Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people
Aboriginal men watch
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologise to Aboriginal Australians on a big
screen outside Parliament House in Canberra February 13, 2008.
Genocide is a word
Australians hate to hear.
Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent
of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South
Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their
communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia,
where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal
land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support”
Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most
Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without
consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders
have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural
Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear. Genocide happens in other
countries, not the “lucky” society that per capita is the second richest
on earth. When “act of genocide” was used in the 1997 landmark report
Bringing Them Home, which revealed that thousands of Indigenous children
had been stolen from their communities by white institutions and
systematically abused, a campaign of denial was launched by a far-right
clique around the then prime minister John Howard. It included those who
called themselves the Galatians Group, then Quadrant, then the
Bennelong Society; the Murdoch press was their voice.
The Stolen Generation was exaggerated, they said, if it had happened at
all. Colonial Australia was a benign place; there were no massacres. The
First Australians were victims of their own cultural inferiority, or
they were noble savages. Suitable euphemisms were deployed.
The government of the current prime minister, Tony Abbott, a
conservative zealot, has revived this assault on a people who represent
Australia’s singular uniqueness. Soon after coming to office, Abbott’s
government cut $534 million in indigenous social programmes, including
$160 million from the indigenous health budget and $13.4 million from
indigenous legal aid.
n the 2014 report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators,
the devastation is clear. The number of Aboriginal people hospitalised
for self-harm has leapt, as have suicides among those as young as
eleven. The indicators show a people impoverished, traumatised and
abandoned. Read the classic expose of apartheid South Africa, The
Discarded People by Cosmas Desmond, who told me he could write a similar
account of Australia.
Having insulted indigenous Australians by declaring (at a G20 breakfast
for David Cameron) that there was “nothing but bush” before the white
man, Abbott announced that his government would no longer honour the
longstanding commitment to Aboriginal homelands. He sneered, “It’s not
the job of the taxpayers to subsidise lifestyle choices.”
The weapon used by Abbott and his redneck state and territorial
counterparts is dispossession by abuse and propaganda, coercion and
blackmail, such as his demand for a 99-year leasehold of Indigenous land
in the Northern Territory in return for basic services: a land grab in
all but name. The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion,
refutes this, claiming “this is about communities and what communities
want”. In fact, there has been no real consultation, only the co-option
of a few.
Both conservative and Labor governments have already withdrawn the
national jobs programme, CDEP, from the homelands, ending opportunities
for employment, and prohibited investment in infrastructure: housing,
generators, sanitation. The saving is peanuts.
The reason is an extreme doctrine that evokes the punitive campaigns of
the early 20th century “chief protector of Aborigines”, such as the
fanatic A.O. Neville who decreed that the first Australians “assimilate”
to extinction. Influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired
the Nazis, Queensland’s “protection acts” were a model for South African
apartheid. Today, the same dogma and racism are threaded through
anthropology, politics, the bureaucracy and the media. "We are
civilised, they are not,“ wrote the acclaimed Australian historian
Russel Ward two generations ago. The spirit is unchanged.
Having reported on Aboriginal communities since the 1960s, I have
watched a seasonal routine whereby the Australian elite interrupts its
"normal” mistreatment and neglect of the people of the First Nations,
and attacks them outright. This happens when an election approaches, or a
prime minister’s ratings are low. Kicking the blackfella is deemed
popular, although grabbing minerals-rich land by stealth serves a more
prosaic purpose. Driving people into the fringe slums of “economic hub
towns” satisfies the social engineering urges of racists.
Way back when Taylor first started her career two things remained constant: her music videos were directed by Trey Fanjoy and her dresses were custom created by Scott Borchetta’s wife Sandi Spika. This dress went along with Taylor’s penchant for wanting to look like she was going to the prom at all times.
Can you believe this is the same person who showed up to last year’s Grammys looking like this?
View all the times Taylor has attended this event here.