Tuesday, July 14, 2020

"Kimberley is our land and we want the right to work it"

So says an Aboriginal leader.

Aborigines have NO legal right to the many tracts of land they claim as theirs.  Various governments have GIVEN them title to some tracts in the hope that their claims on land will be satisfied by that.  But that is a joke of course.  "Give them an inch and they will take a mile" applies.  Nothing will ever be enough

So the sob story below is yet another grab for land.  They want to take over a productive station.

A line has to be drawn somewhere and it could surely be drawn in accordance with the best use of the land.  Farms and stations given to Aborigines in the past have been shockingly misused, going back to the Lake Tyers disaster.  Basically, what aborigines do is eat all the cattle and let the buildings go to rack and ruin.  A productive tract of land becomes a wilderness. 

Greenies no doubt think that is a good thing but what might the heavily taxed average citizen think of all that waste?

Last year, when Kimberley traditional owners bought Myroodah Station off the Indigenous Land Corporation, I was elated and deeply moved. Many generations of our families had worked on Myroodah for white bosses — some were paid, some were slaves.

Quanbun and Jubilee stations are located on my country, on the mighty Martuwarra, the Fitzroy River, the lifeblood of our country and connected to Yi-martuwarra Ngurrara people; it was made when the world was still soft in the Dreamtime.

When the Aboriginal-owned Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company purchased Myroodah, I thought that we had reached a turning point where Kimberley traditional owners were shaping our own destiny, closing the gap through creating our own economic development opportunities, and stepping up to manage and set the strategic direction for the pastoral stations our families once laboured on.

Last week has seen a terrible knockback for our people, with the purchase of Jubilee Downs cattle station, which contains the Quanbun Station lease, by mining and pastoral magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest. Traditional owners — represented by KAPCO, Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation and the Nature Conservancy — put in a $25m bid to buy one of these stations. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to even get a foot in the door so we could negotiate further, bump up our bid. For us, this isn’t just an acquisition, just about money, just another asset to add to our portfolio. This is our country. We are trying to buy back our own country.

According to the ABC, Forrest spoke of “job creation for local communities”. Job creation isn’t sufficient. We do not wish to work for white bosses, like our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers did. We wish to work for ourselves, under our own leadership, on our own traditional lands.

He spoke too, of continuing the legacy of the previous owners; that is, regenerative land management and a herd of quality cattle. What he didn’t mention, was the darker legacy — a legacy of trauma and dispossession still felt by Yi-martuwarra Ngurrara people, whose lands these stations occupy, today. Take Quanbun, for example. In the 1905 Royal Commission on the Condition of the Natives, commonly known as the Roth Report, evidence was heard that the white boss of Quanbun had an Aboriginal woman he kept, and the overseer had from eight to 10 Aboriginal women to choose from. History tells us that in many cases, on many stations, these women were stolen from their husbands and raped. In the case of the evidence gathered in the Roth Report, the women on Quanbun were whipped at night if they allowed the sheep to stray.

This is the legacy of white pastoralists we remember. And while it is, of course, true that Forrest has been generous to indigenous Australians and cannot be held accountable for the sins of past white men, whether his family or otherwise, it’s also true that Forrest’s family has a long and storied history in the Kimberley. His great, great uncle was Alexander Forrest, an explorer and politician, credited with opening up the Kimberley region for pastoral activity. Alexander had significant pastoral interests in the Kimberley, including ownership of Yeeda Station, where my great, great grandmother worked. In 1893, Alexander Forrest asked whether “the life of one European is not worth a thousand natives, as far as settlement of this country is concerned”. Within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, within the context of the sale of this station to one “European”, one white owner, instead of to a collective worth “a thousand natives”, we’re asking ourselves, in almost 150 years, how much has really changed? Will the ill-starred history of Kimberley traditional owners continue repeating on us in terms of the ownership of our land?

Most critical is the position of these two stations on the Martuwarra, the Fitzroy River. The river is the lifeblood of Yi-martuwarra Ngurrara and Nykina country. Forrest has said that when it comes to plans for the properties nothing is off the table. This worries me, as large-scale irrigation projects have been floated by Gina Rinehart, and would threaten cultural sites, as well as barramundi, gummy sharks, sawfish and stingrays — a whole ecosystem. Our lifeblood. In the wake of this news, I’m especially disappointed for Kimberley traditional owners.

This is really not about Andrew Forrest. This is about justice for our people and getting our land back. He should relinquish the bid, right the wrongs of the past, and allow traditional owners to buy back our own lands.


The cost of Free speech

Bureaucratic harassment of Forensic psychiatrist Donald Grant particularly troublesome

Des Houghton

The right to free speech is in danger of being, trampled as unelected, overzealous bureaucrats aim to silence dissenting voices and opinions

PAULINE Hanson, Germaine Greer, a spy known only as K and distinguished Brisbane doctor Donald Grant today find themselves to be strange bedfellows. All have incurred the wrath of unelected, overzealous bureaucrats who don't want you to hear what they have to say.

To my mind their right to free speech was trampled. If we had a bigger bed we could invite Drew Pavlou and Peter Ridd to join the Order of Strange Bedfellows. Pavlou, a philosophy student, was disciplined by the University of Queensland for supporting Hong Kong activists against friends of the Chinese Communist Party in campus demos. It's been a public relations disaster for UQ with accusations it has grovelled to Beijing for commercial gain.

Professor Ridd is fighting an ongoing legal battle with James Cook University after calling out what he said was bad science surrounding climate change and the Great Barrier Reef. The university went to extraordinary lengths to silence and punish him.

Boffins at several universities in the UK have gone so far as to ban Germaine Greer because they don't happen to like her views on transgender politics. Whether or not we agree with Greer, Ridd or Pavlou is largely irrelevant to the fundamental right of free speech. A free society tolerates dissenting voices.

Psychiatrist Donald Grant's case is especially troubling because he is a distinguished doctor whose writings have been praised by judges and fellow psychiatrists for shining a light into the dark world of violence committed by the mentally ill, His book, Killer Instinct: Having a Mind for Murder (MUP) sparked instant controversy.

Margaret McMurdo, a past president of the Court of Appeal, said Grant's book provided a valuable insight into forensic psychiatry and the legal system "including difficulties in predicting dangerousness". "Who hasn't wondered if given a particular set of circumstances or mental illness, they might be driven to kill another?" she said.

"Forensic psychiatrist Donald Grant, whose reports I read with confidence during my 26 years as a judge, explores that and other big questions, such as who is capable of rehabilitation, who has rehabilitated, and who is beyond redemption."

Grant has been interviewing killers for 40 years to determine whether they are fit enough to stand trial. I was shocked when The Courier-Mail reported recently that a complaint referred by Queensland Health may (or may not) see Grant facing charges of professional misconduct. His valuable book may be suppressed.

I'm wondering who the hell gave the incompetent health department the power to censor books. How dare they? With elective surgery waiting lists among the worst in the nation, the health chiefs should be concentrating their efforts elsewhere. Grant is a genuine expert whose opinions should be circulated by Queensland Health, not censored.

The book necessarily contains lurid details of crimes. In writing it, Grant has done exactly what journalists do every day. In fact Grant quotes from The Courier-Mail interviews with victims' families in some chapters. His book featured a sadomasochistic cross-dresser who brutally raped and murdered a 21-year-old girl, a mother who hid an infant's body in a washing machine and the loving wife who cut her husband's throat from ear to ear.

Grant told me in an exclusive interview two years ago he did not set out to sensationalise the cases. He simply sought to "increase our understanding of why violence and murder happens". The facts in themselves are shocking, he told me. "I haven't exaggerated or sought to create sensation in any way."

A complaint against Grant was driven by Sonia Anderson about a passage on the strangulation murder of her daughter Bianca, a decade ago. However, in my view Grant did not act unethically. The details of the case were already on the public record.

A free speech battle of a different sort is being played out in the intelligence community. Lawyer Bernard Collaery is being prosecuted for revealing national secrets; specifically, that Australia bugged East Timor's government building in 2004 to gain advantage in crucial oil and gas negotiations. He faces two years in jail.

Details of the case were smothered when Attorney-General Christian Porter used his national security powers to have the hearing held behind closed doors. Collaery, rightly, is critical of the secrecy. "I want to defend myself in public," he said. "That's the hallmark of our democracy, a public trial. I'm charged with conspiring with Witness K, my client, who I interviewed in the same way I have for 40, nearly 50 years."

Witness K is a former senior ASIS intelligence officer-turned whistleblower who led the bugging operations in Dili. Criminal charges against Collaery and K were filed by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions in June 2018. We may never know what happens.

Not all censorship comes from governments or the courts. Self-censorship by the media is perhaps the most disdainful. Pauline Hanson was dumped from her regular spot on by Nine's Today Show for saying people in a COVID-19 lockdown Melbourne apartments were drug addicts and alcoholics not too concerned with social distancing. In response, Nine news director Darren Wick adopted a lecturing tone.

I thought he sounded like a social worker. "We don't shy away from diverse opinions and robust debate on the Today Show," he said. "But this morning's accusations from Pauline Hanson were ill-informed and divisive. At a time of uncertainty in this national and global health crisis, Australians have to be united and supportive of one another. We need to get through this together," he said

Infuriating as Hanson can be she was partly right. Daniel Andrews, the Victorian premier, confirmed that some in the apartments had alcohol and drug problems. So the head of a major news network got away with censoring a federal politician on flimsy grounds. That, to me, was not an insignificant breach of free speech and betrayal of journalism.

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 11 July, 2020

Human trial for coronavirus vaccine starts in Queensland on 120 volunteers - and if successful it could be rolled out within months

A human trial for a coronavirus vaccine is starting in Queensland today. Some 120 volunteers in Herston, Brisbane will have the vaccine injected to see if it is safe and can generate immunity.

The vaccine, created by University of Queensland scientists in partnership with biotech company CSL, was tested successfully on animals in Australia and the Netherlands.

Clinical trials will run until the middle of next year - but, if successful, the vaccine could be rolled out at the start of next year for emergency use among the wider population.

There are 17 human trials for a potential vaccine happening around the world, including in the US, UK and China.

The Queensland vaccine has the advantage of being worked on in partnership with a manufacturer, CSL, meaning it could be mass produced quickly if successful.

More than 4,000 people volunteered for the trials but only 120 were required.

Professor Robert Booy, head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, said the animal trial would have 'ticked all the boxes' allowing the human testing to go ahead.

'There is no way the research team would be able to progress from animals to humans without a complete guarantee of safety and they would likely have a confidence in its effectiveness,' he said.

One of the Queensland University COVID-19 vaccine research leaders Professor Paul Young said the first human trial was about evaluating the safety and immune response of the vaccine in a group of healthy volunteers.

'The green light to move into this human trial follows extensive pre-clinical testing that the team has been conducting since first selecting the lead vaccine candidate on 14 February,' Professor Young said.

'This testing showed that the vaccine was effective in the lab in neutralising the virus and safe to give to humans.'

Professor Young said once human testing was under way, researchers expect to have preliminary results after about three months.

'We'll hold a collective breath while we wait to see how the trial goes,' he said.

'But if all goes well, we can move to the next stage in the vaccine's development – a larger trial with a much bigger group of people from a range of ages to see if the vaccine works across the board.'

Associate Professor Keith Chappell, co-lead on the UQ project, said the pace had been relentless and it was a fantastic achievement to move so quickly into clinical trials. 'We have reached this important stage with help from our collaborators at the Australian National University, the Doherty Institute and CSIRO,' Professor Chappell said.

There are more than 130 vaccines in the works around the world but UQ's work is believed to have shown great success in the pre-clinical stage of development.

The clinical batch of vaccine for use in the trial was a manufactured by a close partnership between UQ and CSIRO with technical assistance by Australian biotech company CSL, Brisbane based Thermo Fisher and Swedish company Cytiva.

The University of Queensland was tasked by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus in January, supported by an initial investment of up to $6.5million.

UQ and CEPI entered into a partnership in June with CSL to take the rapid response 'molecular clamp' enabled vaccine through clinical development and manufacture, if it proves successful.


Citizens not all equal when it comes to the getting of wisdom

Civics should be taught in the schools.  But what if it degenerates into Leftist propaganda?  That is the dilemma conservative governments face.  The author below does not see it

What do we want our citizens to know? Applicants for citizenship must pass a test on the rudiments of our political system and they are given a booklet to prepare for it. Citizens by birth pass no such test, and many would not be able to answer an abstract question such as: “What arm of government has the power to interpret and apply the law?”

The test, introduced by the Howard government in 2007, is for new citizens. But what about those born here, including the children of these new citizens?

For about 20 years I taught first-year Australian politics at La Trobe University to large classes of students, many of whom were the first in their family to attend university, and many of whose parents were born overseas. In the first tutorial, I would ask them why they were studying politics.

Occasionally one said it was because they wanted to become a politician, but the most common answer was that they would soon be casting their first vote and so wanted to know more about how our political system worked. Obviou­sly, they did not feel that what they could learn from their parents would be enough.

Politics is now one of the discip­lines that Education Minister Dan Tehan wants to charge students a premium to study, along with others in the humanities and social sciences.

Much of the discussion of this has been about the esoteric upper reaches of these disciplines where French theorists such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida are accused of spreading a conformist postmodernist relativism and under­mining confidence in the traditions and history of the West.

Defenders, such as Luke Slattery in Inquirer last month, stress the civilising role of the Western humanist tradition; others point to the lifelong benefits to individuals of learning how to read and think well, to the transferable skills of humanities and social ­science graduates and to their robust­ employment outcomes.

Little has been said, however, about what we want our young people to know. Bizarrely, Tehan’s schedule of HECS fees aims to encourage prospective students to do teaching while discouraging them from training in the disciplines many will actually teach, such as history, geography and politics. It also discourages them from studying subjects that would teach them about Australia, not to mention the countries from which many of them came.

My students learned nothing about Foucault or Derrida. Instead­ we studied Australia’s institutions of parliamentary demo­cracy, the challenge of balancing individual rights and liberties with democratic electoral politics, the tensions inherent in federalism, the histories of the parties. Such courses exist in every Australian university and thousands of students­ take them every year.

There are periodic outbursts of anxiety, especially from conservatives, about how little Australians know about the politics and histor­y of their own country. In January, in response to one such outburst, Tehan announced a special program of the Australian Research Council for research in Australian society, history and culture because, he said: ­“Between 2011 and 2020, just 3 per cent of grants under our primary competitive grant scheme — the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Grants — were in the areas of Australian society, history­ or culture.”

The reason for this is univer­sities’ competition for inter­national rankings, where Aust­ralian-focused research is at a disadvantage, but that is another story. The point is that the Morrison government recognises that the Australian community benefits from people knowing about our history, society and culture.

So why is it discouraging young people from studying them?


 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

1 comment:

Paul said...


This was given over to Blackie to manage in some sort of Indigenous enterprise hand-up.

I've been there and, well, things appear to have gone as well as could have been predicted.