party’s surprising move?

To return to my question about Price on the first page of this series of posts: Is she “a majority of one” or “the exception that proves the rule”?


How can we know?

I earlier said: There are two ways of being a majority of one: the way of integrity and the way of egotism.

The way of integrity as coined by David Thoreau:

“… any man more right than his neighbours constitutes a majority of one”;

and for Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority of one.”

The way of egotism manifests in someone feeling entitled to assert, and, if possible, impose himself in ways that, though welcomed at first, become intrusive, irritating to others and illegitimate. Such a person comes to be regarded not just as presumptuous but as unduly influential; requiring courage and endurance on the part of others to put one man of abundant gall in his place.

Or woman.

As I asked earlier: How can we know what we are seeing when someone defies what we think we know to be true?

Is Price more right than the likes of Marcia Langton, Tom Calma, Megan Davis, Noel Pearson, Pat Anderson, Mick Gooda, Jackie Huggins, Lowitja O’Donoghue, June Oscar, Marion Scrymgour and Pat Turner, to name those who spring immediately to mind?

Is Price being courageous by channelling the Colonial Project in opposition to the orthodoxy of Indigenous Self Determination?

Or is she the cherry picked black with views that ‘legitimise’ the ideologues’ preferred position on matters Indigenous, who has outmanoeuvred any expectation on their part of being able to control her?

This article was originally published on Tuckerucci Fairytales.


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One step away from total fascism (part 1)

Q: What is more threatening to a democracy than a fascist?

A: A stupid one.

The Republicans have them in abundance.

My piece of a couple of weeks ago; One step away from total fascism singled out a few of them. I did not expect that in the short number of days since then that they would reach an even higher level of fascism and/or stupidity.

But here we are.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

1 What every good fascist needs is a little bit of Hitler in their daily lives.

“Neo-Nazi Homeschoolers Could Be Paid $22,000 to Teach Their Kids About Hitler.

Ohio’s “Backpack Bill” would funnel over a billion dollars of taxpayer money into homeschooling and private schools, including the neo-Nazi “Dissident Homeschool Network.”

The neo-Nazi homeschooling couple [Katja Lawrence] was unmasked earlier this week along with her husband Logan Lawrence from Upper Sandusky, Ohio could receive a huge taxpayer-funded windfall of up to $22,000 per year if Republican-backed legislation known as the “Backpack Bill” is passed by state lawmakers.”

2 They are obsessed with drag queens. Keep them away from hotels or they could become the pubs with no beer.

“DeSantis Admin Seeks to Revoke Miami Hotel’s Liquor License Over ‘Drag Queen Christmas’

Officials from the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis want to revoke the alcohol license for the Hyatt Regency Miami after one of its facilities hosted a Christmas-themed drag show opponents called a “sexually explicit performance marketed to children.”

Ron DeSantis certainly ticks all the boxes for being a dangerous fascist.



3 Guns are OK, but every Republican knows that drag queens are far more dangerous to a child’s well-being. Scarred for life, they will be, should a drag queen roll up to little Jimmy’s 5th birthday party. Send in the bounty hunters! (Yes, you read that right: bounty hunters.)

“Texas Republican Introduces Bounty Hunting Bill Targeting Drag Queens.

A Texas lawmaker proposed a bill allowing everyday people to sue anybody who hosts or performs in drag where any child is in attendance.”

But it’s OK about the guns. Especially for bounty hunters, perhaps.

It’ll be like the wild, wild west again, but 21st Century style.

4 This is too disgusting to be true, but true it is. Make sure you’re sitting down when you read it.

Lawmaker Cites the Bible in Defending Use of Corporal Punishment Against Children with Disabilities.

State Rep. Jim Olsen argued against a bill that would prohibit school employees from using corporal punishment on children with disabilities, citing Proverbs to argue, “The rod and reproof give wisdom … arguing that the Bible “would seem to endorse the use of corporal punishment.”

Speaking on the Oklahoma state floor during debate this week, Olsen argued, “God’s word is higher than all the so-called experts.”

“Several scriptures could be read here,” Olsen added, The Washington Post reports. “Let me read just one, Proverbs 29: ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.’ So that would seem to endorse the use of corporal punishment.”

DeSantis again. He’s certainly getting in a lot of fascism practice.



From the article:

“Ron DeSantis Wants to Make It a Felony to Have an Undocumented Person in Your Home or Car.

A new Florida bill criminalizes not just undocumented Floridians but anyone who associates with them.”

I wonder if he’ll also get some bounty hunters after them. It seems to be the done thing.

Friends in America tell me that DeSantis is worse than Trump. It’s hard to imagine, but I trust their word.

I hope they never find out how bad he can really be.


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First Among Equals: The Voice


By Paul Smith

PREAMBLE – Addressed to serving military personnel and veterans

Reconciliation with former enemies ought to be prominent in the ethos of the Australian military – serving personnel and veterans alike. What greater example is there of such mutual generosity than the existence of Turkish subbranches of the RSL in NSW and Victoria? The very people Australians fought, in what most people once thought was the war that made Australia a nation, commemorated ANZAC Day with Australians in Korea and have done so, virtually ever since. Furthermore, veterans of the war in Vietnam know the warmth of genuine welcome whether visiting the south or the north of the now unified country. In fact, there is no former enemy on whose land Australians veterans are not welcome.

Every day in every part of Australia non-indigenous Australians are welcomed by Indigenous Australians to the land of its traditional owners. This is an offer of friendship that non-indigenous Australians can fully appreciate when we acknowledge that the first Australians’ 140-year struggle to defend their land was the first war that made us the people we are today – Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike.

The Australian War Memorial has acknowledged the Frontier Wars. At the same time, constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is at the forefront of nation’s agenda. As military veterans we are especially invested in the success of these two developments in our nation’s ever-changing understanding of itself. That is to say, we who went to war in support of an empire to preserve White Australia became a multicultural society that supports self-determination wherever it is possible in the world; and we who pride ourselves as being the kind of Australians who treat Indigenous people fairly must surely want all Indigenous people to be treated fairly by all other Australians.

Like the Turks, who we made the enemy by invading their land, Indigenous Australians are embracing their former enemy with extraordinary good will. What follows is a nine-point case for reciprocating that good will by supporting the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

1 A simple proposition

Will you recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution in the way they want to be included?

2 Why are we talking about recognition of Indigenous people in the Constitution?

To formally recognise the special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples of our nation. We must recognise the distinctiveness of Indigenous identity and culture and the right of Indigenous people to preserve that heritage.

The right time: see constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians: address to the Sydney Institute, Sydney. John Howard, 11 October 2007.

3 Isn’t The Voice just a lobby group?

The question is phrased to diminish the importance of lobby groups. It thereby brushes off the rationale for The Voice. But if lobby groups were not vital to the functioning of Australian Democracy they wouldn’t exist. How is it reasonable to question the legitimacy of The Voice as a lobby group, yet accept the legitimacy of other, powerfully organised, interest groups? Example of such groups are:

Australian Christian Lobby, Australian Coal Association, Minerals Council of Australia, National Association of Forest Industries, National Farmers’ Federation, Business Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Australian Beverage Council, Australian food and Grocery Council, Centre for Independent Studies, Institute of Public Affairs, the HR Nicholls Society.

All of these organisations advocate for the interests of specific (narrow) segments of Australian society in the expectation of achieving desired outcomes. The Voice is designed to do exactly that and more. The Voice is Indigenous Australians’ means of influencing policy development to address their actual needs and so close the gap.

The Voice is envisioned as more than just a lobby group. It is also intended as the platform for forging greater unity in diversity among all Indigenous people, taking account of dissenting voices in pursuing their own causes within their own communities, the better to inform those elected to advocate at the national level on behalf of Australians who have been explicitly excluded from the Colonial Project.

4 The Colonial Project! What’s that!?

The colonial project is the dispossession of Indigenous people from their land; the murder of 90% of their number; confining the survivors in ghettos; erasing their languages and cultures; denying them agency in every aspect of their lives; stealing their wages; fomenting and maintaining an attitude of contempt towards them as people, and much, much more. This has resulted in policy making, at all levels of government and non-government enterprise, that maintains and perpetuates the material conditions that originated in dispossession. Even when policy has intended to remedy those conditions it has always been on the basis of a non-indigenous understanding of those conditions. Effective policy cannot emerge from a false consciousness of a situation. Redressing this history requires an accurately informed consciousness of the situation and that can come only from Indigenous Australians.

5 Is The Voice fair to other minority groups in Australia?

Will other minority groups such as, say, Greek Australians, be entitled to similar constitutional recognition? Greek and all other non-indigenous Australians are participants in the colonial project which has served all of their interests by dispossessing and excluding Indigenous Australians. The constitution is the formal framework by which the colonial project operates as a nation state. The constitution continued explicitly to exclude Indigenous Australians. Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians is not about privileging them with something that no one else has access to. It rectifies the exclusion of Indigenous Australians from the project of Australian nationhood.

6 How will The Voice be constituted and function?

In the lead up to the referendum the structure of The Voice will be widely publicised. As it is presently conceived, it will be in two parts: Local and Regional Voices (L&RV), and a National Voice. The L&RV will provide advice to all levels of government about what’s important in communities and in the region; work in partnership with all governments to make plans on how to meet community aspirations and deliver on local priorities; and provide local views to the National Voice where this informs national issues. The National Voice will be a national body made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that will provide advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on relevant laws, policies and programs; and will engage early on with the Australian Parliament and Government in the development of relevant policies and laws. More precise detail on how the two bodies will be established and operate will be determined by the Parliament.

7 Were there predecessors to the proposed Voice to Parliament?

The Australian constitution expressly excluded First Nations people from citizenship and the other benefits of Australian nationhood. The grudging and grossly inadequate provision that was made by governments and non-government organisations was explicitly regarded as welfare rather than inclusion in the project of Australian nationhood. From the outset, therefore, First Nations people sought redress of this Singular, Exceptional, Conspicuous, Bizarre Unfairness. In 1937 William Copper petitioned King George VI for representation in Parliament; The following year, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, a Day of Mourning called for full citizen status and equality within the community. The right to vote was achieved by the early 1960s, and since 1967 First Nations people are counted in the census. In 1968 the Gorton government took the first tentative step towards dialogue with First Nation people by establishing the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. In 1973 the Whitlam government unequivocally endorsed First Nations participation in policy development by establishing the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee. Between 1976 and 2005, there were four further representative bodies – the National Aboriginal Congress, the National Aboriginal Conference, the Aboriginal Development Commission, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission – reflecting the varying priorities of successive governments which often conflicted with the growing confidence and assertiveness of First Nations people. In 2005 the Howard government abolished and did not replace the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

8 A nation of minorities

All non-indigenous Australians already have a voice to parliament by virtue of their participation in the Colonial Project, from which Indigenous people were excluded by their dispossession, and by the constitution which continued explicitly to exclude them from the project of Australian nationhood.

If non-indigenous Australians feel unrepresented it’s not because they don’t have access but because they haven’t adequately engaged with the institutions of representation.

Non-indigenous Australians will learn much about how to use their voice when a legislated and operational Indigenous Voice to Parliament impels a paradigm shift in the identification and resolution of First Nations entitlement within the project of Australian nationhood.

Inspired by First Nations leadership in effective (because patient and morally justifiable) self organisation, people who, in any numbers, recognise a shared unmet need, will engage with the nation and the Parliament in pursuit of a more just and sustainably diverse society, in contradistinction to the contest for undue advantage by lobby groups that is characteristic of the dynamics of the Colonial Project.

All will become beneficiaries of the principle and practice of self-determination, when Australians recognise that we are a nation of minorities and reject the false, colonial dichotomy of a non-indigenous majority and an indigenous minority.

9 First Among Equals in a nation of minorities

Indigenous people are not a minority in multicultural Australia, even if numerically few in relation to immigrants and their descendants. Indigenous culture is uniquely entitled to the role of First Among Equals in the project of Australian nationhood.


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It’s frightening when you join the dots in a different way

By Andrew Klein

In 2023 we see violence against segments of the community, economic violence and neglect that have not been addressed and given the recent decision to go all the way with Uncle Sam, will not be addressed.

In view of the recent months in Canberra I am minded to re-write something that I wrote about violence against children in 2019.

In 2023 we see violence against segments of the community, economic violence and neglect that have not been addressed and given the recent decision to go all the way with Uncle Sam, will not be addressed.

Following the disastrous years of the Liberal ‘Morrison’ government that relied on the art of scapegoating and social mischief making in dividing the community against itself, an art learned from the most mediocre of minds, John Howard.

Is there a trickledown effect when institutions we ‘trust’ are actively involved in abusing our young and in essence our communities? When those institutions include the elected government, when transparency and accountability are buried in the ‘national interest’ or the ‘in commercial in confidence’ humbug, we have a problem.

I refer to my previous article merely to highlight the problem that Australia has become traumatized, that inflicted trauma is not wholly a religious issue but that there are dangerous overlaps in the way people are treated. We are seeing charities running fund raisers to assist Australian Children in Poverty, we are asked to donate money to enable children to have educational opportunities that are otherwise denied. I know members of my own community that have to choose between utility bills and medication, but worse still, I see the same scapegoating and blame shifting that has made as such a lucky country where political pundits regard the electorate as punters.

Child sexual abuse and the destruction of communities (2019). The context of what I see in 2023 is below:

“The past few months have highlighted what can only be described as a plague that has infected our communities for generations.

The ‘Pell’ matter simply brought things to a head for many in our communities.
One would have to be wilfully blind or deluded to pretend that the sexual abuse of children in faith-based organizations was an aberration rather than a twisted and perverse new normal.

Hardly a day goes by without a historic case being reported by the media. Obviously not all the cases related to the Roman Catholic Church are uniquely Australian, but as the name ‘Catholic’ indicates, they are universal and they touch each and every one of us.

I doubt that there are many readers that have not been impacted either directly or indirectly by cases of sexual abuse of children. Children either abused whilst in care of faith-based organizations or in care of those trusted by their parents, their families.

Often the abusers were either seen as part of the family/community structure or were in fact related to the children concerned.

In all cases, as far as I have learned over many years, this has involved both grooming and frightening as it sounds, the very tacit or complicit behavior of those who should have been expected to act in the best interest of the child. Volumes have been written about ‘stranger danger’ and the threat posed by external forces. Yet it seems to me at this point in time that the real danger to children came in the guise of respected members of the community and as far as I can tell, these always involved a degree of power imbalance between the perpetrator and the child and its family.

In fact, there are times when it is hard to tell the difference between the two.

Churches have historically been seen as agents of spiritual and religious growth. As such clergy and laity were allowed both into the physical proximity of children and certainly into the inner reaches of the child’s mind.

Were these positive things then I might accept that there is a role for this. But the overwhelming evidence, the case after case presented, the body of evidence presented to the Royal Commission into the abuse of children in faith-based organizations makes it clear that the impacts have been far from benevolent. In fact, they have undermined communities and destroyed individuals.

We, as a society, accepted a redress scheme that allowed predatory organizations to hide the incidents of assault and abuse by the planned use of confidentiality agreements.

It is interesting to note that in 1922 the Vatican changed its approach to crimes against children by concealing the facts on pain of excommunication, a punishment that was to be applied to any of the faithful who allowed knowledge of the crimes committed to become public knowledge. This too is part of the evidence given to the Royal Commission here in Australia.

My point though is that children were not only sexually abused in churches, it occurred in other organizations and certainly within family structures. All the places that were thought to be safe were in fact compromised and following the lead of the Roman Catholic Church, the model applied was one of pastoral care and treatment of the offenders and more often than not the victim became secondary to the rage of saving the predators and the reputations of organizations and families.

I write this today thinking of all the survivors that I have met over the years. I write this knowing now that many of them were denied the opportunity for a happy and productive life, I write this knowing now that they did complain when they were young. That often the troubled behaviour that they displayed was a cry for help that we as a community did not hear or chose not to hear.

The lies and deception, the vested interests and power imbalances that enabled and protected predators still exist.

I know what it says about the Roman Catholic Church, and I know what it says about churches in general. To me it places the burden of responsibility fairly onto the leaders of the church and those organizations that were trusted with the souls of the innocent. It also says a lot about our society, our culture and how this abuse was permitted to occur for generations. It says something about the power and control that churches exercised over the minds of the faithful, but it also speaks volumes about the families who knew about the abuse and remained silent as they were promised both a physical reward in this life and one for the life eternal.

It says much about a culture that decried the child sacrifice mentioned in the Old Testament and yet was prepared to see children belonging to less powerful economic and social groups as the less worthy, the ‘wardies’ the orphans and the ‘bastards’ born out of wedlock.

These are hard and painful words, but it pains me to know that such language was used in my lifetime. It pains me to know that a large body of work dedicated to preventing child abuse is now tainted, either by association or by it being the product of willful misdirection and of created ignorance.

I cannot look into the eyes of the many survivors that I have gotten to know over the years and offer the platitude of “I feel your pain”.

I am grateful not to know that level of pain, to have grown up relatively unscathed by the machinations of those who saw no issue with using children for personal gratification. I am thankful that I was not trafficked by my family to ensure economic success or to obtain favours.

I can say that your words haunt me, that the betrayal that you suffered disgusts me and that your stories have changed my view of society for ever.

I have learned that to prevent a repeat of the horrors of the past, to end the horrors of today will require vigilance and dedication by every member of the community. It will require the rebuilding of trust and safe spaces and above all, it will require a level of ruthlessness in dealing with predators that may appear to be in conflict with the pastoral care and treatment model offered to date to the many criminals who preyed on our children.

It requires a paradigm shift in our communities and cultures, one that acknowledges the rights of the child well above the rights of any organization, no matter what claims it makes.

It will require us, as a community to value parenting and mentoring far above the sperm deposit and ownership of a child response.

Children are not property; their value must not be determined by class or by economic worth.

Above all, it will require all of us to act as parents if called upon and if we choose to respond to the call.

It requires boundaries that are easily understood and that are enforced if they are breached.

Every child has the right to know itself in a safe space. It is our duty to ensure that we, the adults, take reasonable steps to ensure that all children are safe. That all organizations are accountable and above all, transparent.

That we act as parents, uncles and aunties and mentors to all children and that parents who are struggling can reach out for support and guidance without being treated as flawed.

That the rights of the child are paramount simply because that child will one day be called on to be a force for good in its own life and the lives of others, that healthy and functional communities raise healthy and functional children.

Let us not repeat the historic failure of the recent past nor continue to hide the truths of child sexual abuse.

The violent society that we live in represents the violence and abuse that children were subjected to.”

Get your head around the scale of the thing before you pontificate on the goodness of churches and then think about how these attitudes have leached across into governments of all persuasions, how neoliberal trickle-down economic theory and the myth of the resilient and tough individual impacts on government policies and the attitudes displayed by those in power. Robodebt, the most recent example of the disconnect and moral disengagement that is pervasive in Australian politics today.

The ubiquitous ‘othering ‘ of those on social security who are deemed as a liability to be minimized, the same approach used to deal with Veterans who have served the nation and are expected to be enamoured by the platitude of ‘thank you for your service’.

There are endless examples of suffering that could be addressed with more vision and compassion. Suspend your disbelief regarding the abuse of children in faith-based organizations. Now shut your eyes and envision a country traumatized and bamboozled for generations and then see the similarities.

Individuals forced to live on the razors edge of economic destitution, homelessness. Social justice delayed, hence denied. The orchestrated rise of Nazi like groups and organizations playing by the authoritarian playbook, the manufactured faux outrage regarding individuals coming to terms with their own sexuality. The polarization of political belief, which eerily resembles the dark ages of ‘faith’.

I do not believe that all is lost, that we have to surrender our integrity, our shared humanity to appease those who want us to choose one colour or another.

This is not Trump’s America, and we should all make an effort that we don’t follow that path to political insanity. There is hope, but hope is never enough.

There has to be more involvement from the grass roots level of our communities. Not the voices of the extremes alone, but the voices of the ‘quiet Australians’, an accolade that demonstrates the contempt in which we are held by those with a sense of entitlement.

Democracy is, by its very nature, a challenge. There are those who see it as a hinderance to ‘economic growth and market expansion’. This should come as no surprise as the cost of doing business is socialized and the profits internalized. But if we allow democracy to fail, if we accept the words of politicians and media spin doctors unchallenged, the cost of that failure will resemble to price paid by the victims of structures that we know of, even if we choose to look away.

We simply do not have the luxury of time to look away, to stick our heads in the sand.

Those who go without meals, education and opportunity have no time at all. It’s happening right now, every day. Is that the Australia that we will be satisfied with? If so, all our self-congratulatory attempts, all our flag waving and claims to being a sovereign state become a moot point.


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Who is this bloke Rick Morton and what makes him tick?

We must put more creativity and life experience into the material written about politics and life today with more knowledge, truth and emotion so that the reader understands our sincerity. Today’s writers often display an ability to use words that carry facts with a bite of actuality, but the urgency and drama they demand must be more full-bodied.

This does not apply to the very gifted author of the following:

“It is difficult to attach a coda to a years-long abuse that will linger for decades in the minds of welfare recipients past and present. If this inquiry does nothing else, it has furnished the bones of the worst abuse of Australian citizens committed deliberately and with legal and personal impunity over five years.

There were multiple moments where documents were wilfully disappeared or left in the apparently inert state of “draft”; where ignorance was installed as a default operating system; where dozens of public servants from the middle ranks all the way to the top either knew or should have known, who, in their commitment to each other but not the people who suffered under their arrogance, sought to cover up an extraordinary act of cruelty.

Their ministers demanded fealty and got it. They argued that poor people never did anything for the country and then sought to burnish their already fraudulent money management credentials off the misery of those same poor people. What has been examined only slightly in this inquiry is an inconvenient fact: even if it were legal, robo-debt would still have killed people. It would still have crushed people.

Robo-debt’s architects didn’t even have the faux-decency to try for legal justification: they had long since given up the moral argument.

Whatever Commissioner Holmes finds in her final report, due in June, the key witnesses will have been provided with more procedural fairness and due consideration of law than any of the 460,000 robo-debt customers were ever given.

Justice, like income, is also uneven.”

Rick Morton (author of the above) is the bloke we all need in our life to show us it is going to be okay.

Morton’s entire piece was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 11, 2023.

Rick Morton is a senior writer for The Saturday Paper and a regular on ABC’s The Drum. He is only a young man, but his answers to many questions are articulated with all the wisdom of an old sage. The paragraphs (above) I refer to summarise his views in an article he wrote for The Saturday Paper titled; Robo-debt final week: ‘It served them right, did it?

Such was the public response that the Saturday Paper is giving a free read to those who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity.

On television, he appears almost slovenly but explains away his character traits with sculptured words that describe his upbringing, his journey through depression and his sexual orientation.

Chris Gordon of Readings bookstore says of him that:

“Morton’s journalism has marked him out as a writer of rare compassion and forensic curiosity, and across his memoirs, he’s applied that to questions of his own capacity and incapacity, and his 2019 diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress …”

High praise indeed.

Rick has attended many sitting days at the Royal Commission into Robodebt and has undoubtedly sat through many hours of highly demonstrative evidence some days and on others words that would tremor the heart. Both, no doubt, would have been exceedingly frustrating. He was, I believe, taken aback by the Conservative’s treatment of those they victimized and, in so doing, caused multiple suicides.

Reading Rick Morton’s words and listening to him speak gives me some reassurance that my own work contains a few of Ricks’s human characteristics.

I can only conclude by making mention of the Royal Commissioner, Ms Catherine Holmes AC SC. She is a woman very experienced in law and life. Her questions to the witnesses (when required) were laden with common sense. Unafraid to put witnesses in their place, she intervened with authority and respectfully asked questions.

Her comments about the Fourth Estate were with merit because they carried the essence of truth. The right-wing of Australian media needs to pay more attention to what is arguably the worst policy decision ever by an Australian Government.

The left media, including Facebook and Twitter, have been rightly alarmed and forcibly so. The Commissioner was right to point this out and to give them credit.

My thought for the day

Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Admitting that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.


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Forty years after my first and only arrest for cannabis – not much has changed

Forty years ago, while living in a share-house in Port Stephens (north of Newcastle, NSW), I arrived home from work one evening to a house that was suddenly and inexplicably littered with drug paraphernalia. Of course, I immediately gathered most of it onto the coffee table in the loungeroom and puzzled over it. Then, after a very official pounding on my front door, the house was suddenly full of coppers.

Initially I was interrogated about the bongs, pipes, syringes, and bottles of pills that I had helpfully laid out for them on the coffee table – all before a constable walked in carrying a small planter containing two cannabis seedlings. After which, suddenly and magically, all of the paraphernalia, syringes, bottles of pills, and even any hint of their existence, simply disappeared. I was transported to the Newcastle lockup and charged with ‘Cultivating Indian Hemp’.

When I fronted court the next morning the police helpfully provided the Magistrate with a transcript of a confession that I had (purportedly) made. It seems that I had admitted to conspiring to grow several hundred cannabis plants in the nearby bushland and that I had been planning to sell the drug in the township. Nevertheless, the police had heroically nipped this dastardly conspiracy in the bud. They had also reluctantly decided to proceed with only a cultivation charge, instead of also adding a ‘conspiracy to supply’ charge (but inquiries were still ‘ongoing’).

The Beak scowled, declared that I was so very lucky that I only had driving and alcohol convictions on my sheet, otherwise I would be ‘banged up smartly’. But because this was the case, he was going to ‘go easy’. All before fining me $2900.00 and giving me just one month to pay. (So, adjusted for inflation, in 2022 dollars, I was fined $12,796.19 for two cannabis seedlings that did not even belong to me). Moreover, in those days, if you couldn’t pay a fine you were locked up until you had ‘cut the fine out’ at the rate of $85 a day. Consequently, a month later I showed up at the Silverwater Penitentiary to cut out my fines.

In the same week that I was imprisoned, Dr Kerr opened the National Organization for the Reform of Marihuana Laws (NORML) office (in Seaforth) in Sydney. So, immediately upon release, I fronted at the office and signed up to protest the cannabis laws. A few decades later I would be part of the founding of the HEMP Party. Another decade on and there would even be members of state legislatures that are part of the cannabis law reform movement.

But the moral of this story is hardly uplifting. Four decades after my one and only cannabis charge, not much has changed. The BIG LIE – that cannabis is a dangerous drug – still dominates in our politics, press and social mythologies. The police might be more subtle in their oppression, but they still terrorize cannabis users every day of the week. Being ‘verballed’ in a court room might be a thing of the past, but otherwise law-abiding citizens nevertheless continue to be hauled up before the Magistracy and gaoled or fined on the basis that the state is protecting them from harm.

Four decades later many of my personal circumstances have changed. I am now an academic lawyer. I teach other lawyers about the ‘Philosophy of Law’ and ‘Constitutional Law’. But I am still at the mercy of these unjust and ridiculous laws. I still have to travel overseas to be able to smoke a cone without fear of arrest. I still cannot enjoy a joint legally in this country. And while the politicians rarely still refer to cannabis as being a ‘moral hazard’, the BIG LIE nevertheless still persists. These hypocrites continue to perversely insist that they are protecting us cannabis users from ‘harm’ – by gaoling and fining us!

They can shove their phony concern up their tight sphincters for all I care. This is because, despite the passage of more than forty years, the same knee-jerk bigotries are still everywhere on display.

The bullshit persists, even though, in the intervening years, it has also become obvious to almost everyone in our society (aside from politicians and lobbyists), that every cent spent on policing or regulating the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis, on the basis that these laws are needed to protect us from ‘harm’, is simply money thrown away. Most Aussies now fully understand that our leaders might as well be burning huge wads of cash in a forty-four-gallon drum, on the steps of parliament house, and justifying it on the basis that they are keeping us ‘warm’.

So, in recent times I have given up on even pretending to be tolerant of all of the bullshit. In recent encounters, whenever any elected official begins to talk bullshit about cannabis in my presence, they are at once interrupted and asked about the ‘harm’ they are proposing to protect me from? I also ask why they seem to show this phony concern about the health of the citizenry when talking about cannabis, but not when talking about rugby, alcohol, paracetamol, fishing, aspirin, parasailing, horse-riding, or sugar?

I then ask them to tell me precisely how it is dangerous? Also, where and when did any particular instance of harm occur? In other words, they will be invited to name just one person – on the face of the globe – who has been killed or maimed by cannabis use, ever.

I feel that such intolerance is warranted. I am simply well past engaging in any sort of hypocritical charade with a bunch of ill-informed liars and fools. I suggest others follow suit. Cannabis is a relatively harmless recreational drug and therapeutic herb. I will no longer watch as moral purists and political partisans continue to highjack the debate and flood the zone with bullshit.

We need to acknowledge that we are not participating in a ‘debate’ that is being undertaken in good faith by all parties. Cannabis law reformers are advocating for the facts; opponents of cannabis law reform are engaging in fear-mongering.

If a politician in 2023 is not aware of the truth, they need to be voted out of office as they are grossly ignorant. If a politician in 2023 continues to insist that cannabis is a dangerous drug – they need to be voted out of office on the basis that they are knowingly lying to the Australian public.

I just want to be able to have a quiet toke at home and not be hassled by the coppers. But four decades of being polite has achieved precisely nothing. I still have to hide my cannabis use. The liars and fools remain in charge. If you think cannabis should remain illegal, and say so in public, you are either a fool or a bigot. So will loudly invite you to mind your own business and stop talking crap.

I reckon the time for tolerating bullshit is waaay past.


Free the weed: VOTE #1 LCA (Legalise Cannabis Australia).




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Big Media: Perhaps its grip is loosening?

This week 2GB Radio in Sydney got knocked off its number one perch. This right-wing gabfest has been at number one in the Sydney marketplace since 2004. It lost its spot to KIISFM which is an entirely non-serious enterprise. This is an important milestone. It marks a shift in the reading/listening/watching habits of the Australian populace; a change that will become ever more notable in the coming months and years.

People in Aus are beginning to consume different sorts of media, in different quantities, in a manner that is entirely predictable. These changes accord with both communications’ theory and the observations of economists over the last decades.

In simple terms, when an economy is flush with cash, then people broaden their habits and attitudes and commonly buy a lot more media products, of a wider variety. Also, the international, national and economic news components of the media all seem to grow and expand during these periods of economic good fortune.

However, when liquidity in a society dries up the populace commonly respond by not only reducing the amount of media being consumed but by also becoming less tolerant of (what are commonly perceived of) as ‘non-mainstream’ ideas and propositions. (If anyone wants to look into this phenomenon further it is normally referred to as the ‘Overton Window’ Hypothesis.)

In simple terms, as people see their economic opportunities shrinking then they tend to not only move towards a greater consumption of ‘mainstream’ non-news narratives, they also become less tolerant of what are perceived as ‘marginal’ or ‘special interest’ propositions (especially those that are ideologically or politically based). Consequently, people start to change their ‘news’ consumption habits and begin to look more towards local and regional news and coverage of local events, and also commonly consume a lot less international and national news.

So, while other sectors of the economy only have to deal with economic factors, when times go bad, the big media owners also have to contend with a change in attitudes of the population. With Nine and News it will likely make for a perfect storm. How long will these owners (overseas owners in one instance) put up with the parts of their conglomerates that are bleeding money?

The slush of cash that had been sloshing around has suddenly dried up. And while low interest rates and high liquidity is a situation that is conducive to a highly concentrated media marketplace – vertical integration along with buying up all of your competition only works when there is enough money for the big, centralised parts of the business to support a host of smaller loss-making operations.

Regional and local papers will be sold off first. Plus, newsrooms across the country will further consolidate, with several major mastheads being edited from the one centralised location (which has been happening already, but which is a process that will be accelerated in the coming years). Yet these commercial realities will also be exacerbated by the change in media habits that was earlier discussed.

The vast majority of Aussies are (in colloquial terms) far to the ‘left’ of both the government and the press. This is of particular concern for the Nine and News group which publish a range of mastheads that are way out of step with the opinion of the vast majority of the populace. These papers will either have to shift to a more centrist editorial position or become less ideologically and politically focused. Moreover, at the same time, as ownership once again diversifies in the print and online spaces, then the power of these big media monopolies to dictate the content of the ‘news’ will also diminish.

The shift to regional and local consumption will also have implications for the big companies. In many cases the closure of a local paper that is owned by one of these big corporations will allow space for a locally owned enterprise to once again spring up. Thus, while the current financial downturn is not a good thing for individuals it will likely be of benefit to our regional media environment by forcing the divestiture of many failing titles, thus allowing these local and regional markets to once again be serviced by small (and far more agile) regional owners – who will likely include a diversity of news sources and opinions in the place of the relatively uniform product that is currently available.

For many of us who are quite exasperated by the incredible media ownership concentration in our country these are all welcome developments. Yet it also needs to be observed that the prospect of an easing in the obscene levels of media ownership concentration in Australia are unlikely to be the product of any government action. I seem to get the feeling that our political class are more worried about their careers than the health and wellbeing of the community in general (but perhaps I am just an old cynic).


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One step away from total fascism

Most of the news coming out of America over the last seven years has left us horrified: mass shootings (as always), the dismantling of Roe V Wade, former President Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic, corruption in the Trump administration, acts of treason (again, with Trump involvement), the storming of Congress on Jan 6, 2021 … I could go on.

You’d think we’d be immune to it by now. Surely it couldn’t get any worse.

Guess what? It keeps getting worse. And surprise, surprise: There’s always a God-fearing, out of touch, stark raving mad, fascist-in-the-making Republican at the root of it.

Here are a handful of news items over the last couple of weeks that a perfect examples of fascism on the march.

1 Big, fascist brother is watching you. He wants to know if you’ve had an abortion.

“Police are prosecuting​ abortion seekers using their digital data – and Facebook and Google help them do it.

“As abortion bans across the nation are implemented and enforced, law enforcement is turning to social-media platforms to build cases to prosecute women seeking abortions or abortion-inducing medication – and online platforms like Google and Facebook are helping.

Through data collected by online pharmacies, social media posts, and user data requests from law enforcement for message and search logs, cases for prosecution can be built against women for seeking abortion – and it has been happening since before Roe was overturned.

This spring, a woman named Jessica Burgess and her daughter will stand trial in Nebraska after being accused of performing an illegal abortion – with a key piece of evidence provided by Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Prosecutors said Burgess helped her daughter find and take pills that would induce an abortion. The teenage Burgess also faces charges of illegally disposing of the fetal remains.”

2 Ron DeSantis – governor of Florida and 2024 presidential hopeful – doesn’t like the idea of people saying bad things about him so he’s doing what any fascist would do; he’ll fine you for it. Bloggers beware.

Senate Bill 1316 is the latest entrant in Florida lawmakers’ ongoing fight with the First Amendment. If enacted, the legislation would require anyone other than a newspaper journalist who writes online about Florida’s government leaders – its governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet officer, or any member of the state legislature – to register with the state if they receive any “compensation” for the post. And they must do so within five days – and then file a monthly report with state regulators if they write about Florida officials that month. Those who violate the law risk up to $2,500 in fines per report.”



3 In South Carolina an abortion might see you receive the death penalty if the state’s lawmakers have their way:

“A bill currently in the statehouse could make the death penalty a possible punishment for women in South Carolina who undergo an abortion.

If passed, the bill would make getting an abortion equivalent to committing a homicide.”

Goodness me! Fancy a state being so scared about history being taught in schools.

5 This one scares the bejeezuz out of me. Imagine a mob of heavily armed drunk Texans being called upon to enforce the law:

“Texas House proposes state border unit, enlisting citizens to help with border operations.

A bill that would create a Texas Border Protection Unit, allow the governor to declare a migrant ‘invasion’ and let the new border unit enlist the help of citizens was introduced in the House late Friday.

House Bill 20, authored by Tyler GOP Rep. Matt Schaefer, one of the chamber’s most conservative members, is ‘a bold new approach to border security,’ Schaefer said in a written statement.

‘Enough is enough. If Biden won’t defend this country, we will,’ said Schaefer, referring to President Joe Biden.”

Excuse me for thinking that one might have horrible consequences.

You’re probably agreeing with me that some of the states in America are one step away from total fascism. Should someone like Ron DeSantis win the presidency in 2024 … then it’s goodbye to the Land of the Free. America no more.

6 Just one more to add to this list because it’s fun to knock anything to do with spoiled man-baby, Elon Musk:


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The Sickening Hypocrisy of our Cannabis Laws

‘Excuse me sir.’ I had fallen asleep in a park, under the cool shade of a huge fig tree and I was being shaken awake by a policeman. Apparently, the park was closing and I had to leave. So, I stood up, gathered up my stuff and turned towards the entrance.

‘Is that your cannabis, sir?’ The policeman was now pointing to a small wooden bowl and a clear plastic packet, sitting by the side of one of the buttress roots of the fig. At once I felt a familiar rush of adrenaline. I had been half-asleep, now I was suddenly wide-awake.

However, the copper was quite evidently just concerned that I had forgotten my weed. I laughed and thanked him profusely. It was only a small packet of ‘Blueberry Haze’, but it was an unforgettable toke and I would have been upset to have lost it.

No – this is not a fantasy. This happened to me only a month ago; in Thailand.

If this same had happened in Australia, the policeman would not have been as polite and I would have been unlikely to have had a pleasant afternoon. But, as I was in Thailand, I immediately felt safe. In this instance the policeman was actually trying to help me, not destroy my life. This is because, seven months prior to this encounter, the Thai Kingdom had entirely legalised cannabis use.

As I am extremely interested in cannabis law reform, I have been following the development of this entirely laissez-faire approach closely, as this represents the first time a large country has approached the regulation of cannabis in an appreciably rational fashion. As I write, in Thailand, if you are more than twenty years old and are not pregnant or breast feeding, you can grow, buy, sell, and consume as much cannabis as you want. There are virtually no other regulations.

The authorities in Thailand looked at all the available information regarding cannabis and decided that there was little or no harm associated with cannabis use. In other words, they were brave enough to acknowledge the facts. And since the only appreciable harm associated with cannabis seemed to be caused by its either being illegal or difficult to obtain, instead of setting up a huge administrative and regulatory apparatus to oversee a legal market in cannabis, the Thai authorities simply removed all the criminal penalties and left it to the commercial marketplace. Just like any other largely harmless product.

Seven months into this experiment in actual (not phony) legalisation, I arrived in Bangkok to tour the industry and search for any ‘harms’ that might be evident. After all, in dozens of western world countries, governments have been expending huge amounts of taxpayers’ funds on protecting the public from the danger of an unrestricted marketplace in cannabis. But now, in Thailand, there was at last a jurisdiction that could be compared to these many other highly restricted marketplaces. Consequently (I reasoned), if cannabis is now freely available in Thailand, then surely all of the ‘harms’ that we in the western world are being sheltered from would be in evidence.

Which is to say, if the moralists and anti-cannabis crusaders in the west are correct, now that there is an unrestricted marketplace of cannabis in Thailand, there will have been a huge rise in instances of mental illness, also a massive tidal wave of immorality and illegality. Additionally, the youth in the Kingdom will have begun flocking to cannabis cafes in flagrant disregard of the law, probably losing their religion along the way. So, I had arrived in Thailand to document all of the ‘harms’ that had befallen the country due to the free availability of cannabis.

As I am an academic, I wanted to make sure that I was talking to a representative sample of Thai citizens, so I designed my research project to ensure that this was the case. The ‘20/20 Project’ project asked the same twenty questions about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand, but asked a range of different people, including policemen, shopkeepers, health professionals, government officials, as well as growers, smokers and sellers of weed.

So, what were the many undesirable outcomes that were reported?

Nill. None. Nada. Zilch.

Not a single person who was approached and asked about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand could identify a single appreciable ‘harm’ that had resulted from the change in the law. Whereas they reported many appreciable benefits. The commercial sector has been boosted. The police have far more money to spend while policing a populace who have far more respect for them. In later reports I will discuss these many benefits in close detail, but for the purposes of this short article all that needs to be noted is that there were no appreciable harms.

So why is our government (amongst other western world governments) proposing to spend a fortune in restricting access to cannabis and suppressing a free marketplace in the herb? What ‘harms’ are these people protecting us from?

It is no longer feasible for a politician to argue that cannabis is dangerous or that a free marketplace in cannabis has deleterious effects. We have been lied to by the authorities for decades. Authorities that continue to argue that they have to deem cannabis illegal and spend a huge amount of taxpayer funds in restricting access to cannabis FOR OUR OWN GOOD. This is a blatant lie and can no longer be tolerated in the public forum.

It is time to end the hypocrisy. It is time to simply no longer tolerate all the lies being told in the public square. Cannabis is harmless. Cannabis is fully legal and available elsewhere in the world and there has been no break down in morality. There have been no negative health or social effects reported – period.

Stop spending my money on protecting me from imaginary harm. The only harm associated with cannabis is the unwarranted meddling of the police in lives of otherwise happy people and the expenditure of huge amounts of money for no apparent reason.

If you don’t want me to smoke weed then I will agree – as soon as you ban all other recreational drugs. Until then you can take your hypocrisy and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Free the weed: VOTE #1 LCA (Legalise Cannabis Australia).




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Voice and Treaty Must Happen Hand in Hand

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

Hello, I am a Nunukul, Goenpul, Ngugi salt water Aboriginal person from Quandamooka Country (Moreton Bay – from North Stradbroke Island) with European heritage as well. Let me tell you why it’s important for my people that the Voice, Treaty, and Truth happen hand in hand. Each are important issues and there are arguments for them to be addressed individually, but nonetheless there is no reason why we can’t ask for all three, as one.

Since the colonial era began in 1788 after the arrival of the first fleet in Sydney Cove, the Australian Frontier Wars (1788-1934) which resulted in 100,000 -115,000 genocidal deaths across the Australian continent, plague pandemics brought from overseas, slave labour, stolen wages, the stolen generations, the eugenics policies of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (later known as the White Australia policy) our nation’s First Nations peoples (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) have been subjected to a great deal of hardship.

In some parts of Australia there has been a total loss of Aboriginal culture, and languages passed down from the Dreamtime while other Indigenous communities have faced enormous social issues. While some think it’s easy being Indigenous, there are so many reasons benefits exist because First Nations people have been failed time and time again by a broken system. It can be a hard life subject to so many complex traumas, underlying beyond comprehension to most.

This explains why; On average there is a 10-year gap-between First Nations and non-Indigenous Australians on life expectancy. First Nations people are more likely to have the following issues affect them:

  • 3x times more likely to have a coronary event.
  • 3x times more likely to have diabetes.
  • 2x times more likely to have vision issues.
  • 7x times more likely to have a kidney disease.
  • 3x times more likely to have a hospitalisation relating to respiratory conditions.
  • 50% more likely to die of cancer.
  • Worse out of home care situations on average.
  • Of the total Australian population with the drug and alcohol problems 1 in 7 is an Indigenous Person.
  • More likely to have mental health issues.
  • More likely to have suicidal tendencies and self-harm.
  • Don’t always have access to clean water functional sewerage, and electrified services.
  • More likely dependent on welfare payments living in poverty and 1 in 2 are more likely to be unemployed on average.
  • Life expectancy, child mortality, employment, reading, and numeracy, and school attendance rates all still low according to recent United Nations reports.
  • For an Aboriginal person you are 15x more likely to be incarcerated compared with a non–Indigenous Australian person. Deaths are still occurring in detention. In Qld alone there is no Custody Notification Service (CNS) for First Nations prisoners when compared to other States and Territories.

Today according to the latest ABS data there are well over 984,000 estimated First Nations people across Australia. Many of them still lack in living standards that most non-Indigenous people take for granted. Regardless of who they vote for, what their class, or profession, or background, most First Nations people are still worse off and many in these communities know that.

Sure, there has been small successes since the WW2/Post War eras with then Labor Prime Minister John Curtin increasing social welfare payments for First Nations people in the 1940s along with QLD Labor Premier Frank Arthur Cooper accepting the stolen wages for my family members working for the Benevolent Asylum on North Stradbroke Island since the late 1910s-1940s. Which was one of the first successful wage claims for First Nations people both nationally and statewide. But these successes were hard fought with blood, sweat and tears in activist groups like the Aboriginal Progressive Association.

In 1967 First Nations people had to fight tooth and nail to gain the right to vote and be recognised for their basic human rights in the 1967 referendum to just be recognised as human beings. Prior to 1967 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were classed as flora and fauna. Not even sub-human but lower than animals and plants according to the legislative acts of early federation and colonial times.



Whitlam’s Labor Government introduced the Racial Discrimination Act effectively ending the White Australia policy (but it still exists partially but in name to this day because racism can be so embedded unconsciously). In 1975–1991 Land Rights were granted by the Whitlam Labor and Fraser Coalition Governments. Hawke’s Labor Government organised the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) to contribute a say in their lives along with government policy. Hawke’s successor Keating went several steps further by acknowledging the wrongs of European colonization in his Redfern address and adhering to the MABO decision in the form of Native Title legislation. While the Rudd Labor government apologised to the Stolen Generations in 2008.


Watch Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech:


Watch Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation(s):



There have also been backwards steps. The Joh era (in Queensland) of the Nationals undermining civil liberties of First Nations people as well as the Coalition Howard government introducing the Northern Territory intervention in 2007 which in some ways addressed the need to curb alcohol fuelled violence but also exacerbated issues beyond government policy makers understanding without including the consultation of First Nations leaders and elders. There was also abolition of ATSIC which also fell into disrepair by infighting and nepotism as well as a lack of interest from the Coalition Government to see it succeed. There has also been infighting between family groups rife in Native Title as some groups and have been prone to greed as well, which can also occur in Indigenous communities as well.

First Nations people have always fought hard to be recognised and have their rights heard, which has to this day been a daily struggle. That is why I was part of the working group with other trade unionist in the Qld Labor Indigenous Labor Network (QILN) as both executive member and state conference delegate for in the QLD Labor Party in 2016 – 2017, where I worked with ETU organiser and Chair of QILN to advocate for the introduction of a Treaty by a future Labor State Governments. This passed by the then 2016 Qld State Labor Conference with ease when I was more active in the party.

As a public servant myself – working in the Human Rights space – I see how much the need for a Voice and Treaty just is. Five Australian states are adopting the treaty process on a state level. The current QLD Labor government is far from perfect – no government is – but to its credit it to its word is introducing a Treaty process with First Nations people and its communities currently alongside Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria (which now already has an assembly of elected officials who are elected democratically by their own nations of Indigenous communities). As of early 2023 NSW and Tasmania are the only states without a move towards treaty under Liberal National Coalition governments, but this could change if Labor is elected to government at this month’s NSW State Election. Sovereignty was never ceded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples and their elders, even to this day.



States and Territories adopting Treaty and Assembly:

  • Victoria (2019)
  • Queensland (currently underway)
  • Western Australia (currently underway)
  • South Australia (currently underway)
  • Northern Territory (currently underway)
  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (currently underway)

Considering that New Zealand has been electing its own Kiwi Moari seats since 1867 it has produced more results for their people than it has for First Australians. While there are still gaps in living standards for Maori peoples in NZ it’s better still than not having a say in the electoral and decision-making process of Westminster. A New Zealand First Maori politician has even held the high office of Deputy Prime Minister (Winston Peters) in coalition with both the Nationals and Labour/Greens parties from time to time in 1996-1998 and 2017-2020. Even the United States has seen a Native American person hold the Vice-Presidency (Charles Curtis) in 1929-1933. The United States today is implementing its own voice system for Native American delegates. Norway has the Sami parliament for its First Nations people as well.

Every day I still see police brutality towards First Nations people (not all police behave like this, but it still happens more often than you think). I see countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people victim of discrimination in their workplaces due to their race, or kids being excluded at school because. I see other government offices of departments struggle to comprehend government policy in relation to Aboriginal cultural protocols like a simple Welcome to Country, Acknowledgments, Sorry Business, or language. I see MPs only acknowledge Aboriginal Corporations but don’t acknowledge elders. I still see racism rife among some in politics despite what political party they’re from on the Left, or the Right be it from Labor, Greens, to the LNP, Nationals, or One Nation. It exists to this day. I also see how worse off ATSI people are in the prison system, while others are suffering countless health problems or issues relating to drugs and alcohol.

It pains me to admit this but for most of the time no matter how much goodwill is behind a decision despite who made it. Most of the time in recent decades most policy makers making policies relating to Indigenous people didn’t even bother consulting Indigenous people even if it meant well. THINK ABOUT THAT.


Asking Indigenous peoples to simply elect one of their own democratically to sit in an extra chamber advising future government irrespective of what party wins elections. Isn’t a hard task to ask. I think it would be more productive to have more Indigenous advising State Governments via a Treaty in QLD and nationally through the Voice then having none at all in the room which could only make situations worse and a continual revolving door of post generational trauma that persists for another 235 years. Perhaps we could have a civil discussion about what many call Australia Day then, closing the gap, and improving living standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Having a voice might also increase the chances of more First Nations people becoming engaged in politics and see aspire to see perhaps a First Nations State Premier or Prime Minister one day?


Callen Sorensen Karklis, Bachelor of Government and International Relations.

Callen is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018 – 2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020 – 2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University. He was a co-host from time to time on Workers Power 4ZZZ (FM 102.1) on Tuesday morning’s program Workers Power. He is currently a public servant for the Qld Government.


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