Saturday, October 27, 2007

Alex Deane: Report from the Aussie Election Day 14


Veteran Aboriginal rights campaigner Galarrwuy Yunupingu backed John Howard’s pledge to recognise Aboriginal rights yesterday. In his speech at the University of Melbourne, he spoke of this being “the most serious business we have faced as a nation” and as an issue on which the Prime Minister “trying, on behalf of the nation… to get it right”.

This area has always been problematic for John Howard. As his biographers have stated, he has always believed in integration rather than multiculturalism. At the time that the policy was announced, he talked about how this has been an area with which he has long struggled; it is one in which his background has shaped his views. It is easy to mock his position as electoral jockeying. It will certainly have surprised many amongst both admirers and detractors. Personally, I really do think that it’s the result of a process, a long journey on which his opinions have changed over time.

In any case, if Yunupingu’s speech had been made in praise of Rudd, it would have received widespread coverage – even though it would have been less newsworthy, given the long and understandable affinity between such campaigners and the left. Instead, when an Aboriginal rights campaigner has endorsed the position of one of the most conservative figures in politics, it has been received in all but silence from the media, with only the Australian giving it an outing (apart from The Age, a remarkable home of leftism, which managed to covered the story and reprint the speech without discussing any of the positivity towards the PM). Such is life.


Anonymous said...

These reports of the Aussie election are rubbish. Why not talk of Howard's fear campaign against the trade unions (now admitted by the Liberals) or the likelihood of a rise in interest rates during the campaign. Howard is finished and the marginal's are now swinging Rudd's way.

Iain Dale said...

Howard, Happy to receive missives from you too!

Anonymous said...,,2117202,00.html

Germaine Greer did an excellent article a few months ago for the Guardian which I would heartily recommend to someone who wants a different, and rather more balanced perspective about life 'down under' under the insular, racist claptrap and dog-whistle politics peddled by John Howard and his cronies. And to think that only a few short years ago the Tories were taking advice from Lynton Crosbie on how to win elections! You couldn't make it up..

Why on earth should the aborigines, who have been living their way of life for tens of thousands of years, adapt to the rapacious capitalism and racism of the majority of Australians ?

Isn't it incumbent on those that are latter-day Johnny-Come-Latelies, or descended from convicts, to develop a better understanding of Aboriginal culture, and a lot more respect for it ?

And don't even think of responding with some general attack on GG herself - READ the article, and tell me exactly what it is about the article itself that you disagree with....

M. Hristov said...

Let me explain something to howard (the contributor not the P.M.). The trade unions have been effectively annihilated as a political force in this country and have been reduced to making servile deals with the large employers (eg Tesco). Only public sector unions dare strike and then not for very long. The Labour Government does nothing for trades unions but subsists on their money. So, complaining about a campaign of fear against unions seems irrelevant to anyone in the U.K. This is the product of the Thatcherite revolution and is now accepted by everyone (except one or two public sector union leaders). People remember what damage the trades unions did in the 1970s.

Secondly, I would like to explain that it is no longer acceptable to label different ethnic groups in derogatory terms in this country. This is because we have effected a level of integration that stops people doing this and we have also developed a system of public manners which is totally alien to the average Australian. Therefore, aboriginals are not “bungs”. Italians are not “dings” and “W.O.G.” is a term of abuse not an everyday figure of speech, as it is in Australia. Australians are “Aussies” in this country. This is not a form of abuse, unlike the word “Pom”. In addition, some people in this country do not like Americans but they do not refer to them as “septics”.

Thirdly, we do have an underclass but it is an interracial underclass rather than an indigenous one. Nor can our Police cannot get away with beating up people in the Police Station. This is also a product of the Thatcherite revolution, as Mrs Thatcher professionalised our police force.

Iain, I am afraid that your blogger is not in a position to “set the scene” for the Australian election. Imagine a country run by working class English Londoners and Irish working class migrants and you get close.

I have never forgotten a supposedly true story, told by Barry Humphries, which sums up the social attitudes of most Australians.

A past Director of the Sydney Opera House was showing some snooty foreigners round the building. "How do you get the audiences?" asked one of the snooty foreigners. “If it weren’t for the Jews and the poofters we’d be up shit creek.” was the reply.

One of the great changes of my lifetime is that there is now a level of tolerance for different ethnic groups and sexual orientations in this country (U.K.) that makes casual derogatory appellations, such as “poofter”, completely unacceptable. It was very different when I was a child. Some people would say that this is a triumph for political correctness. Political correctness is intolerance masquerading as tolerance. The tolerance that I have referred to is simple good manners and it is a wonderful thing that simple good manners have triumphed over boorishness.

Anonymous said...

The "remarkable home of leftism" is nothing of the kind and the opinion you linked was that of Catherine Deveny, stand-up comedian and comedy writer, known for her left-wing views and controversial guest columns.
I have lived in Melbourne for a while now and read The Age everyday. It was a seamless transition from The Telegraph in the UK.