Bright does not equal right

When I was a member of Men of the Trees in Perth, Western Australia, I participated in the planting of hundreds of trees, and in one instance where 1,700 trees were planted, did all the organising of the activity.

I will plant any tree that is suitable for the particular location, no matter what its origin. Unfortunately there were members who wanted to only plant the type of tree that had originally been growing in the location we were planting in. This meant that in their view the glorious displays of trees in the different areas of Canberra would not happen as only the original gum trees or whatever would be grown there.

These people were not noticeably odd, just fixated in their concept of what trees should be grown, which was to the detriment of the areas that had originally had only poor scrub growing on them.

On Garden Island, a small island of limestone and sand which is part of the sunken coast, a row of beautiful peppermint trees was destroyed because of these beliefs and the original rubbish grown to replace them.

It is a case of having an idea, but it being the wrong idea.

The same thing is happening in Australia at present with Aboriginal people. Very few Aboriginal people are only of Aboriginal ancestry. Just about all of them are a mixture of Aboriginal and other races. This is easily seen as Aboriginal people were dark skinned whereas few who are identified these days as Aboriginal are dark with most being anything but, with most approaching white. Hence they have British, Irish, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Indonesian and many other countries ancestry. If it was not financially beneficial to be Aboriginal in Australia at present they could just as well be calling themselves British or Irish or whatever.

However the problem arises that they are being encouraged to speak the language of the Aboriginal ancestor which means that English is a second language to them. I have lived in Thailand, Korea, and China where English is a second language. The people are greatly disadvantaged. Most do not speak English. Despite the argument of the intellectuals that learning a language means learning a second one is easier in practice only a few people do manage to learn a second language.

Aboriginal students should learn English first and then learn another language.