What is exceptional about Australia?

A year or so ago I was asked to write a chapter for a book on Australian ‘exceptionalism’ by the book’s editor, William Coleman, whose father Peter was my local MLA when I lived in Sydney. William is a well regarded reader in economics at the ANU. I was tempted, but I had a lot of other writing on my plate, and finally said he should try others. Well, he did, and they include Geoff Blainey, Henry Ergas, Nick Cater, Phil Lewis and John Nethercote.  The book is out (Only in Australia. The History, Politics and Economics of Australian Exceptionalism, published  by OUP), and a most interesting book it is, too.

What is ‘exceptionalism’? The authors aren’t talking about ‘God’s laboratory experiment with marsupials’, or the prevalence of the long weekend, or the likelihood that our indigenous people have lived in the one continent right through an ice age and its melting. Coleman says that the most salient features of our exceptionalism are a tightly regulated labour market, a transfer system that relies on direct taxation and means testing, a facade of federalism concealing a strong unitary state, the prominence and power of a bureaucratic elite, not only in our civil serve but in the multitude of statutory authorities we have, and a big set of ‘electoral peculiarities’. What is more, he thinks we are pursuing our own course while many other comparator countries are doing something else, and together. We might be better off looking hard at what they are doing.

One obvious response is something like ‘How much does it matter?’, or ‘Isn’t every country special in some way?’ Coleman dismisses these objections in what I thought a somewhat cavalier way, and in the end I decided that I would read to learn what I could about areas with most of which I used to be familiar. It was a productive and often enjoyable journey which I recommend to others. Coleman has a  somewhat contorted style, but also the capacity to lodge an idea in your mind. To give an example, ‘Any system of proprieties reigns by silences as much as by pronouncements: some things are not to be spoken of.’ I liked that. He had in mind A. F. Davies’s remark that Australia is ‘acutely bureaucratised’. Coleman suggests that Davies has never been forgiven by some of his peers for that statement, just as the influence of unions is never mentioned in studies of public administration here, and that corruption in state utilities never gets reported in the academic journals. I’m not sure about any of this, but I’ve stored away the notion of reigning by silence. It is an aspect of political correctness, and as I delved further into the book I could see that the authors generally were rather tired of the current left/progressive account of contemporary Australia.

What do they offer? Geoff Blainey always writes well — for you the reader, not for the academics who by and large have criticised him, and in some cases ostracised him. If you had only one chapter to read, try this one. It is his personal view, and finishes with the judgment that Australia is one of the most experimental and most exceptional countries in the history of the modern world. But [he says] historians cannot readily agree on the question: which exceptional episodes should be applauded or regretted? William Coleman enlarges his account with a second chapter, about theories of Australian exceptionalism. If we are exceptional, then what is ‘normal’, and where do we find it? Good questions. Russel Ward, Louis Hartz both saw the exceptionalism as a consequence of the land and the new settlers’ reaction to it. W. K. Hancock wrote a book in 1930 about Australia, and for him what was characteristic was the tension between individualism and collectivism. Foo Davies took that a little further by proposing that the outcome was bureaucratisation, for which Australians had a strange talent. All this reminded me that when I lectured at the Australian Command and Staff College I used to start with the claim that the new society at Port Jackson was the world’s first modern state: it was highly authoritarian, one hundred per cent urban, and run by the state. What disturbs Coleman is that we seem to stuck in a way that is not to our advantage, and we are conservative enough to like it that way.

Greg Melleuish and Stephen Chavur provide a chapter suggesting that we were more Christian than we thought — not really secular at all — but that now Protestantism has declined as Britishness has declined: the old nexus of religion, politics, and culture has been effectively broken. I think they’re right. They don’t know where this will all end, and neither do I. Henry Ergas, for whom I have a lot of time, offers a long chapter on Hancock and de Tocqueville, which I enjoyed without quite knowing, at the end, where it was going. De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is altogether a more substantial book than Hancock’s Australia. Hancock knew the other work well, and its themes recur in his own. De Tocqueville worried about where unbridled democracy would lead the new society, while Hancock felt Australians all too easily looked to government to sort out their problems, a popular theme today, at least on the right. They would therefore miss the opportunity to build what I called in my writings ‘the Australia project’, establishing a new society free from the cleavages of Europe. I may have got some of that from Hancock.

John Nethercote does get stuck into the failure of federalism to flourish, but gives good reasons for the failure, among them central revenue-raising, and the growing sense of ‘nation’, which leads to the demand that all problems be solved at a national level. Phil Lewis points our that both critics and supporters see our approach to industrial relations as unique (and therefore exceptional). While most (or at least many) economists argue that the Australian industrial relations system is a historical vestige in a modern free market, service-based economy, support for it is still very much entrenched in the Australian psyche and attempts at reform have, at times, meant political suicide for those attempting to change it. I can remember a time in the early 1960s when union membership included 62 per cent of the workforce; it is now at about 18 per cent. Yet unions are still seen as dominant players in the system. Lewis points out that they have all sorts of legal advantages that have grown over the past century. I infer that he thinks that they are more important that they ought to be. Malcolm Turnbull would probably agree.

Coleman has written a third chapter on electoral idiosyncrasies, which is probably the one I was asked to do. He has done it brilliantly, and it must have taken him good deal of time as well. Many of us think that compulsory voting, preferential voting and an independent electoral commission are signs of a highly developed democracy. Coleman wonders if the reverse isn’t true — that these rules actually stop us acting as concerned citizens (see Hancock, above). There is something in it. Jonathan Pincus has written a long and absorbing chapter on the importance of the state-owned railways in Australia’s economic and political development. I did some work on this matter fifty years ago, and I found his chapter quite fascinating. Adam Creighton has a no less interesting chapter on the role of compulsory superannuation in our society. Richard Pomfret writes well about the economics of sport, another aspect of Australian society that we see as special. Nethercote writes another chapter comparing Australia, Canada and the UK as examples of ‘Westminster’ styles in governance. I found this absorbing, since I know all three countries reasonably well. He says we are recognisably Westminster, but not very British.

There are other chapters, including one about the grain trade in North America and Australia, and another comparing Australia and New Zealand. At the end I thought I had learned a lot, but I wasn’t any surer than I had been at the beginning about Australia’s exceptionalism, let alone about whether it was a good thing or not. What I did gain was a lot of material that disputed the current orthodoxy in political science and history, and that gave me a lot to think about. There’s not much at all in the book about indigenous Australians, and most of it is in Blainey’s chapter. There is nothing about gender or women, even in the Index. Few of the issues that exercised the columnist I wrote about in my last essay even get a mention. For these reasons I expect that the book will get a drubbing in several of the academic journals.

But it’s a good read, it covers a good deal of the Australian history of the 20th century, and none of it is boring, which is indeed a recommendation.

 

136 Comments

  • Alan Gould says:

    My view is that of a ‘new chum’, not a ‘native born’. I would hazard that this distinction in Australian cultural life has more strength than is sometimes acknowledged; there is no resistance to the ‘new chum’ making his fortune upon arrival in ‘the land of opportunity’ but I have sometimes thought I detected a resistance to allowing the ‘new chum’ to give authoritative accounts of Australian life because this is to touch on sacred stuff. Among the canon of Australian poets I can think of only one who established a significant reputation who was born overseas, and that is Roland Robinson. And Roland was exceptional because of the Jindyworobak thoroughness with which he immersed himself in the otherness of Oz landscape, Indigenous mindset, and his own living at the swagman end of the social scale. We’ve had occasional writers born outside Oz, but none quite espoused at a popular level that I can think of. I stand to be corrected.

    The second observation I would make would make is that, of the ‘New World’ countries that came out of the English-speaking expansions of the 17th and 18th centuries, America seems to me very much a product of the Reformation, while Oz, NZ are products of The 18th Century Enlightenment followed by the 19th Century’s Utilitarianism. I think this is radical in the way social expectations and social bonding formed in these different countries. I lack knowledge of Canada to say anything useful there.

    In terms of my own reception here, the most outstanding aspect of it has been how palpable the idea of ‘the fair go’ has shown itself to be. And the most surprising attribute of the Oz attitudinal matrix has been how peculiarly insecure and needy has been the Oz concern with National Identity, more so and more insecurely as time has unfolded during my 50 year residence.

  • Alister McFarquhar says:

    Very help full review. …grateful.

    Leads to my notion

    Education sustains confusion at a superior level of understanding

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Alister, your notion reminds me of a conference fifty years ago about cost/price pressures in the farming community. An economics guy gave a speech way above the heads of his audience on the economics of foreign trade. The farmer who had to give the vote of thanks said, in his slow country way, ‘I’ve always been a bit confused about what happens in foreign trade. And after listening to Dr So-and-so I have to say that I’m still confused. But I am confused at a higher level!’

      • margaret says:

        So … ignorance is bliss.

        • margaret says:

          I’m lowering the tone again but the book doesn’t seem set to solve any of Australia’s identity crises. Exceptionalism at an individual level can be very dangerous when combined with factors of ‘difference’ like skin colour or disability or beauty standards. Take OJ Simpson, Oscar Pistorius, Karen Carpenter.
          America is all about exceptionalism and now look what they’ve got.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            The book isn’t about exceptionalism at the individual level, Margaret, but about whether a whole country/society is exceptional in some way(s).

          • margaret says:

            Yes I realise that. The subject doesn’t light my fire. A country’s exceptionalism reflects its inhabitants, it’s governance, its geographic placement, its colonial history and its resources.
            Everything else is just … depressingly … blah

          • margaret says:

            Note that the first two examples of individual exceptionalism resulted in the murders of the supposed beloved and the third example resulted in the slow, tortured self administered death of the individual herself.
            Interesting male/female difference of how power is interpreted and exercised in western capitalist societies.

  • Nga says:

    Sounds like secret boring old white man’s business. I think I’ll pass on that, Don. Although to be fair Geoffrey Blainey is sometimes interesting but he is now in his mid-80s and I doubt he has many marbles left. The brain of the average 85 year old is terribly shrunken, even in the absence of dementia:

    The effects of ageing on the brain and cognition are widespread and have multiple aetiologies. Ageing has its effects on the molecules, cells, vasculature, gross morphology, and cognition. As we age our brains shrink in volume, particularly in the frontal cortex … It has been widely found that the volume of the brain and/or its weight declines with age at a rate of around 5% per decade after age 401 with the actual rate of decline possibly increasing with age particularly over age 70.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2596698/

    The conservatism that so often comes with age can probably best be considered a function of the brain shrinkage and loss of cognitive ability. Accordingly it is best understood as a disease state. For this reason, I’ve often thought the right to vote should cease at age 70. I wonder what Coleman would think of that?

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Don, for another apt posting.

    ” A. F. Davies’s remark that Australia is ‘acutely bureaucratised’” was even the case 30 years ago when I owned and operated various businesses. I always found it easier to operate in the US or Britain where bureaucratic red tape was more user friendly and real-world.

    Since then, we have gone ballistic on red tape as have other countries too but we can only hope that along with Brexit, it will get Trumped eventually, especially here where it is more sorely needed.

  • margaret says:

    Gold and Paper. Geoffrey Blainey
    “An Englishman who travelled to Australia in 1840 was lucky if his ship sailed into Melbourne in 130 days. “A four months’ passage was then a master-stroke of nautical art,” wrote a Melbourne merchant. By 1855 the large steamers and a fleet of the fastest sailing ships in the world were often reaching Liverpool from Melbourne in less than sixty five days. At the same time steamers went from Melbourne via Ceylon to Suez, where the passengers crossed overland by caravan to Alexandria and by sea to England, reaching Southampton in barely fifty days. This revolution in travel was not only important to Australia: it was also important to the economy of the world. For Victoria in the 1850s was mining a third of the world’s gold, and in an age when gold was the basis of currency its soaring output of gold quickened the stream of world trade.”
    Exceptional.

    • dlb says:

      If gold was the basis of currency, then what the miners were effectively doing is printing money. That this appeared to be a good thing for world trade is also interesting. Then why the consternation today when we hear about governments printing money?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      I sailed from Sydney to Southampton in 1964: the time was 42 days. Two years later I came back from eastern United States by plane in about the same number of hours.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        dlb,

        I’m not an economist but my reply would be that the miners were digging stuff out of the ground which was universally agreed to be valuable, and saleable everywhere. But they had to sell it to banks, which then owned it until it was sent to London for an even higher price. The colonies were richer, and the Victorian/NSW governments were thus richer. They could indeed print more money, because they had more product to back the money. Governments that print more money when they don’t have more product to back it are essentially devaluing the currency. In the case of the US, because it holds and prints the global currency there is a reluctance to devalue the USD. China in particular owns a great deal of it. The ratings agencies tell the world quickly if governments are ‘quantitively easing’ too quickly.

      • Alan Gould says:

        The sailing record from London to Melbourne rests, I gather, at 60 days, established by the tea clipper Thermopylae on her maiden voyage in 1868. I can vouch for the streamlined loveliness of the vessel, having built a model of her from scratch, keel to mast trucks. With her royals and self-reefing topgallants, she was lofty, sleek in the stern and with just enough buoyancy in her bows to afford speed without plunging her jibboom.

  • spangled drongo says:

    To get some idea of the collective stupidity that is taking the place of any exceptional intelligence here is the new bureaucratic bovinity that will be coming to a govt near you soon:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/11/24/eu-pension-funds-now-required-t o-assess-climate-risk/

  • margaret says:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/09/aussie-exceptionalism/
    “Fair to say that virtually all the (all male) authors are ideologically disposed towards the Right, and would generally support policies that would free up markets, de-regulate industries, and reduce the size of the state. Hence, many of the essays offer critiques of national policies that have deviated from those ideals, and are dominated by the antithetical precepts that determine the shape and substance of the nation’s most important institutional pillars; industrial relations system, the compulsory superannuation system, and our highly-centralised federation.”

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Thanks for the link, Margaret. I too noticed the somewhat pessimistic tone of much of the book, but didn’t put it in my review.

  • Thanks Don Did you notice that William’s father did a similar book a few decades ago.
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2010/12/our-greatest-historian/

    Nice to see a mention of Keith Hancock’s Australia 1930.
    A celebration of his achievement http://www.spectator.co.uk/2010/12/our-greatest-historian/

    A bit more about Peter Coleman in case people have forgotten about him.
    http://www.the-rathouse.com/PeterColeman.html

  • Whoops, that was the wrong link to the Peter Coleman collection on Australian civilization and the 1930s.

    http://www.the-rathouse.com/Australian_Civilization.pdf

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Rafe,

      Your first link is to James Curran’s review of Jim Davidson’s biography of Hancock, as is the second. The third doesn’t work as you intended, though thanks for the link, and the fourth is to a book I knew and possessed (probably in the Library of the University of Canberra now with my other academic books). I was a bit too young (and unpublished ) to have been one of the authors. If Peter had decided to do it ten years later I might have got a guernsey then. I was approached at about that time to write my own book on Australia, but decided against it. I was too young and knew too little about too many things.

      • tripitaka says:

        “I was too young and knew too little about too many things.”

        Good thinking, Don.

        I’ll always be too young and know too little to write a book that people will read many years later and scoff at the errors or be unfairly critical as I am now as I re-read – well bits of it anyway – The Fatal Shore by poor old Robert Hughes who really did himself no favours with that appalling tv doco on Australia.

        Pffft to those expat refugees from our supposedly cringing culture – my family never cringed about our culture – who are so up themselves they think they can write with any insight that hits the mark.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Yes, Trip, what I’ve always found exceptional about Australians, having lived and worked with them alongside Aboriginals and migrants is their interest in and acceptance of other cultures.

          The early part of my life was supposed to be in the “White Australia” era yet while the phrase was often mentioned I never saw much evidence of it.

          The willingness of “White Australia” to assimilate with other cultures didn’t seem to gel with never ending, self flagellating reports of how terrible we “White Australians” were.

          You always got the impression that these writers had a great feeling of inadequacy and needed to perch on that high moral garbage heap to cope with their own cringe problems.

          • tripitaka says:

            Oh dear spangled drongo you are so totally wrong about white Australians being interested in and accepting of Aboriginals and other cultures. Perhaps you didn’t notice it because you are lacking in the ability to understand other less aggressive and insular ways of being human.

            I have always noticed it because it was pointed out to me by my Marxist family – well my father really, – whenever casual racism occurred as it did all the time. We just didn’t feel that we needed to cringe about it because it wasn’t us doing it and we believed and I still do in the goodness of humans and that people even people like you can change and become decent human beings if they want to.

            My fellow Australians quite clearly regarded Aborigines as having a low IQ and stupid, dirty and lazy. And this attitude is still extant. One woman yelled at me just before the Tony Abbott election – doesn’t that seem like yonks ago? – that the only good “abo” was a dead one and you know what? Nobody reported her to the Human Rights Commission. The rest of the ladies in the craft group just looked shocked and I laughed at her. I had been baiting her I must admit that and I do say things that I know LNP voters take exception to.

            But you know what? She said sorry to me last week for voting for the Abbott and was clear that she absolutely detests Trump and doesn’t think Pauline Hanson has what it takes to be a politician. Sad eh? We talked about how Aborigines are not stupid because look how smart Bennelong was and how well the Aborigines raised their children to obey their laws and isn’t a village or extended family clearly the better way to raise kids rather than a nuclear family.

            Back in the day Australians laughed at Asians for being too stupid to invent forks among other things that I remember. Australians laughed at the wogs who brought the most delicious foods to that small town Brisbane. Australians even complained about the wogs and dagoes working too hard and too long hours and driving decent Aussies out of the snack bar business.

            Those not quite white Southern European people were not really like us and they wore those stupid head scarves and wouldn’t let their daughters out of the house or marry Australians and they would never fit in.

            My family have always been the sort of people you deplore, people who excused the sort of stupidity you exhibit as being not your fault because you must have been unfortunate enough to be badly raised. We didn’t cringe because we believed that people are not born nasty selfish and greedy but are made that way by a society that encourages them to be that way.

            We believed and I still do believe, that education and progress, that is, socialism, atheism and regarding all humans as one race, will enlighten the ignorant and eliminate the xenophobia and desire to elevate ourselves and our culture as exceptional that we had in spades back then.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Get over yourself, trip, realise that Australians have a certain SOH and that it is your Marxist philosophy that pervades the current regulators that is causing problems that pre ’67 didn’t exist but are now almost unfixable.

            “Is it possible that those who ­delight in signalling their anti-­racist virtue might be guilty of ­racism themselves?”

            There’s a lot you need to learn. Nugget Coombs, who set up all that post ’67 aboriginal regs was a Marxist-Socialist:

            http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/australias-aborigines-no t-served-by-reckless-claims-of-racism/news-story/4afc09eb7a0fca149ad8e 6d5391cb454

          • margaret says:

            “The early part of my life was supposed to be in the “White Australia” era yet while the phrase was often mentioned I never saw much evidence of it.”
            I lived near the Qld border for two years of Primary school. The movies were held once a month in a Nissen hut that was segregated – whites on one side, blacks on the other.
            What dreamtime were you living in star spangled drongo?

          • spangled drongo says:

            “I lived near the Qld border for two years of Primary school. The movies were held once a month in a Nissen hut that was segregated – whites on one side, blacks on the other.”

            And Margie, I coached kids football teams in that same area around that time and those South Sea Islanders and white kids [and their parents] got on famously.

            They went to the same schools and were great mates.

            And that was before they were granted full citizenship in the 1967 referendum.

            I think you are making it up [dream time – imagination time]. A situation like that would have been done to death in the media.

            But maybe they were sitting together because that’s what groups who know each other well do.

            Unless you are talking pre-1880 Pacific Island Labourers Act.

            And even I am not that old.

          • spangled drongo says:

            I worked with aboriginals long before that and they were the “Tradies” of the bush. Highly respected, competent, mostly sober types that were highly regarded.

            We worked together, camped together and ate together with mutual respect.

            Thanks to Nugget Coombs et al, today that ability to live in the real world and support themselves has been lost and they are only a shadow of their former selves.

          • margaret says:

            http://woodenbong.org/?page_id=70

            No, they were not Pacific Islanders and some of them were at my Primary School school in 1959.

          • spangled drongo says:

            That link doesn’t work, marg.

            In what area near the Qld/NSW border did you go to primary school?

          • margaret says:

            http://www.tenterfield.nsw.gov.au/sites/tenterfield/files/public/0911- 2311/UrbenvilleVillageUrbanDesignPlan_RevB_110915_reducedfilesize.pdf

            It seems to work when I click it. Maybe conveniently it doesn’t work when you do.
            This is where I went to school in upper primary years. No, not Tenterfield. But what a fascinating history Tenterfield has. Urbenville too – however when my mother lived there in the fifties and sixties she awoke in fright. More was to come – it wasn’t the townships’ fault – it was the era and the isolation and the narrow minded people and the sheer boredom. As tripitaka can vouch rural living has its trials thanks to the indifference, contempt or romanticism of city folk.
            http://www.tenterfield.nsw.gov.au/sites/tenterfield/files/public/0911- 2311/UrbenvilleVillageUrbanDesignPlan_RevB_110915_reducedfilesize.pdf

          • margaret says:

            “Armidale has NBN, excellent cafes, art galleries, a university, cathedrals, quality health services, small bars, quality schools and a welcoming community.”
            Celebrity gardener Burke, who had a role in setting up the authority in the 1990s, said the move to Armidale looked like it would be the highlight of the authority’s 20-year history.
            “This is the best thing the APVMA has ever done, to go to Armidale,” Burke said.
            “It puts you in the absolute centre of country activities which will keep a balanced focus of the APVMA.”
            Well, why not? Why not decentralise a rural-centric government department to a regional city, (it being Barnaby’s electorate aside).
            Wasn’t there a hue and cry from the public servants in one of the departments that was going to be/has been exiled to far flung Tuggeranong instead of Civic?
            Boo hoo.

  • spangled drongo says:

    What is not exceptional about Australia, however is our ABC.

    Their idea of exceptional is a Marxist dictator like Fidel Castro who fell off his perch yesterday after providing Cuba with 6 decades of poverty, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee and killing tens of thousands yet they have been singing his praises non stop.

    Donald Trump, OTOH, gets nothing but negative responses there.

    With our severely brain-damaged ABC; good = brutal dictatorship, firing squads, kill, gaol, impoverish etc and bad = get elected under a democratic process.

    And we pay over a billion a year for this exceptional pleasure.

    • margaret says:

      Watch SBS news Star Spangled – Paul Keating says so. Also you could do with a dose of the PBS Newshour also on SBS.

      • tripitaka says:

        “Thanks to Nugget Coombs et al, today that ability to live in the real world and support themselves has been lost and they are only a shadow of their former selves.”

        This is amazing! It is Nuggett Coombs to blame? Oh and Malcolm Frazer. OMG 🙂

    • margaret says:

      They weren’t Pacific Islands Spangled – they were aboriginal Australian – not many came mind you but those that did had to sit separately. So that was the late Fifties in Australia. There were probably some not unreasonable excuses for the segregation at that time – but … it was the same as in Trumpland. Sadly it seems that even in our modern ‘ society’ with its Air BnB disruptive accommodation trend people in the US are still being told the calendar is booked on the nights they have requested if their skin is not white.

      • margaret says:

        Not to be an apologist for segregation – at the settlement at Woodenbong the way of life you describe was not one that these people lived. That created problems.

      • spangled drongo says:

        If you filled half a Nissen hut with them in sugarland then there were certainly SSIs amongst them. At that time they mostly lived in an old community near the river and ocean. They were well known in the community and held responsible jobs.

        • margaret says:

          SSD I said that not many came – but you don’t read properly.

          • spangled drongo says:

            Marg, you wouldn’t know a SSI from an Aboriginal when you were in primary school. Particularly when many were half white. You wouldn’t even know today. And neither would most people.

            The fact is that Aboriginals were more assimilated and able to cope with modern life in 1965 than they are today after wasting billions that could have been far better spent.

    • tripitaka says:

      Spangled drongo bahahahaha

      I can’t believe that you missed the racism that was shown up by the Freedom Ride in 1965?

      “Captured on tape was the vice-president of the Walgett Returned Service League Club who said he would never allow an Aboriginal to become a member. Such evidence was beamed into the living rooms of Australians with the evening news. It exposed an endemic racism. Film footage shocked city viewers, adding to the mounting pressure on the government.”

      http://indigenousrights.net.au/civil_rights/freedom_ride,_1965

      My father spent a year or more – sort of a gap year after he left Brisbane Tech College Art school in the late ’40’s – travelling the outback. I have photos of him in the old Willys ute that he and a mate drove around in and did all sorts of work on the stations. He hung out with the aborigines, went droving and fixed windmills and things like that and because he had been brought up well and knew which knife and fork to use, even fish knives, he was invited into the homes of some of the lol bunyip aristocracy who had stolen the land from the aborigines. These people where apparently quite lonely and craved talk with an educated person even a Marxist or maybe he wasn’t at that stage. I’m not sure about the way his radicalisation happened.

      He says that there were two times when old men admitted to him after drinking too much of course that their father or grandfather had gone hunting boongs and raping gins for fun and recreation. So don’t tell me it didn’t happen. My father also had a life long appreciation of the superiority of some of the ways of Aboriginal society and their laws and was very troubled by the idea that so many people couldn’t see what they had to offer we white people.

      If we white people had integrated with the Aborigines when we came here, we would have had an exceptional society.

      Cuba has done far better despite the mighty USA doing all it could to force failure on the people there, than any of the neighbouring countries in which the USA has interfered for their own benefit and profit – same as in the Middle East – over the past decades. And Cuba has a very good health system.

      “In terms of having healthy people, the Cuban health service outperforms other low and medium income countries and in some cases, outperforms much richer ones too. Despite spending a fraction of what the United States spends on healthcare (the World Bank reports Cuba spends $431 per head per year compared with $8,553 in the US) Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US and a similar life expectancy.”

      http://www.bbc.com/news/health-35073966

      And lol you are such a typical silly old crybaby man with your obligatory hatred of the ABC, the reds under the beds, your denial of the reality of climate change and the problems that inequality and austerity are causing and all the rest of this hilarious – now that it is nearly over – and hysterical reaction to the loss of your unearned and undeserved privilege as a laughs uproariously civilised white man who considered themselves to be the high point of evolution.

      What is there good to say about Trump?

      • JMO says:

        NGA when you have finished your self-loathing, and Margaret finishes her self- blaming, rants let me remind you of one historical fact, Are you ready? Warning – this is going to hurt…Perhaps you better press the delete button now

        The Aborigines, after living on this continent for at least 40,000 years where technologically still in the Stone Age, the Europeans (ie us) moved through the Bronze Age and into the Iron Age thousands of years previosly and the rest of the world was rapidly catching up as well. The Aborigines were going nowhere in the global grand scheme of things.

        As well, the Aborigines were damned lucky the British came and colonised this continent (NO it was not an invasion!). It was not perfect, far from it. But since the British were the Johnny Come Lately of the Age of Exploration, by then the Age of Enlightenment was in full swing. The Brits treated the Aborigines with a certain amount of respect. Governor Philip severely punished, even hung, those convicts who were violent or murdered Aborigines. Had another European power came first (and earlier), such as the French, they would have been treated much more harshly. If the Spanish or Portuguese came they would have been decimated and any survivors would have been off to the slave market ( think Conquistadors).

        Oh yes, I am a first generation Australian and proud of it, When I go overseas I praise Australia as great place to live and a great country – the best in the world (or very close to),

        There, now I am waiting for your screeches of indignation, and more white blaming and self loathing, so let it rip. All it will merely show, as Jack Nicholson would say, you can’t handle the truth. And demonstrate it is far easier to just screech indignation than to actually DO something about it, Go on – what are you waiting for?

        • margaret says:

          As a fourth generation Australian I see things differently to you JMO.

        • Nga says:

          JMO:

          “NO it was not an invasion!”

          Mindless twaddle. You’re no different than the Japanese conservatives who describe the POW Burma Railway construction as an enjoyable working holiday or the Turkish conservatives who describe the Armenian Genocide as nothing more significant than a few ants on the picnic rug. Once again we see that conservatives — snip —

          • margaret says:

            The Fatal Impact. Alan Moorehead. First published in Great Britain 1966.

            Chapter 6 The Acclimatization.

            “Everywhere around the new settlements the native bush was being torn down and replaced by English farms where European crops and plants were being made to grow, and even English oaks and elms were beginning to appear. It was true that most livestock, whether horses or pigs, dogs or poultry, tended to degenerate after three generations, and new blood had to be brought in from the home country, but already (1830s) there were substantial herds of cattle in New South Wales and sheep were thriving wonderfully. The colonist was becoming self-supporting; he could eat his own bread, mutton and beef, pick his own apples off the trees and even drink his own wine.
            The aborigines fell back steadily before this INVASION. So far as the white settlers were concerned they were in the way, they were an obstacle to progress, they had to be REMOVED. European diseases removed most of them (I anticipate your responses to this fact JMO etc.), and VIOLENT DEATH in their FUTILE struggle against the settlers carried away a few more. The PROSTITUTION of their women to the white men led on inevitably to a race of half-castes (remember this was written in the sixties) who had no place in either the tribal system or the new European society. And when their own tribal laws collapsed the aborigines found they could not understand the new English laws by which they were governed, especially the law of property. They thought that their tribal hunting grouns were their own, and when they found that this was not so, that they owned nothing, that they were ALIENS IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY, they were bewildered and resentful; and when all their protests failed they succumbed into listless serfdom.”
            I will not ever celebrate Invasion Day again, and Australia Day, if it’s to exist has to be on a day that doesn’t celebrate the triumph of one race oi oi oi, but includes all Australians as equals.

        • Nga says:

          JMO, Henry Reynolds put the indigenous death toll from the Frontier Wars at about 20,000. More than that died from the new diseases that came with the colonists and which sometimes wiped out whole groups of people before they set eyes on a colonist. Presumably others that we have no record of died of hunger and thirst as the settlers monopolised potable water resources and displaced native animals with sheep that were then zealously guarded from “poaching”. It is impossible for any decent human not to feel some empathy.

          I would like to think Australia is exceptional because of the bastardry of its conservatives but that would not be true. Every country has conservatives who seek to rewrite history as a triumphalist narrative and to exonerate the victors from responsibility for their crimes. I don’t believe the victors ought carry around a black armband for all eternity but they shouldn’t deny reality either.

        • Ross says:

          @JMO. You’re just a bit silly.

      • spangled drongo says:

        Trip, Charlie Perkins made a career out of racism and wanted a Black Power movement here like the US.

        He and his uni activist mates orchestrated racism wherever they went.

        It was their raison d’etre.

        And please spare us your long winded justification of a totally failed and disgraced ethos.

        You could, however give us some background on your own contribution to Australian society. ie; Jobs and career, income tax paid etc.

        Oh sorry, I forgot, Marxists in capitalist countries only use OPM.

        • margaret says:

          You’re ridiculous – why should she do that. Are you suggesting that Australia is a copycat country SD? That Charlie Perkins just wanted to be like America rather than get his people civil rights and dignity?
          Go and see this movie about American exceptionalism.
          Thanks to this man Americans became obese. Undeniably an exciting thing to see a man powered by drive,persistence and the power of positive thinking but has HE contributed to society?
          Absolutely not.
          “Even at their most critical, American films about successful businessmen tend to view their subjects with some awe, a tendency that runs all the way from Citizen Kane to the recent, regrettable Steve Jobs. Hence there is something genuinely daring about The Founder, John Lee Hancock’s ironic account of the rise of Ray Kroc – the man behind McDonald’s, played by Michael Keaton as a fundamentally mediocre hustler.”

          • tripitaka says:

            Spangled drongo is hilarious Margaret and sometimes I print his more outrageous silliness out and pin a hard copy on the notice board at the local post office so that all the right wing voting neighbours can see an example of the ‘exceptional’ stupidity of right wing extremists.

            The thing is that my right wing neighbours do respect me and despite me being an unreconstructed socialist and and evil leftie, I am a valued part of the community and well respected for what I do and contribute. Lately, they acknowledge that I know a lot more than they do about politics economics and how to raise a good citizen.

            I can and do use the internet to show them evidence and arguments that support my conclusions about what has led us to this state of affairs in Australia when so many of us are not happy and not content and a few have asked to be facebook friends even though I warn them that I am very politically incorrect.

            I have received invites to the Mayors breakfast for volunteers and was asked if I wanted to be nominated for an Australia day award. I said no to both.

            Spangled Drongo wants more personal info about me so he can find other things about which to try and humiliate me. It won’t work.

            His unhappiness is clear and I am sorry for him – in the abstract anyway. His dysfunctional way of being-in-the-world is so transparent and yet he can’t see how he comes across. There are psychologists all over the world working on understanding what sort of personality disorder these failed old white men suffer from. Not that I believe in diagnosis as a solution to anything. But that is another issue.

            It is fetishistic the way the sub-culture of old white glibertarians go on about tax payers money and the idea that the only wealth worth having is financial. So very last century and this focus on individuality, on being selfish and greedy as a way of life, is not fashionable anymore among the young who are looking for a cause. They are moving back to hippiedom and socialism.

            And yes, the murcan tendency to laud tall poppies inappropriately in their movies is dysfunctional and our Australian way of taking the piss out of people who are getting too big for their boots, is one of the best things about our way of life. I remember my father quite often asking me if I was “fishing for compliments” as a way of telling me to get over myself.

          • spangled drongo says:

            There, there, trip luv. if I was freeloading on the taxpayer I would probably fly into a rage, too.

            Embarrassing, innit?

            But what us “failed old white men” would like to see from you Marxists is some accountability and return for a wonderful, freeloading existence which you never stop whinging about as though this in itself is sufficient to assuage your debt to society.

            Not only do we have to support you lot, we then have to put up with your “thanks”.

            But never forget, if you find it all too hard to bear there is an easy solution.

            We don’t really need white ants in the basement to feel that our house is “normal”.

  • Bobster says:

    There is an essential efficiency, tolerance and humour in Australian behaviour that is widespread, if not ubiquitous, and which produces a society as modern and productive as any other. If it could be bottled, it would be our major export. Perhaps it already is. Native born, my offspring included, take this domestic product for granted as if it existed elsewhere. Not so.

    • tripitaka says:

      From We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn;

      “until the long arm of the law interfered, white men killed the black fellow, because they were hungry with a hunger that much be fed with gold, having been trained in a school that for generations has acknowledged “thou shalt not kill” among it’s commandments; and yet men speak of the “superiority” of the white race, and, speaking, forget to ask who of us would go hungry if the situation were reversed, but condemn the black fellow as vile thief, piously quoting – now it suits them – from those some commandments, that men “must not steal”, in the same breath referring to the “white man’s crime” (when it finds them out) as “getting into trouble over some shooting affair with blacks”.

      Truly we British-born have reason to brag of our “inborn sense of justice”.”

      I’m pretty sure that the last sentence was sarcastic and that she can’t be accused of being politically correct. ROFL.

      • spangled drongo says:

        So your father told you a story he heard in the 1940s during a drunken conversation with the grandson of the person involved?

        Wow! trip, that’s riveting, incisive evidence !

        A station owner once told me around that time that he came back to the station to find his managers head in the camp oven.

        And he was sober.

        You wouldn’t have a clue, trip, but that won’t stop you, I know.

        The fact is that aboriginals were better assimilated prior to 1967 than they are now and they were then far more capable of living in the real world.

        What we are doing to them today is an unfixable disaster that is getting progressively worse

        • tripitaka says:

          “The fact is that aboriginals were better assimilated prior to 1967 than they are now and they were then far more capable of living in the real world.”

          The fact eh? lol I suppose in your sad view of the world spangled drongo they were “better assimilated” because they didn’t dare complain about the way they were treated and discriminated against.

          I think you are slipping even further into the slough of despair; I was expecting something more incisive and cutting than this little bit of very ordinary abuse that I hope made you feel better but didn’t make me feel bad because it is clear that nothin will stop the changes that are coming that will make the world a better place for all of us not just the bullies and pigs who sneer and deride ‘lesser’ people. The long march is nearly over so pack your bags for the gulag dude. That is a joke in case you didn’t recognise it.

          You don’t have much of a sense of humour do you? I think that is a sign of some sort of loss of cognitive functioning.

          But I’ll be back in the morning to see if you can come up with something nastier and even more ridiculous and perhaps you could make it relevant to the topic?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Yes trip luv, a fact. Did you ever work and live with full blood aboriginals by any chance?

            Do you have any idea of what you are talking about?

            Are you really saying they are more capable of going off welfare and supporting themselves in the real world today than they were almost 50 years ago when they had never had that mad indulgence?

            Remember? Before they had viable, money making schemes thrust upon them which turned into financial disasters overnight because they knew they would collect “siddown” money whether those schemes survived or not?

            You should be able to answer that, trip, as you have been down a similar rose-strewn pathway to hell.

            But that’s the main reason you’ll never understand.

            And why you’ll never understand why you’ll never understand.

            And that’s only part of the economic side of the argument. The ecological side is even worse. The family and social side is even worse again.

            One of my smart Aboriginal friends always reckoned that ATSIC stood for “Aboriginals Talking Shit In Canberra” and he was not wrong.

            Not only have you not got a clue but I don’t think you even really care about our poor Aboriginals.

            You only care about applying a totally failed philosophy that you are enslaved by and throwing endless amounts of other peoples’ money at it.

            People like you are the worst “friends” Aboriginals could possibly have.

  • Ross says:

    Is Australia an exceptional country/society?
    It’s a pleasant enough, around where I live, but….
    What have we done, in any field, that would make anyone even bother to ask the question?
    Exceptional? In what? Merino breeding?
    Seriously?

    Feel free to set me straight.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Ross, much would depend on whether you have lived and worked in other countries. And Coleman’s book is about institutional exceptionalism — things like compulsory voting, arbitration and the rest.

      • Nga says:

        Australian GDP per capita 67,458.36 USD
        New Zealand GDP per capita 41,555.83 USD
        United States GDP per capita 53,041.98 USD
        source: World Bank

        New Zealand was roughly on par with Australia when it went down the radical small government route in the mid-1980s with Roger Douglas’ Rogernomics. The whole thing was a big fat flop and New Zealand has been much poorer than Australia ever since. American workers haven’t had a pay rise since the mid-1960s but the rich have certainly got richer. William Coleman appears to be pining for the small government free market policies that we already know are inferior to Australia’s bigger, more interventionist style of government. Sadly, this type of “let’s ape America” thinking is common in right circles like the IPA, CIS and so on. We have far superior economists, like John Quiggin, who is much more in touch with reality.

      • Ross says:

        Compulsory voting is exceptional? Arbitration and the rest? Wow, Don.
        Perhaps when it comes to political beuracracy, we really are exceptional.
        I have lived and worked overseas. I found many countries were different to Australia. In some areas, better, others worse.
        I love Australia. The French love France. The Chinese dig China. More news at ten!
        The fact that no one could think of a reason to describe Australia as exceptional, says it all.
        Probably right, too.
        ( Some Australians think compulsory voting is State oppression! No pleasing some people, eh?)

    • margaret says:

      This is apparently why Australia is exceptional. Don’t disregard the ‘luck’ factor though.
      “It is Australia’s peculiar model of political economy and the paradoxes that this throws up that make the country exceptional.
      We are a trading nation that relies on being internationally cost competitive, so for the past 30 years governments have mostly supported bringing down tariff barriers. At the same time, since we pride ourselves on being fair we operate an industrial relations system founded on the notion of a conflict between capital and labour, in which a government tribunal presides indirectly – at the very least – over wage, salary and working conditions in the country.
      We have come to think of ourselves as a low tax nation, yet we spend enormous amounts of money on middle class and corporate welfare. And we expect our governments to hand out cash for all sorts of projects and to many individuals.
      Australia also has what public policy critic J R Nethercote calls – in an aptly titled chapter of the Coleman book – “Australia’s talent for Bureaucracy”.
      Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/economy/why-australians-like-to-think-their-co untry-is-exceptional

      • margaret says:

        Sorry, link is not functional.

        • margaret says:

          “It is an unusual feature of Australian Society that the nation’s top mandarins enjoy status, prestige, power and extremely generous salary and retirement benefits. The names of top public servants are regularly in the papers (only recently Sydney’s Daily Telegraph led with the $800,000-plus salary of Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet). These are the high-profile people who are looked up to; their career movements are reported in the media.

          The Australian Financial Review’s own Rear Window column, regularly updates us on such movements within the public service as well as in and out of the private sector. In fact, Australian bureaucrats are ripe for study in public choice theory – this is the sub-branch of economics, the main insight of which is that public servants are motivated by the same things as everyone else: status, money and power. Why be politicians, when you can be a public servant?”
          Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/economy/why-australians-like-to-think-their-co untry-is-exceptional-20160822-gqy9ug#ixzz4RLx02oMm

    • tripitaka says:

      I think one of the things that has been exceptional about Australia is the women and our contribution.

      “An example of the extraordinary efforts made by Australian women to win the vote is the efforts made to gather over 40,000 signatures in support of women’s suffrage on two important petitions. Covering much of the nation, women suffrage campaigners travelled thousands of miles knocking on doors and eventually getting around 1% of the entire population of Australia to sign.”

      “In 1902, as a result of the vigorous lobbying of Australian suffragettes, the Commonwealth of Australia became the first country in the world to give women both the right to vote in federal elections and the right to be elected to federal parliament when they passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 (Cth).”

      But of course;

      ” the Act specifically excluded aboriginal women (and men), who would have to wait for many more years until they were formally given the right to vote by the Commonwealth, in 1962.”

      http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/austn-suf fragettes

      • margaret says:

        Clare Wright’s book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, why don’t you chaps read it.
        “The Eureka Stockade.
        It’s one of Australia’s foundation legends—yet the story has always been told as if half the participants weren’t there. But what if the hot-tempered, free-spirited gold miners we learned about at school were actually husbands and fathers, brothers and sons? What if there were women and children right there beside them, inside the Stockade, when the bullets started to fly? And how do the answers to these questions change what we thought we knew about the so-called ‘birth of Australian democracy’?
        Who, in fact, were the midwives to that precious delivery?
        Ten years in the research and writing, irrepressibly bold, entertaining and often irreverent in style, Clare Wright’s The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka is a fitting tribute to the unbiddable women of Ballarat—women who made Eureka a story for us all.”

      • margaret says:

        Yes, Louisa Lawson, incredible woman, forgotten mother of Henry however.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Yair, but you’re getting slack, marg luv. You left out the fat bellies and stained teeth.

      Maybe you and trip have been hard at it too long on dubious replacements for CWM.

      And don’t forget a lot of those early female gold diggers didn’t use a shovel:

      http://www.womenaustralia.info/exhib/wikb/sexwork.html

      • margaret says:

        Spangled Drongo I’ve been to Hay St in Kalgoorlie. What is your point though? Some sort of nudge nudge wink wink. I find that photo of the Japanese prostitute very poignant.

        How about TedEgan’s song The Drover’s Boy?

        “In 1994 twice-Sulman winner Bob Marchant painted a monumental series of 14 works devoted to The Drover’s Boy, a remarkable song by Alice Springs singer/songwriter Ted Egan.
        Written in 1981, The Drover’s Boy tells the story of the relationship between a white drover and an Aboriginal woman. As Egan explains in the catalogue, the parity of such couplings is highly debatable, but these relationships were not uncommon in the heyday of Australia’s pastoral history.
        Marchant’s paintings illustrate the song, which is a series of reminiscences occasioned by the death of the Aboriginal woman, who everyone except the drover thought was a boy.
        Because such unions were illegal, the women were made to flatten their breasts with a scarf and dress like men.
        The paintings, like the song, are palatable versions of a very disquieting truth.
        As the song goes “Shoot the bucks, grab a gin/ Cut her hair, break her in”.
        Egan was moved by the number of Aboriginal women he met who had been “stockmen” and his words are affecting: “Remember the girl who was bedmate and guide/ Rode with the drover side by side,/ Watched the bullocks, flayed the hide, Faithful wife never a bride, Bred his sons for the cattle runs”.
        Marchant’s naive drafts-manship lends these paintings an earnestness which work in their favour. In subject and tone they recall David Boyd’s ’60s paintings about racial injustice.
        In the same way that contemporary Aboriginal artists have interrogated colonial photographic practices to reveal Australia’s racist realities, as a nation we need their take on stories like The Drover’s Boy.”

        • margaret says:

          They couldn’t understand why the drover cried
          As they buried the drover’s boy
          The drover had always seemed so hard
          To the men in his employ

          A bolting horse, the stirrup lost
          And the drover’s boy was dead.
          A shovel of dirt, a mumbled word
          And it’s back to the road ahead
          And forget about the drover’s boy.

          And they couldn’t understand why the drover cut
          A lock of the dead boy’s hair
          And put it in the band of his battered old hat
          As they watched him standing there

          And he told them, “Take the cattle on
          I’ll sit with the boy a while.”
          A silent thought, a pipe to smoke
          And it’s ride another mile
          And forget about the drover’s boy,
          Forget about the drover’s boy.

          And they couldn’t make out why the drover and the boy
          Was camped so faraway
          For the tall white man and the slim black boy
          Never had much to say

          And the boy would be gone at the break of dawn
          Tail the horses, carry on
          While the drover roused the sleeping men
          Daylight, hit the road again
          And follow the drover’s boy
          Follow the drover’s boy

          In the Camowheel pub they talked about
          The death of the drover’s boy
          They drank their rum with the stranger
          Who’d come from the Kimberley Run Fitzroy

          And he told of the massacre in the west,
          Barest details, guess the rest,
          Shoot the bucks, grab a gin, cut her hair
          Break her in, call her a boy, the drover’s boy
          Call her a boy, the drover’s boy.

          So when they build that stockman’s hall of fame
          And they talk about the droving game
          Remember the girl who was bed mate and died,
          Rode with the drover, side by side,
          Watched the bullocks, flayed the hide
          Faithful wife but never a bride,
          Bred his sons for the cattle run,
          Don’t weep for the drover’s boy,
          Don’t mourn for the drover’s boy –
          But don’t forget the drover’s boy.

  • tripitaka says:

    “People like you are the worst “friends” Aboriginals could possibly have.”

    hahaha as if you even have the capacity to understand people like me or ‘aboriginals’.

    • tripitaka says:

      spangled drongo this is a letter to the Townsville Daily Bulletin published on Tue 23 Jan 1934 – that puts the lie to your idea that aborigines were better able to integrate back in the ’30’s. The attitude that is so apparent in this letter was widely held and is still held by white Australian racists which one can see if you read the comment by JMO above.

      http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/62344940?searchTerm=aborigin al%20health%20and%20intelligence&searchLimits=

      “I am a cattle man of some 20 odd years experience amongst aborigines In Queensland and North Australia, and may claim to know a little of what I am writing. Despite all talk of chartered companies, etc., there will be no steady Improvement In the Northern Territory until the aboriginal Is removed.
      “There is only one way of accomplishing this and this not by their absorption into the white population. This policy was suggested at first to the horror, and then
      to the amusement of the white residents here by an official who, should have more Intelligence.

      “Unless the aboriginal Is placed on reserves and kept there, there is no hope In North Australia tor Its development and colonisation for many many years.
      At present the black has either to be employed as stockboys, at which they are only second rate, or allowed to run free on the run to the detriment of
      the stock..”

      Another article from The Sydney Morning Herald Fri 5 Apr 1935 probably a more enlightened newspaper that points out how badly this integration was going in the ’30’s and goes on to warn that;

      “If these folk are ultimately to be subsumed into our numbers, we had better care for their education and health and, what is more, do so in a manner which will
      not fill them with a perpetual grouch against us after all, they know that men of our race are in the main responsible for their existence as human beings.

      http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/17165413?searchTerm=aborigin al%20health%20and%20intelligence&searchLimits=

      It is a shame that the many calls for better education and treatment of the aborigines was not heeded and the idea that they would make a valuable contribution to ‘our’ – snort – country and society did not happen.

      • spangled drongo says:

        You’re not even paying attention yet, trip luv.

        You still don’t get it.

        What I’m trying to get through your thick skull is that aboriginals were more capable of succeeding prior to “67 than since.

        I’m not trying to tell you how well they would have or will succeed.

        • tripitaka says:

          spangled drongo well do tell then why this is the case. What has happened to the ‘poor’ aborigines? Oh that’s right it was Nugget Coombs and welfare or sit down money. I think you have been listening to much to that fat fool Noel Pearson who is such an Uncle Tom and so incredibly abusive and is about to get his comeuppance if he doesn’t die first from the health problems he clearly suffers from and which all come from integrating with us and the toxic food and lifestyles capitalism has brought us.

          Do you actually understand that intelligent and well educated and informed people like me need to have a rational explanation before they believe something that is said by someone who indulges in name calling and childish attempts to intimidate and belittle people. You must think that Try you can depend on your aggro and the disgust that it creates in decent people, to get you through sticky situations in which your opinion is so clearly lacking in any rigour or factual basis.

          So – do you know how to construct an ‘argument’ in which there is a premise or two that are factual and that you can support with evidence from a reputable source that leads to a rational conclusion? I’d like to see that.

          I’d like you to see you define what you mean by “succeeding” and explain exactly why you claim that Aborigines were more capable of achieving this success in the ’30’s when some of them couldn’t even leave the reservations without permission and I suppose Albert Namatjira’s brilliant career which clearly highlighted the gap between the rhetoric and reality of assimilation policies back then is an example you would use to prove that this success was available to all the aborigines?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Yes trip those modest “intelligent and well educated and informed people like me” [that must include marg too] that belittle CWM one minute and then use their quotes to prove your point the next are really quite believable [koff].

            Please show me anything you have said to date that warrants this self-praise.

            I knew many “Namatjiras”. I used to write letters for them to “executive” members of other tribes to organise important functions. We had many discussions on the advantages of letters over smoke signals.They were quite common and once they became conversant with the free enterprise/free market system they could cope very well.

            It was only them being carefully schooled in the entitlement mentality by you self serving “progressives” that brought them undone.

            Just as you try to bring down anyone [such as Pearson] that disagrees with your totally discredited philosophy.

            I hope you are taking note of the fact that I am a lot more positive about their capacity to succeed than you are.

          • spangled drongo says:

            And by “succeeding” I merely mean standing independent in this world of the 21st century without the need for nanny state progressives like you fluffing their feathers and making out they need their hand held 24/7 at everyone else’s expense as though they were babes in the wood

            Standing tall like they had done since they got here a few thousand years ago.

            With pride like every race is entitled to.

            It wasn’t the “invasion” that reduced them to the state they are now in, it was your “siddown” money.

            And to think you haven’t even got the gumption to see it !!!

            Sheesh!!!

          • spangled drongo says:

            “Do you actually understand that intelligent and well educated and informed people like me need to have a rational explanation before they believe something that is said by someone….”

            Do yourself a favour, trip luv and improve your education no end. Learn how even “aboriginal” professors can give us the rough end of the pineapple when it comes to aboriginals:

            https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2016/11/family-stories-behrendts/

            When I lived and worked with aboriginals I used to see on a regular basis various [mostly part aboriginal] men taking young teenage aboriginal girls to the pub, getting them drunk and hearing the screams of drunken celebration and copulation going on through the night.

            The babies arrived regularly but these very young women were completely incapable of raising them and so used to go bush and give birth in solitary.

            On seeing a now slim, dejected girl I said [ as an unsophisticated teenager would], “Mary, you’ve had the baby? How is it?”

            “Baby? What baby?”

            After searching for half a day we found it partly covered with meat ants but OK and a church orphanage from the nearest town took it into care as they usually did.

            I realise now that I was complicit in the stolen generations as these babies were decreed to be “stolen”. Taken from their parents without consent.

  • spangled drongo says:

    My cheese’n’kisses [the best in the world] OTOH, was more like this:

    Before the glare o’ dawn I rise
    To milk the sleepy cows, an’ shake
    The droving dust from tired eyes,
    Look round the rabbit traps, then bake
    The children’s bread.
    There’s hay to stook, an’ beans to hoe,
    An’ ferns to cut in the scrub below,
    Women must work, when men must go
    Shearing from shed to shed.

    IOW, exceptional!!!

  • tripitaka says:

    spangled drongo writes;

    “And by “succeeding” I merely mean standing independent in this world of the 21st century without the need for nanny state progressives like you fluffing their feathers and making out they need their hand held 24/7 at everyone else’s expense as though they were babes in the wood”

    That’s it? That is your definition and your argument?

    Why am I not surprised? 🙂

    • spangled drongo says:

      When trip can’t understand that’s how it worked for them and every other society since the dawn of time, what chance has she ever got of getting it right?

      But don’t be shy. Go right ahead and tell us how it should be done, trip luv.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Its a bit difficult to consider these points when I have not read the book. However it appears that much that has been raised concerns differences rather than exceptionalism.

    But under this, there seems to be a drive for suggesting we are better off following some other course and angst over “Britishness” and a fear of so-called “unbridled democracy”.

    I do not think anyone has found a way to write Australian history and the problem has been; reticence over the treatment of indigenous people – who were massacred – early reliance on convict labour and who were dumped onto their own devices when their terms expired – White Australia policy.

    To the extent Australian land was simply grabbed by settlers and squatters, that Australia was built by convict and then immigrant labour, and that produce was sold overseas, the success of Australia is based on artificial land, artificial labour, artificial markets and thereby an artificial standard of living.

    This artificiality and the false cultural values it engendered, is a point of exception at least for me and the reflex of this is a pervasive historical guilt, at least if you reflect on the past.

    Where else but in Australia would you get such virulent history wars and modern statements such as “the aborigines were damned lucky the British came”?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “statements such as “the aborigines were damned lucky the British came”?’

      So wrong for so long, chrissie, but so right tonight.

      They would have been much better off without our welfare.

      But don’t tell trip.

      • margaret says:

        They would have been much better off if Australia hadn’t been chosen to be a dumping ground for Britain’s petty criminals, followed by the buccaneers, free settlers, Rum Corps, second sons of aristocracy etc. etc.. They were probably happier than they were to be again for a long long time. Has it happened yet? Only for the few.
        That fact aside, if they had been treated fairly and not as flora and fauna that grew on Terra Nullius and needed to be eradicated, we could all happily look back at our history. As it is we still divide into white blindfold and black armband wearers neither of which serves aboriginal people well but at least the black armbands are not deniers.
        There’s something about imperialism that down the track causes conservatives to be in denial about so many aspects of the past. It’s rigid obtuseness and superiority. It’s greed.
        Exceptionalism doesn’t necessarily mean something is good but now that’s how the word is usually interpreted.

        • margaret says:

          Oh yes, their denial extends to the present and future as well. They deny the deleterious effects of AGW, that women are suitable and excellent leaders of the country and they think that the leaners take away all the hard earned $$$ earned by they, the lifters who, of course, got where they are by sheer hard work, persistence, brains and/or savvy and not a shred of luck or good circumstances or connections – more blindfolds.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “by sheer hard work, persistence, brains and/or savvy and not a shred of luck or good circumstances”

            Marg, you’d know if you performed and had the former, the latter often follows but OTOH if you are given the latter without the former it’s not a recipe for exceptionality or permanence.

            Ability makes its own luck.

            Some people make dust, some people eat dust.

            Especially if they walk around getting overheated wearing sandwich boards.

        • spangled drongo says:

          “There’s something about imperialism that down the track causes conservatives to be in denial about so many aspects of the past. It’s rigid obtuseness and superiority. It’s greed.”

          Y’mean, marg luv, when compared to say Roman, Genghis Khan or Islamic empire building etc, etc?

          And how gentle they were in comparison?

          Someone’s in foolish denial here but I doubt it’s conservatives.

          Someone is also certainly obtuse.

          But one out of three with superiority ain’t too bad.

          But it won’t rate as exceptionalism.

  • spangled drongo says:

    What is exceptional about Australia?

    Not this:

    The Break-up of Australia:

    https://quadrant.org.au/shop/books/hidden-agenda-aboriginal-sovereignt y/

    “Australian voters are not being told the truth about the proposal for constitutional recognition of indigenous people. The goal of Aboriginal political activists today is to gain ‘sovereignty’ and create a black state, equivalent to the existing states. Its territory, com­prising all land defined as native title, will soon amount to more than 60 per cent of the whole Australian continent. Constitutional recognition, if passed, would be its ‘launching pad’. Recognition will not make our nation com­plete; it will divide us permanently.”

    And it still won’t make them stand on their own feet because they’ll still be on siddown money with the begging bowl out.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    I have a really novel idea. If, in the Constitution, we recognise the Aboriginals as the original occupants of the continent, they should acknowledge that we are, unequivocally, the current occupants, and forswear any legal challenges to this.

    That would be a pragmatic solution, which means it has absolutely no chance of being considered..

    • Nga says:

      I believe it is the frontal cortex that shrinks the most.

    • Chris Warren says:

      It may be more complicated. The issue is that Aboriginals were the original occupants and original owners. A problem is that there appears to be no legal process by which they were dispossessed and killed-off.

      As the Freedom Ride exposed, there is a undercurrent of racism and denigration flowing through Australian culture that, even today, is still being called-up by “The Australian” cartoons by Bill Leak.

      This is not amenable to pragmatic solutions, its needs a profound solution.

      • spangled drongo says:

        “As the Freedom Ride exposed, there is a undercurrent of racism and denigration flowing through Australian culture that, even today, is still being called-up by “The Australian” cartoons by Bill Leak.”

        I think you mean Leak’s imagined racism, chrissie.

        But feel free to explain the details of “racism” here that no one else has been able to.

        • tripitaka says:

          Leak’s just offensive for the sake of being offensive, with neither subtlety nor wit – nor, it has to be said, art – to help him plead his case.

          http://loonpond.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/in-which-leak-drains-intellige nce-from.html#.WD-_KrJ95aQ

          His cartoons now that he does them digitally are even uglier than his earlier ones when he had to take the trouble to draw each one rather than copy and paste as he now does. And as Dorothy Parker reptile hunter extraordinaire points out, his fall from the balcony did not create or exacerbate his racism, he was doing it way before that unfortunate event.

  • Ross says:

    “…and forswear any legal challenges to this.”
    Bryan…. You’re late!
    The Mabo decision came down some time a go. It’s L…À…W…law.
    Time for white fullas to learn how to adapt, I think.

  • tripitaka says:

    It is about time you put up another post Don; this one has degenerated, as usual into stupidity as the spangled drongo does its thing.

    I suspect that this birdbrained old white man who has so little respect for anything resembling intelligence will crap all over the new post with his obsessive need to display his shallow ideas and to reveal his need to feel superior by dint of his personal experience that trumps any other evidence.

    He seems to be the spokesman for your views though; the one who is foolish enough to voice the nastiness that illustrates how malleable human nature is and how low some of us can go when we are encouraged by our upbringing and/or our society to hate other people so much.

    Confucius’ warned about good government being so critical for the behaviour of the citizens. He wrote that civilised human discourse can only come from the cultivation of virtue. And spangled drongo provides us with an example of a citizen who suffers badly from that lack of virtue.

    The unholy alliance between the post-truth, post-modern, neo-conservatives, hypocritical Christians and the adolescent libertarian ideology with its tax fetish and worship of profit at any cost, has certainly not provided the more ordinary of our citizens with any idea of how to be virtuous or to behave with dignity and honesty.

  • tripitaka says:

    “Obviously Pearson has never been to Taree, or to Kempsey, or Port Macquarie, or any of the other National Party homeland towns in NSW that have indigenous communities. Racism is rife and flourishing in every one of them, and those Nats types are right into it. I’d say he (Noel Pearson), rather than “the average inner-city liberal” is the one who has met few indigenous Australians in these places, if he has met any at all. Being feted on an official visit and escorted around town by white VIPs and the occasional indigenous elder does not give anyone, especially an over-privileged, over-entitled coconut like Pearson an understanding of the way things are in National Party electorates.”

    https://pbxmastragics.com/2016/11/29/salt-of-the-earth-national-party- types/

    I think you might like the Pub blog Margaret.

    • margaret says:

      Thanks tripitaka – I read a lot but not many blogs and came to this one by accident a couple of years ago. At the time I was just interested in the fact that a bunch of owms had carte blanche on commenting on right wing topics and since ‘disagreement is the growth of knowledge’ was the banner of the blog I kept on disagreeing with the like-minded conservative owms.
      I’m just a human being with a singular viewpoint and don’t pretend to understand what I don’t have experience in but I was thinking about post-truth and truthiness yesterday before your comment. When Noel Pearson did the Whitlam eulogy I was one of many who thought it was powerful in its content and delivery. Recently the scales have fallen from my eyes.

      • tripitaka says:

        It was a brilliant speech but Noel is a hypocrite and has learned well from the white man. I have heard reports that a few years ago every meeting he had with white people was prefaced by a 5 minute tirade of obscene abuse some of which was very personal about the way white people have treated the aborigines. The man unsurprisingly has a lot of what Kath and Kim would call ‘issues’.

        The ability to lie to ones self is an essential part of the ‘civilised’ patriarchal society. It is called motivated cognition by the psychologists who are trying to understand how intelligent people can behave with such obvious stupidity.

        There are a group of these ‘coconuts’ who are advocating that their people abandon all of the good things about their traditional way of life and adopt the white man way of life. They don’t seem to understand that our society or economy has not provided a good life for all of our children so why would it provide for their children?

        • spangled drongo says:

          Then again, trip luv, having lived most of his life at the coal face of aboriginal/white interaction is it at all possible he just may know a little more and have a better idea than an avowed Marxist like you?

          Give it a rest, luv. You’re getting desperater and desperater.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Lord Vesty’s managers also lived at the coal face of aboriginal white interaction.

    The interaction was racist serfdom.

    • tripitaka says:

      Chris Sarra has also lived at the coal face of aboriginal white interaction. I’ve met Chris a couple of times when he did some of his PhD at USQ and found him to be a decent person without the psychological issues and resentments that affect Pearson’s personality and create his problematic attitudes.

      This article outlines Sarra’s background and the events that enabled him to develop into a functional aboriginal man who is doing good things for our country.

      https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/chris-sarra-how-one-small-g esture-made-big-impact/2900285/

      “As the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School from 1998 – 2004, he was credited with leading the charge to take the school’s attendance and literacy rates from rock bottom to eventually competing with state benchmarks.”

      He tells the story that is no surprise to anyone, of going into a local real estate agency and being told there were no houses to rent but when his white mate went in 10 minutes later there were actually 4 houses available for rent. Just one tiny story in the reality of white racism that so clearly deprives people of a chance to be successful in our infamous way of life.

      This is what he has to say about the way Pearson has misunderstood the problems at the Aurakun school.

      “Dr Sarra said Mr Pearson’s program had been running for six years, costing tens of millions of dollars, with performance indicators in some areas going backwards.

      The problem at Aurukun’s school is the direct instruction teaching system is a product brought off-the-shelf from the US, Dr Sarra says
      “The facts suggest that attendance is going backwards and performance in most areas is going backwards,” he said.

      “People might point to some areas where there are shoots of hope.

      “But that is indefensible when you consider the amount of money that has gone in there — enough to enable sometimes a ratio of three teachers to one student … particularly when other schools in the Cape are performing much, much better, with no extra funding.

      “That’s not to say that the teachers who are there [at Aurukun] are not good people — they are excellent people and I still talk to some of those [people].

      “But they are in a circumstance where they are feeling completely demoralised by this kind of sub-standard approach, which does nothing to honour the children of Aurukun and nothing to honour the teaching profession.”

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-29/pearson-program-part-of-problems -in-aurukun-chris-sarra-says/7456902

      Here are some events from a timeline of events in Aurukun that show how right wing government has contributed to the circumstances that created so much dysfunction in that community.

      1925
      Reverend Bill MacKenzie arrives and begins a 40-year-long strict regime that saw children taken
      from parents and housed in dormitories, and young adults trained for servile work.

      1965
      Reverend Bill MacKenzie departs, ending an era. A more benign period follows where church
      workers assist the Aborigines of Aurukun to freely exercise their own views on their future.

      1970
      Alcohol is available in the mining town of Weipa, 180kms drive north. Sly grogging does occur to
      Aurukun on a minimal scale.

      1978
      Qld government removes church administration of Aurukun, and appoints a local Council
      administered by a Brisbane government officer following significant opposition from the
      Commonwealth, the Church, and the people of Aurukun. Concurrently the Aurukun community
      opposes the idea of opening a pub in Aurukun.

      1985
      The Aurukun Shire Council votes to establish a canteen in Aurukun. This decision disregards the
      wishes of the majority of Aurukun residents. The canteen is built in the former Adult Education
      centre. Expenditure on alchohol rises sharply and grog quickly has a disastrous effect on the
      Aurukun community. With no cultural experience of alcohol use and control, alcohol abuse
      becomes rampant in Aurukun.

      http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/special_eds/20110502/aurukun/docs/chron ology.pdf

      Links to the relevant 4 corners episodes are available at this link.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Lord Vesty’s managers also lived at the coal face of aboriginal white interaction.”

      So, chris, are you saying that Pearson would be of the same conviction as Vesty’s or Kidman’s managers simply because he was there at the coal face?

      “The interaction was racist serfdom.”

      You never stop proving your lack of grasp of any situation, hey?

      In some cases, possibly. I certainly never saw anything like that. But if you had ever encountered any of these managers you would know that they were often Aboriginal and great people.

      I still go out there to visit some of these part Aboriginal 3rd and 4th gen “Vesty’s managers” [yes some of them are still at it] and take my old Aboriginal carvings and other memorabilia to show them and discuss. They’re not always aware how their ancestors made it rain and they’re always keen to learn.

  • tripitaka says:

    An earlier comment is in moderation because of too many links I guess. So I’ll paste it again without the links just so the spangled drongo liar can amuse its self by responding with made up farcical stories about his interactions with those who were ruined by ‘siddown’ money. I don’t understand why right wing people do this sort of thing to words. It’s just more evidence of their dysfunctional understanding of what is clever I suppose.

    Chris Sarra has also lived at the coal face of aboriginal white interaction. I’ve met Chris a couple of times and found him to be a decent person without the psychological issues and resentments that negatively affect Pearson’s personality and create his problematic anger and attitudes.

    This article outlines Sarra’s family background and the events that enabled him to develop into a functional aboriginal man who is doing good things for our country.

    https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/chris-sarra-how-one-small-g esture-made-big-impact/2900285/

    Chris Sarra tells the story that is no surprise to anyone, of going into a local real estate agency without revealing that he was the new headmaster of the school and being told there were no houses to rent but when his white mate went in 10 minutes later there were actually 4 houses available for rent. Just one tiny story in the reality of white racism that so clearly deprives people of a chance to be successful in our infamous way of life.

    This is what he has to say about the way Pearson has misunderstood the problems at the Aurakun school.

    “Mr Pearson’s program had been running for six years, costing tens of millions of dollars, with performance indicators in some areas going backwards.
    The problem at Aurukun’s school is the direct instruction teaching system is a product brought off-the-shelf from the US, Dr Sarra says
    “The facts suggest that attendance is going backwards and performance in most areas is going backwards,” he said.
    “People might point to some areas where there are shoots of hope.
    “But that is indefensible when you consider the amount of money that has gone in there — enough to enable sometimes a ratio of three teachers to one student … particularly when other schools in the Cape are performing much, much better, with no extra funding.”

    And here are some events from a timeline that charts how right wing government has contributed to the circumstances that created so much dysfunction in that community.

    1925
    Reverend Bill MacKenzie arrives and begins a 40-year-long strict regime that saw children taken
    from parents and housed in dormitories, and young adults trained for servile work. (This is the way that spangled drongo imagines that the aborigines would have succeeded in our racist society in which they couldn’t vote and were regarded as stone age people lacking in the intelligence to do anything except low skilled work that allowed white bosses to exploit them and make profits from their work.

    1965
    Reverend Bill MacKenzie departs, ending an era. A more benign period follows where church
    workers assist the Aborigines of Aurukun to freely exercise their own views on their future.

    1970
    Alcohol is available in the mining town of Weipa, 180kms drive north. Sly grogging does occur to
    Aurukun on a minimal scale.

    1978
    Qld government removes church administration of Aurukun, and appoints a local Council
    administered by a Brisbane government officer following significant opposition from the
    Commonwealth, the Church, and the people of Aurukun. Concurrently the Aurukun community
    opposes the idea of opening a pub in Aurukun.

    1985
    The Aurukun Shire Council votes to establish a canteen in Aurukun. This decision disregards the
    wishes of the majority of Aurukun residents. The canteen is built in the former Adult Education
    centre. Expenditure on alchohol rises sharply and grog quickly has a disastrous effect on the
    Aurukun community. With no cultural experience of alcohol use and control, alcohol abuse
    becomes rampant in Aurukun.

    There are several 4 corners episodes that detail the way this community was destroyed by the Qld Bjelke Peterson government insisting that the alcohol industry had the right to sell alcohol to the aborigines.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “children taken from parents and housed in dormitories, and young adults trained for servile work. (This is the way that spangled drongo imagines that the aborigines would have succeeded in our racist society”

      What is your problem, trip, luv, that you have to tell lies about me so you can call me a liar?

      And after telling you in some detail of my experience with a real-world case of a child “taken from parents”?

      Listing one very condensed version of aboriginal history and then falsely claiming that this is what you believe I think is to their advantage and what I would want for them is just puerile misrepresentation.

      Seeing as you were never there anyway, it’s time you stopped making stuff up.

      If you can’t discuss things rationally, don’t expect replies in future.

      • tripitaka says:

        “And after telling you in some detail of my experience with a real-world case of a child “taken from parents”?”

        Hmmm yes I have been thinking about that story and I remember that I read a very similar one on the comment thread of a Conversation article some years ago. Was that you spangled drongo? Were you using your real name then or did you lie there also?

        I do remember that the story didn’t include the information that ‘you’ had actually found a baby covered in meat ants though. Did you just make that up for dramatic effect. In the Conversation story you claimed that it happened often, that there was more than one baby found but the story went that they were all dead babies and you didn’t say you had actually found the baby yourself.

        As I remember there was some more salacious details you provided about the way these young girls enjoyed being the centre of attention of the men and you judged them to be very very bad people because they didn’t care for those babies. I think during that discussion you were not saying that it was welfare that had ruined these wonderful people and their ability to stand tall. I’m pretty sure that you were trying to ‘prove’ that Aborigines had no capacity for adopting white civilised ways. At least you didn’t claim that they ate their babies.

        I may be able to find the comment and more information about you.

        You say to me “If you can’t discuss things rationally, don’t expect replies in future.”

        I think it would be just awesome if you didn’t reply to me, for both of us; for you because you are making such a fool of yourself and for me because I waste too much time when I could be working to make my community that does include aboriginal and immigrant families a better place rather than indulging the worst of my nature by egging you on to reveal the truly abhorrent and despicable person that you were back when you took no responsibility for the welfare of those young girls. Why was nobody looking after them? And you still must be an applaing waste of space and an oxygen thief to spend your time here lying and telling outrageous porkies about the things you have done.

        But can you do it drongo? Can you control your reactionary nastiness and not abuse me further?

        • spangled drongo says:

          “I may be able to find the comment and more information about you.”

          I wish you would, trip luv and then you might stop making stuff up.

          As I told you up thread these births were on going but I simply gave one example. I have reported them on line more than once but I have never said they were dead and I only told of situations where I was part of the search party.

          And I find it amazing that someone with such a wild imagination who claims to live in and understand the Australian bush doesn’t realise that a baby and placenta when left in the western dust for more than five minutes is extremely lucky if it is not attacked by a lot worse than meat ants.

          You simply make increasingly stupid statements to try to discredit people.

          I’m trying to tell you what went on. These girls were cooks and cooks’ offsiders and were employed by these aboriginal contractors who were fine people and through the flying doctor, Flynn’s inland mission, etc we always tried to keep a regular check but these things still happened.

          “I think it would be just awesome if you didn’t reply to me”

          That’s easy fixed, trip luv. Just stop telling lies and making stupid claims.

          But your ability to revile innocent people and jump to wild conclusions is only exceeded by your thin skin and mindless conviction that you are the one being hard done by.

          Your ego is breath-taking. You really need to get over yourself.

          • margaret says:

            Spangled Drongo your attitude towards the teenage aboriginal girls is misogynist. You make it seem as if it’s their fault that they became pregnant after ‘consorting’ with unsuspecting men who had no part in initiating the sexual act – it was the girls fault. It’s like a revisionist version of The Drover’s Boy .
            “And he told of the massacre in the west,
            Barest details, guess the rest,
            Shoot the bucks, grab a gin, cut her hair
            Break her in, call her a boy, the drover’s boy
            Call her a boy, the drover’s boy.”

        • margaret says:

          “At least you didn’t claim that they ate their babies.” … superb.

          • margaret says:

            Black humour I mean – no pun intended.

          • spangled drongo says:

            But when whites support full term abortions trip is horrified to think that anyone could accuse young teenage aboriginal girls of doing likewise.

            I have been talking to a very elderly couple who ran the Birdsville Aboriginal Mission during the ’40-’50s and they used to have to be particularly aware of dates the local girls were due if those sorts of problems were to be avoided.

            9 months after the Birdsville races was a very busy time for them.

            I just didn’t have the capacity to run a similar mission at Betoota.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Yes, Tripitaka, three links are too many — it’s not my rule. It’s the way the WordPress system came to me. But I have approved it, and it should appear soon.

  • margaret says:

    Another Country is a documentary in which David Gulpilil (a name that perfectly expresses the divide between white and black culture and those who have been compelled to split themselves to accommodate), returns to his hometown Ramingining, a ‘manufactured’ township.
    It showed the devastating impact on its inhabitants of our gathering together the peoples of various parts of country and sticking them in a place with a road that’s impassable during the wet season and a supermarket filled with our goodies of white bread and soft drinks for which the people queue in the mornings waiting for the shop to open.
    Ramingining – (add a couple of letters and call it Reimagining)! a desolate township and a powerful film. I saw it last year along with Charlie’s Country.

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/another-country-review-gulp ilil-film-poses-urgent-questions-with-no-easy-answers-20150916-gjntqc. html

    • margaret says:

      ABC’s Landline is where you see a lot of what makes Australia exceptional.

      • margaret says:

        Also you may have missed my earlier comment Spangled Drongo.
        “Spangled Drongo your attitude towards the teenage aboriginal girls is misogynist. You make it seem as if it’s their fault that they became pregnant after ‘consorting’ with unsuspecting men who had no part in initiating the sexual act – it was the girls fault. It’s like a revisionist version of The Drover’s Boy .
        “And he told of the massacre in the west,
        Barest details, guess the rest,
        Shoot the bucks, grab a gin, cut her hair
        Break her in, call her a boy, the drover’s boy
        Call her a boy, the drover’s boy.”

        • margaret says:

          “When this land was first settled in the 1830s there were no white women, so a lot of the convicts and the property managers and the property owners took Aboriginal women as wives. Some of them took two or three wives,” she says.

          Her work was helped by a subversive wedding registrar. Nearly all the church records were eaten by cockroaches or not stored properly but some vital baptism records remain, where so-called “half-bloods” were not supposed to be recorded but a bookkeeper cleverly crossed them out without obscuring the names.

          Briggs-Smith herself is the descendant of a William Grose, who was sentenced to seven years in Sydney for stealing a bolt of cloth. Grose married Julia Campbell, an Aborigine from Coonabarabran.”

          http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/piece-by-piece/2008/10/07/12231453 57357.html

        • spangled drongo says:

          “Spangled Drongo your attitude towards the teenage aboriginal girls is misogynist. You make it seem as if it’s their fault that they became pregnant after ‘consorting’ with unsuspecting men who had no part in initiating the sexual act – it was the girls fault.”

          Marg, it’s amazing the conclusions you can draw when I said absolutely nothing of the sort.

          You’re nearly as ridiculous as trip.

          Imagine me at that time; a mid-teenage stockman working in a different camp [sadly] from those girls who, though I would have liked to have got to know them better, had all the male attention they could cope with.

          Guys that were more “experienced” and better looking than me. That took them to the pub, got them drunk, and then down to the lignum for a big party. Every Saturday night.

          Your story about the drovers boy is just that, a story.

          In the real world that boss drover would have had men and women assistants, black and white [but black would have been cheaper] and any black woman he was able to get into his swag he would have. And not worried what someone thought. Because many were doing it.

          The drover’s boy would only apply in sheep country in more civilised and respectable closer settled areas and then only when near the station and the managers wife and family at the possible request of the manager.

          In the seriously wild womanless west that conduct was not observed.

          • margaret says:

            I can’t find the comment I wrote last on this thread – one of the annoying formatting flaws.
            “9 months after the Birdsville races was a very busy time for them.
            I just didn’t have the capacity to run a similar mission at Betoota.”
            ??? Please explain???

          • spangled drongo says:

            Marg, most of the young aboriginal girls that weren’t already, got pregnant at the Birdsville Races according to the couple that ran the Birdsville AIM and they had to be aware of that fact if they were going to do the best for mother and baby.

            As a teenager I certainly was not able to offer the same service at Betoota.

            Camp cooks and their offsiders remain in camp throughout the day doing what they do and the men go out to work. A fencer in a fencing camp was judged to be working properly when he put up so many fence posts in a day that it took him two days to walk back to camp [joke] but that’s how hard people worked and those girls didn’t get the supervision necessary for their situation.

            Our mustering camp didn’t run to any cook or offsider and we prepared the evening meal before daylight [when we started] and it cooked itself in the camp oven all day and was eaten after dark when we returned to camp.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “As a teenager I certainly was not able to offer the same service at Betoota.”

            Er, that service relates to mission work, not getting the girls pregnant.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Marg, be very sceptical of sites that go on about the “stolen generations”:

    http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2010/01-02/why-there-were-no-stolen-ge nerations/

  • margaret says:

    “That link doesn’t work, marg.
    In what area near the Qld/NSW border did you go to primary school?”
    South of Beaudesert, North of Bonalbo, East of Legume and West of Nimbin.

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