Sunday, June 28, 2020

Indigenous peoples’ problems show Australians are in denial about their racism

This article is completely empty of any proof or evidence for what it asserts.  There is NO evidence advanced to counter the argument that Aborigines bear a large part of the blame for their own backwardness.  Mentioning a couple of anecdotes proves nothing.  You can prove anything by anecdotes

Police on horseback gathered in a circle to defend the statue of Captain James Cook in Sydney’s Hyde Park. Australians inspired by American protests, and calling attention to the plight of their country’s indigenous peoples, might have toppled the statue. The moment was replete with historical irony. The “discoverer” of Australia met his end on a Hawaiian beach, at the hands of a crowd of angry natives. The police seemed determined not to let it happen to him a second time.

The whole messy issue of Australia’s past rose up and wound itself in knots around Cook’s bronze form. The conservative prime minister, Scott Morrison, condemned the protesters. But he drew a distinction between Australia’s history of white settlement and America’s. Australia had been “a pretty brutal place”, he conceded, “but there was no slavery.”

That is some gloss to the real story of white settlement. Australia’s indigenous peoples have endured land seizures, massacres, servitude and, well into the second half of the 20th century, children forcibly removed by government agencies and church missions in the name of racial assimilation—the so-called stolen generations. An uproar over his comments compelled Mr Morrison to backtrack and clarify that he had meant no legal slavery. To many of his government’s supporters, muttering over their barbies, the furore was political correctness gone mad.

Nobody denies that Australia’s indigenous peoples face bleak odds. Aboriginals and Torres Straits Islanders are 3% of the population but 27% of prisoners. Their life expectancy is eight years less than the national average. They do terribly at school.

But Australia has made strides to improve the Aboriginal condition, starting with a referendum in 1967 granting full citizens’ rights to indigenous Australians. In 1992 a High Court case over land title overturned the long-held legal fiction that Australia had been an uninhabited terra nullius for the taking. And in 2008 the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, formally apologised to the “oldest continuing cultures in human history” over the stolen generations and other past mistreatment. Mr Rudd’s and successive governments have committed to “closing the gap” in socioeconomic outcomes.

Many Australians therefore share Mr Morrison’s contention that Australia is not a fundamentally racist country but its opposite, a “fair” one. From this some conclude that Aboriginals’ remaining problems—the drinking, the domestic violence, the supposed indolence—are of their communities’ own making, not a consequence of discrimination. One columnist even claims that the protesters are “enablers for systemic and entrenched indigenous problems to fester”.

In the past, bottom-up efforts by indigenous folk to improve their lot tended to work only if the political climate encouraged it. The “Uluru statement from the heart” in 2017, which called for constitutional change to give indigenous Australians a special voice in laws and policies that concerned them, was rejected by the ruling coalition, on the ground that the proposed body would constitute a third legislative chamber.

That argument, Mr Rudd contends, is “bullshit”: the body would have had no authority to introduce or vote on legislation. Rather, the rejection was a dogwhistle to the same kinds of voters who were encouraged to believe, after the High Court ruling on land rights, that Aboriginals would soon be camping in their back yard. Mr Morrison’s criticism of protesters was intended for much the same audience.

It is no surprise then that indigenous people believe Australia does not offer them a fair go. “There’s a view here that we’re all mates,” says Pat Anderson, an Aboriginal leader. “But this is a mythology they tell themselves.” Petty racism abounds. One Aussie-rules star, Adam Goodes, who complained when a 13-yearold called him an ape, was booed into early retirement.

Yet some think the social and political ground might soon shift. A younger generation of indigenous Australians, many better educated than their parents, is beginning to puncture the cosy selfimage of Australia projected by the likes of Mr Morrison—using wit to get their point across. It was hardly salutary that a recent study concluded that three out of four Australians have a “racial bias” against Aboriginals. But it did bring cheer when Briggs, an indigenous rapper, tweeted that the fourth Australian was probably “conducting the survey”.


Redefining our past does injustice to Australia now

Scott Morrison’s insistence that slavery was not part of the Australian colonial experience might have been the opportunity for the truthful discussion the ABC keeps telling us we need to have.

Instead, Radio National Breakfast wheeled out Bruce Pascoe to confirm the ABC’s prejudices and tell us why the Prime Minister was wrong. “It’s pretty obvious that when you chain people up by the neck and force them to march 300km and then to work on cattle stations for non-indigenous barons, then that is slavery.”

Semantic carelessness, conflated half-truths and a slap-happy interpretation of evidence were the best Pascoe could muster to build a case against Morrison. Yet presenter Hamish Macdonald felt no need to offer a countervailing opinion, let alone correct Pascoe’s factual mistakes. A “pretty obvious” case is good enough for a mind that is already made up.

A progressive view of the world demands we take a dim view of our forebears so that our own compassion shines. It requires a conviction that no generation has been as enlightened as ours and no one who came before us saw the world with such clarity.

There is no shortage of brutal episodes to make this self-aggrandising point. Chattel slavery, however, the ownership of human beings as personal property who can be exchanged as commodities, has always been illegal in Australia. Children have never inherited slave status from their mother, nor been sold like cattle in open markets. Unlike the US, Australia didn’t need a civil war to decide the matter. As governor Arthur Phillip wrote to the Home Office: “There can be no slavery in a free land and consequently no slaves.”

Balanced and informed history demands acceptance of the inconvenient fact colonial Australia was not the fatal shore but a land of redemption.

Characterising Australia by the incidence of criminal behaviour is disingenuous. The unlawful killing of Aborigines occurred at the frontiers of settlement and was never sanctioned by the state.

A nation’s moral fibre should not be measured by its most shameful moments but by how it responds to them. Do brutal acts accelerate a downward spiral of general degeneracy, as it did in the Belgian Congo, for example? Or are we committed to the liberal ideal of continuous self-improvement?

The word slavery is a relatively new arrival in Australian history books, whether written by scholars from the left or right. Manning Clark drew a long bow to claim that the European convicts were slaves, but the word appears in no other context in his six-volume history of Australia.

The existence of slavery is not acknowledged in Alan Atkinson’s The Europeans in Australia, except in the negative. There is no index entry for slavery in the Cambridge History of Australia (2013) edited by Alison Bashford and Stuart Macintyre.

If there is something these learned scholars missed, then revisionists such as Pascoe must front up with the evidence. This they have been unable to do. Their claims are more rhetorical than empirical, stretching the definition of slavery to break its meaning.

It takes a historian with backbone to stare unflinchingly at Australia’s past and wrestle with the moral ambiguity of a nation settled by enlightened people with the highest intentions in which not everything has gone to plan.

David Kemp’s five-volume history of freedom in Australia, three of which have been published, rises above the ABC history-war clickbait to do just that.

The cruelty of some frontier settlers he describes competes with the worst accounts of lynch mobs in America’s deep south. He cites Henry Parkes’s account of an incident from the Hawkesbury River during the early days of the colony when settlers were said to have seized a native boy, dragging him repeatedly through a fire until his back was charred before throwing him into a river and shooting him dead.

Kemp, unlike others who have ventured into this field, does not seek to draw immoral equivalence between Australia’s history and that of other colonies when describing the hostile lawlessness on the frontier.

The violence was not sanctioned by the government, and liberal reformers such as Samuel Griffith made it their mission to impose the rule of law and a civilised frontier morality.

“The Queensland frontier was not the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo, where there was essentially no liberal influence,” Kemp writes.

As it happens, the suffering of the indigenous people of the Congo, who had the misfortune of being colonised by the Belgians in the late 19th century, was discussed on Radio National Breakfast recently. The item was prompted by the West Australian government’s decision to rename the King Leopold Ranges in the western Kimberley.

King Leopold II was not the great explorer Alexander Forrest imagined him to be when he named the ranges in his honour in 1879. He was the absolute ruler of the Congo Free State, controlling a mercenary army in which the severing of a hand was regarded as mild punishment. Estimates of how many Congolese were killed range up to 15 million.

The narrative of history favoured by muddle-headed progressives is a rogues’ gallery of bad old white men in which colonialism is characterised by its most illiberal, brutal form.

All are portrayed as irredeemably evil with little distinction and without reference to facts or context. The mob defacing Winston Churchill’s statue in London ignorantly brands him a racist, blind to his courage in resisting and defeating the tyranny of Adolf Hitler.

These are dangerous times to be undermining Australia’s moral foundations and the values and institutions that underpin its success. Nor can we afford to be diverted by more symbolic debates on our history while the hard work of practical reconciliation remains undone. Justice should be sought in attending to the causes of educational and welfare disadvantage in regional and remote communities rather than by defaming our ancestors.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre. David Kemp’s The Land of Dreams, A Free Country, and A Democratic Nation are available


CFA boss resigns ahead of controversial fire services merger

Pushing together two different organizations with different challenges was alway going to be dodgy but big egos in both organizations have made it doubly problematical

The head of the Country Fire Authority has resigned a week out from a controversial merger between the CFA and MFB.

After 42 years in public service, CFA Chief Officer and CEO Steve Warrington tendered his resignation on Thursday.
Mr Warrington started his career at Chelsea Fire Brigade in 1978 as a volunteer firefighter.

Mr Warrington started his career at Chelsea Fire Brigade in 1978 as a volunteer firefighter.Credit:Amy Paton

Mr Warrington himself did not give a public reason for his resignation, but it comes amid a long-running and bitter fire services dispute that has plagued the Andrews government for a number of years.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria chief Adam Barnett said Mr Warrington had been under "incredible pressure and stress" in the lead up to the launch of Fire Rescue Victoria, a new emergency service made up of career CFA firefighters and the Melbourne Fire Brigade.

The new professionals-only agency will run metropolitan fire services, replacing the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. It will take control of the 38 professional CFA brigades at “integrated” stations that are currently shared by the professional CFA firefighters and CFA volunteers.

The state’s fire services boundaries will be changed, bringing outer suburban areas of Melbourne that are served by the CFA under the control of Fire Rescue Victoria.

FRV is due to begin from July 1, and Mr Barnett said volunteer firefighters were furious over a lack of consultation over a secondment deal which would see uniformed career FRV firefighters placed alongside CFA volunteers.

"Volunteers will be deeply saddened and angry to learn that the government's fire services reform has claimed yet another victim tonight with CFA chief officer Steven Warrington AFSM resigning rather than be forced to sign agreements and contracts that would destroy CFA and rob it of its future," Mr Barnett said.

"Steve saw what thousands of CFA volunteers have seen and have been raising their concerns about.

"These reforms are not good for CFA, and they are not good for Victoria and no minister or government can try and tell us otherwise".

Mr Barnett said it was originally intended that Mr Warrington's position would still exist with the launch of FRV.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville thanked Mr Warrington for his service, highlighting his duty throughout Victoria's bushfire crisis this year.

"I will miss Steve greatly – I have learnt much from him about bushfires and the CFA and hold him in high regard.

"While I’m incredibly sad to see Steve leave the CFA, I respect his decision to take time for himself and his family.

"Steve should be immensely proud of his contribution to Victoria and the CFA," Minister Neville said.

Mr Warrington was appointed Chief Officer of the CFA in 2016, and also became Chief Executive Officer in 2019.

He began his service as a CFA volunteer at Chelsea brigade in 1978 before joining staff as a career firefighter in 1983. He served through the Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday bushfire disasters and was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2017.

His resignation comes just days out from a controversial merger three years in the making between the CFA and the MFB.
CFA chief officer Steve Warrington with Premier Daniel Andrews in November and Police And Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville last year.

CFA chief officer Steve Warrington with Premier Daniel Andrews in November and Police And Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville last year. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Last year reform legislation to overhaul the state's fire services passed the Victorian parliament after more than three years of bitter dispute.

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Nick Wakeling said Mr Warrington's resignation signalled a continuation of "chaos and dysfunction" in Victoria's fire services, overseen by Premier Daniel Andrews.

"Under Daniel Andrews’ leadership a Minister, the CFA board and CEOs have been sacked risking the safety of Victorian public," he said.

"This latest resignation adds to the decades of firefighting experience already lost because Daniel Andrews is more interested in playing political games than keeping Victorians safe."

In a statement, the CFA Board said Mr Warrington served the community with "passion, skill and warmth".

"On behalf of the Board, we thank Steve for his decorated service to the people of Victoria and wish him all the best for the future." it read.

The board will announce an interim CEO shortly


Universities blindsided by Dan Tehan's plan for integrity unit to monitor enrolments

Universities have hit back at Dan Tehan’s proposal for a new integrity unit to police “substantial shifts in enrolment patterns”, questioning whether it is an appropriate role for the regulator.

The education minister announced the new role for the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s integrity unit on Wednesday evening, in a move that blindsided the university sector.

Tehan’s proposal is an attempt to stem criticism from universities, including the Australian National University and the University of Western Australia, that the proposed government funding cuts and fee increases will encourage universities to enrol more students in humanities.

When Tehan announced the policy on Friday, he suggested fee cuts would encourage the study of science, technology, engineering and maths, and reduce the number of students taking humanities courses.

The minister said Teqsa’s integrity unit would “as part of its mandate … investigate substantial shifts in enrolment patterns at universities and consider the implications for educational quality and provider governance”.

Teqsa would then be able to consider “whether the best response is from a regulatory or policy action”, he said, to “ensure a high-quality student experience”.

The ANU’s vice-chancellor, Brian Schmidt, said the university would consider the expanded role for the integrity unit “when more information comes to hand”.

“But the proposal already raises a number of key questions and concerns, not least whether it is an appropriate use of Teqsa’s regulatory role,” he told Guardian Australia.

“It also seems to muddy the waters in terms of the already good work universities are doing with government agencies regarding foreign interference. I can’t see this idea having wide enthusiasm across the sector.”

Labor’s education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said: “The Liberals are just making things up as they go along.” She called the university changes a “dog’s breakfast”.

The chief executive of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, said: “It is important not to increase the regulatory burden unnecessarily, particularly when Covid-19 has imposed additional challenges on the higher education sector.”

The education department has reassured universities that none will be worse off in the short term, despite funding per place falling in a major shakeup of the sector, thanks to a $705m transition fund.

Despite the reassurance, the University of Sydney’s acting vice-chancellor, Stephen Garton, has joined a chorus of concerned voices saying the package imposed cuts on the government contribution that would mean universities “receive considerably less funding for teaching science, engineering, education, nursing, clinical psychology and agriculture”.

Talks with the university sector have now turned to a new funding model for research to supplement the changes, which double the cost of humanities subjects and cut the government contribution from 58% to 52% in an attempt to fund 39,000 extra places.

On Wednesday Margaret Gardner, the vice-chancellor of Monash University and chair of the Group of Eight universities, told Radio National the $705m three-year transition fund was designed “so that no university will face a decrease in funding for educating those students” despite receiving “less per place”.

Caroline Perkins, the executive director of the Regional Universities Network, confirmed that the department had told a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday that – assuming no collapse in domestic student numbers – the fund was designed to leave no university worse off.

“No regional university should be worse off after the three-year transition and indeed many regional universities will be better off,” she told Guardian Australia.

That is because they benefit from a $48m research fund, new regional student loading and growth in places of 3.5% in the regions and 2.5% in fast-growing metro unis, compared with 1% for the rest of universities.

But the University of New South Wales, the University of Tasmania and the University of Queensland have raised concerns that the package increases student fees and may decrease degree quality.

Garton told Guardian Australia the University of Sydney was concerned by “the shift in the funding burden from the government to the student, especially in the humanities and the social sciences and the cooling impact this could have on demand for these subjects”.

He said social science graduates learned “critical thinking, oral and written communication skills” which employers demanded, and that a “balance of skills is necessary for a healthy economy”.

“This is especially true as these students will not graduate for another three to five years, when the needs of the nation may be quite different.”

Garton said the impact on universities was “rather mixed”.

“Where both the student contribution and the [government contribution] amount both decrease universities receive considerably less funding for teaching science, engineering, education, nursing, clinical psychology and agriculture.

“This will put significant pressure on a university system already impacted by the pandemic.”

Debate is still raging about whether price signals to students will result in higher enrolments in Stem subjects or whether universities will have a perverse incentive to continue to enrol students in humanities.

Jackson said the peak body was still “assessing the consequences both intended and unintended” because it was not clear “what sort of push-and-pull incentives” it will create.

Jackson said the minister was now consulting the sector to create a “merit based research funding system”.

Tehan rejected the claim students would not respond to price signals to reconsider science subjects.

In an interview on The Briefing podcast, Tehan cited the fact fee cuts in maths and science in 2009 “did lead to extra demand” before a price increase of 78% in 2013 which did not move student numbers because “there wasn’t much publicity around it”.

“So, one of the things we’re very keen to do is, to be a lot clearer around the cost to a student of undertaking a degree.”


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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