Aborigines

A Nation for a Continent and a Continent for a Nation

One of the major arguments for the creation of the Australian nation in 1901 was that it would produce something unique in the world, what our first Commonwealth Prime Minister Edmund Barton called: “a nation for a continent and a continent for a nation”. This was especially attractive because of its implications for national secu­rity. The architects of federation saw that, unlike Europe and the Americas, whose history had been pervaded by territorial warfare, Australia’s absence of land borders with other nations would be one of its best guarantees of peace and stability. So far they have been proven right.

The constitutional referendum proposed by the Albanese government for an Aboriginal Voice puts all this at risk. The referendum should be seen not merely as a sympathetic means of eroding the marginality of indigenous people in remote communities but as a potential threat to Australia’s unique geographic and political status.

This is because the Aboriginal political class is unwilling to accept a position in contemporary Australia as an ethnic minority group. Its members want political power that is commensu­rate not with their numbers in the population but with the fact that they got here first. They want other Australians to recognise the “distinct rights” that purportedly flow to Aborigines because they are the descendants of what are now known as the First Nations. This is a title, borrowed from North America, that has recently become embedded in our political language by a relentless public relations campaign. It has consolidated the objectives of what were once the far left of the Aboriginal political movement and which have now become the central agenda of the demand for constitutional change.

Michael Mansell, the founder of a black power group in the 1960s named the Aboriginal Provisional Government, has been an uncompromising advocate of this position for many years. In 2003, in the book Treaty: Let’s Get it Right!, Mansell argued that the fundamental choice for indigenous people was whether they wanted to be Aboriginal Australians, “the original people who lost their country and con­sented to be citizens of Australia”, or Australian Aboriginals who retained the inherent rights of “the original people whose lands were invaded and are now occupied”.

He says those who accept the first proposition become committed to a social con­tract, whereas those like him who prefer the second option should hold out for a more powerful political settlement. The former, he says, fail to recog­nise their true interests as Aboriginal people, because citizenship is no more than another version of the old, besmirched policy of assimilation. Although their own numbers are increasing rapidly, Aboriginal Australians con­tinue to be demographically swamped by immigration, which, he says, inevitably renders them politically impotent in a democracy:

Indigenous participation in Australia’s political system is political assimilation … It means white values, behaviour and attitudes so overwhelm individual indigenous people that eventually these values are adopted in preference to indigenous ones. … Compare the Aboriginal Provisional Government vision — for Aboriginal people to take our place among the nations and people of the world, not beneath them.

Mansell was not saying anything new. Members of the Aboriginal political class have been engaged in their own political long march for fifty years. Many have  argued that gestures like treaties and constitutional amendments are not ends in themselves but simply concessions from white people in the journey towards the real goal: Aboriginal sovereignty.

In 1982, in its submission to a Senate inquiry into a treaty or Makarrata, the National Aboriginal Conference, a nationally elected body established by the Fraser government, said the next step on this road was the creation of Aboriginal states, which would evolve into separate nations:

While Aboriginal nations may not be granted full sovereignty immediately, they should be vested with certain legal rights which they are entitled to enjoy against the State within whose borders they live. The status thus created would be an interim remedy for as long as the Aboriginal nation needed to evolve to the point of being able to exercise the right of self-determination.[1]

In 1990, Prime Minister Bob Hawke created a nationally elected body, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commis­sion (ATSIC). This was partly to put responsibility for delivery of Aboriginal services into Aboriginal hands but also to create a political body to which representatives could be democratically elected, as is proposed again by the Voice.

After the Victorian radical Geoff Clark was elected ATSIC chairman in December 1999, the organisation set up its own think tank to define what a treaty would look like. Clark was a founding member of the Aboriginal Provisional Government and had been its deputy chairman since 1990. He commissioned another founding member of this group, University of Technology Sydney legal academic Larissa Behrendt, to formu­late the terms and process of a formal treaty between the Aus­tralian government and Aboriginal people. One of the think tank’s first publications Treaty: Let’s Get it Right! asked the rhetorical question:

Q: Is a treaty about setting up a “black state”?

A: Treaties in other countries have provided for indigenous self-government. It is likely that Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples would want to negotiate self-government in relation to traditional lands as part of a treaty in Australia.

In short, their answer to a black state was yes. Their case (completely erroneous in my view) was that the foundation of the British colony in 1788 did not extin­guish the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples. Like the native title the High Court’s Mabo judgment found had continued after colonisation, proponents of a treaty claim pre-1788 Abo­riginal government and laws were never legitimately extin­guished either, and should be restored. And if laws could be revived then so should be Aboriginal governance. They wanted the treaty to complete what they called the “unfinished business” of colonisation.

In short, the logic of the position that indigenous people should be recognised not as just another minority group but as First Nations, leads inexorably to a demand for their own separate nations with their own independent national leaders. Their ultimate ambitions, as Michael Mansell said, would be to take their rightful place among the nations of the world.

In the 1990s, when the working group for the United Nations’ proposed Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was hearing submissions, a major debate emerged over the inclusion of the right of indige­nous peoples to self-determination. The observer from Canada argued that a ref­erence to a right of self-determination would imply a right of secession, and so should be struck out. How­ever, he was over­ruled by the working group, which responded to protests by representatives of various indigenous peoples demanding “the right to self-determination without any limita­tions or qualifica­tions”. Despite continued opposition from Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia up to 2007, when the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peo­ples was passed by the UN General Assembly, the right to self-determination remained intact.

In April 2009, Kevin Rudd’s Labor government took Australia down the road proposed by the UN. Rudd formally endorsed the declaration of indigenous rights. Given the enormous sense of grievance expressed by the current Aboriginal establishment and, given the fact that its members are prominent advocates within the international First Nations movement, it would be naïve to imagine that the leaders of Aboriginal states would be satisfied to confine themselves to the provision of municipal services, health reform or welfare payments when they could see a far more ambitious goal within reach.

In Australia, a constitutional amendment would provide a bargaining position for indigenous peoples to exert far more influence over our national government than anyone now imagines. It would also provide a political platform from which to play to a world audience and to make allies who would not necessarily share mainstream Australian concerns.

In its own interests, mainstream Australia has no reason to provide even the slightest leverage for such possibilities, or to leave future generations with their consequences. Aboriginal sovereignty poses long-term risks for Australian sovereignty which are not worth running.

Most Australians today see the creation of the Voice as a constitutional change that would recognise the original inhabitants of this continent as valued citizens of a tolerant and generous Aus­tralia. However, the Aboriginal establishment sees it all quite differently. They don’t want to be just a respected minority group. They see themselves as Australian Aboriginals who retain the rights of the original peo­ple whose lands were invaded and are now illegally occupied. Voters in the proposed referendum need to recognise that its ultimate objective is the establishment of a politically separate race of people, and the potential break-up of Australia.

Order The Break-up of Australia here

 

[1] National Aboriginal Conference submission, 22 June 1982, An Examina­tion of the Feasibility, whether by way of constitutional amendment or other legal means of securing a compact or ‘Makarrata’ between the Commonwealth Government and Aboriginal Australians, 1983, (official Hansard transcript of evidence), Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, p 633

26 thoughts on “A Nation for a Continent and a Continent for a Nation

  • Daffy says:

    Further, the amount of intellectual subterfuge behind the modern Aboriginal activist claims needs to be exposed. The very term ‘First Nations’ is both anachronistic and anatopic. There is no way that bands of roving, half staved, brutal, hunter-gatherers constituted a nation. The lack of such a culture is demonstrated sadly by the plight of many in remote communities.
    _
    At the time of British settlement, affected Aborigines reacted in two ways: (1) to accept and participate in the bounty the settlers brought with them and introduced to the natives, and seeking to fit in with the settlers and thus becoming part of the settlement, and (2) to oppose it in attacks, raids against settlers and theft and destruction of their property.
    _
    These attacks were variously retaliated against, including in criminal acts which were rightly punished at law by the settlers. The constitution continued the view that saw the Aborigines as people worthy of respect and recognised Aborigines as citizens with full rights. Indeed, this was reflected in the attempts to care for starving and impoverished Aborigines, abandoned mixed race children and invite participation in a culture the settlers were rightly proud of and enthusiastic to share.
    _
    The settlers found no one to negotiate with in most cases, saw a land that was barely populated with room to share. They sought to share. The gave jobs to Aborigines, including as police, and these jobs were accepted.
    _
    As in all human affairs things were done both well and badly. Subsequent generations have sought to redress the disadvantage thrust upon (some) Aborigines, to the tune of many billions of dollars and vast effort to deliver assistance in kind.
    _
    Aborigines are now full participants in what amounts to a joint enterprise to build a nation of equity and peace. Aborigines are regarded as equals and enjoy the benefits of the Euro-British heritage that underpins our nation. They therefore accept the situation and agree with it by their actions.
    _
    No one alive today has anything to do with the past. So we move on together, or we fail and break apart and embark on a road to destruction, mutual animosity and an unworkable mosaic of governments, nations and centres of power.
    _
    The contrary position is motivated by who knows what, but greed for power expressed in mendacious propaganda would seem to be high on the list.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    One wonders what projects run by Aboriginals have been a success, I can’t think of any offhand for they have all been a huge failure and a complete waste of taxpayers money. ATSIC was a prime example.

  • Farnswort says:

    Rowan Dean etc. are spot on – the Coalition under Dutton needs to get rid of Julian Leeser and take a stance against this racist Voice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBsPC8f81Wk

  • Farnswort says:

    Keith Windschuttle on the Bolt Report last week discussing ‘the Voice’ and its implications: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeS1PG1JpXY

  • john.singer says:

    You only realise the full import of a silly proposition when you apply comonsense or logic to it.
    Imagine, if you will. the “Out of Africa Theory”. a few Africans go out of their Homeland and colonise the European and Asian continents. Each family becomes a tribe and fights all-comers for their hunting ground. Do all these become sovereign Nations, Forever? All the great civilisations could not have occurred if their laws and inventions could be quashed by the whim of the less educated and less prepared. No wheel, no motive power but that of humans, not even daily bread.

    Bad enough we have allowed absurd foreign ideas to infect our polity but even more absurd is to allow them to infect our language.
    There is not one single Australian whether born here or overseas who does not have in their family tree an ancestor who was not displaced from their lands. You will not displace my children and their children from land earned by the sweat of our brows and the price of our taxes (which have unfortunately paid the financial support of this insanity}.

  • Katzenjammer says:

    They’re right that we need an amendment to the constitution, perhaps as a preliminary statement to address the relationship between the numerous tribes and the invaders. Something that expresses the success of the invasion and the subsequent nullification of all pre-existent modes of social organisation and order on this continent. We need something added to the constitution that lays aside any possibility of this dual nation idea being canvassed again forever. And stop calling the numerous tribes that fake name, “first nations”.

  • brandee says:

    No Katzenjammer, do not touch the constitution. Include something in the preamble if you wish and as was previously rejected but please no referendum that may open the way for subterfuge and lawfare.

    To shorten a phrase from the wise words of Keith Windschuttle above: “The constitutional referendum – – puts all this at risk”

  • 27hugo27 says:

    Excellent opening post, Daffy – not much more to add except yes, they had apparently a hundred thousand years to build a nation (by definition a place with a common language, laws, and cudtoms) yet were completely at the mercy of the elements, controlling nothing. If in theory they gain territory, we must strip them of all things western including the wheel if their “culture” is so important and tainted by us. Let them have their customs, however barbaric, back and watch the lefties squirm with buyers remorse. And give not one cent in aid, no medical assistance and let the chips fall where they may. This would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Apart from the issue of , “who is an ‘Aboriginal’? Bruce Pascoe has been accepted as a member of the Twofold Aboriginal Corporation. The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) has previously demanded Twofold expel a non-Aboriginal member, namely a white woman who had been secretary. When I complained to ORIC about Pascoe’s membership, I got no response. Pascoe fails the “Aboriginal ancestor” test. Ergo, voting criteria for the wished-for Voice (if established) will be arbitrary.

  • Laurence says:

    From my observations recent immigrants to Australia believe that, their voices are not being heard, similar to the claim made by the indigenous peoples. This is an important point as immigrants came to this country pledging their allegiance to the whole country. The voice fragments the country and the allegiances made by pretty much most of us, is destroyed. No one can benefit under this circumstance.

  • Farnswort says:

    Laurence, Australia is rapidly devolving into the “cluster of competing tribes” that Geoffrey Blainey warned about. What a sad situation.

  • Farnswort says:

    Katzenjammer: “And stop calling the numerous tribes that fake name, “first nations”.”

    Agreed, nomadic tribes are not ‘nations’. The highly contentious “first nations” term was imported from Canada, which seems to a breeding ground for woke-left pathologies.

  • vickisanderson says:

    Thank you Keith for putting forward the background, that few understand, to this ruinous proposition to change our Constitution.

    Even at our present time, Australian citizens do not have the right to enter Arnhem Land, and also other Aboriginal territorial lands, without a Permit. There is plausibly a direction in this latest proposal, as Keith suggests, that would eventually lead to recognition of an Aboriginal nation. This is far from certain, but it is too dangerous to the stability and integration of our society, to risk.

    Incidentally, given the traditions of payback and thoroughly patriarchal retribution seen in Aboriginal communities, it would be a cruel abandonment of women and children in these communities. Senior women in Aboriginal pressure groups must surely understand this. It is unforgiveable. Jacinta Price is a treasure and should be supported.

  • rosross says:

    By any use of the term First Nations for Australians with Aboriginal ancestry, the vast majority of citizens are reduced to being Second Nations which is not only undemocratic and unconstitutional, it is an abuse of human rights and a travesty of historical fact.

  • a.c.ryan says:

    There appears to be much consensus in the comments above. Preaching to the converted seems to be the theme of this newsletter, in fact. I would like to add, however, that this issue extends far beyond Indigenous Australia. The very old-fashioned hardcore anthropological statement presented by “Duffy” above sums up one point of view – with the unspoken addendum “sooth the dying pillow” no doubt assumed. But anthropology has branched out into sociology and social history these days. Sociology also includes urban sociology, and here we can see that tribal cultures are alive and well in modern society. We have urban “tribes” right here in Australia – one only need to read the tabloids, modern arbiters of our social history, to learn all about bikie gangs, Middle Easter gangs, etc, plus view the proliferation of tattooed and surgically enhanced “influencers” and spouters of misinformation on social media, to see that modern society is fragmented AND that the one thing that binds them all is POVERTY. Look at the British tabloids online – free to view if you have internet access – there are whole tribes living their lives on there, increasingly alienated from our own comfortable and ageing middle class sensibilities. I suggest we leave them all alone for now – and that goes for our Indigenous population. Let them sort it out for themselves. Do not patronise. Do not assume that your life and values are better than theirs. They are doing no harm to you. Look around you, outside of your own social circles – visit your nearest large shopping centre or central railway station and take a good look at the people hanging around there. This should show you that there are “tribes” and lives in existence, totally different to yours. These human beings nevertheless have rights and issues, and all that human choice or lack of, and fate in all of its diversifications and multifariousness, can offer. Look and learn, and think, before you condemn and comment again, on a small portion of our society who pose far less of a threat to you than many others who walk among us.

  • rosross says:

    @a.c. ryan

    The only way people can be left alone is when they are self-supporting. That can only happen through assimilation into the broader community and leaving the backward tribal cultures behind. Yes, new tribal systems may be created but they will be a part of the modern world.

    Those in Aboriginal communities exist on welfare. No-one on welfare is ever free.

    You said: Do not assume that your life and values are better than theirs.

    With violence toward women ten times higher than the average rate I can assure you, our life and values are better.

    Children in these places have rates of sexually transmitted diseases which are astronomical compared to the norm, including in toddlers and sexual abuse is an everyday event.

    On that basis I can assure you that our life and values are better even if they remain imperfect.

    You said: They are doing no harm to you. Look around you, outside of your own social circles

    You assume too much. We are all affected by the suffering of other Australians and what is a threat to them is a threat to all. I have been to more than one Aboriginal community, how about you? I have lived in India and four ‘African countries for decades. I doubt my experiences are unusual among commenters here.

  • padraic says:

    Absolutely correct Keith. It is all about Aboriginal activists running the show and it has been a long time in the making. Activists in Canada, New Zealand and here have been working on it for years, particularly in 1990s and these days the university Law schools and “sociology” faculties are full of it.

  • padraic says:

    To a.c. ryan -about those modern “tribes” you mention – they usually have one thing in common – drug abuse – and that impairs their brains and hence their perspectives.

  • vagan says:

    Last year’s Langton-Calma report on design of The Voice also contains telling material concerning the nature of The Voice’s engagement with the legislative process (page 161) and its involvement in international affairs (page 153).
    The combination of the latter with Penny Wong’s announced “Indigenous foreign policy” and the government’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, suggest that Australia might soon be advocating independence for West Papua.

  • 27hugo27 says:

    Nice rejoinder rosross, a c ryan is playing the sober yin to our raging yang, with a hint of moral superiority methinks. Firstly, yes society is descending into tribes, the predictable and bitter fruit of multiculturalism and ignoring them is not an option. As someone said “you might not be interested in them, but they are definitely interested in you”. I walk the streets of Adelaide around Whitmore Square /Central market and am often accosted by aboriginals and sometimes Africans – their infighting and general belligerence regularly on display. What does a c ryan suggest i do? Ignoring all the societal problems is not an option as the left always fill the voids we leave.

  • abrogard says:

    It is all treated far too seriously.
    gives it some credence even whilst demonstrating there is no credence.
    Fact is there are no aborigines now. Term properly belongs now to my children etc.
    Consider Mabo. That was bullshit. Misjudgement. Abo law meant survival of the fittest and take what you can. It was tribe v tribe in Aus and that meant ANY tribe. A tribe could come from overseas and enjoy the same rights and doubtless would and did, or at least some members of. Now simple fact is that we came as a tribe, too, within their world view and we took what was our ‘right’ to take within their world view.
    Too simple, true, obvious, uncomplicated and harmless for our (excuse me) F***witted legal beagles to comprehend.
    Land: the land they had was not ‘land’. It was ‘range’. They ranged over it. Its worth was the food it produced. Our ‘land’ is an entirely different thing. Totally and absolutely different. They would have been unable to comprehend ‘our land’, system of tenure, nature of holding, implications, responsibilities, etc. etc. and the pretenders today don’t either. Or if they do they hide it. They are total charlatans.
    So what was that I’ve covered?
    Blood, ethnicity.
    Law.
    Land.
    What else is there?
    I think nothing.
    That’s the simple guts of it.
    It’s a trick and a ploy and a hobby horse and a delusion and a bandwagon.
    Just like covid.
    Probably we will fail to beat it just as we’ve failed to beat the covid insanity and our rights and our democracy is in ruins presently though no one acts as though it is so.
    But it is so.
    And we could be locked down like Shanghai tomorrow did it suit them.
    So probably we will fail to beat this insanity too.
    So I just plead with you all to drop the attempt to argue these things in detail and with all seriousness, minute point by minute point.
    Drop the pretence. The pretence is theirs. Just as it was/is with covid.
    And say it bluntly and unequivocally:

    . It’s all bullshit.
    . You are not ‘aboriginal’
    . We took as was our right within your great grandfathers law and he knew that.
    . This land is completely another thing compared to that land.

    And that’s not the whole thing in detail and it doesn’t need to be and it’s a waste of time and counter productive for it to be.

    But it is the guts of the matter. And that’s what we need: words such as ‘guts’ rather than ‘the essence’. See?

    You know what bandits do? They probe for weakness.

    We are displaying weakness. Well, not ‘us’, but large sectors amongst us. We need to turn our attention to those sectors and root them out. They pretend to speak for us but all they do is let us get shafted to bolster their own conceit.

    It’s too late for poncing around. They are not poncing around. They are out for whatever they can get for nothing. And they’re getting it. And they’re using our dollar to get it from us! How clever is that?

    Some few may remember Australia? Anyone? It’s too late for poncing around. We need a return to Australia if at all possible. What’s going on is a bloody shame and its a mob of bloody dingos behind it and a mob of ratbags in front of it.

  • 27hugo27 says:

    Yes Abrogard, on every issue (climate change, identity politics, covert 19 etc) they are telling us that 2+2=5.

  • rosross says:

    Why would or should it matter if someone has Aboriginal ancestry? Why would it matter that there were stone-age peoples here when the British arrived? Many assimilated and helped to build the Australian nation and some did not. The successful ones intermarried, assimilated and integrated. Those who failed remained in backward tribal cultures albeit without the horrors of cannibalism, infanticide and cruel initiation practices for boys and girls, thanks to the British.

    The British have been colonised a dozen times and managed to get over it. Is the argument Aboriginal peoples had some inferior function which meant they could not do what other humans did? Clearly not since most did and do.

    The reality which ‘dare not speak its name’ is that the few Australians with Aboriginal ancestry still suffering are doing so because they have not assimilated into the modern world but remain trapped in backward, unenlightened, brutal tribal systems. No amount of voice or money will fix that. They either fix it themselves or they die out.

    The Aborigine Lites pushing the agenda just want power and money for themselves.

  • padraic says:

    The activists insist on not telling the rest of us why it is necessary to incorporate such a body in the Constitution and hiding behind all this “compassion” and “guilt” drivel and using that to make us vote yes. That immediately makes one suspicious of the underlying motive and I have been wracking my brain over the past few years wondering why it is necessary for them to have it in the Constitution and what is driving them – and after looking at Farnswort’s hotlink of the video of the discussion between Keith and Bolt on the amount of land now under Native Title, and at the same time attempting to read the Native Title Act (350mm thick), it dawned on me that they need to control Parliament because Parliament has the power to delete the Native Title Act. This frightens them, because is all about land tenure which is critical when linked to their claim of sovereignty never being ceded. If sovereignty ever got up via the treaties currently being done in the States and these linked to Native Title we would be snookered. These treaties would be between them and the Crown, as the States still retain their connection with the Crown. It may be that we need an expert on land tenure to look at the implications. I briefly checked Dr Google and noted that Native Title in Australia is “alloidal” – a rare form of tenure – which seems to give them complete control of the land – hence the need for permission to enter, as other posts have mentioned.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “Its members want political power that is commensurate not with their numbers in the population but with the fact that they got here first.”
    Most people identifying as Aborigines today have some non-Aboriginal ancestry: European mainly, but some Chinese and other enthicities as well. The 19thC anthropologists, before this became as widespread as it is today, identified three major Aboriginal subgroups or racial types: the Tasmanians, the Murrayans and the Carpentarians. The Carpentarians were the last to arrive, and the Tasmanians the first. That these three ‘races,’ ethnicities or call them what you will remained distinctive until the 19th C shows that there was not much interbreeding between them. Nor is there any record of ‘treaty’ at any stage of the proceedings. Moreover Aboriginal war spears, as distinct from hunting spears, were most formidable and devastating weapons indeed.
    So I would respond to the proposition that “the Aborigines got here first” by asking: which Aborigines are being referred to? A claim that part of one’s ancestry carries with it some sort of inheritable land title, would qualify me to lay a land claim on (my selection if you don’t mind) of properties in Scotland and Ireland (which my ancestors were ‘cleared’ out of, plus the odd bit of England, and even a hunk of Norway. (Thanks for that; don’t mind if I do.)

  • cbattle1 says:

    It all comes down to “POWER”! Karl Marx revealed the gospel of revolution, prophesising that the oppressed peoples would eventually and inevitably overpower their oppressors. The will to power is addictive and irresistible. The vision: Once there are established independent and sovereign Aboriginal nations, or a federation of such nations, those nations would need to defend themselves. Given that they would now be bordered by their traditional enemy, they would need to seek military aid and treaty alliances to defend themselves from the threat of invasion or coercion from the Commonwealth of Australia. I can imagine that China would be keen to accept an invitation to set up joint military bases in the new Aboriginal nations! Absurd speculation? Is it true that the Aboriginal Provisional Government or Aboriginal Tent Embassy send delegations to Mao’s China and Gaddafi’s Libya?

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