Thursday, October 26, 2023

First peoples?

There has been a lot of indecision in recent years about what to call those people whom for many decades we have called "Aborigines". That word now seems to be taboo. "Indigenous" is a favourite replacement but the Canadian practice is increasingly creeping in. Canadians say "First Nations" for the early inhabitants of their country.

Using "first Nations" for early inhabitants of Australia is a however a substantial misfire. The many pre-white tribes of Australia had few of the characteristics of nations except perhaps informally understood borders. Making "nations" out of hundreds of tribes is quite a stretch. There was certainly no language or DNA common to them all and not much that we would recognize as governing bodies or a defence department.

Perhaps for that reason the angry article below refers to "first peoples" instead, a more defensible usage.

But both usages founder on the claim that the pre-white inhabitants of Australia were in any sense "first". They were not. It enrages the Left for anybody to mention it but it is well documented that the original inhabitants of what we now call Australia were a race of pygmies. And the pygmies concerned are far from a lost tribe. Some of them still survive in areas of the Atherton Tableland.

One of them walked right past me in 2004 as I was sitting in an open-air cafe in Kuranda. He was black but was only about 4'6" tall, a height commonly given for the Australian pygmies in early documents. There certainly are still some very short blacks in the mountainous areas behind Cairns

In the early days, anthropologists and explorers took photos of the pygmies which showed them as being about 4.6" (1.3 meters) tall

There is a long article by the irreverent historian Keith Windschuttle which gives the full story. See

There were quite a lot of reports of contact with pygmies throughout the 20th century. See:

There have been many attempts from the Left to debunk the story that there were a race of pygmies in Australia but have a look below and you will see one of them, 3"7" tall and still alive when the picture was taken by a news photographer in 2007.

She is pretty substantial to be a "myth". There is an article about her reprinted below

It’s a measure of the confidence assimilationists now feel, not to mention their profound indecency, that they’ve wasted no time pushing to start rolling back what few gains have been made on Indigenous policy.

Tony Abbott immediately demanded that Indigenous flags no longer be flown and acknowledgements of Indigenous people be abandoned at official events — signs of separatism, he says. If even those most basic acknowledgements that First Peoples exist are now to be erased, then we are indeed seeing full-blown separatism. The LNP in Queensland abandoned support for a treaty process in that state. Peter Dutton, in the words of one of his own MPs, sought to “weaponise” claims of child abuse within Indigenous communities.

The mainstream media also wasted no time in trying to fit the result into a narrative that carefully avoided the core issues of the referendum. The Australian Financial Review echoed the argument of The Australian that it was all Anthony Albanese’s fault for his “failure to genuinely consult with Mr Dutton to try to secure bi-partisan support for the Voice,” arguing that it was down to Albanese’s “hubris”.

This is a self-serving lie that gets everyone — Dutton, the No campaign, racists, the media — off the hook. There is literally no referendum proposal that Dutton would have supported, as his goal was to damage Labor, not address the substance of either recognition or closing the gap. The AFR goes on to complain that Albanese has ruled out “pursuing other forms of constitutional recognition or legislating for an Indigenous advisory body”.
Let’s coin a name for this fiction: how about the White Man’s Recognition Myth? It’s one many No supporters, including Abbott and Dutton, cling to — that if only they’d been asked to support simple recognition without a Voice, they’d have backed it.

White Man’s Recognition found a full flowering in an extraordinary column by David Crowe last week. Normally the doyen of both-sidesist press gallery commentary, Crowe came alive during the campaign to lash the No campaign but lamented last Thursday “a Yes vote is only possible for leaders who compromise more than they would like. This is true for Indigenous leaders as much as party leaders. As late as June this year, there was a pathway to success for recognition without the Voice, something Dutton says he supports.”

That is, the failure of the referendum is on First Peoples and their inability to compromise, their unwillingness to accept a token White Man’s Recognition, their insistence that recognition actually be meaningful and involve a two-way interaction, not imposed on them like so much else has been imposed on them for more than two centuries.

Stop complaining, accept what you’re given, abandon any agency, it’s non-Indigenous people who’ve done all the compromising, why won’t you? Being recognised as actually existing should be enough. It’s not just Albanese, evidently, who is afflicted with hubris.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but after the ferocious and resentful dismissal of genuine recognition by non-Indigenous Australia, no non-Indigenous person is in a position to lecture First Peoples about what they should have done differently in order to please us.

It is non-Indigenous people who have killed off recognition and reconciliation in favour of maintaining a white fantasy in an occupied country. The next steps, whatever they are, must come from First Peoples. And if those steps are away from the rest of us, we’ve only ourselves to blame.


Police truth-teller condemned

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers has responded to “vile” criticism directed at him from a senior minister after he said truth telling and treaty would give Indigenous people a free pass to commit crime.

The powerful union boss, who declared First Nations people were over represented in crime statistics, insisted he was sharing the views others were “too frightened” to share.

Those comments were slammed as “divisive and unhelpful” by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Government ministers on Wednesday lined up to distance themselves from the union boss’s claim that its Path to Treaty was a feel-good exercise that was anti-police.

Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Leavers’ comments about Indigenous people, published by The Courier-Mail, were wrong.

“Let me say I disagree with the comments the QPU president has said,” she said.

Mr Leavers doubled down on his comments on Wednesday, declaring he was saying the things “people want to”.

“There’s been Cabinet ministers have a go at me but that’s part of life, that’s water off a duck’s back to me, I’m used to that,” he said.

“A lot of people want to say things, but they are too frightened to because you’ve seen the vile and the personal attacks come my way today.

“The people I represent are on the front line. “Not like the latte sippers in inner Brisbane who’ve never been to communities and see the violence and the mayhem and the destruction of lives that takes place.”

Transport Minister Mark Bailey took aim at Mr Leavers, declaring his “ignorant and factually wrong diatribe is an embarrassment to the Queensland Police Union”.

“He should be working on rectifying the identified racism, misogyny and sexism in the force to make it an inclusive and lawful workplace,” Mr Bailey said.

Mr Leavers slammed the minister’s “vile” response. “I don’t take anything Mark Bailey says takes seriously at all,” the union boss said.

Mr Bailey’s input on the issue, particularly his comment about fixing problems within the Queensland Police Service, forced Ms Palaszczuk to declare the “minister is not anti-police”.

Queensland Human Rights Commissioner Scott McDougall said Mr Leavers comments would divert energy from work to close the gap.

“In the aftermath of a referendum debate which exposed Queensland’s First Nations communities to harmful levels of racist discourse, it is reprehensible to create further harm with such divisive and inflammatory language,” he said.


The Greens get one thing right

The Greens candidate for Brisbane lord mayor, Jonathan Sriranganathan, says the party will go to next year’s election opposing the city’s 2032 Olympic Games unless organisers abandon plans for a $2.7bn redevelopment of the Gabba stadium.

Sriranganathan’s high-profile campaign seeks to build upon the Greens’ recent success in Brisbane, including capturing three inner-city seats at the last federal election.

He said the Greens “don’t want to be blockers” but would refuse to support the Olympics unless the plan for the Gabba, including the relocation of a primary school and the resumption of homes, was changed.

“The state government doesn’t have the operational capacity to deliver an Olympics without the support of the council,” Sriranganathan said.

“The Brisbane City Council does have a lot of leverage on this issue. The mayor of Brisbane is a signatory to the Olympics contracts and agreements. They’re not contingent on using the Gabba … [it] was not part of the Olympics bid.”

The Greens now represent the local, state and federal electorates covering Woolloongabba, which is home to the Gabba.

Sriranganathan said the Gabba redevelopment proposal was unpopular “right across” the city, including in the outer suburbs.

“We’ve been hearing from people who say it’s not a good use of money or construction resources,” he said.

“The further out you go, the more frustration there is that the investment from the Olympics isn’t flowing evenly across south-east Queensland.

“It’s hard to gauge how much support there is for the Olympics but … a lot of people draw a clear line between whether they support the Olympics and the Gabba proposal.”

The issue also helps the Greens establish clear battle lines against both Labor and the Liberal National party, in a campaign that will focus heavily on concerns about housing and the delivery of basic services. Last week the LNP-led council announced a 10% budget cut, scrapping promised city projects and sparking concern about job cuts.

“Both the major parties are continually telling us they don’t have the money and resources to do everything, and hard choices need to be made,” Sriranganathan said.

“They’re simultaneously saying we have money for this stadium, but we don’t have money for public housing or schools, and that is losing them votes across the city.”

The Gabba redevelopment has already been controversial, with the federal government rejecting Queensland’s request for commonwealth funding. In August, Australian Olympic Committee officials told a Senate hearing that the deal to stage the games in Brisbane was not contingent on the use of the Gabba.

The redevelopment plan would require the relocation of the East Brisbane state school, which neighbours the existing Brisbane Cricket Ground. Kath Angus, the Greens’ mayoral candidate in 2020 and a parent of children at the school, is running for the party in the neighbouring ward of Coorparoo. It is one of about a dozen council wards where the Greens believe they will be competitive.

Angus said the major parties were “more interested in a vanity project than caring for our school kids”.

“Residents deserve so much more from the council than they are getting right now – budget cuts, services being slashed, congested streets and handouts to wealthy property developers.”


Coming soon: new tax to hurt property investors, farmers

An unprecedented move by the Albanese government to tax paper gains in superannuation is prompting consternation across the sector, where property investors and farmers look likely to be the first targets of the planned move.

After reviewing the draft legislation on the new extra 15 per cent tax to be applied on superfund earnings above $3m, industry leaders appear considerably more upset with the method of applying the new tax than the actual imposition of a higher tax bill.

Natasha Panagis, the head of superannuation and financial services at the Institute of Financial Professionals Australia, says no other country in the world taxes unrealised capital gains.

It seems very few in super circles had anticipated investors could be taxed upfront for profits that might never be realised.

The recently released draft legislation for super changes from Treasury also confirmed that the tax on gains would be charged annually.

“The problem is that super is not like any other business, and the new tax is aimed at individuals -but an individual may not live long enough to ever access the offsets,” said Ms Panagis.

The prospect of tax losses marooned indefinitely inside the tax office is just one of a range of potential outcomes of the new tax that advisers say will hit investors who may have little idea of what is coming down the line.

Industry experts, such as Peter Burgess at the Self Managed Super Funds Association, suggests investors who have most of their money inside ‘illiquid assets’ such as farmers or property investors are among the most exposed.

The new tax will also hit anyone who borrowed funds to finance their retirement because it will be applied on a person’s total super balance – that balance includes borrowed funds.

Once the new tax is introduced in 2025 it will work in a manner similar to the so-called Division 293 tax today – that is, it will be applied immediately and directly on an individual. Division 293 applies where you have to refund some of the tax concessions you received on super contributions because your annual income went over $250,000.

The new extra super tax will be called Division 296.

Also in common with the existing Division 293 tax, the draft legislation says individuals would have the option of paying their extra super tax liability by either releasing amounts from their superannuation or using amounts outside the superannuation system.

Advisers suggest taxing unrealised gains flouts all basic tax principles and may trap investors who only temporarily transcend the $3m ‘cap’ such as those who might have struck it lucky in a small cap share which soars briefly before coming back to earth with a thud.

Separately, advisers warn that valuations among unlisted assets will be under review in relation to the tax along with unit prices at big super funds.




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