Guess who's making things moving on Closing the Gap?


There has been some disagreement in Alice Springs recently over Utopia, a film focusing on the Intervention and other incidents in Australia’s history by internationally acclaimed film maker and author, John Pilger.
For some it approached gospel. For others it was a rant. I am unable to comment either way on that as I purposely did not see the film. My reason for not attending is that since it appeared in the last days of the Howard government, I have read many articles on the Intervention, including a few by Mr Pilger. I have always found his take on that initiative too biased to be credible, although to give him his due, he is in good company.
Thanks to their unswerving criticism of the Intervention, I first stopped being a contributing member of Amnesty International, and then cancelled my membership outright.
I had given up on the other main apologists for Utopia and critics of the Intervention, The Greens, long before the Intervention appeared.
I wonder if some of the present controversy surrounding the film is being fed as much by a fear of our current Prime Minister as by a residual loathing of the Intervention and how it was implemented.
Immediately upon being elected Leader of the then Opposition, the underestimation of Tony Abbott began. He was dismissed as an unelectable Mad Monk, a misogynist and, in all likelihood, a closet racist.
Contradicting this last fear, and largely ignored by most, was his annual trek north to work on remote communities in Cape York during Parliament’s winter break.
How galling it must be for some, and how encouraging for others, to watch him first take what has often been a poor country cousin of a portfolio, Indigenous Affairs, and bring it within his own Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Next he gathered a stellar cast of outspoken indigenous leaders and activists, including academic Marcia Langton, inspirational Noel Pearson and former National President of the ALP, Warren Mundine, and asked them and others to work with him to improve the lot of indigenous Australians.
It would be good, but given the disagreement surrounding Pilger’s film perhaps unlikely, to see the activists driving indigenous affairs here in the Centre openly embrace any changes coming to the fields of indigenous education, health and employment.
And can anyone doubt changes are coming? Say what you will about our PM, but he does have form for delivering on his stated goals.
He may even, given a bit of luck and a fair political wind, manage to have Australia’s first inhabitants finally recognised in the Australian Constitution.
As he has said, that would not so much be a change as a completion. Surely on that, if on nothing else, we could put aside our differences and unite to make it happen.


  1. @Ralph Folds
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 10:24 am
    I’m not sure what part of my article you consider ironic, but to clarify, no irony was intended. I meant every word to be taken as it was written.
    To restate – I didn’t see Pilger’s film for the reasons stated, and I do look for good things to come from Abbott’s pro-active approach to indigenous affairs.
    Irony could well come into it if writing about climate change. I fully fail to understand where our PM is coming from on that one, and it does scare me a bit.
    Or with the spying, but I put that down to the Yanks. A good line in irony could be worked up by noting that when bedding down with a dominant partner, anyone might find themselves asked to do things they might otherwise shy away from. Price to pay, and all that.


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