Voice: Voters want chapter and verse now



The present apology, rehabilitation, Voice and Treaty exercise must be a two way process.

At the moment, all we are hearing from First Australian activists is a series of non-specific demands, based solely on motherhood statements.  

The Federal government is equally blameworthy; voters want chapter and verse now, to enable debate in this important issue. The government stance needs to be spelt out in specific detail ASAP; otherwise ALL proposals will eventually be negated in a referendum, regardless of what present day polls might seem to be saying.

The relevant referendum maxim is always: “If you don’t know, vote NO”. Where would morale be then? 

Perhaps a “reasonable government stance” would be as follows:

• All First Nations to be identified and incorporated, as the first step in the entire process. An official map to be issued. Tindale’s Map was, originally a good guide in showing linguistic affiliation, nowadays it would provoke Brian Bourke style concern and predictable rebuttal. There is a vital need to show the immensity of the recognition that is required. 

• All individual members of Nations need to be named, enrolled on a Register of First Australians, organised and controlled by First Australians. Understandably, many activists will be outraged at such a suggestion;  hopefully, responsible First Australian leaders will acknowledge the need for such a register, initiated and controlled by them; the larger, populous First Nations will demand present-day, per capita compensation.  

There must be the possibility of scrutiny, from all or any quarters, as there will be all sorts of phonies claiming “indigeneity”. Only genuine First Australians are relevant to today’s discussions.  Despite attempts by First Australians and their supporters to align with international issues, we are not talking “blakness”, not even “blackness”; indeed thousands of today’s genuine First Australians are not very black in any case.

But they do have rights to inheritance. We are talking “inheritance” within Australia by authentic  First Australians, i.e., those self-identifying people who can establish genetic evidence of links to their respective nations  – in the continent officially named “Australia” in 1803 – dating back to 1787.

In traditional Aboriginal society, one’s personal identity is determined matrilineally, for mother is obvious in every case; one’s inheritance of “land rights” is usually patrilineal. Nowadays many people, indeed many genuine First Australians “over identify”, quoting affiliation with three or four nations.  Rarely are non-Aboriginal genes mentioned. 

• A “Truth Telling” exercise, along the lines introduced in South Africa, should  be conducted quickly and decisively, in order that young and New Australians may be made aware of the enormity of the dispossession of First Australians since 1788. The findings of such an exercise would best be expressed by the PM, following the example given by Paul Keating in his memorable Redfern Speech.

• An “Academy of First Australians” can be legislated immediately in the Federal parliament, authorised Constitutionally – Section 51 (xxvi) – by the 1967 Referendum. There is no need for any referendum to enable this, so let’s forget the idea.  An Academy of First Australians – elected by First Australian voters – could be legislated immediately, with a prescribed written mandate comparable to L’Académie Française, enabling  a “Voice to the Nation” on all First Australian affairs.

Then a referendum could enshrine such a body in the Constitution, to prevent sackings as PM Howard did with ATSIC.  To continue to insist on a referendum now,  to authorise ” A Voice to Parliament” is surely the Kiss of Death.

• A huge lump compensatory sum will be payable in every case – doing sums like x times population – plus other “hereditary” factors bound to be introduced by the legal advisors to the First Australians.

The precise sums need to be done now, the taxpayers need to be advised up front. Let us be wary at all times of the rogues and crooks. Remember ATSIC – basically an achieving, admirable,  creditable body – ruined by a few fraudulent snouters and nepotists, especially in Victoria and Queensland.

• A name of the new form of land tenure is essential, preferably an Aboriginal term. A task for The Academy. Crucially, leaders of “traditional” nations should agree that such “traditional” land may NEVER be sold.  

Ted Egan

• Government should insist that traditional nations agree to be responsible for all their members at all times.  Correctly,  eminent First Australian leader, Pat Turner says: “Only we can close the Gap / Chasm.” Onyer Pat.  Now there’s an achiever! In positive terms, this includes education, health, legal, cultural and artistic considerations, but also extends to law and order, including incarceration, gaols and rehabilitation centres.

Is a Wiradjuri  person who allegedly committed an offence in Perth to be extradited to Wagga Wagga? Think of the endless, mindless ramifications.

At the moment activists demand a “Voice to Parliament”,  plus what they call a “Makarrata Treaty” – based on purportedly traditional knowledge, claimed by people who have no idea what they are talking about. They can’t even pronounce the word properly! But they shouldn’t bother: the term is hopelessly inappropriate in any case. 

Unless the Prime Minister acts promptly and decisively, I submit that we are heading for absolute disaster.  95% of non-Aboriginal Australian voters will be asked to accord specific powers and rights to 5% of First Australians.

In the privacy of a ballot box? Discerning voters are already asking questions like: Who will do the basic work in these newly-recognised Nations – roads, public facilities, aerodromes, public buildings?  

Who will staff hospitals, schools, aged care centres? Who does what and with which and to whom?  A standard town with acceptable standards of living will be required in every nation, where First Australians will have paramount control.  

A great idea, way to go.  Easy in remote regions, but how do you do this within say Darwin, let alone the big capital cities? Normally such functions are controlled by shire council type bodies, run by experts. It can all be sorted out –and reasonably quickly – if all parties move effectively and quickly. 

 I extend to my many First Australian friends a gesture of good will in your ongoing battles. At 90 years of age I am appreciative of the kindness and generosity extended to me during 70 plus years of contact, work and travel within your traditional homelands. Thank you. I am on your side.

Ngiya yirula, yintanga Murrumungatjimirri, ngindila murantani mantani, ingarrdi kukunari. Waia tua. Mana.

MAP of First Nations © Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.


  1. Thanks Ted. Very thoughtful and worthwhile contribution to the discussion, in my humble view. Rational, logical with important proposals likely to influence and sway the “No” side. Too logical and rational for governments?

  2. It’s a pity that people don’t look around.
    I spent a very meaningful nine years in rural Fiji and was a part of the 100 year celebration in 1974. A long time ago the Fijian chiefs were fighting and eating one another. They asked the Brits for help and everyone sat down around a bowl of Kava and tribal boundaries were determined and legalised into groups with a common ancestor – a Matagali – a family group, so everyone knew where their tribal land was and the fighting stopped.
    Now every Fijian person is registered in a legal document and to which tribal group he or she belongs and which land is theirs.
    My own family were registered into a Matangli before we left that lovely country but their spots have been relinquished as land is limited and we don’t need it.
    Imagine trying to do that here by looking at the map with Ted’s comment.
    But we as a nation are too arrogant to look at other nations who have had similar problems.
    As well we don’t have legal kava.
    Then as Ted points out there are the theorists without a practical solution. I was astounded the other night to hear on ABC radio, a woman claim that our grog problem is directly attributable to the first settlers bringing grape vine cuttings with them! Surely we can raise the debate above that.

  3. And the voters – taxpayers – will demand after this is all said and done a full refund of all their money so far spent on this issue since Australia began, and no further sit down or other expenditure to be envisaged for their exclusive benefit from then on, probably resulting in a net zero on the account books and a fully divided nation: Us and Them.

  4. Not sure what Ted is on about in reference to 1967, which allowed for the Federal government to legislate for Aboriginal people. That was done via referendum, any other change must be done this way too.
    I would totally oppose any admission of a constitutional recognition through a back door process. If it is good enough to happen, it is good enough to be put to the people, like was done in 67.
    My question would be regarding the Sydney to Hobart boat that washed up on mainland Australia.
    The so called TOs of that area claimed that boat as theirs.
    Would any future legislation dealing with an event like this be influenced by a constitutional voice? Would the same apply if your car broke down on Aboriginal land, for example where you need to get a permit to drive the Federal highway through WA from the Rock, would legislation endorsed by the Voice mean you lose your car? A serious question, and from what I have read, a very likely possibility.

  5. The expected constitutional litigation which would come with the Voice to Parliament is far too serious a threat to Australians to ignore.
    ATSIC was proven to be strewn with corruption. It seems the main problem with most Indigenous services is lack of ongoing assessment and auditing. Billions of dollars not properly accounted for. How will the Voice be any different?

  6. @ Ted: Re-write minus these words, “First Nations” and “First Australians”.
    • “All First Nations to be identified and incorporated, as the first step in the entire process. An official map to be issued.”
    Full blood Aboriginals are vastly reduced to a few thousand in northern Australia. Tindale’s maps are obsolete.
    • “All individual members of Nations” – there are no nations.
    • “Thank you. I am on your side.”
    Ngiya yirula, yintanga Murrumungatjimirri, ngindila murantani mantani, ingarrdi kukunari. Waia tua. Mana.]
    What side Ted – which of the 800,000 identifiers?
    Well, I just wasted 20 minutes that I’ll never get back!
    Vote_#NO to APARTHEID.
    giinnagay yaam gumbayngirr jagun

  7. Some points of correction. The only nation which has ever existed on this land is Australia. The 350-500 different groups of peoples here in 1788, without a common language and at war with each other, were not even tribes, let alone nations, but small family clans. Look up the definition of nation.
    Neither did a country called Australia exist until the British named it and created it. The many different peoples who came to be called Aborigines, had different names for their personal hunting areas and there was no common name, no Australia.
    The use of the term First implies a Second and says all those with Aboriginal ancestry, whether 100%, very few of those, to less than 1%, lots of those, are superior as Australians. This is racist and undemocratic.
    The use of a term, First, implies a ranking of superiority in citizens depending on how long they can trace back some of their ancestry, no matter how small.
    In a Westminster democracy it is irrelevant if you became a citizen yesterday or have an ancestor who was here a thousand years ago. Such things may matter in primitive tribal societies but are irrelevant in our modern world.
    So, while Mr Egan is well-meaning and often sensible, his views are sourced in serious errors – there are NO First and Second Nations Australians. There are NO First and Second Australians.
    We are all equal as citizens and there is no need for a racist, undemocratic extra vote and voice for the minuscule number of Australians who have some Aboriginal ancestry.
    Anyone who thinks Australia needs to be divided into those with and those without Aboriginal ancestry, for any reason, is a racist.
    We know the only answer is assimilation because the vast majority of Australians with Aboriginal ancestry are doing fine, as well, often better than the average with the same lives and outcomes. Those struggling, a tiny minority, are dysfunctional because they are the least assimilated into the modern world and remain trapped in backward tribal systems.
    We do not need to support what is called traditional Aboriginal lifestyles, but to integrate and assimilate everyone into the modern world so their children have a future. We all once lived such primitive tribal lives but moved on. Time for those few with Aboriginal ancestry who are not assimilated to move on.

  8. There were historically no First Nations pre 1788. Not even the Mabo challenge claimed nation status.
    Natives from various ethnic groups moved around country seizing weaker groups resources including women.
    Not one First Nation claimant can prove to be the very first on any country.
    Today Aboriginal peoples are a majority mixed race incorporating European and other DNA and culture, abandoning traditional cultural values and practices.
    We see in Cape York people who are majority islanders claiming native title on mainland Australia and people claiming to be descendants of extinct tribes resurrected gaining control of billions of dollars in realestate.
    Aboriginals living on country who maintained traditional life from the time of first outside contact should have tribal land protected. Finding any group who had not taken a benefit from the public purse would be an interesting challenge!
    I see zero advantage to public interest in a race based amendment in the Constitution.
    Apartheid never works. The majority of stake holder administration representatives will be more white then black who hold only a contemporary (Disney land) connection to traditional Aboriginals and country. The money will be channeled to their interest and not generally directed to serving the needs of black Aboriginals in isolated communities. You only have to looked at the Yes vote advocates history to see that!
    All Australians should be equal under law and society should have provisions for a hand up and not a hand out to those who require support.

  9. Ted Egan is experienced in the issue but he too makes the mistake of thinking that encouraging people to remain in backward tribal systems is a functional answer. It is not.
    In our wonderful country which the British created and called Australia, there is no First and Second, no Them and Us, no Superior and Inferior, just Australians.

  10. @ Rod Morrison: There is no-one with Aboriginal ancestry, a lot or a little, who maintains a traditional life and there has not been for centuries.
    The first Aborigine to accept or steal an iron axe or a blanket was assimilating and moving into the modern world and discarding traditional life.
    All those called Aboriginal in communities live in Western houses with modern facilities, albeit even if they trash them, telephones, cars, shops, medical services etc.
    There is nothing traditional about their lives except for the primitive and backward rules and violence which are endemic to patriarchal tribal systems.

  11. English is the language of Australia. If you are going to use one of the few dozen dialects or languages from one of the hundreds of different Aboriginal tribes then please provide a translation. No-one has the faintest idea what this means:
    Ngiya yirula, yintanga Murrumungatjimirri, ngindila murantani mantani, ingarrdi kukunari. Waia tua. Mana.
    Not even most Australians with Aboriginal ancestry. To not give a translation makes it pure theatre.

  12. It is sad that most of the respondents in this comments section only use one of their senses when dealing with the problem at hand. The sense of sight. If you where to sit down and learn from the Indigenous Australians you would understand the deep knowledge and culture that would improve all of our lives.
    Instead we must live in a world of marketing and bright shiny things that so called successful people treasure. They call themselves educated but in reality they are institutionalised.
    Their way of life destroys the land we are living on. If we had the climate of northern Europe then I could understand why they want all of these bright and shiny European things. In this part of the world the weather is not severe enough to required the lifestyle of those in northern Europe.
    The corruption in ATSIC was formulated by whites. So many examples of institutionalised whites promising the world and then giving lip service to those promises.
    The Katita land claim is one of many examples. Handback is another, you can have your land back only if you lease it back to the institutionalised European only interested in the movement of money. So lame and shallow.
    Indigenous culture is much deeper than the Europeans’. The Indigenous live like they do today because of European intervention of telling instead of listening. They did not choose it but have had it forced upon them.
    As a blonde haired, blue eyed middle aged man whose family came over in 1794 on the second fleet. I ask all those opposed to a treaty and a voice to pull your heads out of your bums.
    You are not educated, just institutionalised.

  13. Some of the notions above, both in Ted Egan’s comment and the responses to it, are far-fetched and singularly unhelpful in the debate about the Voice, which is the sole focus of the upcoming referendum. Truth and treaty processes may follow, but there will be no question about them in the referendum.
    What the Voice referendum will propose is a constitutionally enshrined advisory body to the parliament, to be listened to on matters affecting Australian Indigenous peoples.
    There is no suggestion of the Voice running a separate administration, let alone multiple separate administrations for “newly recognised Nations”.
    There is no suggestion of the Voice running budgets for these purported administrations, not even running the budget for Indigenous-identified expenditure.
    There is no suggestion of separate justice systems.
    All these matters will remain for duly-elected parliaments to decide. The Voice will only be able to offer advice.
    Questions about “who will do the work?” that Mr Egan suggests are being asked by “discerning voters” can only be in the minds of misled voters.
    The national parliament will be the ultimate decider on how the Voice will be structured and how its membership will be elected. Of course, it would make no sense for it to ignore what Indigenous Australians have to say on these issues.
    Bob Beadman recently, and most usefully, pointed out what the Australian Constitution has to say about the High Court – little more than that there would be one. The detail of its operation was left to the parliament.
    Our parliament and democratic institutions are surely robust enough to be able to work constructively with an advisory body to hopefully ensure better, fairer decisions being made for the peoples who are, undeniably by their heritage, the First Australians.

  14. Very interesting reading to say the least. A common Irish saying is: “To be sure, to be sure.”
    I feel they and us Aussies should vote, NO, to be sure.
    A light comment, to a very serious stage of Australia’s political and social history.

  15. Ted Egan should know better. He is not on the side of Aboriginal and Torress Strait Islander peoples (ATSI) one little bit.
    Ted’s disappointing nonsense could define him as saboteur of what could be a profound, soul defining moment in the Australian nation. Ted’s comments are nothing but a white privileged mindset that has benefitted from invasion through a narrow lens of superiority and paternalistic knowing of what’s best for the natives.
    Ted the Constitution of Australia is all about principle and motherhood statements. Your political experience does not excuse you from asserting ignorance in your arguments. You are blinded by your own sense of place in the NT.
    The apology for stolen generation is not a two-way street. Try and imagine being taken away from your family because of the colour of your skin in the attempt of eradicating your culture, family and assimilating you into a systemic whitefella mainstream that saw you as a problem.
    Eradication was in the mind of many. Yes, genocide.
    The “exercise” as you describe it is a two-way street. In fact, ATSI people are being more than generous in the Statement from the Heart. Have you read the report as provided by Minister Ken Wyatt re the Voice? It is comprehensive and supported as a bipartisanship “exercise” toward Voice, Recognition, Treaty and Truth Telling.
    Given a bit more time we will all become aware of the full content and context of what we will be voting for, together, to change a Constitution that was originally written without the First Peoples in mind.
    Wouldn’t you agree that makes it a document that does not include all and therefore lacking fundamentally?
    Get on board Ted. It is a shame that you put forward an approach that further alienates a whole group of people by your negative and accusatory use of words like “activists”, calling for “non specific demands”, whatever that means, and then you demanding chapter and verse of what is proposed.
    C’mon Ted. You know better. Stop the attempt to sabotage by making the process impossible.
    You know that Parliament determines the bills, the processes and the laws to operate.
    All that is being asked is for the people of Australia to acknowledge the unique place of ATSI peoples place on this land we call Australia and to allow them an advisory Voice in matters that affect them. It’s the right thing to do and which I believe will enhance all our lives.
    Your plan for progress is not yours to decide, that will be done by the Parliament through a fair and democratic process with ATSI peoples whose cultures and livelihood were decimated by our illegal occupation.
    It was illegal Ted, yet you fear the implications of our wrongdoing with an unhealthy paranoia that misinforms. We as the Australian people need to rectify wrongs and find ways in which to unite and bond. Our differences can be celebrated in a united and fair future for all.
    Blakness is not about colour, Ted. I know us settlers did indeed try to breed the Black out however we missed the point.
    If a person has any degree of ancestral blood flowing through their veins on their lands I would imagine the ancestors would own them while you wouldn’t.
    That kind of racism does not belong in this country. It is archaic and destructive. Just like the new apartheid alcohol laws that suggest that you can have a drink in your home while your neighbours in a town camp can’t. Why?
    You and I Ted do not think the way ATSI people think. You may think that in your 90 years, and after all those years of lived experience with ATSI peoples, that you do.
    I can assure you your permutations and computations do not belong in this scenario. It’s not ours to determine in a colonial mindset that has failed indigenous peoples throughout the world.
    Vote Yes to the referendum to allow ATSI peoples to find a way through the nightmare that we have provided them with.
    One day I hope that our contribution as non ATSI people can be positive and allow ATSI to continue their dreaming’s without fear and on their terms.
    Michael Gravener

  16. Kieran: Everything you say is spot on. You are being very kind to the Federal government; for the last fifty years governments of all persuasions neglected their responsibility to assist First Australian people to rehabilitate themselves and their culture on their terms in their respective traditional areas.
    We must keep in mind that the delegates who signed the Uluru Statement sought not merely a Voice to Parliament: they also demanded – and I use the word advisedly – Truth Telling and a Treaty, which they inadvisedly call a Makarrata. They can’t even pronounce the word accurately. They certainly have no idea what they are talking about.
    I am probably the only non-Aboriginal alive who has witnessed an actual Makarrta (note spelling). That was in 1957 and the payback recriminations of that particular event are still prolific today in Arnhem Land, 60 years later.
    If a Treaty in any form was to eventuate eventually, are you suggesting that there won’t be a demand for substantial financial compensation?
    I support totally the aims of my many First Australian friends to seek reconciliation and REAL justice after almost 240 years of exploitation, but let’s do it realistically.
    There will be no winners unless all the cards are on the table.

  17. @ Ted Egan: You certainly have a wealth of experience and that is why I and perhaps others would be keen to have a comprehensive description of the reality of the following statement:
    “After almost 240 years of exploitation …”
    How were the many different peoples here in 1788, first called Indians, then Natives and finally Aborigines exploited for 240 years?
    And how did this happen since they were made British citizens (subjects) within a short time of the British arriving, with rights in law and particular attention paid to helping them survive and join the modern world?
    Yes, they were colonised but everyone has been colonised, the British a dozen times. And Aboriginal peoples also colonised but they did not make those they found citizens, but, as stone-age humans did, wiped them out apart from a few useful females.
    So, what was or is this 240 year old exploitation and how is it that the majority of Australians with Aboriginal ancestry are doing fine, as well as and at times better than the average, if they have been so exploited?

  18. @ Roslyn Ross: Despite the fact that Aboriginal people were made British subjects, there are numerous examples, at least in Queensland, where I’ve studied the history, where various clan / family groups were moved off traditional land onto government reserves and received by mission stations, often to the latter’s protest on behalf of these people, at the whim of European population expansion.
    As a consequence, Aboriginal families were broken up (“torn apart” is a regular phrase used to describe their removal).
    Massacres occurred between Aboriginal people, the black native police and certain, but not all settlers.
    Some Aboriginal people were employed and escaped the appalling fate of some of their kin. Many were incarcerated without medical assistance. Tuberculosis and exotic disease claimed lives.
    Putting some of this historical evidence together gives reason for present felt-memory of government intransigence and/or ineptitude. It’s an extremely complex situation which requires on-going discussion as the referendum approaches.
    Boning up on the history is productive, but the alcohol industry remains a major culprit over the past fifty years, at least.
    I believe, like others, that it will bankrupt the NT and destroy the quality of life for all. It’s a nightmare scenario for many of my friends and similar to the situation that existed for survivors on N’gari (Fraser Island) in the mid-19th century.

  19. Roslyn Ross: Question 1. First Australians have been exploited, principally dispossessed by doctrines / policies like “terra nullius” and the (once official, mandated) White Australia Policy.
    Question 2. Words like “Indians” were based on British ignorance. Words like “Natives” and “Aboriginals” were honest attempts to define their prior presence in Australia.
    The Aboriginals (with a capital A) are the “aborigines” = first people of Australia.
    Insulting words like “abo” and “nigger” were once, regrettably, used to infer that they were a sub-species. The 1901 Federal Constitution can be labelled a “racist document” in that it decreed that
    “Aboriginal natives” would not be counted in the National Census.
    Question 3. You are right that, over the years, citizenship rights have been granted to various people in different states, but those rights were removable at the whim of various governments. Nonetheless, since the 1960s – and before the 1967 referendum – all discriminatory legislation in Australia has been revoked. But the hereditary rights of First Australians have never adequately been recognised. Let’s hope the present debates come to terms with that abysmal shortcoming. Let’s have debates, not demands.
    In summary, yes, many First Australian people are doing very well, thanks to their own efforts, assisted by a good education system and taking up the many opportunities to work positively for the well-being of their own people and indeed, Australia.
    They deserve realistic support.

  20. Michael Gravener: I’ll forgive the defamatory tone of your submission. Nginta ingarrdi kunyani mantani. But you are entitled to your opinions and it is good that you have put your cards on the table. Debate is what is required.
    So I’ll leave it to readers to consider the various issues that have to be discussed. My track record suggests that I am “onside” with First Australians, many of whom delight in being referred to as activists.

  21. @ Ted Egan. Your reply to Roslyn … stop while you were ahead in your original article to the News.

  22. Ted, Aboriginals were counted in the Census and provided death certificates and recorded by the Aboriginal Protectorate. No 4094, 1914 Polly and No 21461, 1915 Polly QLD BDM are just two examples.
    The White Australia Policy was immigration legislation.
    Aboriginals are varied ethnic bloodlines and held there own “skin colour“ culture.
    Aboriginals competed for resources including the seizing and trading of women and girls.
    Aboriginals benefited from becoming British citizens, one example was the eventual halt of the practice of cultural infanticide still recorded as practiced in the Red Centre in 1935. Thousands of infants were saved.
    Aboriginals did invade over Aboriginal country and conducted genocide wiping out entire tribes. This was witnessed and recorded by Kennett in his report 1867 (QSL).
    Aboriginals were not recorded as fauna under and government policy nor was there any colonial, state or colonial government legislation to remove black children from family units because of race or to fracture Aboriginal society.
    I think Mr Egan should go back and check his research!

  23. @ Ted Egan, you said: First Australians have been exploited, principally dispossessed by doctrines / policies like “terra nullius” and the (once official, mandated) White Australia Policy.
    Incorrect on both counts.
    I am astonished that you have no knowledge of what “terra nullias” meant and that it was NEVER applied to the settlement of Australia.
    Let alone the the white Australia policy was an immigration policy to stop Asians coming in and taking the jobs of ALL Australians (aka British Subjects till 1948) including Aborigines.

  24. @ Rodney Morrison: “… nor was there any colonial, state or colonial government legislation to remove black children from family units because of race or to fracture Aboriginal society.”
    An astounding claim. Just because government legislation existed, did not mean that it was practised when it was expedient to ignore.
    The Stolen Generation is so-called because of the removal of “half-caste” children from families in the Darwin area as recommended by Professor Baldwin Spencer as late as the early decades of the 20th century: See The 1997 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Bringing Them Home. Chapter 9, and the history of N’Gari (Fraser Island), where the Butchulla were despatched a thousand miles north to Yarrabah.
    Aboriginal people lived under “the Act” in Qld. They were “protected” from unscrupulous employers, but their movement was checked.
    See the history of Palm Island.
    It was worse in Western Australia where marriage partners were controlled by government regulation. This is less than a hundred years ago and in living memory for a predominantly oral culture.
    @ Narelle Ryan: “I am astonished that you have no knowledge of what “terra nullias” meant and that it was NEVER applied to the settlement of Australia.”
    Terra Nullius (Nobody’s Land) was annulled by the 1976 NT Land Rights legislation under English Common Law and so on through Mabo, but freehold is unclaimable under Native Title.
    “Let alone the white Australia policy was an immigration policy to stop Asians coming in and taking the jobs of ALL Australians (aka British Subjects till 1948) including Aborigines.”
    Many Aborigines were living on mission stations at the time, having been rounded up and removed as explained in my earlier post.
    The history of that movement is detailed in One Blood by John Harris. It’s a good book. Highly recommended and available within the public library system.

  25. Aboriginals in Queensland were relocated to missions to provide education, rations and better living conditions. Many walked in on their own.
    This was based on the recommendation of the then Aboriginal Protectorate Archibald Meston.
    In Cape York many tribes people walked for miles to migrate to Cowal Creek, leaving behind their traditional country to a new settlement founded by Aboriginal people and then taken over over by government administration. Many worked in the colonial economy or had there own pearling boasts provided by loan from government resources.
    Half cast children were not removed if they lived in secure environments. They were provided opportunities for education.
    As anthropologist Haddon recorded in his cultural works many infants became the victims of cultural infanticide.
    Mabo cited Haddon’s cultural works to win his High Court Land Rights argument.
    I doubt anyone can provide one primary source or government document showing that any child was simply stolen from a family based on race.

  26. We must look at the period of the invasion and colonisation.
    At the time, on other side of the world, the working conditions that working-class people faced were known to include: long hours of work (12-16 hour shifts), low wages that barely covered the cost of living, and workplaces with little or no rights. These conditions were difficult for all workers but especially so for children.
    Until the last one hundred years or so, all across Europe children were considered by most societies to be the property of their parents.
    They had little protection from governments who viewed children as having no human or civil rights outside of their parents’ wishes.
    With no laws to protect children, this meant they had few rights and were badly treated.
    Seen as simply the property of their parents, many children were abandoned, abused and even bought and sold.
    Thought to be born evil, children needed to be corrected, punished and made to become good citizens.
    So we must reflect on those facts and realise it was not only Aborigines or half casts who were mistreated.

  27. I can only echo Ted Egan “words fail me!”
    I thought we’d moved on from our ethnocentric colonial superiority complex.
    The Malthusian assumptions and stereotypes. I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned canibalism. Fair go you mob. I’m often reminded of what Kim Beazley Sr said many decades ago: “In Australia, our ways have mostly produced disaster for the Aboriginal people. I suspect that only when their right to be distinctive is accepted, will policy become creative.”

  28. Terrific stuff Ted! A man who has done it all in both worlds.
    Unfortunately, there are few survivors now, with your experience, hard yards, and wisdom. There does, however seem to be a lot of “experts” with little real background, or experience, who seem to know it all.
    I guess this is a normal human frailty. Good to see an “Old Fella” continuing to have a go, where it is important. Anyone who brought Aussie Rules to Aboriginal people in the Territory has my undying admiration!
    What a wonderful contribution to what it really should be about – bringing us all closer together.
    We have much to offer each other in this great country, and you realised this, as did many of your peers and colleagues, so many years ago.

  29. @ Rodney Morrison: Your opening sentence is a gross generalisation that cuts across the complexity of Christian Mission history, e.g., Palm Island, N’gari (Fraser) Island and Barambah (Cherbourg) in Queensland: see my history of the Daintree Mission Baptised Among Crocodiles (pub. 2000) in which Aboriginal people give reports of children hidden from police visiting camps in the Mossman area.
    Archibald Meston was a broken man towards the end of his career, over-ruled by the Queensland Government on certain projects dear to his heart: see N’gari history.
    Re your doubts about government legislation and child removal, once again, governments did not always do what they legislated when it came to Aboriginal policy.
    Corruption existed, as it does today: see the numerous trials of police, mostly acquitted, except for the Myall Creek massacre near Inverell, Coniston (NT) and Bingera (Qld), etc.
    Aranda sacred sites in Alice Springs were destroyed by roadworks in 1984, despite legislation: see also recent mining operations in the Kimberly and NT.
    Abominable cultural practice was/is universal. Social Darwinism and eugenics sought to assimilate Aboriginal people into the mainstream in the early decades of last century.
    Phrenology sent skulls around the world for whitefellers to study, but those things are behind.
    Time to move on and look at the devastation caused by present government alcohol policy in the states, while considering the merits of accommodating constitutional amendment for the Voice proposal.

  30. The issue in the constitutional recognition debate is about recognising that there were people in Australia when Europeans arrived to colonise it.
    There is no possible doubt that the Australian Aborigines were in Australia when Europeans arrived. Whether there were people in Australia before them is irrelevant to the recognition of Aboriginal people in the Constitution.


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