NACCHO political news: Right wing Andrew Bolt claims in a “Diatribe ” I am an Indigenous Australian and “Australia is now under threat”

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Provocative Melbourne columnist Andrew Bolt has done it again, starting his recent Herald-Sun column  with the claim “I am an indigenous Australian” and warning that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plan to recognise Aboriginal Australians in the Constitution is “the path to apartheid”.

SEE full transcript below

We have resisted over two years to give Mr Bolt any “oxygen” but we felt that our members and stakeholders needed to read this latest diatribe

Mr Bolt, who was born in Adelaide to Dutch immigrant parents, goes on to declare “Australia is now under severe threat” due to the Prime Minister and in a series of increasingly alarmist pronouncements, often in quotation marks, says it’s socially dangerous, is racism and racial division and the move will permanently divide the nation.

Michael Mansell is an Aboriginal lawyer from Tasmania and a founding member and secretary of the Aboriginal Provisional Government

Here is Michael’s  response

The Guardian

Right wing commentator Andrew Bolt is at it again, this time arguing the sky will fall in if there is any constitutional recognition of the fact of Aboriginal people being here before whites arrived.

Everyone knows Indigenous people were here, so what’s the great fuss? Bolt’s view is an attempt to revive the Terra nullius doctrine which, for 200 years, fictionalised that the British came to an empty land and settled peacefully.

That myth was discredited  by the high court of Australia with its Mabo ruling 22 years ago, but people like Bolt are still yet to catch on.

Bolt also plays mischief-maker, claiming to be an Indigenous Australian. Like Pauline Hanson did in her maiden speech to the parliament in 1996, Bolt makes his claim based on a technical view that everyone born in Australia is legally, but not socially, an Indigenous Australian. His mischief is to ignore common sense and community normality which distinguishes between Indigenous Australians on the one hand, and white Australians like Bolt on the other.  Bolt wants to lead his followers through the chaos he ferments.

As part of the scare-mongering tone of his article, Bolt gets it wrong about the aim of the Aboriginal provisional government (APG), claiming it is a separatist movement. The APG wants an Aboriginal assembly of elected Aboriginal people with legislative power, returned land and a budget – in the same way different states do. And this aim is  within the federation of Australia. How is that separatism?

Bolt also claims the courts lean “too far” towards Aboriginal people. This is a case of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Aboriginals make up 26% of the prisoner population, yet only constitute 2.5% of the Australian population.  In 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, Aboriginal imprisonment rates have climbed from one in seven to one in four. Too far? Come on.

There is a big difference between theoretical equality – a belief that 20m Australians all live the same and have the same opportunities – and real equality. Rich and poor cannot be treated alike for stealing bread. Sentencing courts across Australia acknowledge that people are not all the same. A woman suffering domestic violence who strikes out because she’s had enough should not get the same penalty as an alcohol fuelled king-hit merchant. Nor should the background of people suffering daily discrimination, leading to family dysfunction, be ignored as Bolt would have it. Yet Bolt implies that the courts should consider everyone’s background except that of Aboriginal people, and claims that is equality.

Bolt claims “Australia is now under threat” from just talking about constitutional reforms – but then again, he is very prone to exaggeration. What is really at stake is whether constitutional recognition will benefit Aboriginal people or merely warm the hearts of middle-class Australians – that’s the nub of the debate.

This national discussion can be robust if the views of all – including the alleged beneficiaries of constitutional recognition – are to be heard. I support Bolt’s right to participate in the debate, but he should avoid inflaming prejudice against Aboriginal people which leads to personalising and dismissal of Indigenous opinion.

Black Hip

Sadly, Bolt is secure in the knowledge he can regularly attack fair skinned Aboriginal people as not being eligible to speak for their people (the federal court found Bolt breached racial vilification laws), and thereby deny them the same freedom to participate in public debate that he enjoys.

ANDREW BOLT Article from all NEWS LTD papers

I AM an indigenous Australian, like millions of other people here, black or white. Take note, Tony Abbott. Think again, you new dividers, before we are on the path to apartheid with your change to our Constitution.

I was born here, I live here and I call no other country home. I am therefore indigenous to this land and have as much right as anyone to it.

What’s more, when I go before the courts I want to be judged as an individual. I do not want different rights according to my class, faith, ancestry, country of birth … or “race”.

I’m sure most Australians feel the same. We are Australians together, equal under the law and equal in our right as citizens to be here. That’s how we’ve been for generations. It’s why we’ve welcomed lawful immigrants and damned racists.

But this Australia is now under severe threat. Most incredibly, that threat is now led by Prime Minister Abbott, a Liberal. Abbott says he wants a “national crusade” to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the “first Australians”.

“If we had known in 1901 what we know now, if our hearts had been as big then as now, we would have acknowledged indigenous people in the Constitution back then,’’ he said this week.

This is nonsense. The writers of our Constitution no more lacked heart than do people today.

The difference is they were inspired by the creed that all citizens — those, at least, we admitted — are as one before the law.

True, they did not always live up to that ideal (although, contrary to popular myth, they granted Aborigines the vote in all states where they had the franchise).

But even if we don’t always follow our moral compass, the answer never is to break it. Changing the Constitution to divide Australians between the “first” and the rest — on the basis of the “race” of our ancestors — is not just immoral and an insult to our individuality.

Worse, it is socially dangerous. This will not “reconcile” us but permanently divide. It would do no good to a single Aboriginal in bush camps, but would concede a critical point: that Australians in our most fundamental legal document are now to be divided by “race”.

Abbott insists he will not endorse any change that will have that practical effect in the courts. He means to treat the Constitution in this matter as if it were just a history book, not the foundation of our law.

But once he concedes the principle he concedes everything.

He will not get the “reconciliation” he imagines, some shiny day when we all hug each other in happy tears.

He will instead license demands from people, particularly race industry professionals, who will in some cases be satisfied with nothing less than apartheid.

Consider the history of this disastrous “reconciliation” movement. First, we were told we simply needed to say sorry to be reconciled.

As Aboriginal activist Professor Mick Dodson claimed: “The apology has the potential to transform Australia and, once and for all, to put black and white relationships in this country on a proper footing.”

Prime minister Kevin Rudd duly said sorry in 2008, but then another step was needed, after all — a law to recognise Aborigines as the First Australians.

As Ballarat elder “Uncle” Murray Harrison put it: “As far as I’m concerned this is what it’s all about, just being recognised would put the icing on the cake, mate.”

So last year Parliament passed an “act of recognition”, but that wasn’t enough, either. Now the Constitution itself must change, and already we’re told even that won’t do.

Abbott’s chief adviser on Aboriginal issues, Warren Mundine, this week said we must then negotiate treaties with each of Australia’s hundreds of tribal “nations” to “acknowledge Australia’s right to exist”.

Pardon? Argue with hundreds of Aboriginal “leaders” over whether our nation actually is entitled to exist? Have the incendiary debate Israel has with its Muslim enemies?

What next? Well, Aboriginal leader Sol Bellear, chairman of the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern, spelled it out on the ABC: a future in which “no Australian court has the right to sit in judgment of my people.”

Indeed, we already have an “Aboriginal Provisional Government”, led by Michael Mansell, with such a separatist agenda. So when exactly will we be “reconciled”? When our country is torn apart on ethnic lines, with more recently arrived groups demanding their own customary laws, too?

Stop now. Say no to racism. Say no to racial division. Say no to changing our Constitution

intelligent-argument

Andrew Bolt and Cane Toads, Both As Indigenous As Each Other!

And further response from THE Australian independent Media network

A few days ago, Andrew Bolt shared a rather strange idea:

“I AM an indigenous Australian, like millions of other people here, black or white. Take note, Tony Abbott. Think again, you new dividers, before we are on the path to apartheid with your change to our Constitution.

I was born here, I live here and I call no other country home. I am therefore indigenous to this land and have as much right as anyone to it.”

Of course, that caused a bit of a controversy. And, I am aware that Bolt thrives on controversy and does so deliberately – because let’s face it when it comes to his place in the media, it’s really all he has. Yes, I’m sure that some of you will say that if you just ignore him, then he’ll go away. While I can see some merit in that argument, I also think that lies and misinformation need to be challenged. Otherwise, we end up with things like Jon Faine telling a talkback caller that the Liberals took the sale of Australia Post to the election as one of their policies. Does anyone remember that? The sale of Medibank Private was tucked away in their fine print, but I can find nothing nor can I remember anything about it.

And so to the word “indigenous”. People are arguing. Some are saying that “technically” he’s right. However, I can find no definition to support even a technical argument to enable someone to argue that he or she is indigenous, simply by virtue of being born in a place.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it:

originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native:

the indigenous peoples of Siberia 

coriander is indigenous to southern Europe

If someone can find a definition that includes zoo animals which are born here, then I’ll be willing to concede that Bolt is as indigenous as a cane toad. (Or almost, cane toads have been here for several generations now).

But Bolt is not content with manglng the word indigenous in order to inflame and insult. He goes on to quote Tony Abbott, before twisting history:

“If we had known in 1901 what we know now, if our hearts had been as big then as now, we would have acknowledged indigenous people in the Constitution back then,’’ he said this week.

This is nonsense. The writers of our Constitution no more lacked heart than do people today. The difference is they were inspired by the creed that all citizens — those, at least, we admitted — are as one before the law.

True, they did not always live up to that ideal (although, contrary to popular myth, they granted Aborigines the vote in all states where they had the franchise).

But even if we don’t always follow our moral compass, the answer never is to break it. Changing the Constitution to divide Australians between the “first” and the rest — on the basis of the “race” of our ancestors — is not just immoral and an insult to our individuality.

There is much in this that’s highly questionable, but his assertion that “although, contrary to popular myth, they granted Aborigines the vote in all states where they had the franchise)” can’t be allowed to go unchallenged.

Section 41 of the Constitution ensured that people who already had the right to vote weren’t disenfranchised by the new Federal Parliament.

 ’No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State, shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of Parliament of the Commonwealth.’

Its main impetus was to protect the rights of women in South Australia who had already gained the vote. As a by-product it gave rights to a number of others, including “non-white” migrants who had arrived before the “White Australia” policy and Indigenous Australians if they already had voting rights.

While two states specifically excluded Aborigines from voting – Queensland and Western Australia, others did little to make them aware of their rights or to encourage them to enrol.

The initial interpretation of Section 41, by the first Solicitor General was that franchise rights only included those who were on the role at the time of Federation, meaning that no new Aboriginal voters could be enrolled. While this was challenged successfully in 1924 by an Indian man who’d been rejected as a Commonwealth voter in spite of being enrolled at State Level, the history of the  voting rights of Aboriginal people is not as simple as Andrew Bolt implies with his throwaway line about “popular myth”. It wasn’t until the 1967 Referendum that the voting rights were ensured; to suggest otherwise, is to be mischievous.

But Bolt has always been one for contradictions. He suggests that he just wants us to be all one, but points out that both the judge and the prosecutor at his trial were Jewish. Not that he has a problem with that – it’s just that he thought that such people would understand the dangers of an oppressive government trying to shut down free speech. However, a media organisation should never use its free speech to “aid the enemy” by publishing allegations about who’s being spied on – even if it’s us – or  which suggest that our navy has treated people roughly when turning their boats around. In the case of the ABC, the whole organisation should be shut down or sold off for daring to publish that which the public has no right to know. A celebrity’s hacked phone records, however, are no reason to launch an inquiry which may inhibit the media from doing its job.

However, the thing I find worrying is not the fact that Bolt has made a fool of himself with his inaccurate and inflammatory use of language. It’s that – for just a millisecond – he’s made Tony Abbott look good. Oh, I know that some of you will question Abbott’s motives about the constitutional addition, but that’s not the point. When Bolt starts criticising Abbott as being too trendy and left wing, it almost makes Abbott sound like he’s mainstream. (No, of course, not to you died in the wool Left wing socialist, latte-sippers who lap up sites like this :)  ). While we’re making effigies of Bolt to throw on the bonfire, we can be distracted from the fact that he’s not the one in government. In the end, Bolt is an irrelevant errand boy who’ll write what he’s told.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of spending an entire blog only to say that Bolt doesn’t matter. However, I make the simple defence that one can’t allow misinformation to spread, no matter who’s spreading it.

“Much has been accomplished when one man says ‘No’!” Bertold Brecht

WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS BELOW

One comment on “NACCHO political news: Right wing Andrew Bolt claims in a “Diatribe ” I am an Indigenous Australian and “Australia is now under threat”

  1. indigenous (adj.)
    1640s, from Late Latin indigenus “born in a country, native,” from Latin indigena “sprung from the land,” as a noun, “a native,” literally “in-born,” or “born in (a place),” from Old Latin indu “in, within” (earlier endo) + *gene-, root of gignere (perf. genui) “beget,” from PIE *gen- “produce” (see genus).

    Source: http://www.etymonline.com/

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