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John Passant

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January 2013



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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)



Australia Day celebrates genocide

I posted this last year, and the year before, in slightly edited forms. The message is timeless because the genocide and racism are ongoing.



If Wikileaks teaches us anything it is that our leaders lie. And lie. And lie.

Australia Day will be no different. Bourgeois clichés about the lucky country (what irony!) and our great nation will compete with bullshit about our brave soldiers overseas and how we all in  this together. 

It’s time for some truth about our genocidal and racist history. As George Orwell said, and Wikileaks emphasises, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

Australia has a black history.

For 65000 years Aboriginal people lived here in harmony with themselves and the environment.  Australia Day does not recognise that proud history and prior stewardship. It whitewashes this history by celebrating the arrival of a bunch of neocolonialists and their convicts and guards a mere 224 years ago.

Australia is built on the bones of aboriginal people.

Our country is trapped in its genocidal history. Henry Reynolds estimates that, between 1788 and 1920, 20,000 Aboriginal people fell defending their land in an ongoing war against the invaders. The Indigenous population dropped from 300,000 at the time of the invasion to 70,000 130 years later.

Many of these people died because of disease, itself a consequence of the invasion, but they also died as a result of the consequences that flow from genocide and dispossession – murder, poverty, alienation, loss of social structure, alcoholism, racism, lack of food, stolen generations to name a few.

Genocide against Aboriginal people is one theme that runs through the history of the last 224 years. The failure to recognise that genocide is another ongoing theme.

The myth of Australia Day – of Australia as some sort of peacefully settled country – reflects the white bourgeoisie’s attempts to airbrush its brutal role from history.  It is also about lulling working people into a mistaken belief they have an interest in the present economic system, that we are all in this big one happy family together.  

Aborigines were not passive victims of the white invasion. In and around Sydney, for example, Pemulwuy was a famous freedom fighter defending his land and life. From 1790 to 1802 he waged a sporadic, and then more concerted, guerrilla war against the white invaders.

In 1801 Governor King ordered that Aborigines around Parramatta, Georges River and Prospect could be shot on sight. Late in the year he offered a reward for Pemulwuy’s death or capture. That ‘worked’. Pemulwuy’s killers decapitated him and sent his head to England in alcohol.

There are many other Indigenous freedom fighters we whites ignore; fighters who in a less racist society would be honoured for their stance and the courage of their resistance. Where are our monuments to these fallen heroes?

It was Marx who wrote that the tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the mind of the living. This is true in two senses for Aborigines.

First the consequences of the invasion continue today. The war against Aborigines, what I describe as genocide, has fundamentally alienated many Aboriginal people from their land, their identity, their culture and themselves. For example there is a shocking 10-year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

The second aspect of being trapped by the past is that the policies of dispossession and genocide are being implemented even today.

The Howard Government invaded the Northern Territory in 2007 to further the destruction of our Indigenous people’s links to their land and culture. 1788 is being repeated today.

Disgracefully the Rudd and Gillard Labor Governments continued Howard’s racist Northern Territory intervention, an invasion clearly aimed at further dispossession of aboriginal people and their complete subjugation to the dictates of their white masters around grog, what they can buy, how much they can spend and whose land it really is.

The Stolen Generations represented an attempt to wipe out Aborigines through forced assimilation.

The Bringing Them Home Report on the Stolen Generations says that the past is very much with us today, in the continuing devastation of the lives of Indigenous Australians.

The report clearly recognises that removing children from their parents in order to wipe out the Aboriginal race is genocide. It says:

Systematic racial discrimination and genocide must not be trivialised and Australia’s obligation under international law to make reparations must not be ignored.

Far from being socially divisive, reparations are essential to the process of reconciliation.

I would suggest to ‘left-wing’ Labor Party Minister Macklin that she re-read the report and implement its recommendations: recommendations that for years festered in the bowels of John Howard’s mind and have remained undigested in the constipation that is the ALP.

Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations was symbolism substituting for action.  It is clear that Rudd and now Gillard have no intention of taking the apology its next logical step,a step Roland Wilson urged in his Stolen Generations report – reparations for this attempted genocide.

Land rights at present are a sop to big business and the racist mentality that aborigines will steal our backyards.

I have been struck  by another solution, encapsulated in a Midnight Oil song called Beds are Burning. Peter Garrett sang:

The time has come
To say fair’s fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact’s a fact
It belongs to them
Let’s give it back

Exactly Peter. Let’s pursue real land rights in the context of fundamental reconciliation, because reconciliation is about more than a half-hearted apology aimed at disguising the lack of action.

For overseas readers, Garrett is now a committed member of the Gillard Labor Ministry and such words no longer pass his lips.  He has sold out.  

It is not the man who changes the system but the system that changes the man.  Or maybe it is a case of the host taking over the parasite.

Like the warriors of old, Aborigines today will need to fight for justice. Appealing to the good nature of all Australians will not work. Relying on Gillard and Macklin will not work.

Now is the time for Aboriginal people and their millions of supporters to mobilise and force the ‘Labor’ Government to recompense the stolen generation, withdraw the troops and others from the Northern Territory, introduce land rights that recognise prior ownership and set up a system of compensation for the loss of sovereignty.

The equal love campaign with its large and vibrant demonstrations has put gay marriage on the agenda. Without that campaign the issue would not even be on the horizon. land rights is not at the forefront of most people’s ideas about political priorities.

Demonstrations like the one of 1500 people today in Canberra marking the 40th anniversary of the Tent Embassy and with lively chants for land rights can bring the issue back into sight and change government approaches. (I will report back later today on this site on the demo.) 

Aborigines have never ceded sovereignty to the colonial invaders. There must be a treaty recognising prior ownership and all the legal, social and financial responsibilities that flow from that. Just as importantly there has to be aboriginal management of aboriginal affairs.

None of this will be won by petitions, or electing aboriginal people to Parliament, or relying on Labor. As the Arab Spring shows, only struggle from below offers the chance of changing the world.

That means to me uniting the struggle for aboriginal liberation with the struggle for the liberation of all humanity – the fight for socialism.

Australia Day perpetuates the country’s ‘founding’ racist myths and is part of the system that enslaves our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters and as a consequence, all of us here. In the spirit of true reconciliation let’s abolish this celebration of genocide. Let’s instead celebrate the 65000 years of indigenous history and stewardship of this land. Recognise aboriginal sovereignty, negotiate a treaty and pay the rent. It is time to fight for justice.

Watch this if you have a spare five minutes. Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this video contains images of people who have died



Comment from Lorikeet
Time January 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

As far as I’m concerned, Australia Day is a good time to put the horrors of the past behind us. That includes the racial and religious ideologies that divide us.

We should move forward as a united Australian population, with the same rights and responsibilities for all, with no one stirring up trouble.

It’s important to remember that we are now living in 2013 and that Australia now has a very diverse population. If the country was still “owned” solely by aborigines, they would be the only ones sitting on the seat of power.

Aboriginal peoples have benefitted greatly from the white man’s education system, along with many other modern commodities and opportunities. Sure, some bad things have happened in the past, but now we are moving into the future.

Comment from mkassoc
Time January 21, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Lorikeet’s comments probably reflect the feelings of most Australians.
Your comment that ..For 65000 years Aboriginal people lived here in harmony with themselves and .. is not correct.
There were over 100 different aboriginal tribes and dialects. These tribes did fight amongst themselves or were at war with each other.
If you read the logs of Mathew Flinders you will appreciate that many of the “invaders’ appreciated the aboriginal race and culture and did not set out to wipe out the aborigines.
You keep perpetrating the “invasion” theory- a ridiculous argument in these times. Countries of whole world have been “invaded” and settled throughout recorded history.
I for one, am tired of being lumped into the category of an invader and racist.

Comment from Kay
Time January 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

I endorse the comments of both Lorikeet and mkassoc.

Enough already with the ‘invasion’! As mkassoc says, there is probably not a country in the world that has not been ‘invaded’ time and time again! Do you want to go as far back as the ‘Out of Africa’ times? If you do, then all countries have seen many ‘invasions’.

Let’s look forward and try to ensure that ALL citizens have equal opportunities to have satisfying and fulfilling lives. Constantly talking about ‘the invasion’ does nothing to achieve that.

Comment from Berengere
Time January 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Australia Day is a celebration of racism and negationism. Proud to be Australian? Then celebrate Federation Day – even if it’s on the 1st of January!! Actually think about it, making that decision on a 26th of January and that day could become a reconciliation day, then you wouldn’t loose a holiday and an occasion for bbq and booze!
Other countries around the world have heavier history, longer history too, but they’re trying a tiny bit harder to acknowledge the dark history and to do the right thing when harm has been done. It takes a long long time yes, but blinding your eyes is basically saying you do not recognise that part of history, basically saying whatever happened in the past belongs to the past. Well, if world history was interpreted in this Australian way, there’ll be trouble, just think second world war and how it could be reinterpreted, oh but wait no you can’t do that, white Australians were involved right? so you can’t touch that part of history…?? makes me fuming!
Also, moving away from that invasion day tightly linked to British history would actually gives some particularity to Australia, some identity, finally…

Comment from Kay
Time January 24, 2013 at 7:21 am


Which exactly are those countries that are “trying a tiny bit harder to acknowledge the dark history and to do the right thing when harm has been done.”?

In Europe and the Middle East, for example, there is such a long history of ‘invasions’, over thousands of years, that even unraveling that history is very difficult. S**t happens!

Surely it is much more important to concentrate on the living, and try to improve their lives? Most of the original white “invaders” of Australia were sent out here for trivial crimes, often just to provide food for their starving families – and mainly to provide labour to create a far-flung prison – surely they too were badly done by? Should their descendants too be asking for apologies and reparations? I think not. Just move on!

Comment from John
Time January 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

Yes, let’s sweep the genocide under the carpet and then we can continue to talk about improving people’s lives without actually doing anything about ti. That is the whole point of historical denial like yours Kay, to avoid the real issues and refuse to acknowledge prior ownership and the ened to develop a treaty, negotiate sovereignty and pay the rent to our indigenous brothers and sisters.

Comment from Kay
Time January 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

“Denial” means denying that something happened. Certainly the Aboriginal populations were decimated by disease, and in many cases, deliberately killed to get rid of ‘a problem’ – all very sad and despicable. But pray tell, how do you propose we “pay rent”?

Improving the lives of indigenous people is a very complex issue – especially given the extraordinarily wide range of living conditions and ambitions of indigenous people across Australia. There are the huge differences between urban indigenous people (most of whom live lives not unlike those lived by the non-indigenous population) and those who live more traditional Aboriginal lifestyles in many regional areas of Australia, a proportion of whom do not even speak English. There have been many genuine attempts to improve the lives of indigenous people across Australia, but all attempts appear to have limited success. And it is not even possible for indigenous people themselves to agree on which initiatives should be taken etc.. So exactly what solution do you propose that would gain the agreement of all, or even a majority of, indigenous and non-indigenous people, and would improve the lives of indigenous people?

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