I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which I drink my coffee and write today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I understand that this kind of mawkish acknowledgement of country “is a demonstration of respect for the traditional custodians of the land on which a meeting or event is being held. It is recognition of the continuing relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Country.”
It’s become ubiquitous and extremely tiresome. It’s cant, pure and simple. I have a citizenship certificate issued in 1972 which says that this is my country. I know many people who were born in Australia and it is certainly their country. Many Diggers died protecting this country. It is most definitely theirs and their descendants’ country. We share it jointly and severally in national fellowship. I appreciate being welcomed into someone’s home or place of business as a visitor guest or customer. I have no respect at all for some nebulous made-up concept of traditional custodianship of every piece of Australia’s landmass and increasingly, no doubt, seascapes.
A first point to make. It’s popular, I know. Tony Abbott and company support it. Aboriginal people should be especially honoured as the inhabitants of Australia before 1788. I simply don’t agree. With a name like Smith I dare say my forbears may have been in Blighty before the Romans, Vikings and Normans. I didn’t notice being paid any deference when growing up in England. And, it would be plainly ridiculous to expect it.
Aboriginal people deserve to be treated kindly and supportively, as do all Australians whatever their ethnicities and backgrounds. And in equal measure. In absolutely equal measure. To have favourable welfare benefits and preferment for Aboriginal people is already way out of line. Why should someone of equal disadvantage be treated less favourably because they cannot claim Aboriginal forbears? It is a blot on the fair-go egalitarian society which attracted people like me and many others down through the decades. As the UN Declaration of Human Rights puts it:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
A second point is that self-identification does not an Aboriginal person make. This whole business is fraught with genealogical conundrums. How Aboriginal is someone whose father is English and whose mother’s father is Dutch and whose mother’s mother is the progeny of an Aboriginal woman and a white fella whose ancestors can be traced to the first fleet. Clearly this person has the choice of English, Dutch or Aboriginal or why not plain old Australian. Only the latter has the ring of certitude. ‘We are one’ also has a valuable harmonious ring to it in a society made up of people with many different racial backgrounds and nationalities.
A third point is to do with creeping, now galloping, balkanisation. Identity politics is a plague on national cohesion. It’s bad enough when people are divided into groups based on their sexual preferences. It’s much worse when race is the dividing factor. I’ve heard tell that giving favourable treatment to Aboriginal people is not a racially-based thing but an indigenous-based thing. This is simply playing with words. Aboriginal people were a distinct race of people. There were no blue-eyed, fair-haired Aboriginal people when Captain Phillip landed. They came much later when the rewards for being Aboriginal induced self-interested self-identification.
By 2021, according the Gary Johns (The Burden of Culture), Native Title covered 33 percent of the land mass of Australia. According to Keith Windschuttle (The Break-Up of Australia), it’s on its way to 60 percent. This is balkanisation on stilts. There is no basis in history or logic for giving rights to so much land to the descendants or part descendants of itinerant small tribes (not remotely nations), who even on the basis of gross over-counting in the last census, form only a subset of 3 percent of the population. Where will it lead? Nowhere good.
Here, for example, in The Australian newspaper are the reported views of the general manager of the Mithaka Aboriginal Corporation in western Queensland.
A priority for a future treaty with the state would be the right to block resource projects on traditional land…He flagged that individual treaties could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars apiece, reflecting the devasting impact of British colonisation on the state’s indigenous people…Asked how much compensation his people would seek: “How do you put a value on cultural loss? We’ve lost a lot our language, song, dance, ceremony stuff, purely because of colonisation.”
For the 97 percent plus of Australians to go along with this kind of maudlin claptrap is beyond all reason. Quite simply we have a very small subset of the population with varying hereditary connections to a defunct primitive culture which made no material progress over centuries and would still be making no progress had it been left alone. Was this envisaged when terra nullius was effectively overturned by the High Court in the Mabo case in 1992, and when the Native Title Act was passed in 1993? It should have been. Watch out when the ignoble Left is complicit.
It’s no accident that those on the left support Native Title. It appeals to their inner Marxism: communal rather than individual ownership. It undermines property rights and strikes at the foundation of capitalism. That’s quite apart from the motivation of the radical green left which wants to displace Western civilisation as part of some god-awful Great Reset. And, what we all should know by now is that the Left never stops. It is indefatigable, at least while any Judeo-Christian value propping up Western civilisation remains to be torn down.
The only answer is to restore terra nullius. Fat chance. The genie is out and it’s a particularly nasty troll-like version. And the Voice? Yes, it would make matters worse. But be assured the damage is done. And much more of the same is in the offing with or without the Voice. Option: Join the gravy train? Is there a forbear of mine in England who might have had it off, so to speak, with some travelling Aboriginal person in the nineteen century? Could I grow a flowing white beard, à la Bruce Pascoe, get a sun tan and don a loincloth? Or, could I get away with simply claiming Aboriginality? After all, it would be racist to challenge me, wouldn’t it?