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By feeef’all852

“Oh what wicked webs we weave
When first we practice to deceive.”

Not far away from where I live, in a bare paddock, amongst thousands of broad cropping acres, there is an abandoned cottage. It was once the home of the Schippan family, the family involved in what has become a most mysterious “unsolved” murder.

It is not the original pioneer homestead of the family, but another home built after the “murder house” nearby was abandoned. It has become known as “The Towitta Murder”. You can read about it online or in a published novel: “The Noon Lady of Towitta”.

You can hear all about it here:


There never was a satisfactory resolution to that murder, and the only “concrete” evidence pointing to a possible killer was the death-bed confession of the father to a Lutheran pastor that he had murdered his own daughter because she had witnessed years before, her father killing an Afghan trader and he feared she would tell someone when she grew older … so in fear of her knowledge, he took her life.

But the murder of Bertha Schippan is not what I want to discuss here, but rather what leads us to a situation where the continued delusion, denial and deceit would bring us to sacrifice, as Bertha Schippan’s father did, the life or the lives of our closest neighbours and loved ones and even easier those who come to us as strangers seeking help. What was the driving terror that drove a father to possibly kill his own child..and is it the same motive that drives a community to abandon, maim and in many cases even kill those most vulnerable amongst us?

When I worked and lived in the Fleurieu Peninsula as a young man, I learned the swiftness that rumour and story could spread through small communities … as many of you reading will testify from your own experiences..There was a saying in Yankalilla that; “If you farted when driving through Delemere (a tiny hamlet a small distance from ‘Yank’), by the time you reached Yankalilla it had already got around that you had shit yourself!”. That’s how it is in these small communities, and I doubt it was any different back in those times in Towitta district. The fact that we may never “prove” who was the killer of Ms Schippan, does not excuse the fact that someone knew and that someone kept quiet and there was sure to be someone who knew that someone and so on … and in the end the whole community kept ‘schtoom’ … and so colluded in the cover-up and then became an accomplice to the crime.

We know now from recorded history that there was much vocal opposition to Hitler’s direction for Germany and the Nazi party, but in the end, the entire German peoples had to shoulder the community blame for the result and have weathered the insults and guilt for many years since. But the recent action of Angela Merkel to admitted nearly one million Middle Eastern refugees was not only a charitable and brave decision in the face of much outcry from the right-wing politicians and racists in her own country and Europe, it went a very long way to restore the spiritual healing of the German soul. And even though some will say that those refugees were “not of the same creed or cultural similarity as us” it has to be accepted the refugee is of the same flesh and blood, of the same sensitivities, feeling the same despairs and hungers and fears, and in the end we have to accept there are never any examples of the perfect refugee … and in fact, they are merely us. Us in another situation, another guise.

So on this anniversary of the Referendum of the Aboriginal Right to Vote (May 1967), we too, as a community have made our first faltering steps toward the healing of the community soul, and while such as John Howard will not admit to there being any association of the current generations to the crime, and such politicians and racists as Peter Dutton would not stay to hear the apology, the cover-up of the action and the denial of the deed is the same as the staying quiet by the community of the Schippan murder, the seething guilt of the German Nazis and the lying collusion of the right-wing governments in Australia to hurt, maim, demoralise and divide our communities.

But while there are many who for avarice or hate or political gain with both will try to take our country to dark places, dismal reaches of the soul, many also … much more I am seeing now, will not allow us to be dragged guilty by association to the right-wing destruction, moral or physical of our multi-cultural society. While there are ministers like Dutton, Morrison, and Prime Ministers like Howard, Abbott and Turnbull, we will have to hold close to our hearts the inherent decency passed to us by our past ancestors who did protest and rail against the authoritarian cruelty that is so destructive. And we will have to one day remove them and those who promote their indecencies from our company.

What was it John Howard was reaching for when he stood shoulder to shoulder with Donald Rumsfeld and with that signature shit-eater grin announced that “shock and awe” would be delivered like the apocalypse angels upon a wronged people in an illegal war? What was it that delayed assistance being sent to “Siev X” and then the storming of the Tampa by SAS commandos if not just to add to the denial that these situations were the result of HIS and his associates crimes? What is the first thing a criminal does at the scene of their crime but to cover up the evidence of their guilt? The continued tormenting and persecution of refugees by the conservative government is the denial of and the covering up of guilt for the original crime.

The community cannot, will not … I … will not be an accessory in this guilt. We have made our opinions felt here and elsewhere and we will not cover any more for the crimes of those who cower behind a community wall sniping at the poor, the frail, the vulnerable, because as has been written one way or another in the blood and tears of humanity over many, many millennia in every culture and creed: “There … but for the grace of fate … go I.”

[As an aside, I have to confess that I sometimes use a song from my young years to sustain the “mood” of the pieces I write…for example; for this piece, I had the beautiful harmonies of Peter Paul and Mary singing “In the early morning rain”].


This article was originally published on



  1. John Richardson

    Bravo & Thank You.

  2. kerri

    Good read! Well said!

  3. Olivia Manor

    Well said!

  4. Hettie Lynch

    Thank you.

  5. rhyllmcmaster

    I agree with all you’ve said, but you have left out one very important point – it is not only Howard and the following conservative governments who have “taken us to dark places”. The ALP has been complicit in the torture that is offshore indefinite detention since Julia Gillard’s decision in 2012 to re-open Manus and Nauru. Rudd made it much worse, and the current policies of the ALP under Shorten are just as reprehensible. You must tell the truth about this history or you are complicit as well.

  6. Peter F

    ‘There … but for the grace of fate … go I’ Joan Baez :There but for fortune.

    Thanks for your post.

  7. John Richardson

    wAbsolutely agree …. there has been very little daylight between the major parties for 30 odd years. Labor’s abandonment of the working class has shadowed the decline in manufacturing in Australia. The party that was once viewed as being at the vanguard of progressive social policy around the world, the party that genuinely championed human rights & civil liberties, the party that genuinely tried to govern for our entire society, other than its most extreme elements, the party that gave us Jack Lang would turn in its grave at the thought that former ministers would casually pursue their personal interests by representing the mining & banking sectors. Meanwhile, a significant section of our former working class have forgotten their roots & see themselves as the new ‘monied’ middle class benefiting from the wealth building opportunities offered by negative gearing & the like.
    A nation that was once proud of the fact that it measured its ‘quality’ on the basis of how it looked after those at risk of being left behind (excluding our first people) has now morphed into a US style ‘I’m the centre of my universe’ & ‘I’m here to screw everyone-else before they screw me’, where everyone is out to look after themselves but can’t understand why the whole world doesn’t ‘have their backs’ when things go pear-shaped.
    My favourite story from my father was about the long street where we lived when I was a kid which apparently had the good fortune to be served by two butcher shops – one at each end of the street. Every week one of the butchers would have ‘specials’ & all the women would flock to that particular butcher to buy their week’s supply of meet. Everyone thought they were very lucky because they had two competing butcher shops to choose between until they found out that they were owned by the same businessman … a scenario that is surely a metaphor for our so-called ‘democratic system’ of government.
    Apologies for the rant & have a great weekend.

  8. freefall852

    rhyllmcmaster…The disingenuousness lies upon those who would like to claim that Labor woul be as socially complicit in cruelty of those refugees…sure, we were saddened by the policy of offshore detention that the Rudd / Gillard govt’s continued..but we also remember that it was done only as a temporary measure after the unrelenting scare campaign by the MSM and the LNP to stir up the electorate…I would not accept that Labor, particularly under Gillard would hold people in detention for the extended length of time that this LNP govt’ has.. Remember, there was a enormous surge in refugee numbers coming by boat to Australia at that time and the confected outrage by a “weeping” Joe Hockey and the “mug-Greens” to thwart any “Malasian solution” or any other solution…so in effect leaving only two options open for the temporary action.

  9. freefall852

    To continue..: The confected “outrage” and mock weeping from the conservative side of politics about the drownings and sinking of unsafe boats flies in the face of their unconcern before Labor gained office and now, after the LNP has regained power..and in MY opinion, it would not surprise me IN THE LEAST if in years hence, FOI documents reveal certain conservative “parties” channeling funds to other “certain parties” in our Northern Neighbours to assist in the politically helpful “continuing” of sending refugees to Australia in leaky boats. Going by the conservative racist attitude to everybody “other”, it would not offend their DNA to be so callous, cruel and politically Machiavellian.

  10. freefall852

    …further on the subject, I find it surprising that someone would come peddling such tired of chestnuts to a site such as this ; of well informed readers who are quite aware of the bending of Labor to offshore detention centres to ameliorate the rising pumped-up racism within the community and the failure of its “regional solutions” policy. I must say, I detect a hint of Green shit-stirring..and as we know , it is in the Greens interest to try to take votes from the only party they have any chance of stealing from, so it has been a long standing practice for The Greens to stride the political stage flogging off the illusion of their “political virginity” with more thespian sincerity than Quentin Crisp dressed in the regency drag of Queen Elisabeth One..when most of us were wincing at what we saw as more a Irma la Douce hooker! The deal-making with the LNP over the ABCC legislation and other dubious “deals” demonstrates that The Greens are not against being “taken for a ride” by the conservatives more times than Christine Keeler in her most “influential” days!

  11. townsvilleblog

    Yet another great contribution from this author, well written and as usual straight to the point.

  12. helvityni

    “But while there are many who for avarice or hate or political gain with both will try to take our country to dark places…..”

    Methinks it’s getting dark already….

  13. roma guerin

    well said.

  14. Ann

    freefall, good post.
    Two things though – “anniversary of the apology to the Stolen Generations”. That apology happened in Feb 2008. You mean the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal Right to Vote May 1967?
    Also, you seem to advocate a more multi-cultural society, and there’s nothing wrong with that per se, but perhaps we could put the first things first – Treaty.

    Q: Who oversees the public debate on any topic and plays a pivotal role as default moderator? MSM?
    Doesn’t much of the issue of irresponsible govt/poor policy come back to the fact that we have a MSM with a clear agenda to maintain the status quo on behalf of the politicians and elites?

    Watching some MSM reactions to the Uluru meeting this week was interesting. Head in sand, quick.

    Trigger Warning:
    This excerpt from the Uluru Statement contains a word anathema to practicing atheists – ‘spiritual’:
    “This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.”

    What amazes me is that despite 200 years of disadvantage they know what’s of value.
    Best Statement I have read in a long time and I highly recommend its contemplation.

  15. freefall852

    Yes, my are correct on the date for the referendum..not the apology.

    “This excerpt from the Uluru Statement contains a word anathema to practicing atheists – ‘spiritual’:”

    ” Many atheists point to an appreciation of the wonders of nature as a form of spirituality without religion. … Illing thinks that religion has hijacked spiritual experience. … A word comes into being just like an idea from out of the mist.” …Sean Illing ; Writer and athiest.

    I have to take umbrage to the idea of the word ; “spiritual” being anathema to a practicing atheists…The idea that such a word created out of the Latin alphabet could be claimed as the exclusive property of “non atheists”, particularly as the ancients were not even aware of such a word or such a principle as a “spiritual religion” of any kind…but would be considered from at least the last two thousand years as “Pagans”..and that too would be an error, considering that the word ; “Pagan” has it’s origins in the Latin word ; meaning “of the country” or a crude rustic…Words used to “contain” an ownership of an emotion or a idea or principle are usually borrowed or stolen from any number of origins and are usually claimed as the sole possession of the bigoted and obsessive..
    The statement in itself is beautifully crafted, but more as a document of ownership and also intent of claim it as a statement of singular spiritual direction would be simplifying it to a child-like understanding of both language and spirituality.

  16. The AIM Network

    It has now been corrected in the article.

  17. Chris Rand

    indeed freefall, it was wedge politics and the swinging voter that took labor to that place, you can’t do change from opposition. And with the heavy support of the media the liberals sounded like they had the voice of the nation rather than just the voice of bigots. A great piece, ah the Fleurieu, it hasn’t changed..

  18. Max Gross

    I tried to participate in the AIMN poll regarding my “biggest disappointment” with Turnbull but couldn’t find the option for All Of The Above.

  19. Freethinker

    Excellent post.
    Today, 13/6 I just made myself a cup of coffee and as usual read the news on line.
    We all are aware of the proposed draconian law that this government like to introduce asking for by-partisan support.
    ‘join us as Australian patriots’ said Malcolm Turnbull to the ALP to introduce the new “security laws” which includes Dutton having the power
    to reject decisions on citizenship applications made by the administrative appeals tribunal if he doesn’t believe they are “in the national interest.”
    This make me angry and sick, it reminds me when the dictators in Uruguay and the neighbor countries having control of the population.
    Made no mistake, any law that it is introduced now will be used by them against us in the future if the ALP and The Greens approve it.
    Please contact your local ALP member and tell them that we say NO to any amendment which will give this power to Dutton o who ever come after him.

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