The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

New skin – same old snake

My first reaction to Howard’s new pitch for ‘symbolic’ reconciliation with indigenous Australia was that he was proposing a referendum on “Do you believe in Aborigines?”. What I’ve seen and heard of Howard’s speech is loaded with half-apologies and conditional half-commitments underpinned by a reaffirmation that Assimilation is the only way. So what’s changed, apart from some half-hearted half-arsed expressions of limited regret and the promise of a bright future?

David Ross from the Central Land Council on ABC television last night explained it best: ‘It’s like a snake that sheds its skin. It has a new skin, but it is still the same old snake.’

So Howard has moved over 11 years from No Reconciliation to Practical Reconciliation and now to the new, improved Symbolic Reconciliation – but still no actual Reconciliation. We can now have Reconciliatory Assimilation! It is worth reviewing Howard’s milestones with indigenous Australia in order to evaluate whether this latest proclamation is genuine or a desperate one minute to midnight poll-driven repositioning for Howard’s re-election pitch, along with his ‘new’ five-point plan’ for the future. What was that other 10-point plan? Oh yes:

More than 200 years after white settlement the High Court handed down a landmark decision recognising the legal integrity of Native Title which allowed indigenous access to traditional land for customary usage. Howard’s first and most profound major indigenous policy was his infamous 10-point plan which provided ‘bucket loads of extinguishment’ to prevent Aborigines taking over the Hills Hoists in countless suburban backyards across urban Australia – effectively legislating away the High Court ruling.

Howard’s next major policy achievement was to disband ATSIC, while doubtless in need of reform, was the sole political vehicle for indigenous Australia.

In response to further deterioration in Indigenous Affairs, Howard and Brough declared war on aboriginal child abuse by using the Army to invade aboriginal communities. The accompanying legislation failed to mention child abuse, but somehow managed to have a lot of powerful mechanisms to seize traditional land from indigenous communities into the hands of the Commonwealth. This conveniently removes any serious impediment for mining companies seeking access to uranium contained in land controlled by indigenous communities. Given the central role the uranium industry has in Howard’s vision for our economic and energy future one could be forgiven for being skeptical about the real reasons for Howard’s intervention.

And now Howard announces his new-found desire to formally recognise indigenous Australians, but only in a symbolic way – yes, we believe in Aborigines! We will have Symbolic Reconciliation placed firmly within a non-negotiable good old-fashioned 19th century Assimilation agenda – indigenous races are essentially inferior stone-age civilisations – the best we can do for them is to deliver them to Jesus and gradually breed them out and turn them into genetically superior white folk. A kind of free-market eugenics, no less.

Will the electorate buy it, as Crosby-Textor are no doubt suggesting? Can Howard reconcile Indigenous and White Australia? The policy speech is riddled with hidden agendas, and if past form is anything to go by, Howard is still the same old snake.

Filed under: Federal Election 2007, Indigenous, Politics

2 Responses

  1. Georgia says:

    Hi Chris,
    Great essay! I like the term “Reconciliatory Assimilation” for all this.
    “The Aboriginal Man” was David Ross from the Central Land Council. Cheers Georgia

  2. slim says:

    Thanks Georgia – I’ll update the post. Like all of Howard’s headline heart-stoppers this year the gloss is quickly wearing off.

    Despite all his symbolic repositioning, I still think it is WorkChoices which has sealed his fate. People are deeply suspicious of what WorkChoices III would bring – endentured slavery anyone? Could be a good way of assimilating aborigines into the mainstream Aussie tribe, though. Oh, that’s right – we tried that one already.

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