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John Passant

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June 2019



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Rugby League, the National Anthem and Aboriginal peoples

Every year Rugby League has its state of Origin. Queensland plays New South Wales for 3 games over the mid-season. They are intensively competitive games, watched by millions. They are often the best rugby league contests locally or internationally.

The first game this year is on Wednesday 5 June. So what? many of my readers might ask. Well, rugby league can reflect the issues of the day. For example, Origin is steeped in fervent nationalism and starts with both teams lined up, singing the national anthem.

Not this year. Not all players. Four players have already said they will not sing the anthem. They are heroes for taking this stand.

Their reasons for doing so are born of the oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  The anthem does not represent me or my people, one of those 4 players, all Aboriginal or Torres Islanders, said.  Here here.

According to the NRL 12 percent of players in 2014 were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.  Based on Census 2016 figures, the figure in the general population is 3.3 percent, or 786,689 people who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

When the Indigenous All Stars game was played earlier this year, not one of the 17 Indigenous All Stars sang the anthem. Not one. Mal Meninga, a very famous rugby league player, Australian coach and an Australian with South Sea Ancestry, supported them.

ATSI people are over represented in the poverty, crime, illness, early death and other figures.  Despite a so-called more enlightened approach to ATSI people now, white capitalism treats them much the same now as it did 50 years – stealing their children, marginalising their communities and destroying their lives.

This is because, as Patrick Wolfe wrote, invasion is a process, not an event. It lives today.

This means the problem is not just the anthem. The problem is the invasion and its lived and living consequences. That means the answer is not just refusing to sing the national anthem, although that is a good first step. It is a good way to introduce the invasion and the indigenocide that followed, and continues.

Indigenocide is a combination of genocide, ecocide and ethnocide of native peoples by the invading settler colony. It is destruction in toto.

The refusal of the Origin Four to sing the anthem is an individualistic response to these great historical truths. It is passive part resistance, bringing the reality of life for most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to a wider audience. Some of that rugby league watching audience might be sympathetic.

The anthem represents and expresses the indigenocide. Replacing the anthem with something better does not challenge the system that is indigenocide. It does however raise these issues. Our focus now could be on whether their teammates – from New South Wales and Queensland – join them.

If white players join the protest, they will be expressing solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, and people. It will give us hope we can take the message of indigenocide further, and make the arguments for solutions.

One of those solutions will not be Ken Wyatt, the Noongar man who has just been appointed Minister for Aboriginal People. What better way to continue the systemic indigenocide than have an Aboriginal man appointed to head that Ministry?

It is time for a treaty. It is time to pay the rent. It is time to overthrow the systemic indigenocide of Australian capitalism.

John Passant is a member of the Canberra Press Gallery. Media outlets should contact him if they want to republish this article, to discuss payment details.


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