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Living on traditional land is not a lifestyle choice – it is an obligation

It is clear that Tony Abbott has no idea why Aboriginal people make the ‘lifestyle choice’ to live in remote communities, or God forbid, their traditional lands. (Many though, are one and the same).

He has been slammed from Indigenous and non-Indigenous community leaders for the tactless, insensitive and ignorant comment.

But why was it so wrong? Nobody has been able to tell us.

I’m not the Minister for Aborigines – Tony Abbott has that distinction – but I am qualified* to tell him where he was wrong.

It comes down to the attitudes towards the land (which I have written about previously in Land ownership: it’s not all black and white). Though written a number of years ago it is brought into relevance following the Prime Minister’s comment.

Let’s have a look at land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the crux of the issue is this: Living on traditional land is not a lifestyle choice – it is an obligation. Not only to the ancestors, but the land itself.

* The author holds a BA in Aboriginal Affairs Administration; a BA (Honours) in Aboriginal Studies; worked for three years in Aboriginal communities in the Flinders Ranges and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands; formulated law and justice policy in Indigenous Affairs for two years; and has written extensively on Aboriginal culture.

 

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82 comments

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  1. kate ahearne

    Thanks for this, Michael. Yes, as you suggest, while many of us are horrified by the PM’s comments, hardly anyone has been able to articulate exactly why the comments are so obnoxious. It’s a bit like, ‘If you don’t know, I can’t tell you’. But it’s very important that we do try to speak plainly about this.

    Another nail in Tony’s coffin? But so much damage is being done in the meantime.

  2. John Lord

    You have written a perspective that highlights the inadequacy of Abbotts comment. Indeed the racism of it.

  3. Carol Taylor

    One would have thought that Tony Abbott would have at least appraised himself of the beliefs and obligations which go towards the Aboriginal culture, however that is not Abbott’s style. Many make comments and one can excuse these to a certain extent, based on ignorance but if Abbott wants to set himself up as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, then the least he can do is to get a grasp of his portfolio.

    Interesting is that in spite of Abbott setting himself up as the minister for Aborigines and the minister for women, if you go to the Liberal Party website “Our Team”, neither of these two portfolios even rate a mention on Abbott’s profile..clearly not important enough.

    http://www.liberal.org.au/our-team?field_mp_section_type_value=ministry

  4. Awabakal

    I cannot stand a bar of Tony Abbott and have been confronted by his imaginary self-importance in relation to aboriginal health and what he can do about it, which, in the next minute of his blusterings amounted to there was nothing he was able to do as Minister for Health which altered and improved aboriginal health.

    However, life on many remote communities is a life of freedom in a respect, a freedom which is paid for by the government. Many remote communities do not have health and education in the sense of modern Australia, which is fine for people who do not want connection to a modern society but do need certain aspects of it.

    This is what Abbott is saying – Australia cannot afford to continue supporting the freedom of choice for many remote communities. Well we could, but he and Barnett do not want to. They want the inhabitants of some remote communities to move to more central locations where the lifestyle choice is less about freedom and more about connecting to the modern world of work and responsibility. Well, we can understand that and we can understand the cost of funding that is associated with bean counters.

    Many in aboriginal communities will agree with Abbott, many will understand why others continue to remain isolated and free. Few people can understand centralisation of communities; the clash of tribal lores and instincts; the educating of people who have to this stage avoided being educated past what they currently have been indoctrinated into.

    But … sometime or another, things have to alter.

    I have spent time on many communities throughout Australia and really, somethings cannot continue the way they are. Well, they can, but they are not going to.

  5. Lizzie

    We all know this amateur government are driving the country into recession. The resources industry is declining fast and there’s no other investment being made. I would be interested to find out how many of these ‘remote’ communities sit on tons and tons of iron ore?

  6. Kaye Lee

    I have always felt grateful when Aborigines have been rightly described as custodians of the land. It is a concept to which we should all aspire. It resonates with me and I have been fortunate enough to have Aboriginal people around me to explain how they “see” the land – an all-encompassing feeling/obligation where the health of our environment is to be nurtured and appreciated.

    Tony’s spirituality is a ritual read from books. Aboriginal spirituality is a blue print for sustainability and respect.

  7. Jay Gatsby

    This dreaming you speak of, did it happen around the same time Eve was created from Adam’s rib?

  8. Jake

    Well said Michael. Abbott has demonstrated he is not fit for any of the portfolios he holds, let alone ‘leadership’.

  9. Jake

    @Jay, no, because that didn’t happen, and if it did, the Dreaming goes back about 40,000+ years prior, and is still continuing to this day. Christianity is a fad in comparison (and much more divisive).

  10. Pam Harrison

    Thank you. An important article I can share with my friends. An irony is that Indigenous Art, more often than not depicting the land, is really a mandatory exhibit on many a politician’s walls.

  11. Pam Harrison

    Jay, that’s a bit of a sad comment. I was watching a video today of Paul Keating on Sydney talkback radio answering a question from a rather redneck listener. Keating, in part, responded, “I’m not here to soak up your prejudice….”. Well that’s how I feel about your comment Jay.

  12. Harquebus

    On the subject of our aboriginals and dickhead’s comment, this is what I think.
    We invaded this country, infected the local population with deadly diseases, dispossessed them of their land, hunted them down and captured or killed them, marched them through the desert in chains, relocated them to missions in order to destroy their culture, stole their children and left the survivors to live in conditions that any third world country would be ashamed of.
    We owe our aboriginal Australians a lot and for our prime minister to call it a lifestyle choice shows just how out of touch, insensitive and uncaring he really is.

    In relation to land management, it’s this.
    Extinguishing bushfires makes subsequent fires worse. The destructive megafires that we see today are of our own making. If there is something in nature to burn, nature will burn it so, let it. Low intensity irregular fires if left to burn will remove surplus fuel and leave natural habitats habitable. In the whole history of our continent, only the last century has seen a full out assault on bushfires.
    Adopting a let it burn policy will make protecting assets far less dangerous.

    @Michael.
    I was aware of most of what you have written nonetheless, it is well written, very informative and I totally agree with you.
    Goodwun.

  13. CMMC

    Meanwhile, look forward to Barnaby channeling more billions to traditional WHITE remote communities (Farmers) because of the drought or the floods or WTF story they dream up.

    Hey, that makes it a ‘dreamtime’, of sorts.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Jay, that might have happened in your religion. Not ours.

  15. DanDark

  16. eli nes

    Sadly,Michael your words ‘…not at all black and white’ describe why the disingenuous media and red-necked abbuttians can present grey as truth.
    ps
    awakbal and harquebus, the aboriginal people of this land are Aborigines and the aboriginal people of NZ are Maori both deserve the respect of a capital.

  17. Mic

    Jay & Michael,
    Religiously, you’re both wrong. The Earth cleanses itself every 2-3000 years, a process that has been staved off temporarily for Spiritual (rather than religious) reasons. Logically, any record that exceeds 3,500 years has to have been preserved from the previous epoch.

    During this current epoch, the Aboriginal people were to be custodians of the Island/Continent that we now call Australia. It was meant to lie fallow, as Antarctica is. Preservation of their/our oral records and way of life is significant as the most important details will survive into the next epoch.

    I was raised white “British”, and accidentally discovered my Aboriginal Heritage. If the “invaders” had seen fit to assimilate, we would all be walking around, homeless, half naked, carrying spears and fire-sticks—-and very much more “civilized” toward each other than we are today.

    When it comes to outback communities, it is exactly the same as inner-city bogan housing estates. If that’s all you’ve known for your whole life, how do you adapt to something else? I was raised as Pygmalion and seek to create better language and “culture” through others. As far as the English Language is concerned, I make a great Profess’r ‘Iggins. Throwing me into one of these threatened remote communities would be a death-sentence. My health would fold up within two weeks and living off the land means I would starve without a great deal of good will.

    Not only as a “white” community do we need to take onboard CMMC’s comments about farmers because if we become a nett importer of food, we’re all bound to starve. If we can spend $millions restoring a Colonial building for Heritage, then it is far more strongly incumbent on us to PRESERVE those pockets of old (ancient by our standards) Aboriginal culture.

    Harquebus,
    You make an excellent point regarding bushfires. Australia is definitely bushfire country. “The destructive megafires that we see today are of our own making,” is not entirely true. Stopping those megafires is what does the long term damage. “If there is something in nature to burn, nature will burn it so, let it,” is something we should do, and we should only interfere where habitat is concerned. “Low intensity irregular fires if left to burn will remove surplus fuel and leave natural habitats habitable,” is not what we want. There are plant species in Australia that require exposure to a megafire in order to propagate. The “low intensity” bushfire does not help these endangered plants.

    “Adopting a let it burn policy will make protecting assets far less dangerous.” Clearance of fuel or building underground with adequate air supply for a fire to pass across the top are things, as a community, we should consider (underground homes also consume much less energy). The destruction of the Canberra Observatory was unconscionable. There had been numerous warnings that back burning or clearing was necessary and none of the PTBs would approve it. As a result, we lost thousands of unique records that can never be replaced. A blob of molten glass (both mirror and lens) on the concrete floor seems a very poor replacement.

  18. Harquebus

    @eli nes
    I did not write “aborigine”. “aboriginals” however, since you pointed it out, is a grammatical error on my part. Plural adjective. My apologies.
    Also, Harquebus begins with uppercase.

    @Mic.
    Thanks. Some good points there. It is my understanding that megafires sterilize everything above and up to 15cm below ground. Will have to follow that one up.
    Cheers.

  19. eli nes

    Harquebus, grammatical for you but deliberate by many who post on msm sites. (BOM and some territory ABC announcers regularly use 40 year old English terms rather than Aboriginal words)
    Like the deliberate use of non-Aboriginal names, for Uluru. Gunbalanya, Nhulunbuy!
    You are right that grammar is also at fault in that Aboriginal is the adjective and Aborigine the noun but grammar is too hard so common mainstream usage has made Aboriginal/s the noun.

  20. Michael Taylor

    People have always been under the impression that Aborigines are a drain on the tax-payer’s dollars. This perception was wittingly or unwittingly reinforced by Tony Abbott.

    But figures tell us otherwise.

    According to an ABS report (no link available) each Aborigine costs the tax-payer a whole $2 a year more to provide services for than the average Australian. $2 a year!

  21. paul walter

    Thank you very, very much, Michael for coming up with an accurate and timely summary as regards this horrifically brutal and ignorant foray by Abbott back into his own private idaho.

  22. Wally

    Great Article and thankyou for your comment @Mic. I lived in remote areas of the NT in the 1980’s and I have travelled around a lot of Australia’s outback regions over the last 5-6 years. Unfortunately many communities have gone backwards, Tennant Creek does not even resemble the town I lived in 35 years ago. Unless their is money to be made from mining, tourism or some other source most of us white people just don’t care. Unfortunately the most important decisions made for Indigenous Australians are made and/or influenced by people who have never lived, understood, befriended and/or known a native aussie. The SBS ran a documentary compared by Ray Martin recently that took white Australians to see indigenous people all over Australia and their opinions changed dramatically. It is a documentary that every Australian should watch, as well as showing the way of life it also highlighted the difficulties indigenous people face.

    Trying to live a life that respects 2 worlds that are poles apart is extremely difficult particularly when compounded by racism, exploitation, negativity and the ignorance of those in government who are paid to provide solutions. Tony Abbott is an utter disgrace, the very person who should be shouldering the responsibility and finding solutions to the problems facing all Australians is taking the easy way out by trying to relocate the problem and disperse it throughout the broader community. I have no problem with indigenous people moving into my street if that is where they want to reside but I am sure Andrew Bolt, Tony Abbott and the LNP MP’s would be horrified if their neighbourhood became an Aboriginal Community.

  23. mars08

    This government seems locked into a populist divide-and-conquer strategy. Everything they announce is designed to appeal to (and hold) their voting “base”.

    They have abandoned any charade of being anything other than an aggressive, rabid-right, regressive party.

  24. Terry2

    Abbott always plays to an audience and in this case it was the far Right – Abbott cut the funding for these remote communities with no consultation and no analysis of the situation on the ground.

    Each of these communities would be a distinct and individual case, some are not really ‘communities’ being made up of just a couple of family groups who are transient and the need to provide road access,housing, electricity, water and sewerage has always been problematical. Other communities are more permanent and can justify these outlays.

    Abbott will now, I imagine, have qualified people sit down with the WA government and the affected communities and sort this out in an adult fashion. That’s what normally seems to happen with this erratic administration.

  25. stephentardrew

    Michael:

    I share your grief and anger. It is impossible to describe the incredible brutality and injustice perpetrated upon Aboriginal people. Then to turn around and blame them for their circumstances is and abomination. Steal their sense of space and place then destroy the last remnants of a proud and ancient culture. They just walked off their land handing it over too the white settlers without a struggle? Good grief man we stole it all. Retribution is alive and well in the aisles of Christian fundamentalism. I have experienced land as self in meeting with elders and, though a scientific septic, I could not deny the depth of awareness transmitted. Many experiences in my life have had similar depth of mystery awe and wonder. Science is no less mysterious paradoxical and counterintuitive. No need to mouth off just witness without judgment.

    The dreaming is real as is every objective and subjective experience anyone has ever had. The form of the dreaming is the form of minds conjoined in thousands of years of shared recognition that what is real in the realm of dreams is as real as anything in the universe otherwise it could not exist. Our mind see fleeting images of disconnection whereas indigenous people carry the story, lines, song lines and direct witnessing of thousands of years memory and experience in direct communal seeing. The funny thing is that in Mincowski space every moment is preserved in block time and, in that respect, objective and/or subjective configurations are absolutely necessary aspect of a vast map of every occasion that has and will occur in the universe. At every moment every collapse of the wave function and wave state probability field is conserved in perpetuity. Basic extension of relativity theory, time dilation and matter antimatter symmetry violations. The facts are all too bloody hard for the blow-hards.

    I just love the dumb know-it-alls who have no idea how time operates in physics or what space, time is or how to resolve the paradoxes and counterintuitives that rise out for physics, mathematics, geometry, set theoretical axioms of infinity and so on. Until a person can provide all the answers to these dilemmas they best shut up their absolutist know it all superior yaps. True scientists are skeptical about what they know as well as what they do not know. Present and future unknowns are too dynamic and complex to contemplate here.

    If you have never met an elder and been accepted then best go and find one rather than blather on like some ignorant fool about something you have not tried to understand. I am sick to death of put downs of indigenous peoples subjective realisations when our objective rationality is leading to calamity. Self-destructive egocentric fools trashing the environment and resources telling the stewards of the land they are in their situation for no other reason than lifestyle choices. Yeah that works a treat.

    What a bunch of blind follish ignoramuses. Reminds me of the Zen proverb:

    He who thinks he knows does not know. He who does not know lives in blind ignorance.

    In understanding this Koan one will understand the dreaming.

    Makes you wonder why there are paradoxes in both science and self reference.

  26. stephentardrew

    Michael just did a rave and got swallowed up. Think I learned to copy and paste by now? Not likely. Hopefully in scamy spamy bin.

  27. Kaye Lee

    Thar ya go Stephen. I found it in spam land.

  28. stephentardrew

    Thanks Kaye.

  29. mars08

    Now… maybe I’m getting a bit cynical… but what are the chances that the traditional communities to be shut down will be near mineral deposits or water resources?

  30. Darrell

    Excellent article Michael. I was fortunate enough to work in a voluntary capacity at The Dreaming Festival at Woodford several years ago and can recall hearing an Aboriginal Elder (whose name escapes me, apologies for my ignorance) speak of his, and our connection to this land – ‘we are all part of it, black, white,or whatever’.
    Just my opinion, but I feel that tony has no connection to this land so will never be able to accept or understand this belief. In true conservative style he is not so subtly continuing that ages old British tradition of genocide that has been perpetrated against the people of this land.

  31. Kaye Lee

    ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS ARE descendents of the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago, a genetic study has found, confirming they may have the oldest continuous culture on the planet.

    DNA confirms Aboriginal culture one of Earth’s oldest

    This culture has endured in harmony with the land for eons. And we blow in 5 minutes ago, take all the richest parts, and then tell them they have to move off their traditional land so they can pursue our consumer lifestyle in an alien environment, forcibly removed because we know best.

    Once again, society is being sacrificed for an economy, but in this case, we could irrevocably destroy the oldest civilisation on earth.

    If they want to talk economics, let’s discuss allocative efficiency (when resources are devoted to what is most wanted by society) rather than productive efficiency (lowest cost). Let’s identify what we want, prioritise it, then discuss how we will fund it. Rather than making all decisions purely based on financial cost, factor in opportunity cost – what are we giving up. Stop springing decisions on us and using threats and ultimatums to force agreement. That is no way to govern. Stop taking all advice from the big 4 accounting firms or the Business Council – they have vested interests to protect and only view from the productive efficiency stance. Start listening to experts and stakeholders so you can understand the more important goal of allocating resources to benefit society.

  32. kate ahearne

    Thanks Kaye. Beautifully said.
    This has just turned up from WA:
    Respected Western Australian elder and Yamatji-Marlpa Aboriginal co-chair, Doris Eaton, said she was angry at comments made by both Abbott and Barnett over the closures, saying governments should spend time in individual communities if they wanted to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous outcomes in Australia.

    Advertisement

    Mrs Eaton said it was disappointing to hear living on traditional country, which she said was central to Aboriginal identity, dismissed as a “lifestyle choice”.

    “We are not a tenant on our own country,” Mrs Eaton said. “It’s not about lifestyle choices. It’s about culturally living on country.”

    “Our ancestors walked this land and so we are going to walk this land.” she said.

    “You can’t just punish people because they are living on the land, that’s where they are from. We are not just shifted here from the moon.”

    Mrs Eaton, a Nyamal woman who lives in Yandeyarra, a remote Aboriginal community about 100km south of Port Hedland, told Guardian Australia she was concerned the push to close communities was an attempt to weaken cultural – and therefore legal – ties to land.

    “It’s very scary,” she said. “They took the land off us, they took the kids off us, now they are going back to the same route that they done, moving people off their land.

    “The saddest part (about native title) was we have got to prove that we are Aboriginal people that are connected to the land. And now we have to do it all over again.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/12/wa-premier-says-tony-abbotts-lifestyle-choice-comment-was-unfortunate

  33. Wally

    @mars08 you would be correct. They are pushing to seal the Tannami track to service the needs of mining companies and 2 – 3 of the communities along the Tannami are possible targets for relocation. When the WA governments plan was outlined they didn’t divulge which communities would be affected, unsure if they have as yet.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Why can’t we recognise the value of helping these people to maintain this living history just as we recognise the value of buildings in which we store historical artefacts. How much more precious to be able to preserve a truly unique Australian culture and the wisdom, tradition, stories, songs and art that are both ancient and contemporary.

    Rather than trying to make them like us, let’s help them to be them. They say teachers won’t go there but surely learning the wisdom of their elders is an education – it served them well for a very long time. We should be funding Aboriginal educators to travel to these remote communities to help teach them about their heritage and culture and the importance of preserving it. Instead of which money for the study of Aboriginal languages has been cut – if it doesn’t help you to get a job then it has no value. They so miss the point of life – it’s all about the potato and never about the rose. Preserving a culture and passing it on to others should be considered a worthwhile occupation. They cannot understand intrinsic value because they only value production.

  35. jimhaz

    Supporting spiritual issues should have no place in government expenditure. None. You cannot legitimately complain about chaplains, without viewing this issue the same way.

    [We should be funding Aboriginal educators to travel to these remote communities to help teach them about their heritage and culture and the importance of preserving it]

    The end result would be more sad lives, more harm than good. Markedly different ingredients don’t always produce a nice recipe.

    It is already holding them back from evolving in line with other Australians. It causes emotional conflict in being tied between the lures, choices offered by western technology and the naturalness (animal peacefulness) of living off the land (few really do though).

    I don’t have a problem in taxpayer funds being used to preserve the details of the culture (making it into entertainment as history), but not the culture, not the actual lifestyle, as the culture itself cannot do other than die out over time (as all cultures do). I don’t have any problem whatsover if tribes completely rejected all technology and all assistance like I read recently about some group (in Papua NG perhaps), but it would seem too late for that in Australia – they can’t be properly isolated from us.

  36. Kaye Lee

    It’s about choice.

  37. kate ahearne

    Loved this comment, Kaye – pasted it around the place. ‘They so miss the point of life – it’s all about the potato and never about the rose.’

  38. Annie B

    Michael … A truly wonderful article, and one that has taught me a great deal. Thank you.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    The statement made by that ignoramus who allegedly leads Australia, resonated with me on a different plane. … As well as the obvious insult and cruel projections it was to indigenous peoples, the reasons why he would talk about tax payers, and remote settlements being ‘lifestyle choices’ in the same sentence. It has been explained here, the possibility of releasing or claiming / taking back those lands for more exploration for mining and more wealth for the wealthy. So that, most likely, explains that.

    I would suggest to the prime, extreme ignoramus, that he divert his own ‘lifestyle choices’ from the tax payer funded purse. Stop spending outrageously on fitted out aircraft, dud aircraft from the U.S., customised protective fleets of cars for himself and cronies, ultra expensive venues for whatevers ( fund raisers ??? hah ) … the record number of overseas trips at the drop of a hat, and the dining and accommodation – – – ‘ life-style ‘ these wankers enjoy – at the taxpayers expense.

    Yes indeed – ‘the taxpayer should not pay for ‘life-style choices’ …. but that is only applicable to one lot – THEM … those of the Government, their hoity toity lofty positions, and (worse) the fact that they live in luxury for the remainder of their natural lives, after political retirement – all from the taxpayers purse.

    Me ? Angry ? …. you betcha.

  39. mars08

    How low can these clueless, unscrupulous, lumbering tossers sink?

    I have to assume that the electorate has reached some sort of plateau by now…

    Surely, as of March, 2015… anyone who was ever going to be disgusted, insulted, horrified or appalled by this sleazy mob… will have had a total gut-full by now. Anyone who is still supporting the Coalition is unlikely to shift at this point. I fear that outrage fatigue is working to the government’s benefit.

  40. Adrain Gallagher

    It seems strange to me to say to a country of immigrants or children of immigrants that it’s an obligation to live in one’s “traditional” land.

  41. Bilal

    If anyone living from this land of Australia lacks respect for the indigenous people of the continent, they are just colonialist occupiers. Redneck morons who claim “Australia” as theirs while denigrating the first nation, show that they are nothing but interlopers and perhaps they should return to their “traditional lands”.

    Ethnic cleansing of people from their homelands cannot be accepted. We have sunk to a very low level under this disappointing front bench and we will take years to recover. Xenophobia, ethnic cleansing, religious bigotry, sexism, protection of the rich and union wrecking are what these Tea Party patriots have brought us.

  42. Kerri

    Well I have learned much today and learned much more about your work Michael Taylor!
    My admiration and respcet for you grows even more!

  43. Kaye Lee

    From February 15…

    “Today’s Senate Health Select Committee Hearing is dedicated to Indigenous Health. Not a single Coalition Senator has turned up.”

  44. Liora Claff

    Thank you for this article. I’m so furious about Tony Abbotts comments that I wrote to Sunrise this morning – even accepting their woeful (lack of) privacy statements to get it to them. Indigenous Australians living in remote areas is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ – It’s their commitment to the tatters left to them after our western culture has taken their land and done it’s best to destroy their community, their culture and their spirituality.
    Indigenous men have lost nearly everything that gave them dignity, mastery and respect (women will never lose their role as mothers – until we flood the earth with so much estrogen that reproduction becomes impossible).
    If moved to cities, many would still be on benefits but with the added humiliation of being in a hostile, in many instances racist environment that is ignorant of their culture and mores and has no respect for them (I saw too much on my recent journey to Darwin with my son).
    Breaking up these communities will destroy what connection they have left to their traditional, tribal ways and do little to help individuals. What it will do is make it easier for mining companies who hold PEL licences in over 70% of Central Australia (including areas close to Uluru & Kata Tjuta) to rape and pillage Central Australia.
    What is needed is consultation and real support for indigenous people to develop in their own cultural context – not a continuation of cultural genocide that began over 200 years ago.

  45. Annie B

    Well done – – well said, Liora.

  46. stephentardrew

    Kaye that reeks of straight out prejudice laced with lashings of subconscious race avoidance syndrome other wise known as racism.

  47. Barry Thompson

    I wonder how much it costs to service these small communities and how the amount stacks up against politicians expenditure on international ‘study tours’ and all the other perks of office.
    Could it be argued that assistance to primary producers who choose to remain in drought affected areas year after year are also making a lifestyle choice?Don’t get me wrong,I have great sympathy for those who battle the vagaries of nature to make a quid and provide the food we eat,but is their connection to the land any greater than our indigenous Australians?

  48. stephentardrew

    I think it might be good old connection to the hip pocket and their one percent mates Barry.

    These guys are one great long horror story bereft of sympathy, compassion and humility.

    You can never put a price on what was stolen form Aboriginal people.

    Oh well what the shit let’s just blame them for our personal greed and brutality.

    Stewards of the land for thirty five thousand years or more and we have taken no time at all to ruin this country and destroy its history.

    Doesn’t it make you proud do be on Team Torture and Terrorism.

    Oops sorry mates that’s over there.

    Over here it is our divine right.

  49. Wally

    When Abbott served on the front bench in the Howard era we all , well most of us knew he wad a dickhead. How did Tony hide the real Tony for long enough to become PM or is a matter of LNP supporters having no shame? Every time I speak to a coalition voter I take the time to point out that they voted for the biggest f@#%@#% and the truth really hurts. Tony can’t go on as PM for much longer can he?

  50. Möbius Ecko

    I’m indulging conspiracy here. I’m wondering how much of the land will be handed over to mining exploration once the communities have been closed down and the people moved away. Twiggy would be salivating at the prospect.

  51. Wally

    If the government consider people living in remote communities to be an indulgence that we cannot afford then how to you classify this? https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/tony-abbotts-dodgy-pollie-pedal-expense-claims,5402 Phony Tony has made so many false expense claims it has become normal for the tax payer to foot the bill for everything he does. Do the tax payers foot the bill for the dunny paper used in the lodge or does he steal it from parliament house?

  52. mars08

    Last month, to mark the start of another parliamentary year, Abbott and Bill Shorten (and their entourage) attended a service at Canberra’s Kingston Baptist church.

    WTF? No!!!! Screw that!

    The taxpayer was charged for that feel-good expedition and it produced nothing in return. Why the hell should the Australian people be expected to fund such an unproductive lifestyle choice?

  53. Dandark

    I reckon screw the lot of them, they are all god loving imbeciles, Shorton is a shorter version of Abbott,,,
    Friggin’ religion is a ‘lifestyle choice” and we are paying for it whilst they trip off to pray to their imaginary friend
    .but we the people are being cut off at the knees left right and centre, because we arnt worthy according to this pack of fanatical religious zealots. Shorten and Abbott are made from the same mould, a very religious one, politics and religion just don’t mix as we know..

  54. Dandark

  55. Robert J Lee

    Well the author might be academically qualified to comment on the festering issue of the burgeoning Aboriginal Industry that costs Australians more than $25 billion annually. I too am qualified having been a CEO and business development officer for various indigenous groups. I also speak from an employer’s point of view. In Qld aboriginal groups have been given ‘aboriginal freehold’ title over vast tracts of the state. Comprising mainly former cattle properties, various communities to whom the land has been given(at great cost) in some cases have either vague or in few cases actual previous connection, although anthropologists usually get it wrong. In any case either land trusts or Prescribed Body Corporations are set up to administer these vast properties. Therein sets the rot. In most cases 99 per cent of members of these PBC’s have had no experience whatsoever in managing a household, let alone a million acres of pastoral land. None have any prior business experience and almost none can make a decision that would allow them to evaluate any business propositions, let alone be involved in the day to day running of a large cattle herd.
    Culturally if one Murri suspects another of his own or opposing clan gets one cent more than him, the fights start in earnest. Ostracism, punch-ups, guns, spears are drawn. Often fuelled by raging drunkedness or ice addiction, a mellee of spectacular proportions ensues. Hundreds can be involved as was the case recently at Arukun.
    Tony Abbott has close connections to the industry as well, having CYLC and Balkanu fat cat Noel Pearson and his brother Gerhardt as close friends. Well that was until he made the remarks about the industry.
    Last year the federal government gave $22 million to one of Pearson’s private companies to establish a special learning curriculum for indigenous students. Unfortunately on Cape York Peninsula at least nobody seems interested.
    Not to be outdone, Noel was then given another $8 million for some esoteric training program. Indigenous people in the Far North are the most well trained people in Australia. I know of one murri who has four identical chainsaw tickets at a cost of $800 for each ticket.
    Outraged community murris are telling anyone who will listen that they have never known the Pearsons to enter a school(not since they finished their education) or trained someone to drive a grader.
    Now the murris have just begun to realize the fabulous ‘sit down’ money will dry up on July 1 , unless the recipient does 25 hours of supervised work each week. This could involve cleaning up their homes and communities that usually are a disgrace. There is no other meaningful work at most communities. Therein lies the inherent problem. Unless white management is involved, the multi-million dollar rorts will continue, and let me tell you there are plenty of them.

    Abbott is finally doing something positive for these desperately unhealthy communities all of which suffer terribly from sugar diabetes, drug and alcohol addiction, sex abuse of young children and just plain social ineptitude.
    So southern arm chair experts welcome to the real dream time! Well done Tony Abbott(and I don’t vote Liberal)
    Robert J Lee, www,cairnsnews.org

  56. Bacchus

    “A vote for Labor is a vote for Islam. It’s an invasion.”

    Nail dem bigoted colours to the mast “Robert J Lee” 😉

  57. Jake

    Robert J Lee’s cairnsnews.org contains the headline ‘Michelle Obama is a Trannie’. With such clear-headed reporting, he’s obviously a man of special wit and integrity. Spesh-ul. And I know I’m gettin personal now, but his name (and attitude) makes me think there might be a correlation between the non-‘coloured’ peoples of the US South and the Aussie North… Woah dere boy, you remember your place now, or you won’t get your cornbread and chittlins.

  58. Dandark

    Holy shit I thought RJ was channeling Lang Hancock for a minute
    But no it seems like its his own ramblings and racist views….

  59. Dandark

    “There are days, whole weeks of them now, when it might seem better for all concerned if the PM just kept his mouth shut. On the other hand, a more cynical reading of Abbott’s gaffetastic week is that rather than just blundering through, looking for someone new to offend, he knew exactly what he was doing with #lifestylechoices, just as he knew who he was really talking to when he gave those foreign Johnnies at the UN what for.’

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/offend-distract-repeat-tony-abbotts-lifestyle-choice-20150313-1425l3.html

  60. Matters Not

    Robert J Lee said:

    I too am qualified having been a CEO and business development officer for various indigenous groups

    Ah. I think I see where part of the problem lies. Perhaps the selection process was along the lines of the Tim Wilson appointment?

    Nevertheless, like most arguments, there’s a kernel of truth in what he asserts.

  61. Wally

    @Robert J Lee your from Queensland (we will forgive you). “I too am qualified having been a CEO and business development officer for various indigenous groups.” Are you certain that some of the failures you mention in Queensland communities were not in some part your responsibility or fault?

    Where is your experience in WA Aboriginal communities? I have a close friend who is in charge of running a crew of Aboriginal workers to keep many remote communities clean, do garbage collection and maintain the tips in the northern region of WA. Instead of sitting on his arse watching the indigenous workers do their job he hops in and helps them, shows them how it should be done and in return he has gained their respect. Some days he buys them a pie for lunch and in return they will catch and cook up a goanna occasionally. The last thing indigenous people need (well any of us really) is managers and/or executives sitting on their arse in an office leaving the hard dirty boring work for everyone else to do. To succeed we need people to work within the communities beside the Aboriginals to show them that we are all equal, prove that if we all put in an effort and share the heavy lifting everyone benefits.

    I understand that there is a lack of education, training and experience in the indigenous communities but we will never change things if we continue to do what we have done in the past. When Aboriginals were forced to leave the communities around NSW in the 1980’s they ended up in Redfern, crime rates rocketed, alcoholism and drug taking became commonplace and eventually the government started sending them back to where they were from. When they returned to the communities there was havoc, Christmas Eve 1985 they burnt down a pub in Bourke, people were so petrified they wouldn’t leave home after dark. People wouldn’t park a car in the street at night because the lads relocated from Sydney would use the skills picked up in Redfern to steal it within minutes of it being noticed.

    If move people from alcohol free communities we must make the towns and cities Aboriginals are relocated to alcohol free for everyone!

  62. cairnsnews

    Hey Wally Comrade Ray is the traitor who helped that raving Jesuit Tim Fischer remove firearms from legitimate owners. Ray Martin couldn’t be trusted to read the SMH without twisting the truth! He even claims to be black! Unfortunately the modern Aborigine cannot be traced back any further than about 1000 years. The modern blackfella has his origins with pre-Dravidian Indians. The original short Negritos who inhabited Australia can be traced back to about 1500BC when they integrated with the Libyan explorers who colonized the eastern seaboard of Australia. The evidence is readily available but is beyond the mental ability of any anthropologist I have run into.

  63. Jake

    So no expert will back up your argument? Hmm…how dare they apply reason and logic instead of bigoted ranting? Stupid is as stupid does.

  64. Wally

    @cairnsnews what does removing firearms have to do with moving indigenous people from their communities? Here is a link to Ray Martins family history story “The Great Divide”. http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/first-contact/article/2014/10/30/ray-martin-great-divide As far as the history of the Aborigine people is concerned who really cares, they were here a long bloody time before us white fellas come along and started slaughtering them. If we tolerate people from other countries taking over suburbs and failing to integrate into our society we really do not have any right to tell Aboriginal people where or how they will live. In reality we have failed to integrate into their society and obey their laws, adopt their culture and preserve their land the way nature intended.

    I have seen Aboriginal art under ledges so far above the ground the artist would have needed a 60ft ladder to reach. Obviously the ground below the paintings has eroded but I find it hard to believe it has eroded that much in just 1000 years, if it has I would expect our major rivers to be in ravines as deep as the grand canyon.

  65. Russel Hayes

    Has anybody else ever been to a remote aboriginal community , that was not set up for a media documentary , I’ve never seen anything else but rubbish and filth everywhere , the community definitely wasn’t living on traditional aboriginal food , and the the people you talk to, quite happy to sweet f….k all , I’ve got no problem with being connected to the land , live and let live , but don’t just use the bits of system that suits

  66. cairnsnews

    Yer Wal but the oldest organic remains found in Qld or the NT , eg cave or ledge burial cylinders have been carbon dated(notoriously unreliable) at approx 800 years. Ask the ANU they did it then concealed it. Carbon dating of ochre cave stencils is so unreliable it is no longer relied upon by competent archaeologists. And I would not believe anything that ISO stooge Ray martin said or wrote. There is so much more we could say about the aboriginal industry but we are too determined and too busy working to stop Abbott’s nonsense about including murris in the Constitution. They are already in it!

  67. Michael Taylor

    The oldest archeological remains are dated at 63,000 years, found in a rock shelter in Queensland.

    And yes, carbon dating is unreliable. For years it was assumed that Aborigines had been in Australia for 40,000 years, which is because of all the carbon dating of archaeological remains that returned a reading of 40,000 years. It has since been discovered that carbon dating only goes as far as 40,000 years, hence the error.

  68. Michael Taylor

    Russel, I have been to many remote Aboriginal communities. The litter around the place is disgusting. I’ve also been to traditional homelands, where it is a different story. It is the latter that Abbott wants wiped away.

  69. Kaye Lee

    cairnsnews,

    We aren’t reliant on carbon dating.

    There have been DNA studies done showing that Aboriginal Australians are descendants of the first people to leave Africa up to 75,000 years ago. Ancestors of Aboriginal Australians reached Asia at least 24,000 years before another wave of migration that populated Europe and Asia.

    DNA confirms Aboriginal culture one of Earth’s oldest

  70. Wally

    @Michael Taylor I agree with both of your comments but must add that the current system where a contractor employs Aboriginals to collect rubbish and control the local tips is improving the way rubbish is disposed of. The Aboriginal workers are going home and telling others to put rubbish in the bin because they have to clean it up. Building societies doesn’t happen overnight and we have people hell bent on destroying them to save a few bucks.

    @cairnsnews I don’t think there is ever a valid excuse for us as a community to leave any minority or individual to be harassed, demoralised or victimised by a rabid prick like Tony Abbott. If the Aboriginals arrived after white man they would probably have more rights than they currently do. The LNP is a joke and Abbotts tribute to Malcolm Fraser focused more on Abbotts political disagreements with Fraser unlike Bob Hawke who reflected on what Fraser achieved, in the true spirit of what a tribute from great leader to another leader should be.

    More proof that Abbott isn’t a leader and will never be held in the same esteem as any of the PM’s that have preceded him and we bloody hope in the future as well. Surely you can only hit the bottom of the barrel once?

  71. Kaye Lee

    We brought the alcohol. We brought the rubbish. We herded the indigenous people into settlements on the outskirts of town. We took away their pride. We bear the responsibility for the destruction of their way of life.

  72. DanDark

  73. Wally

    @Kaye Lee I think this song tells it how it is and emphasises your comment – the time is long overdue now!

  74. Wally

    @DanDark that is a great song with a lot of meaning behind it and it shows how badly we have treated the traditional owners of the land. At the end it also made me consider how in general we always try to ignore or overlook bad people of our own kind but when it comes to Aboriginals and migrants we always point out the bad ones and try to stereo type them to be the norm for those people. And then we have people with the audacity to proclaim that we are not racist?????

  75. Awabakal

    Has anyone hear read the diarised accounts of one of our greatest explorers, Christy Palmerston? Would be well worth one’s while.

  76. cairnsnews

    Yep the only problem with this hypothesis is the Great Flood of 5000 years ago. The Ark sits on Mt Ararat in Turkey. 63,000 years is simply fallacious. Ask the ANU.

  77. Michael Taylor

    Seriously, are you for real?

  78. Jake Hodgman

    Good grief, I feel sorry for the people of Cairns if they have to put up with this guy (@cairnsnews) calling his ranting ‘news’.
    He comes across as the kind of person who once went to a museum, asked no questions, and then made up his own story about all the pieces of history went together. I’m waiting for him to explain how dinosaurs didn’t exist because there’s no way an animal made up of bones but no flesh could have existed. Still, good for a laugh on a Monday morning!

  79. cairnsnews

    Entrapment for all those budding atheists! I have qualifications in archaeology and been there and done that old chap! Acquaint youself of the site, you might learn something!!

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