In 1983, as a naïve youth worker and concerned by what I had been reading since the early 1970s about what was happening with Aborigines in Alice Springs, I moved there to see what I could do to help. All told, I spent six years in Central Australia, leaving both depressed and convinced that the situation could never be fixed. One thing that bothered me then and still does is the constant calls for ‘self-determination’, not so much by Aborigines but by whitefella activists, some I later learned to be card-carrying members of the Communist Party and others who now hold senior positions in academia and the bureaucracy.
The contemporary definition of ‘Aboriginal self-determination’ is not about fitting in with the mainstream, of integrating or assimilating, but of splitting from mainstream Australia. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to pay for it whilst the rent seekers contribute very little to the community and Aboriginal lives, including those of children, continue to be ruined.
Assimilation is an anathema to progressives, who prefer ‘integration’ as the term de rigueur — but they are essentially the same thing. Aborigines need to learn to fit in, be a part of, what we have known to be Australian culture for the last 200-plus years and, indeed, most of them have done just that. (So why the special treatment, benefits and funding, you may well ask? That’s a topic for another conversation.)
None of this means Aborigines need to lose their culture – far from it. Unfortunately, much of what passes for Aboriginal ‘culture’ today is an invention of the last 50 years. Fortunately, much authentic Aboriginal culture of the past has vanished. The gruesome initiations, genital mutilation, inflicted cicatrices, burns, ritual spearings, sorcery and payback murders have by and large disappeared. Nevertheless, inter-tribe clan grievances often remain, as can be seen at some football indigenous matches, both on the field and amongst the spectators. Even though these encounters can still become violent, at least those conflicts are mostly played out with a football, not spears and clubs.
Meanwhile, the Aboriginal Industry is chock full of ill-informed urban myth-makers and illusionists, this caste of urgers and deluded pretenders giving rise to the patronising insistence on the uniqueness of ‘Aboriginal knowledge’ about everything from agriculture and fish farms (a lá Bruce Pascoe), water and fire management (a lá ‘cultural burning’) to Aboriginal ‘art’, ‘fashion’ and even ‘astronomy’, and not to mention Ernie Dingo and Richard Walley’s thoroughly overdone ‘Welcome to Country”. This is mostly snake oil fakery, an effort to convince contemporary Australians that the Aborigines of old were something they clearly were not. Worse, histories and observational accounts of early Aboriginal life and culture are vanishing from library shelves, replaced by the anti-white post-modern dogma of ‘invasion, colonisation and inter-generational trauma’. It is unusual today to find any history book about Aborigines in a secondary or tertiary institution that is more than fifteen years old. This is cultural censure and erasure happening right under our noses. We are all the poorer for it, black and white alike.
Meanwhile, the recent invention, exaggeration, distortion and misrepresentation of the alleged ‘frontier wars’ serves as a made-to-order replacement ‘history’ intended to raise the status of Aboriginal people and degrade that of settlers. It is yet another bill of goods, a distorting sham, being hawked by a power-grabbing activist elite in whose interest it is to falsify and distort our history. The goal, need it be said, is an attempt to paint a genocidal racism as Australia’s original sin.
I, too, would like more self-determination in my own life, too, but I am constrained by the laws of the land. Unfortunately, self-determination for many people who today identify as Aboriginal is taken to mean the normal rules — keeping children in school, eschewing clan and domestic violence — aren’t thought to fully apply. This is nowhere more apparent than on the troubled streets of Alice Springs. ‘Self-determination’ means ‘we’ll do what we like and you can pay for it’. Self-determination’ is about colonising and taking control, accepting all that whitefellas have to offer while offering nothing in return. Self-determination is about undermining whitefella institutions, judiciaries, organisations and bureaucracies. Self-determination is about enculturated white people who, on the strength of what may be a mere speck of indigenous DNA, now identify exclusively as Aboriginal, thereby giving themselves an economic and social leg-up. For the activist cadre it always was and always will be about money, power and control, all underscored by the notion that members of one race enjoy a preeminent ascendency over all other Australians.
More examples of ‘self-determination’ can be found in the ban on climbing Ayers Rock (Uluru), Mt Warning (Wollumbin), Mt Gillen, and many Grampians climbs, all for ill-defined or unexplained ‘cultural’ reasons’. After much outcry, consideration is now being given to re-opening the Mt Warning climb, but only for those who pay a fee and are escorted by indigenous guides. More rent-seeking, what a surprise! Australian place names are also rapidly being overwritten with (most likely made-up) Aboriginal names (eg: K’gari, once known as Fraser Island). All of this is about claims to ownership, to ‘sovereignty’. These changes should not be mistaken for deference to Aboriginal culture; it’s no more nor less than an insidious takeover. What we are experiencing here is cultural guerrilla warfare, the picking off one target after the other. Don’t believe it? Look no further that what has happened in New Zealand.
Self-determination is not about ‘closing the gap’, nor Aborigines ‘having a voice’ — all of that can be achieved without a change to the Constitution. Indeed, the $35+ billion currently spent on Aboriginal affairs and the 11-plus current Aboriginal members of parliament are more than enough to fulfil both aims. The Voice referendum is purely and simply about the drive towards Aboriginal sovereignty, which can only be achieved by changing the nation’s foundational document and charter.
Under the Albanese government, self-determination means the coming referendum, whose barely concealed intention is to divide Australia along lines of race. To achieve this ignoble end, the federal government is stacking the deck via its Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022, which states
The Bill will also allow the Commonwealth to fund educational campaigns to promote voters’ understanding of referendums and the referendum proposal.
At the same time, in a joint media release issued on December 11, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Special Minister of State Don Farrell, Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney, and Pat Dodson, special envoy for reconciliation and implementing the Uluru Statement:
To support community education, the Government proposes to temporarily lift a funding restriction in the Act, to enable funding of educational initiatives to counter misinformation.
The entire media release is worth reading. But what is hiding in plain sight, is the Albanese government’s intention to de-facto fund and promote the ‘Yes’ campaign whilst hamstringing ‘No’ advocates. Anything the No campaign says can and will be construed as “misinformation”. We have seen this already with the appalling attacks by Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton’s on Jacinta Price. Brace for much more of that — and wonder, too, if the bile and attempts at character assassination are a foretaste of an empowered Voice?
To make an informed self-determination at the referendum’s ballot box, ordinary Australians must have full access to both sides of the argument, pro and con, which the Albanese government has already legislated to ensure this won’t happen. Meanwhile, Australians are subjected to a daily and massive pro-Yes propaganda barrage by the taxpayer-funded ABC and SBS. If Australians prove slow on the uptake, allow ourselves to be persuaded by the government’s nakedly rigged ‘information’ offensive and vote Yes despite changes to the Constitution having yet to be revealed, it will be too late!
In what is clearly not a ‘conspiracy theory’, the entire game plan is laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), co-authored by Mick Dodson, brother of Labor’s Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart Senator Pat Dodson, and ratified by the Rudd Government in 2009. Do you see what they’re doing here?
In addition, the Australian Human Rights Commission has in 2021 called upon the federal Government to “develop a national program to implement UNDRIP and schedule it to the definition of human rights in the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth)”2 This, too, is a major part of what the ‘Voice’ is all about. It’s another path to the same goal.
Labor and their confident, conceited acolytes would have us believe that support for the Yes vote is a lay down misère. It is beholden upon the rest of us — those who care about Australia as a whole rather than advancing the narrow interests of one group only — to contest the creation of a separate and sovereign Aboriginal nation on the Australian continent, for that is where the ‘Voice’ will take us. Once embedded in the Constitution, such an internal ‘sovereign nation’ will be impossible to dismantle. Despite Albanese &Co’s efforts to promote one side of the debate and suppress the other, this is the threat and the message all Australians must hear.
Dr David Barton is a proud Celtic and Anglo-Saxon man with a long generational family history in Australia. He lives in Central Victoria.