What to do
My family has members who came to Australia from England and Ireland soon after the colony was begun in Sydney. A great, great, great, great grandmother was born on Norfolk Island in 1802. Her parents were Irish convicts who had a farm on Norfolk Island for twelve years before they were moved to Tasmania where they had a bigger farm. Another two were a trooper on a convict ship and one of the convicts who he married. They were given some land and developed a farm by dint of their own hard work.
They had some children who then had more but all of them had to work to survive.
Their efforts developed the country. Without the efforts of the settlers from overseas Australia would still be unchanged, just as it had been for the sixty five thousand years by the folk who were here when the First Fleet arrived.
Several had come to Australia as a punishment. And what a punishment. Sent to the other side of the world because you were hungry and stole some food. Or were ridiculously poor and stole a handkerchief, or a parasol, or a watch. You were not taken from your relatives who were not looking after you properly and sent a day or two away by contemporary transport times, but were punished ferociously and sent to a place five or six months away by the transport of the time; never to see your country of origin again.
Others came looking for opportunities. While they arrived on the east coast in Sydney or Hobart they moved to where there were more opportunities. Hence some ended up on the west coast of Australia after the gold was discovered there. When that did not result in success they tried another avenue. Some of them developed farms on the west coast. They changed the forest to farms. While the original people had been unable to improve the country, my family did.
Some of them gave their lives for the country. A cousin went down with the Sydney, another was on the Perth when it was sunk and taken prisoner of war and survived that. Another died on the Canberra. Those rellies liked boats. Others fought with the Army. In the First World War another was killed at Pozieres, France on July 29, 1916, aged 39. An uncle spent the war in North Africa but after his capture on Crete in a camp in Germany.
Unfortunately being bright does not necessarily mean that your decisions are necessarily correct and I think our bright people are making some wrong decisions with respect to the Aboriginal people.
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 of the organisation 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 black 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. One woman I met in Thailand but could not converse with because she for all her sixty years had only spoken Thai, which meant she had missed out listening to the Beatles, and all the others, which was a huge loss. 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. Turnbull was postulating that to become an Australian all migrants have to be competent in the use of English which does bring up the point of where many Aborigines are going to be sent.
Another decision of smart people in Australia applies to the idea that giving the original people back large slabs of Australia is a good idea. The purpose was to improve their lot. The process began forty years ago and as that is more than a generation we would expect some improvement in their lives today. As well as the land there are also the racist policies of treating the original people in a different way to those whose families have been here for up to two hundred years or so and whose efforts have developed the country. These original people have thirty billion dollars spent directly on solving their problems each year without the money spent having the desired effect.
There are any number of indications that the present policy is not working, such as the suicide rate with young people, incarceration rates, health, and age at death.
The money and the land are not working.
A different tack is needed.
It could be that the original people should be expected to take responsibility for their own situation.
What is the result of the present racist policy of giving land to some people and not to others? To say that the original inhabitants have a connection with the land of a spiritual nature that justifies it supposes that even one who can only claim to be one sixteenth or one thirty second or one sixty fourth Aboriginal still has this spiritual connection. This has to be the excrement from a male bovine.
Gough Whitlam started the giving back of the country. He thought it to be a good idea. His other good ideas resulted in the country sacking him as the Government because they were actually not so good ideas. He was not a politician. He had principles that he followed no matter how bad they were for the country's economy. Enough of them anyway for him and his government to be removed from office. I think that his principle of giving back the country was another bad one for Aboriginal development but that it has been popular with the voters so politicians run with it.
The life of my relatives who were the first of the family to come to Australia was incredibly different to the life of Australians today, and that is only about two hundred years ago. What they had, how they lived, and what they thought were different. Even less than a hundred years ago my mother was going to school on a horse.
The members of the family who are around in two hundred years’ time are going to be wondering why we listened to Gough. Why did the ninety seven percent of the country give half the land to a people who don't like to work? Who won't move to where the opportunities are. Who don't look after themselves but are being given billions of dollars in royalties from mineral extraction. Our great, great, great grandchildren are going to think we were completely stupid.
We need a referendum to return the land so far given away back to the people of Australia and a policy introduced that actually helps the original inhabitants of the country who need help.
The idea that just being one two hundred and fifty sixth Aboriginal gives you spiritual connection with the land is just more excrement. Your relatives in eight generations are going to think the same of you if we don't get the country back.
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