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Grattan on Friday: Indigenous referendum will test Abbott’s ability to manage his conservative base

In his Australia Day message this weekend Tony Abbott will repeat his commitment to amend the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people as the “first Australians”. He’ll say this should be a “unifying…

Tony Abbott faces difficulty within his own party about indigenous recognition. AAP/Lukas Coch

In his Australia Day message this weekend Tony Abbott will repeat his commitment to amend the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people as the “first Australians”. He’ll say this should be a “unifying moment” in our history.

Abbott’s belief in constitutional recognition is admirable. Achieving it would stand – together with the 1967 referendum giving the federal government power to legislate for Aboriginal people in the states, and the 2008 Apology - as a landmark. It would be a big legacy from his prime ministership.

But as he starts this national “conversation”, it’s clear it will be a tough dialogue for the PM, especially with some of his own supporters.

To some conservatives the idea is anathema. When Julia Gillard in 2010 proposed such a referendum, commentator Andrew Bolt wrote “This is, of course, pure racism. Tragically, it will actually cause more division and resentment than it purports to heal.”

In Abbott’s parliamentary ranks, West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith, who describes himself as a “constitutional conservative”, has great reservations about the move, which he thinks is unnecessary. He adds: “If we are going to make a change like this, I’d like to see it broader – I’d like to see recognition given to European discovery, federation and the Anzacs.”

The referendum for recognition of local government (eventually aborted because of the election date) is a salutary lesson. There appeared to be broad support for a sensible move but then it all fell apart.

Admittedly the Labor government made a hash of the process. It also botched its plan for indigenous recognition, Gillard having to abandon the promise to have the referendum before or at the 2013 election. The panel Labor appointed to recommend on a question proposed changes too radical to get support.

For the best prospect of success, the wording can’t be too ambitious. It has to be able to win a strong enough community consensus to marginalise the naysayers. The referendum’s fate will depend on the Coalition’s ability to hold the more conservative part of the community.

The government must decide whether to confine the proposed change to a preamble, or also seek to alter the body of the constitution. If it did the latter, it probably would not go beyond a “tidying up” exercise to remove discrimination in the existing wording.

In drafting a preamble the issue is whether the reference to indigenous people should be put in a wider context, along the lines of John Howard’s 1999 unsuccessful preamble referendum (and Smith’s compromise). But the more inclusive, the less it’s actually about the first Australians.

A parliamentary committee headed by the two indigenous MPs, Ken Wyatt (Liberal, chair) and Nova Peris (Labor, deputy chair) will recommend on wording.

Attorney-General George Brandis is in charge of the drafting process. He will be cautious, believing change shouldn’t invite activist judicial interpretation. The draft wording will be out by the end of this year.

Brandis’s thinking is clear. He told The Conversation: “It would be a tragedy if the referendum were to fail but the more ambitious the change, the greater the risk of defeat. Therefore common sense suggests that only a modest proposal will be sufficiently reassuring to conservative Australians to succeed.

“With goodwill that should be achievable. Don’t forget that the 1967 referendum passed with the biggest majority of any referendum proposal in Australia’s history.”

While the wording needs to minimise scope for a scare campaign, minimalism will spark attacks from those in the indigenous community who want to use the opportunity to promote a positive agenda. The wording could come under fire from both ends of the spectrum.

Victorian Liberal Alan Tudge, Abbott’s parliamentary secretary specialising in indigenous affairs, says that while any referendum is difficult, the climate is positive. “There is goodwill in the community at the moment towards Aboriginal people – you see in the corporate sector and the broader community a desire to see Aboriginal people better off.”

In building broad support, it will be essential for Abbott to get the states on side and, if possible, active. A referendum must be carried by an overall majority and in a majority of states; opposition from a state government or two would be potentially disastrous.

Abbott constantly reiterates his referendum pledge but he has not put a date on it. This is sensible. Passage can never be guaranteed but it needs to be a high probability. Still, there is a dilemma. Going prematurely could be disastrous but being too cautious might mean nothing ever happens.

The referendum’s chances would be maximised by separating it from an election, which is by definition a divisive time. While the proposal would have bipartisan support, there would be less incentive for the opposition to put its shoulder to the wheel. Best to have this vote preceded by its own “campaign” period, with maximum teamwork from both PM and opposition leader.

Whether Abbott can feel confident enough to run the referendum this term is a moot point. If he possibly can, he should. Assuming he won the 2016 election, he might have a smaller majority and diminished political capital in a second term; he could come under pressure to retreat from something many colleagues would regard as marginal and a few deeply oppose.

Abbott’s skills at managing an issue within his party, inside and outside parliament, and within the Coalition, will be strongly tested by the referendum proposal. If he failed that test, it would not just reduce his chance of achieving his aim but could weaken his authority more widely among his troops – authority he will need to prosecute a range of hard issues.

In dealing with party sceptics, he will be helped by the fact that this is such a core issue for their leader that fighting him on it is a big step.

By next year’s Australia Day, we should have a feel for progress on recognition. The stakes are high – for Abbott, for indigenous people and for the nation.

Listen to the latest episode of Politics with Michelle Grattan with Tanya Hosch, deputy campaign director for Recognise.

Join the conversation

137 Comments sorted by

  1. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Why do we need to spend millions of dollars on a referendum for this issue.

    We all know that Indigenous Australians were the first people to inhabit Australia. It is an incontrovertible fact that no-one would dispute.

    Apart from every white person leaving the country what more can be done in acknowledging this fact, and the fact that in arriving in Australia white people have impacted in many negative ways on Indigenous Australians.

    What is needed is a complete re-evaluation of every dollar spent on Aboriginal issues to determine how to best spend the money on producing the optimum results for the IA communities.

    In reality we can't go back, we can't keep on apologising, we can't be expected to feel continually guilty about a past that cannot be changed.

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    1. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      “We all know that Indigenous Australians were the first people to inhabit Australia. It is an incontrovertible fact that no-one would dispute.” – sorry this is not the case there is still some debate around this issue

      The earliest definite human remains found to date are that of Mungo Man, which have been dated at about 40,000 years old, but the time of arrival of the ancestors of Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers, with estimates dating back as far as 125,000 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australians

      Comparison of the mitochondrial DNA with that of ancient and modern Aborigines has indicated that Mungo Man is not related to Australian Aborigines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mungo_Man

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    2. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      getting a smidge picky........let's just say that IAs wre here WELL before the white arrival - probably by some tens of thousands of years or more.

      What's 50 or 60K years between friends.

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    3. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Sorry not smidge picky, but question on facts. Why would I vote to put something in the constitution that may not be true/correct.

      Yes they were here before white people, but may not have been the first here. Therefore not the first people of Australia.

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    4. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "Why do we need to spend millions of dollars on a referendum for this issue."

      Why does it cost millions of dollars to have a referendum?

      I'm against electronic voting for parliament or senate because I've worked in IT for over 20 years and know exactly how bad (and easy to hack) voting systems like Diebold's are.

      But on referendum issues, we could easily create something that worked. If done properly, there is no reason to open any polling booths at all. People who don't have internet access could use public libraries. Everyone else could vote from their homes.

      The big plus with sorting out the referendum cost issue, is we could take a serious look at implementing citizens initiated referendum. Our senators are (in Paul Keating's words) "unrepresentative swill". It's beyond time we had representative government in Australia, and stopped our politicians from calling every item on their wish list a "mandate".

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    5. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Craig Read

      Why open the floodgates in making constitution changes easy to do.

      We have an elected parliament to supposedly enact responsible and sensible legislation.

      Unless we want a referendum to have lots of referendums.

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    6. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Yes it is a matter of debate and NG or Melb - which is not a real name and you might want to read the conversation rules about providing your real name - and the facts you have presented are not widely accepted as 'true'.

      When issues are hotly debated by people involved in the culture wars, the wiki entry may not be reliable as the more motivated - by some sort of problematic psychological problems - people, do tend to obsessive argue for their own irrational belief system.

      And as Stephen pointed out so what? Do you have some sort of explanation as to who Mungo man was and why he could have been part of an even more 'original race' that inhabited Australia and how that is useful for us to know?

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    7. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie, attacking the man not the position is not helpful in a conversation. But I will have a read of the conversations name rule, I was not aware of it.

      Firstly, the information I have presented fairly commonly accepted as true.

      The facts are that the mungo man DNA does not match that of any Aboriginal peoples. His bones are the earliest found to date, suggesting that another group of people where here before aboriginals migrate to Australia.

      The question should always come back to facts and evidence. How silly are we that we should spend large amounts of money to potentially put non truths in our constitution. Stephen was correct in regard to the lack of cost/befit a constitutional change would bring. I was just making note of his incorrect statement “We all know that Indigenous Australians were the first people to inhabit Australia. It is an incontrovertible fact that no-one would dispute.”

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    8. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      You are right I was not attempting to be helpful and allow you to present your point of view about Mungo man because it is off-topic and when you read the rules you will see that this is an important part of having a useful and disciplined conversation.

      I personally would love to go into this with you and the significance of lack of for that line of reasoning but the way discussions work to find a solution, rather than for somebody to win a point, is to stick to be cooperative with the rules…

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    9. Lynne Black

      Latte Sipper

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      If we all knew that it was an incontrovertible fact that indigenous Australians were the first to inhabit this land, we wouldn't have the case of Aldi having to withdraw from sale a tee shirt emblazoned with the words "Australia est. 1788". Many people would like to think Australia began with European settlement and airbrush millennia of aboriginal settlement out of history.

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    10. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "Why open the floodgates in making constitution changes easy to do."

      Actually, what I'd prefer is the exact opposite. In my experience, it's rare that any Australian political party actually wins an election. Usually, they use up all their political capital (or the media destroys it) and are voted out with the party from the opposite end of the spectrum winning by default. So I'd like us to be able to trigger referendums that veto policy with a clear message stating: "I voted for you, but NOT for that!".

      "We have an elected parliament to supposedly enact responsible and sensible legislation."

      How many voters on either side of politics seriously believe that's what's occurring?

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    11. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Lynne Black

      Fair enough, but it does appear as if "our" Australia Day celebrates the beginnings of Oz from 1788 - even though as I say, we all know it isn't true.

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    12. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Craig Read

      We are free to gather and protest any government legislation.

      Until we do we remain complicit in any and all government legislation.
      We vote them, we can kick them out if push really came to shove.
      Perhaps we are just too lazy.

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    13. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, ALL national days start from a point, which has a very long history behind it. The landing of the First Fleet has been THE defining event of the Australia we live in today, warts and all. In France, July 14 celebrates storming of the bastille in 1789. I'm sure you don't tell me that the history of France goes back millennia. And despite the Reign of Terror and Napoleon, July 14 it remains.

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    14. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy did you watch that SBS program on "First Australians"? The first episode is for free at SBS and it's okay for people like you to watch. There will be some bits - like Prof Langton's bits of the story - that you will find irritating and unfair but get over it because the rest is quite fair and reasonable, But see what you think.

      This episode is about first contact and my point is that in this episode there is a very early painting that I have never seen before showing Aborigines and whites dancing together. I think that image could be the symbol that we could use to make Australia day into something that unites us.

      There are some very interesting things in the other episodes

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    15. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Um, Julie, I was educated in Aboriginal history and culture from kindergarten to Year 10, during which time we read Coonardoo, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, readings from Gary Foley, Faith Blander, and many others, had lessons in boomerang throwing...At uni, I took courses, studied, and read in their entirety, the legal decisions in Mabo, Wik Peoples v Queensland, Cooper v Stuart, Milirrpum v Nabalco, Yorta Yorta v Victoria, have trawled through archives, read Marcia Langton, paid to hear her speak, spoken to her, saw every episode of First Australians, and Rabbit Proof Fence, Walkabout, Yolngu Boy, Australia, The Sapphires, Samson & Deliah, I watch NITV (but admit I can't take to Cara Grant, and get a bit bored with the constant breakdancing and bush footy shows), have subsequently read Up from the Mission, Home, Am I Black Enough For You.
      Is that enough for you?

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    16. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      I can see the need for a "national" day, but there is a bit of a difference in terms of Australia.

      From a reconciliation point of view I'd rather change the date - picked out of a hat if necessary (Federation Day is New Year's Day so that's out).

      I'm not that fussed what day it is, it's just a day in reality - another public holiday for Aussies. Let's not get too jingoistic about it.

      The British deluded themselves in calling Australia "Terrra Nullius", which simply wasn't true of course.

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    17. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      So did I Andy do some of these things and more, I trawl the local library for old books and local histories. I talk to the old people around my country about what they remember from their grandparents. So what is your point?

      That you just have to have a better knowledge that I do and there is nothing that I can point you to that would increase your knowledge and broaden your understanding?

      Whatevah dude.

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    18. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Are you against inclusion of IA's in the constitution per se or are you arguing that the aborigines were not the first people?

      I tend to agree with other comments that you being a bit nit picky but I see your point. At present the constitution assumes that it is the first Anglo-Saxon settlers who are the first or the first who matter.

      Recognition is largely symbolic and affirming to IA's that they matter.

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    19. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Symbolic gestures rarely matter in real terms.

      Otherwise KR's sorry to IA would have closed a chapter.
      But it didn't.

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    20. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, the British never ever even muttered the phrase "terra nullius", because no human being ever had. The term was a made up neologism from the early 20th century.

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    21. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      France is not a valid analogy in my opinion, Andy.

      White settlers came to Australia from a distant country, whereas as far as I can determine, this is NOT the case for France, where there has been continuous settlement by white people for millennia.

      Are you against IA recognition in the constitution? I am as I think it is right and proper to do so even though the recognition will be largely symbolic.

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    22. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      >>>The first decision of the New South Wales Supreme Court to make explicit use of the term terra nullius was R v Murrell and Bummaree (unreported, New South Wales Supreme Court, 11 April 1836, Burton J). Terra nullius was not endorsed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council until the decision of Cooper v Stuart in 1889, some fifty three years later.[4]<<<<<<

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    23. Craig Read

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "We are free to gather and protest any government legislation."

      http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/new-law-to-expand-police-powers-to-move-on-protesters-20131212-2z8ip.html

      For how long?

      Kicking them out doesn't seem to do any good. We continually vote in one group of rabble after the other. When they do get back in, they just go for broke in wrecking the joint.

      We need the ability to limit the damage they can do while in power.

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    24. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Craig Read

      Still say that if the need is great, the desire for change can be found.

      The Vietnam War protests were an expression of profound public sentiment.

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    25. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, have you read R v Murrell and Cooper v Stuart? I have studied them closely, read them several times, discussed them in class, written on them, Not a peep about "terra nullius". Nor in R v Lowe, Rv Ballard, R. v. the Magistrates of Sydney, nor any case whatsoever till the 1970s. I don't know where you have copy and pasted this from, but it certainly isn't the judgments themselves.

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    26. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Lots more chapters to be closed before we finish the book I think Stephen, The apology is just one chapter, and it did close off some of the nastiness and partisanship. Remember Peter Costello walked the bridge.

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    27. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Of course I haven't read it.......

      Andy you may be right (still not too sure), but the concept of Terra Nullius is a well-documented one - if not in the actual words, then in the concept.

      >>>>The Proclamation of Governor Bourke implemented the doctrine of terra nullius upon which British settlement was based, reinforcing the notion that the land belonged to no one prior to the British Crown taking possession of it. Aboriginal people therefore could not sell or assign the land, nor could an individual person acquire it, other than through distribution by the Crown.<<<<

      Again I don't know if the words "terra nullius" were written into Burke's procalmation (no doubt you will know), but it appears the spirit of the phrase is very well IS.

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    28. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, "terra nullius" IS well-documented from the mid 1970s. But not for the whole of entirety before. It is a 20th creation, which had not a jot to do with colonizing Australia. Read the cases yourself, and Bourke's Declaration.

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    29. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Is there a point in reference to the article here?

      Your and others of the same mind love to create the straw man argument is that "Australia Day" is in jepoardy. The point is to have Aboriginal people recognised as our first in habitants, not change the date/meaning/name of Australia Day. Seeing as though the courts have ruled "Terra Nullius" void it seems valid enough to be put to the people.

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    30. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Terra Nullius seems to be the phrase that dares not to speak it's name.

      And I gather has ignited some controversy.

      Irrespective of the time frame of usage, my pov and belief is that the concept was very much the thrust behind English colonisation.

      Argument over the phrase can continue til doomsday, it still doesn't alter the mindset of the English, with their attitude that IA were homo nullius.......

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    31. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, the whole "thrust" behind colonisation was no more, and no less, than England had run out of space to contain all its jail birds.

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    32. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Absolutely....and they sailed off to Australia (Terra Australis) firmly convinced they were walking onto a Terra Nullius.

      And acted accordingly.

      Now there's nothing unusual about that......as you will know history is choc full of marauders who didn't give a damn about the locals.
      But whereas an invader of say England knows he will have a foe to conquer, but it seems the English considered that there was no foe....,.in fact a bunch of nofos.

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    33. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen, presumably you are quoting from diaries? Letters Patent? Governor's Instructions? Legislation? No? Either way, according to this modern concept "terra nullius", Australia in the 18th century was absolutely terra nullius, one point on which the Mabo Court totally agreed.

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    34. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen have you read Colleen Mcculloch's "Morgan's Run"; not for the joy of reading because she is not the sort of writer I like to read but for the factual details that she provides about the first fleet and settlement/occupation?

      And there were some wonderfully enlightened Europeans who did try to tell people the truth and did give a damn about the locals. I'd like to hear more about these people and why they saw a different reality than most people did.

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    35. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      really, where to do you dream up this stuff?

      On 3 June 1992, the High Court by a majority of six to one upheld the claim and ruled that the lands of this continent were not terra nullius (or land belonging to no-one) when European settlement occurred and passe the native title act recognising Aboriginal people had been dispossessed of their land.

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    36. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie haven't read "MR"......I'll check it out.

      I think "invaders"/colonists prefer not to think of the people they are intending to invade/slaughter/enslave/subjugate as actual people, but more of a hindrance of purpose.

      The English were masters of this attitude, helped of course by their remarkably superior and self-righteous opinions of themselves.

      The Irish and the Welsh were subject to this personality hubris, as were the slave nations of later times.

      The U.S. had the same attitude towards Mexico, The Philippines, Cuba and many more countries.

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    37. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      And don't forget my ancestors the Highland Scots. I read "Rob Roy" a long time ago and found a paragraph there that could have been from a right winger right now in Aus, describing the Highlanders as shiftless, lazy etc. The Australian Indigenous are not unique in that they lost their land and then their culture.

      I don't recommend Colleen though :) I think she is a ponderous writer and too obvious, and who can forgive her for The Thorn Birds?

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    38. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Yes but did you read "Abbott Proof Fence"? A seminal work if ever there was one. :)

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    39. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      That's maybe because it did not go far enough, ie include recognition rather than the apology? Symbolism is important though- just recall the noise and venom when proposals to change the flag from the Union Jack were floated.

      Cheers

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    40. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      "the whole "thrust" behind colonisation was no more, and no less, than England had run out of space to contain all its jail birds".

      That is not my understanding; from my readings this is only part of the motivation to colonise.

      "it was not to be doubted that a Tract of Land such as New Holland, which was larger than the whole of Europe, would furnish Matter of advantageous Return."[98] Under Banks' guidance, the American Loyalist James Matra, who had also travelled with Cook, produced "A…

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    41. wilma western

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Is this argument about Mungo man being used to stymie the referendum? First I've heard this claim. However if the science is as yet not settled the moral and legal issue can be by using the appropriate language in the referendum.

      Michelle's advocacy of progress with due caution seems correct and the airing of opinions in TC and elsewhere might guide the tripartisan campaign when issues of wording and timing have been settled. It's totally depressing to read tricky arguments here that would bolster a "no" case.

      Of course the referendum is largely a symbolic act, So were the Redfern speech and the Apologies- to indigenous Australians and to the mothers whose babies were taken from them - aslo the apology to immigrant chidren brought in after WW2. And apologies so far from Catholic prelates and officials from organisations that didn't act to stop child abuse.

      Symbols are very important as reactions to the speeches showed.

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    42. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Again from Wikipedia:

      "The first test of terra nullius in Australia occurred with the decision of R v Tommy (Monitor, 28 November 1827), which indicated that the native inhabitants were only subject to English law where the incident concerned both natives and settlers. The rationale was that Aboriginal tribal groups already operated under their own legal systems. This position was further reinforced by the decisions of R v Boatman or Jackass and Bulleyes (Sydney Gazette, 25 February 1832) and R v Ballard (Sydney Gazette, 23 April 1829).

      In 1835 Governor Bourke implemented the doctrine of terra nullius by proclaiming that Indigenous Australians could not sell or assign land, nor could an individual person or group acquire it, other than through distribution by the Crown.[3]"

      The concept was alive and well in de facto terms if not legal terms.

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    43. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Why don't you stupid people call others by their right name finally?

      What on earth is an IA? I mean, you come across as congenital idiots.

      Are you talking about Murrinpata, or Tiwi, or Walmatjarri, or Waradjeri, or Yorta-Yorta, or any of more than 200 different peoples, or who the hell? Somebody from Mars, or some outer galaxy somewhere?

      You wouldn't even know Wongi from Koori, mate.

      This complete drivel, this UTTER BULLSHIT being spouted here is the very reason we do need people to be formally recognised as human beings who have lived here variously from 40,000 years to less than 12,000 years, in some cases 600-700 years, as against Europeans a bit over 200 years.

      For Christ sake, way past time this philistine ignorant stupid bloody country that doesn't know the first thing about the place get a grip finally.

      More on that on the Straya Day thread.

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    44. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      No, the Poms didn't run out of space they'd simply lost the Americas, and in the process their existing penal colonies.

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    45. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Do they my name?
      Do they care?

      Nice to see you're playing to form as usual..............and the lowest form at that.

      Happy Australia Day.

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    46. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      "Abbott Proof Fence"
      Ha! Genius. Henry - we need a little more humor around here. Kudos, my friend, for bringing a little smile to our craggy faces.

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    47. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Perhaps we really need to go back a little further when we split from our ancestral cousins. Or even further when we were merely amino acids in a hostile, uninhabitable, still evolving planet Earth.

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    48. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie … yes .. " people do tend to obsessively argue for their own irrational belief system." You hit the nail on the head.
      The very people who whinge and moan against the "rich" and "mighty" and appear to be championing the cause of the poor, the vulnerable, the deprived, somehow turn-coat when it comes to Aboriginal matters. Is it hypocrisy or people with vested interest? Do they see unfairness in relation to themselves or are they capable of genuine empathy. Do such people use logic only in a narrow context or are they purely frauds!

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    49. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Yeah, but there is no contestation about that in France. No natives were dethroned, robbed of land, culture, language and rights. Invasion day is not an issue in France. Australia didn't exist as a nation until Federation day. That is a fact.

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    50. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      We have a loooooong way to go, Julie. This ingrained bias is generational and often breed from the womb and suckled to the core of one's fibre. It is in some of our DNA … this hatred and vengeance to continue to deny our natives, our fellow countrymen. We spend billions of dollars on foreign aid, we preach to other nations about 'human rights', we cross seas to save whales, we ban exports on grounds of 'cruelty' to animals, we march for 'climate change' and environmental causes, we sacrifice our young men and women for freedom in distant lands, we fight for 'gay rights', women's equality, we embrace new migrants, BUt we still have no room for our natives. We have referendum for our old British monarchy but such furry and rage over the suggestion for a native referendum …. our own people. Shame on us!!

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    51. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Stephen you may be right there. US tried to do away with those Spanish speaking folks … geography … won … to day Spanish is more commonly spoken than American English. Australian land mass is slowly but surely inching towards Asia … hmmm …watch out!! Perhaps then we'll have some real justice for our native Aussies?

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    52. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      OK - I see you are not a serious commenter.
      "to day Spanish is more commonly spoken than American English"
      Facts appear to be irrelevant to you. Putting you on notice that I'm not going to engage any further.

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    53. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to David Stein

      A cardinal sin I have committed and Father Stein has put me on notice re non-communication. I shall burn in hell with no hope for redemption … boo hoo hoo.
      I disagree … I ignore and move on … putting some one "on notice" is sooo churchie, schoolish and uncool. Yaks!! LOL

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    54. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Changed my mind. Got a new one at a bargain price.

      Recognition in the constitution is a significant step for IA.
      We should do it without a referendum costing millions, if possible.

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    55. Tim Benham

      Student of Statistics

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      "You seem to have clear-cut ideas about what some cultures do and others don't, not acknowledging that cultures, like values, are always shifting, sometimes contradictory and always under negotiation."

      I agree that there is no need to state facts irrelevant to our governance in the constitution. The purpose of the constitution is to define how we are governed and set rules that those who would govern must follow. If people think that whose ancestor arrived in this continent first is relevant to that then they should have the courage to say so.

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    56. Tim Benham

      Student of Statistics

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      " the time of arrival of the ancestors of Indigenous Australians is a matter of debate among researchers, with estimates dating back as far as 125,000 years"

      Well some people claim that indigenous Australians have been here forever. I don't see much support for human occupation much prior to 46 ka BP but I'd like to see your references.

      "Comparison of the mitochondrial DNA with that of ancient and modern Aborigines has indicated that Mungo Man is not related to Australian Aborigines"

      Mitochondrial DNA also says I'm unrelated to my father. The wikipedia page to which you link goes on to say

      "These claims are controversial and have been met with a general lack of acceptance in scientific communities"

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    57. David Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      I'm just a bit puzzled, Andy, since in another thread you said there was far, far too much Aboriginal history in the history curriculum. I appreciate that your study into Aboriginal issues as an adult was voluntary, but your Aboriginal studies to Year 10, which you seem to entirely approve of, were not entirely optional.

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  2. David Stein

    Businessman

    The obvious question has to be asked - do indigenous people even want this constitutional amendment? It's also rather ironic to be calling indigenous communities the 'first Australians' when no such name existed until well after European conquest. This is a classic case of wanting to be seen to do something rather than the action having any practical effect.

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to David Stein

      Practical effects are not the only solution to the problem. Symbolic gestures do make a difference to the way people feel and hence the way they behave.

      I think many white people fail to understand how destructive the conservative idea that the blackfellas' did not use this land and did not have a culture worth anything. One anecdote my father who spent time in the late '40 in the outback told me was of an old man who he used to talk to about the way he - the old man - used to live before the white man came. When my father expressed some admiration for their way of life, the old man said to him "nah just a rubbish culture, just a rubbish people".

      Do you understand that some people are culturally less resistant to constant criticism from the white society and that 'the stick' does not motivate some of us humans regardless of colour.

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to David Stein

      David, especially when they are overwhelmingly English-only speaking Christian-identifying residents of the metropolitan cities, married to non-Aboriginal people, for the third generation now. It all seems a bit silly.

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    3. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Thank you Julie - I do have an understanding of the principles of positive and negative reinforcement. Perhaps I'm not close enough to the coalface, but it seems recent governments have been long on symbolism and short on the positive measures you appear to want. I have argued for positive indigenous representations in popular culture - something which would cost very little but have a profound effect on the way indigenous communities see themselves as well as refreshing the view non indigenous communities have.
      Changing the constitution may make Tony Abbott feel better about himself but giving the level of oxygen and time over to a discussion of constitutional reform simply crowds out space for more important matters. For example - what's happening to mineral rights for native title holders? I would argue the focus on symbolism has indeed crowded out needed discussion on practical matters.

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    4. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to David Stein

      Yep I can see that the argument you make is true that the focus on symbolism has crowded out discussion on the real issues.

      That is true but if miracles could happen Tony Abbott would be the 'best' person to make this symbolic thing happen and get it out of the way so we can do more practical stuff.

      Unfortunately he won't do it or in another scenario, there are some rumours that he will do it and then he can use the fact that we are all one Australia now to say that Aborigines don't need any 'special' treatment and he can remove their 'special' rights.

      But I think the 'collective loss of self-esteem' argument is more profound and relies on a more complex understanding of psychology than positive and negative reinforcement.

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    5. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Wow, did you actually meet any indiginous people while doing all those years of study about them?

      I grew up on the south coast of NSW and can assure you that NONE of the aborignal people I knew or counted as friends fit this uneducated generalisation you provide.

      Perhaps you should actually speak to some of the Aboriginal people apart from the few you have obviously you may have noticed in passing in the cities and see if it "all seems a bit silly" to them.

      It is a symbolic gesture of the truth that they were here first and could do much to progress the reconciliation of indigenous issues. Nobody is suggesting it will cure all ills, but to block it on that basis is appalling.

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    6. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Steven, I was born in the same street as Aboriginal people, same schools, same sports teams, same cliques, same mates. That is why don't treat Aboriginal the way all these White Australia 60 year old baby-boomers do. I grew up in a completely different world to theirs.

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    7. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      BS Andy that seems to me to be an inadequate introduction to real blackfellas in all their diversity. It was a brief and narrow experience compared to the experiences of so many of the people I talk to and even my own experiences of meeting tribal people and blackfella's all over the country from Perth to Cairns in all sort of circumstances.

      You certainly do live in a different world to most of us here. That has been noticed by others also.

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    8. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      No, you treat them as through they are the same as you and they should "just get over it" as all of their ancestors are dead. They must count themselve lucky to have "same mates" as you.

      For all your apparent study and exposure to aboriginal people you really do know little about them. They would ovewhelmingly support the constitution recognising that were on this continent before they were invaded.

      It really does not matter to me either way, however knowing their stance from actually speaking with them about it I would vote for it and accept whatever the outcome. You are entitled to your opposition.

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    9. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Actually Steve as I have not said any such thing to any Aborigine, you should withdraw that. Here, I have been talking to WHITE whiners, who totally consistent with their generation, think it is all about THEM, and that they are entitled to speak as though they are Aborigines. Dude, this is all about you. Yawn.

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    10. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      "Who cares? There(sic) all dead." This was certainly NOT about white people.

      I don't know what generation you are from, but I'm the first year of Gen Y and I am only thinking of the Aboriginal people that I know and speak to. They will take any validation of their culture (or existence) before white Australia. It personally does not affect me in any way and I am unable to understand anyone's mindset that goes out of their way to prevent another's preference from occurrinfg when it bears no affect on them.

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    11. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      So it's okay for you to say whatever you like about some people because you think it will annoy the people - 60 year old baby boomers - that you blame for all the problems?

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    12. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie - you raise an excellent point - thank you for bringing it up. On reflection I agree we need both symbolic and practical reconciliation. What has frustrated me is the focus on symbolism as a metaphor for 'doing something' when no hard decisions or dollars put on the line to do anything that might bring about practical change. I think we agree on more than we disagree.
      Discrimination and oppression are horrible by definition. What's often lost is the behavioral impacts of oppression - the alcoholism and the domestic violence (just to name two) are partly a result of dehumanizing policies of the past. You cannot separate the discrimination and telling people they are 'less than' from the human behavior that results. Thank you for making this point as it's essential that people understand that discrimination has consequences in human behavior. You cannot oppress with impunity. The point cannot be made often, or loudly enough.

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    13. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      It is my belief that most people who visit TC are left leaning. A significant lot are party (ALP) loyalist who detest Abbott, no matter what he does. I am not an Abbott fan but voted for change in his favour. Abbott has Jesuit leanings and in the past has stood against Howard re labour reforms. He is the man (like Keating) who can actually deliver some symbolic justice for our Aboriginal folks. I hope he achieves this because of his sense of Jesuit fair-play. I may not support his other views on abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, etc but hope his current attempt re constitutional recognition for our native Australians comes to fruition. Good luck Tony, I am with you a 100% on this.

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    14. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Yeah .. all us white fellas are alike … and all Aboriginal folks are exactly alike…. clones of each other. Hmmmm.

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    15. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Andy comes from the older gen. Most Y -gens are different, more open minded and do recognise our past for what it was; unless they were indoctrinated with bias and prejudice from their mama's womb.

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    16. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Red herring? Your comment? I agree.
      If you are attempting to say oppression and dehumanization have no consequence for the oppressed, you need to say it loud and clear. My comment stands - to pretend oppression and dehumanization has no impact on human beings is simply absurd.

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  3. Andy Cameron

    Care giver

    It's like we're back in the 18th century. So-called "progressives" and "leftists" are actually agitating to constitutionalize racial difference. The only change that should happen to the Constitution is to delete s 51(xxvi) entirely. And that's it.

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Always you have the complete and total answer to any problems Andy. That's it. So awesome is your certainty that you have the answers.

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Julie, I would say I definitely understand the issues a lot more clearly than some.

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      No doubt about that Andy, you do know your stuff from one view point but the idea is that people are different - do you understand that? - and your knowledge does not work for all of us. We need to cooperate not compete to find a way of life that can accommodate the different types of human being.

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    4. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      "It's like we're back in the 18th century. So-called "progressives" and "leftists" are actually agitating to constitutionalize racial difference:"

      I am supportive of moves to recognise IA's in our constitution but for me at least this has NOTHING to do with racial difference.

      It's mainly a belated recognition that there were people who have inhabited this great country for a long time before white settlement. What is so wrong with that?

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    5. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Andy, I am 30 years old and I don't even know what Kumbaya is.

      If you think that White Australia's ancestors are not all over the constitution your are deluded. Not that that is what this is about, that's another straw man. This is merely noting in our constitution that the aboriginals people were the original inhabitants of the land, not requesting that there is a story regarding each added.

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    6. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      Too funny that you sneer at Sydney's western suburbs, which is precisely where the densest concentrations of Aborigines live in the whole country!

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    7. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Once again, your anecdotes do not make fact.

      The last only 30% of Indigenous people live in metropolitan areas with a population of 100,000 or more. 42% live in smaller urban areas withpolutations under 100,000 people and 28% live in remote or rural areas.

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    8. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      O' really Andy? Wow!! Omnipresent, and omnipotent Andy.. the Aboriginal encyclopaedia. Splendid!!

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  4. Julie Thomas

    craftworker

    "Going prematurely could be disastrous but being too cautious might mean nothing ever happens."

    That is the answer, nothing will happen. As you also say Michelle, "Abbott’s skills ....will be strongly tested" and if "he failed that test, it would not just reduce his chance of achieving his aim but could weaken his authority more widely among his troops – authority he will need to prosecute a range of hard issues."

    Abbott clearly does not have the skills and he does not have the 'ticker' to try. He will not do anything and will be hoping that it all goes away and also hoping that nobody will raise the issue of the promise he made to the Yolungu to stay a week with them.

    What was that about Michelle? Does Tony Abbor, so lack any insight into himself that he believed in himself when he made the offer, or is he such a cynical head kicker that he can say what he likes and his supporters like you will accept this lying as par for the course for an alpha male?

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    1. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      "Abbott clearly does not have the skills and he does not have the 'ticker' to try."
      I definitely agree with that. I have to turn the sound down or change channels every time he comes on the tele. He actually kinda frightens me, in the way George Bush did. Even though I am not a Coalition supporter, I did come to fell "relaxed and comfortable" under Howard, and sensed he knew what he was all about, what he wanted, when to hold them, when to fold, and when to run. I do not get any vibe from Abbott that he is even 1/100th as "together" as Howard was. Like Bush, who knows what Abbott could do in a crisis? He doesn't even seem to have any policy agenda, any pet project he's always wanted to implement. And he is just so darn unconvincing.

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    1. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      The problem is Tony Abbott's lack of credibility on indigenous issues, and being able to claim he as 'done something' towards reconciliation for his 2016 re-election campaign. In other words, it solves a political problem. The fact that changing the constitution will do nothing positive at all to empower indigenous communities is an added bonus since it will allow Abbott to avoid a confrontation with core mining, business and moneyed campaign contributors. An even further bonus is the inevitable stoush Abbott will have with the lunar right wing on this issue - let's Abbott appear claim the middle ground. It's an enormous political play while avoiding the need to actually do anything practical at all.

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to David Stein

      David, actually, Abbott has more support from Aboriginal leaders, than every other member of Parliament combined.

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy this support is qualified and if you think it is for who Tony Abbott is and what he is offering you are being naive and certainly do not have a full understanding of the complexity of the Aboriginal attitudes toward Tony Abbott, the LNP and politics in general.

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    4. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to David Stein

      Tony Abbot lack's credibility on indigenous issues? In what way?

      Unless you can come up with clear evidence that predominantly Aboriginal polling booths specifically voted against him on 7 September 2013 in what was in fact, a matter of public record, a monumental landslide against Labor Australia wide, it is you David who lacks credibility.

      It is simply not sufficient to sit here on TC perpetually mouthing Labor ideology, and jumping in to agree the moment anything at all is posted slanging off at Abbot and the present government, always without further consideration.

      Back onto the topic, it would be very nice indeed were anyone here to actually discuss Aboriginal people by name or group, and where they live; who they are, and not some abstracted mnemonic, or online 'meme' as they call them these days.

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    5. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      "a monumental landslide"! That's an exaggeration that only a reader of the Australian would believe.

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    6. Tom Fisher

      Editor and Proofreader

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Including "the complexity of the Aboriginal attitudes toward" Labor and the Greens "and politics in general."

      This preposterous idea that Aboriginal peoples are neither intelligent or well-educated enough; well-informed and thoughtful enough, to discern character and policy differences; to actually cast a valid and effective vote come polling day, is part of the bizarre condescending arrogance we still see in the whitefella.

      This discussion is even more acutely embarrassing than Straya Day.

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    7. David Stein

      Businessman

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      I should have said I recommend both editing and proofreading.
      "Tony Abbot lack's credibility on indigenous issues?"
      Three grammatical errors in the first sentence is likely a TC record.

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    8. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Why stay then you awesome dude you?

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    9. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      That is true … finally I agree with you on something. The NLP under Howard (whom I detested) did a lot of real, tangible changes for some Aboriginal folks, especially in training and education. I personally witnessed the impact of these efforts. Promising Aboriginal students were provided free education and boarding opportunities in elite independent private schools with special tutors and mentors. They were a resounding success. This was done in partnership with private business, private edu institutions and gov support. Tony Abbott, Peter Costello, M Turnbull, Noel Pearson (Cape York), etc were great supporters of this venture.

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    10. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Tom would make a reasonably effective school language teacher. Let's lock him up in a classroom with some unruly teens … where he actually may be useful.

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  5. Greg Young

    Program Director

    "“If we are going to make a change like this, I’d like to see it broader – I’d like to see recognition given to European discovery, federation and the Anzacs.”"

    I'm still shaking my head wondering what the hell this means. Is Dean Smith suggesting that somehow the ddocument that established the Federation doesn't recognise federation? And what would it mean to constitutionally recognise ANZACs or European discovery given that the former are all dead now and the British were not the first Europeans to "discover" Australia?

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  6. Tom Fisher

    Editor and Proofreader

    I'm afraid I see no issue here. "Conservatism" in this country has long ago transformed itself, especially post-Mabo and Wik, and the long involved, intricately detailed debate on land rights and landuse policy that ensued.

    Through that long process the putative old division between "settlers" and Aboriginal peoples has now been pretty much resolved on the basis of our common identity as bush people facing common difference with the big cities and centralised politics, and not least the simple…

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    1. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      You'll be happy to know that I have done 'my time in the bush' - I grew up there. I now live in the city as that is what us country folk often do; pack up and move all wide eyed and wonder filled to the big smoke. I often recognise the limits to my knowledge however, in this instance, due to my area of upbringing and their close proximity to various ' missions' I do have many firends and acquaintances (mostly Koori, Yuin and Biripi) I do know how a lot of them feel about this.

      You'll also be surprised to know that even after ten years of being a city slicker I still enjoy reading actual books! Also, and I'm not sure if your preconceived notions can hanldle this one, I don't read newspapers either!

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    2. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Tom Fisher

      Are you from the same school of know everythingism as Andy Cameron? You have the same style of pontificating I suppose one could call it; although I do think that your writing is more 'stylish'.
      Andy is so pedestrian.

      But you really don't know much about the people you are denigrating do you?

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  7. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    So much hot air, but nobody has asked the obvious question: what is the Constitution? Why do we need one? What difference will it make to mention any particular group, be it original inhabitants, immigrants, convicts, swagmen, soldiers, tourists, miners, conservationists, politicians, men, women, children etc. etc.?
    I was taught at school that our constitution was an instruction manual for running the country, spelling out in minute detail just what sort of governments Australia was to have…

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      Paul can you explain the evidence you have and the argument you make that leads you to express your confidence in the direction Tony Abbott is taking?

      I have come to a different conclusion about the integrity of his interest in the first australians and I'm happy to provide you with some of my evidence which is links to blogs that I read about the issues - if you are interested.

      One of the reasons that I don't agree with you is the way Tony Abbott seemingly used the Yolungu people for his own…

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    2. Paul Prociv

      ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      Well, Julie, I must agree with you completely about suspecting the motives of any politician, be it Abbott or even an ALP PM! They live in the media spotlight, so that every move they make will be analysed in depth, and the public is understandably cynical. But I’ve been impressed with the time Abbott has spent among various indigenous communities, with the effort he has made engaging individuals, and with his decision not to blather on endlessly and pointlessly like his predecessors did, but…

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      I agree that Abbott is choosing to talk to the right people and he did seem to be interested in the problem but I put that down to electioneering and doubt that he really has any interest in the issue. But I think it is a good thing for us now to have a total rethink of the way the Labor and the left have gone about things - hopefully Labor will be doing this also - and we will come up with something more rational for the next election. Fingers crossed.

      But the more I learn about Abbott the less…

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    4. Raine S Ferdinands

      Education at Education

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      We also have to remember that the PM is not the sole decision maker for Australia. ALP, NLP, etc run on team work. Frankly I am more inclined to believe Abbott when it comes to Aboriginal matters simply because of his Jesuit education. In my experience, the Jesuit brothers then were a highly educated lot with a penchant for social justice issues. Abbot is also a pragmatic chap in an era where there is "an explosion of social and political correctness … with social do-gooders" (J Thomas), who in my opinion indulge in 'all talk with no results'. Good luck to Abbott and all those people who are genuinely keen to see this change re Aboriginal recognition

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    5. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Raine S Ferdinands

      Good luck indeed Raine because that is all Mr Abbott seems to have has going for him - oh except for the Murdoch man and his propaganda machine.

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  8. Peter West

    CEO at Property

    Whenever one ethnic/racial/economic whatever group is singled out for special treatment, it distorts the fabric of society and always has unforeseen consequences.
    Most Aboriginals I have met recently just want to be accepted as Australians, and the thinking ones don't want special status.
    There is a good argument that there were possibly a few races here before the current Aboriginals. There is the rock art in the Northern Territory, remarkably similar to Aftican Bushman art, always referred to…

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Peter West

      "There is a good argument that there were possibly a few races here before the current Aboriginals. There is the rock art in the Northern Territory, remarkably similar to Aftican Bushman art, always referred to by the current "indigenous" as "rubbish art"!"

      Is that bit about the rock art in the NT all you have as evidence for other 'races' being here Peter. If so it is rubbish. I think the art you may be referring to is in the Kimberleys.

      From my understanding, which would seem to be more extensive and accurate than yours, there are no good arguments that there were possibly a few reaces here before. If you have anything more truthy than that claim please direct me to these evidences.

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    2. David Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Peter West

      "I feel no guilt whatever for what happened 200 years ago." So you can't feel pride in what happened 200 years ago either.

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    3. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to David Roth

      Absolutely I do feel pride. Just look at the achievements of the original settlers and what they have built.
      Getting trashed now, but generally a fair and just society, just compare it with other regimes around the world.
      British law and a commercial law regime that allowed business to flourish are understated elements.
      Up until the Whitlam government we didn't have an "entitlement mentality" which is corroding and ruining the country.
      Just look at Europe and the US, where the debt and taxation…

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    4. David Roth

      Postgrad History Student

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter, if you take pride in the achievements of ancestors and pioneers, then you must equally take account of wrongdoing. It's all very well to say that the sins of our great-great-grandfathers have nothing to do with you, then turn around and in the same breath, lay claim only to their good deeds. This point has nothing to do with socialism, Tasmanian aborigines or debt and taxation.

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    5. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Peter West

      Peter when I look at the achievements of the original settlers and I have read quite a bit about the times from all sorts of viewpoints, what I see is that there were some - who knows how many - really nice white settlers who got on with the blackfellas and learned from them.

      Particularly the Irish it seems found much in common with aboriginal culture. For example the cutting down of tall poppies that is supposed to be something we Syrayans do, is something that is very important part of aboriginal…

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    6. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Peter West

      "We're going down this socialist road, which is a recipe for disaster wherever it has been tried."

      Peter,

      I suggest you do some objective research into the Nordic "welfare" states and reconcile that with the fact they lead nearly every list of the most developed, catered for and content citizens in the world. Whils it probably isn't a capatilist's dream, the success of the systems in terms of content citizens and social cohesiveness cannot be denied.

      However irrelevant the "left V right", "socialist V libertarians" argument is to the actual article, the success of the Nordic states is based on a shared political goal of encouraging strong social cohesion and if that equates to socialism in some people's eyes, then so be it. I don't see this as socialism, but an argument can definitely made for its effectiveness, whatever the correct definition.

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    7. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      The socialist road is a dead end street.

      Except for a minor few, who could or want to live on welfare.
      Is the world we are creating just an economy, or is it a place where communities and people matter.

      The world has become one giant grab for cash and it is leaving many people behind. The number grows every day, and we wonder why many folk become disillusioned with their lot in life.

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  9. Matt Bennett

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Sounds like this idea has not been "testing" very well with slitty-eyed Afrikaaners like Ackerman and Bolt. Going to be a very hard sell indeed.

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