Bennelong Papers

Minting Indulgences for a Useful Scoundrel

Well Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe certainly threw the Tasmanian devil among the scrub turkeys supporting Bruce Pascoe, with the pending release of their book Hunter-Gatherers? – The Dark Emu Debate, which exposes Pascoe as, at least, an academic delinquent.  But the turkeys are fighting a good rear-guard action and may well pull off a miracle, unless the voices of reason – represented by Andrew Bolt, myself, the folks at the Dark Emu Exposed  website and, latterly, Sutton and Walshe – are reinforced by realists at the ABC (if such exist) and the various state ministers of education. And that reminds me, two months ago I sent a copy of Bitter Harvest to NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell. To date, I have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

Following the devastating article by Stuart Rintoul, in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Sunday’s Age editorial, by Gay Alcorn, titled “Dark Emu debate should bring truth closer, not be used in culture wars”, had this to say:

Then, in 2014, Bruce Pascoe published Dark Emu. While it initially attracted little publicity, he gained widespread attention when the book won some of the nation’s richest and most prestigious literary awards. In it, Professor Pascoe put the case for reassessing pre-colonial Indigenous life, arguing that these societies employed sophisticated agriculture and enjoyed a pastoral, village life.

The book managed to antagonise the right, which questioned his claims. Some in the academic world queried his use of sources, accusing him of exaggerating and embellishing his work.

These questions about a lack of intellectual rigour have now been given prominence in a new book, Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, in which respected anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe claim Professor Pascoe’s work is “littered with unsourced material”, uses selective quotations and exaggerates “weak evidence”. They argue that this is not a critique from the right of politics – one of the problems they have with Professor Pascoe’s work is his apparent dismissal of hunter-gatherers, as opposed to those practising agriculture, because it downplays the true richness and sophistication of pre-colonial Indigenous life.

Professor Pascoe responded to their criticisms by putting them down to “differences of opinion” about the facts: “That’s not a bad thing. I think Aboriginal people have been wanting to have this discussion for 250 years, so I think it can only be positive.”

He is right. The discussion about the history and future of Indigenous Australians is essential to this nation’s ability to finally reconcile its past and forge a new path that offers Australia’s First Nations people their rightful place. But there must be benchmarks of intellectual rigour in that process, and it does appear that Professor Pascoe has, at times, fallen short.

“Professor Pascoe has, at times, fallen short”? Seriously?  Let’s recap what Sutton and Walshe had to say, as reported in the SMH article:

In page after page, Sutton and Walshe accuse Pascoe of a “lack of true scholarship”, ignoring Aboriginal voices, dragging respect for traditional Aboriginal culture back into the Eurocentric world of the colonial era, and “trimming” colonial observations to fit his argument. They write that while Dark Emu “purports to be factual” it is “littered with unsourced material, is poorly researched, distorts and exaggerates many points, selectively emphasises evidence to suit those opinions, and ignores large bodies of information that do not support the author’s opinions”.

“It is actually not, properly considered, a work of scholarship,” they write. “Its success as a narrative has been achieved in spite of its failure as an account of fact.”

Rather more than ‘at times, fallen short’, I would have thought.  And did you notice that Drs Sutton and Walshe are not accorded the courtesy of titles, whereas Pascoe is repeatedly referred to as ‘Professor’.   This is either slack writing and looser editing or a shoddy device to tilt the playing field back in Pascoe’s favour.  Sutton and Walshe have spent their lives in academic institutions.  On the other hand, Pascoe was recently appointed, by Melbourne University, Enterprise Professor of Indigenous Agriculture, because he’s a hobby farmer trying to develop a cottage grain industry on his small acreage in Mallacoota.  His ‘professorship’ such as it is, has nothing to do with his claimed expertise as historian or anthropologist.

And now another front opens up.   Also in the SMH, a piece by Ben Wilkie tells us:

If the controversy over Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu has revealed one thing, it’s that labels like ‘farmer’ and ‘hunter-gatherer’ have impeded our understanding of the Australian past. It’s time to move on from them.

Pascoe’s book has been a revelation for many. Dark Emu is undoubtedly the most popular in a series of publications since at least the 1960s – mostly academic – that have pondered whether, before colonisation, Aboriginal Australians were farmers.

Ah-ha! So it’s just a misunderstanding about now ‘inappropriate labels’.  Wilkie points out that Pascoe based a lot of Dark Emu on the works of Bill Gammage and Rupert Gerritisen, both of whom are vastly more credible on the subject than Pascoe and vastly more reserved in their claims.  In short Pascoe has misrepresented them and exaggerated their positions in exactly the same way he did for Sturt and Mitchell.  But the Wilkie defence, paraphrased in a few simple words, is ‘let’s not get hung up on labels’:

A concern is that imposing a hierarchy on cultures and societies in this way is an essentially late-18th and early-19th century European idea. Enlightenment-era thinkers developed a view of history and human development that progressed through stages, from foragers and hunter-gatherers through to agriculturalists and, finally, modern commercial society.

For many of these thinkers, it was during the agricultural phase of a civilisation’s development that private property could be said to have emerged. It’s been argued that the perceived lack of cultivation and domestication in Australia was a key reason that Aboriginal land and property rights were not recognised. It may seem curious to deploy such a worldview in this way, but it is not unreasonable to think that Pascoe knew exactly what he was doing here. He was turning a colonial argument on itself, and forcing readers to rethink what they knew.

 That sounds like an ‘end justifies the means’ defence, always a default position for the Left.

Interestingly, the latest twist in the Pascoe saga has, apparently, been of no interest to The Australian.  Not one mention in the six days that have elapsed since SMH first broke the story, despite the fact that it too has been one of Pascoe’s champions.  It was their fawning story by Richard Guilliatt, ‘Turning History on its Head’, that first alerted me to the work of this charlatan.  Why would that be, I wonder?  They have not rushed to his defence but neither have they deigned to give any traction to what, by any measure of good journalism, is one hell of a story.  (By contrast, Thursday’s Letters page devoted one whole segment to the non-issue of men-only clubs.)

Could it be because they have been assiduously pushing constitutional Recognition and recognise that Dark Emu plays strongly into that narrative?

But perhaps I am being harsh.  I understand Melbourne University Press refused to allow Sutton and Walshe to be interviewed by Andrew Bolt.  Possibly they also refrained from sending an advance  copy of Hunter-Gatherer? to The Australian lest it be somehow sullied by a reviewe in the hated Murdoch media.  Still, some mention would have been nice.

As far as the general public is concerned, the comments section under the Rintoul article, overwhelmingly, echoes the sentiment in the Age editorial above.

They will not abandon their hero easily.  And why not?  The reason is contained in the title of that Age editorial.  Dark Emu is not an objective work of scholarship about which a reasoned debate based on common ground and shared access to the same facts can be had. It is about nothing but the culture wars – in particular, the war around the preposterous suggestion that Australia is essentially a racist country founded in racism and murder and perpetuating that paradigm even up to today’s Australians.   Pascoe gives that to his devotees in spades – not only in Dark Emu –  and they lap it up, wallowing in a delicious sense of guilt and national self-hatred that allows them to signal their virtue across the Twittersphere.

As much of Dark Emu is devoted to demonizing white Australia as it is to extolling the non-existent sophisticated sedentary agricultural and engineering society.

Let me give you a few examples.

On page 8 of Dark Emu, Pascoe refers to the death of settler Andrew Beveridge:

Modern histories of the area claim that Peter’s [Beveridge] brother Andrew, was killed by the Wati Wati after a dispute about blacks killing Andrew’s sheep, but Kirby’s description of the event offers a startling insight into the real motivation. Heavily armed warriors advanced on the station and ignored all other Europeans until they found Andrew Beveridge, the man who they claimed had been violating women. He was isolated and speared, and his body symbolically smeared with ochre.

This is sourced to page 79 of Kirby’s Old Times in the Bush of Australia and, once again, Pascoe’s slipshod approach to history is apparent since the account actually appears on page 58 of the book. In fact, Kirby does not provide the above ‘insight into the real motivation’ at all. The story he tells is that Beveridge, exasperated at the killing of sheep by local blacks, sent a message to them that if they killed another sheep he would kill them. They responded that they would kill him first. They followed that up with a threat that they would kill him at daybreak the next Sunday. And this they did. Kirby’s book, by the way, can be read online in its entirety, courtesy of Victoria Library. Worth noting as well is that, as described in the paragraph below, Beveridge was defended by his Aboriginal friend, “Black Beveridge”

Now it may be that Kirby’s narrative is false and intended to remove any stigma attaching to Beveridge. However, I cannot find any reference to Andrew Beveridge being killed because he had molested women. Nor will you find any mention of his killers anointing their victim’s body with ochre, symbolic or otherwise. What you will find in Kirby’s highly readable account of pioneer life near Swan Hill is constant fear of attack, the murder by ambush of white shepherds and, not long after Beveridge’s murder, a thrilling account of a siege and ferocious attack on Kirby and his companions that reads like Rorke’s Drift lite.

Kirby’s account reads convincingly to me. But whatever the truth is, the version that Andrew Beve-ridge molested native women decidedly did not come from Kirby, as Pascoe claims. This is no doubt why, despite providing no less than four quotes from Kirby’s account which redound to his discredit (at least in Pascoe’s eyes), he does not provide a direct quote in this instance. He is relying on readers to more readily accept the ‘molested women’ version if it came from Andrew Beveridge’s friend. Just to be clear, Pascoe unmistakably states that James Kirby ‘revealed’ that Andrew Beveridge ‘molested’ native women, or, at least that the Aborigines claimed he had. That is a fabrication.

Here’s one from a later period.  The subject is abalone:

Once entrepeneurs realized that Australian Chinese were exporting abalone meat, they lobbied the Departments of Primary Industry to establish licensing, quotas, and closed marketing boards, which operated like cartels.

Aboriginal people are now seen as poachers simply because the shellfish is so enormously valuable.  When it was ‘mutton fish’, they were allowed to harvest as much as they wanted.  Today they are jailed for pursuing their traditional harvest.

Well, that sounds most unjust.  Can they no longer ‘harvest’ abalone?  Well, as usual with Mr Pascoe, there is rather more to the story than he is capable or prepared to muster.

Most readers will be aware that Aboriginal people have special hunting and fishing rights to acknowledge their traditional practices.  These vary from state to state.  It is my understanding that where native title has been granted, the traditional owners can decide for themselves how to manage hunting and fishing and can set their own limits.  Where native title has not been granted in an area, Aboriginal people are subject to state laws that govern hunting and fishing in that area. 

It’s a big topic so, for the sake of simplicity, I will look just at the south coast of NSW.  As noted by Bruce Pascoe, earlier generations of Aboriginal people could harvest as much abalone as they wanted, because abalone was an unlimited resource.  Abalone, along with other marine species, is now a managed resource.  It is so in order to ensure survival of the species and to protect the interests of commercial operators (who generate revenue), recreational fishermen and Aboriginal people.  

In NSW, fishing concessions have been made to Aboriginal people for many years.  For a start, they do not have to hold a fishing licence.  And they have a daily bag limit of 10 abalone, as opposed to two for the rest of the population.  They may be taken for personal or family consumption – not commercial purposes.  As a matter of interest, for other species of marine life, Aboriginal people have double the normal bag limit.  This is commonly 20 fish (eg flathead, luderick, bream) for Aborigines, 10 for everyone else. If Aboriginal people exceed this limit they can be prosecuted and fined.  It is highly unlikely they would be jailed unless they were seriously repeat offenders.  Also, as I understand it, if Aboriginal people wish to exceed these limits for some ‘cultural’ purpose, they can make an application to do so.

And, it is interesting to note that the only two Aboriginals who applied for a commercial abalone licence right at the state were granted one.

Finally, here’s a beauty from the present day, which involves our hero directly.

In 2009, he bought his wife a holiday so she could fulfil two lifelong ambitions: to see North Queensland Aboriginal art, and turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. The package deal came from what he calls ‘an Australian organisation that produces a very valuable quarterly magazine showcasing the country’s geography’. But he was soon disappointed:

We were promised experts in the fields of art, science and natural history. On the first evening, I was listening to one of the experts retell his adventures on a 4WD trek through the Kimberley. I let the fascination with 4WD bravado go through to the keeper.

As the recollections rolled on, I was stunned into silence. The guru of Aboriginal art proceeded to boast of how he had duped the local Land Council and gained access to restricted parts of their land.

Having been denied access to an initiation site by an Aboriginal elder, it seems the art experts enlisted the aid of the local police:

The police were galvanised into action, relishing the opportunity to thwart the authority of uppity blacks. If we perceive a crime has been committed, they told our adventurers, we can go where we like. We perceive a crime, they chortled.

So the police escorted the group to the initiation site, where they threw beer cans into the water, and took it in turns to shoot at the cans with what Pascoe calls ‘police-issue Glock pistols’. He says that when the next batch of young Aboriginal men were taken to this site, they would have found it full of bullet-riddled beer cans. He tells us that ‘the “explorer” gloated over his win against the Land Council, which for many Australians may seem mere cheekiness’. He continues:

The most disturbing thing about the event was it undermined the authority of the Elders. They were trying to impress on their young men the importance of maintaining culture and a responsible alcohol-free way of life. The young men would have seen immediately that Australia had no regard for the authority of the Elders.

But that wasn’t the end of the insensitivity of these tour guides. Two nights later, as the tourist group sat around the communal fire, the guide to Aboriginal art derided Kimberley art and culture, claiming that the ‘Bradshaw’ rock paintings were first recorded by the pastoralist Joseph Bradshaw in 1891. The ‘guru’ stated that they were the work of Asian people because they were far too beautiful to have been painted by Aboriginal people. Pascoe could hardly contain himself:

I tried to point out to the 4WD cowboys that the University of Western Australia and their own magazine had dismissed such nonsense. But the ‘experts’ were not to be denied, and shouted us down. We left and toured on our own.

We did see the turtles hatching, and we did spend two wonderful days touring the Laura art sites. We also spent time with family at Lockhart River, but the experience with the white experts burnt. Humiliation always does.

Well, this is a shocking story, but I have to take issue with Bruce on three things. The first thing is that Bruce has no cause to feel humiliated, none what-soever – he did nothing wrong. Secondly, ‘uppity blacks’. Uppity blacks? Did this incident take place in Western Australia – or Alabama? And, finally, I’m afraid I cannot accept that ‘many’ Australians would regard the actions of these renegade police as ‘mere cheekiness’. The vast majority of Australians would be appalled, as no doubt was the tour company itself when apprised by Bruce of this incident, by means of his post-tour feedback. They would have been pleased to dispense with the services of employees stupid enough to put their business at risk by being so monumentally indiscreet as to denigrate Aboriginal culture to customers who had paid a lot of money to study that very culture. However, I suppose it’s too much to hope that the ‘chortling’ police could have been called to account.

I have done a fair bit of travel in northern Australia, and have visited Aboriginal sites and communities in the Kimberley, Central Australia, the Flinders Ranges, Kakadu, Arnhem Land (including the townships of Maningrida and Elcho Island), Thursday Island and Bathurst Island. I have never come across a guide who was anything other than almost reverential about Aboriginal culture. What an extraordinary twist of fate that should deliver these 4WD morons into the hands of the one person with the knowledge and passion to expose them. Incidentally, I admire Pascoe’s ability to commune, from Cape York Peninsula, with an elder on the other side of the continent.

I must admit to being a tad doubtful about this story initially.  the verisimilitude provided by the ‘police-issue Glock pistols’ should have put the matter beyond doubt for me.  But I still can’t help wondering why no one has been named and shamed about this.  It’s rather like all those historians and anthropologists sending Pascoe a wealth of supporting material but who cannot be named so they won’t be targeted.  In this case he’s probably magnanimously wishing to spare the perpetrators from public shame.

Dark Emu is littered with this kind of rhetoric.  You can read of many more examples in my book Bitter Harvest. I doubt very much you’ll read any of them in the Sutton/Walshe book.

But let me conclude where I started.  When Pascoe was wrong for the wrong reasons, that was ignored.  But when he was wrong (same transgressions, mind you) for the right reasons, a spirited defence must be mounted.

If that isn’t culture wars, I don’t know what is.

Order the new edition of Peter O’Brien’s Bitter Harvest by clicking here 

40 thoughts on “Minting Indulgences for a Useful Scoundrel

  • Michael says:

    Hunter gathering is not very productive – little yield from a lot of land. The trick in the modern world is to turn a hunter gatherer past into a claim on land, and then to claim also the fruits of others development of agricultural and manufacturing productivity applied to that land. Cultural poverty plus cultural appropriation translated into great wealth. A miracle.

  • Geoff Sherrington says:

    One possible view if a direction of movement of society in the last 20 years entails dilution of the concept of punishment. Those who look for it should often find it. For USA examples, antifa riots classes as peaceful protest by politicians seeking lesser charges for offenders. The calls to disband police forces so that fewer punishments can be formulated.
    Here in Australia with aboriginal affairs, we see different punishments applicable to locals on local land as opposed to outsiders. So vividly displayed in Quadrant an elsewhere, there was no punishment, not even it seems, investigation by punishing authorities to see if a literary grant available only to aborigine authors was claimed by one unproven to be an aborigine by the prevailing standards at the time, or even absolutely.
    (As one who has never read Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’, maybe this is not a new direction and it shows my ignorance. I do find it helpful to help analyse some of the current madness among politicians and some academics.) Geoff S

  • Harry Lee says:

    Aboriginal leaders and their non-Aboriginal urgers/supporters (eg in the ALP and Greens, in the education and legal systems, and in the media) have long since committed to a terrible ideology -a system of destructive, anti-empirical superstition.
    This commitment to anti-Reality condemns Aborigines to misery, and continued massive and growing costs to the fast-declining proportion of nett wealth-creators.
    And this neo-marxist, post-modernist idiocy, this utter evil, casts a dark, deadening pall over the entire Land.
    And there is no remedy. Finis. The End. Kaput.

  • Peter Smith says:

    I admire your resilience Peter and hope you can keep it up. But those of the left never tire. Deflections, denials, denigrations wear out truthtellers. And they stick together suspecting that any chink in their empire of lies will portend a more general undoing. Thus Pascoe’s next book wil be on school library shelves; still under non-fiction.

  • STD says:

    The picture of BP on /in the front page abstract- I may well be reading to much into things, but that man’s moustache looks unhappy to me.

  • STD says:

    Peter, maybe Peter O’Brien could call his next reprint or book for that matter , to borrow an idea from Jordan Peterson- THE REAL AUSTRALIAN STORY ,AN ANTIDOTE TO BRUCE PASCOE.

  • Lonsdale says:

    Ssh, ssh. Please don’t mention that Professor Pascoe isn’t actually (lower case, please) a-b-o-r-g-i-n-a-l.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Mind this: Pascoe and ilk are puppets of very dark anti-Westernist, neo-marxist, Big Statist forces orchestrating these things from the deep shadows. Yes, destroy Psacoe’s credibility. He is not an empiricist -he is very obviously a fantasist. But our real enemies lurk in the mainstream media, in the universities, in the state school systems, in the legal system top to bottom, in the ALP and Greens, and even among certain kinds of investors and big business executives. The enemy commands all the heights.

  • DG says:

    An introduction to the reality of a Minister’s office. Your book parcel was opened by the letter opening team. It was probably given a cover sheet and forwarded to a junior clerk, known there as an ‘advisor’ (giggles and spills tea). The advisor, probably a party faithful or relative of such and with an eye to a political career, will avoid spoiling the Minister’s day, given that the press is all on one side, flopping about in adulation of Pascoe like a wet fish on land. Note is made ‘book has abundance of minor detail and some criticisms. Recommend no action’. Senior clerk looks over the notes, flips the pages, adds ‘agreed’. Doesn’t even get to the Chief of Staff, who is busy helping the Minister fight her political battles.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Here’s the closing paragraph of a review of the Rintoul article in Inside Story. Squint, wrack the grey cells, pick up your handy magnifying glass, and you may just spot the flaw. You won’t have far to read.

    “Pascoe is probably Australia’s most widely read and influential Aboriginal intellectual (with Stan Grant a possible rival) and he is likely to remain so because of schools’ take-up of Young Dark Emu. Yet his “Indigenous knowledge” is enrich-ed, or burdened, with borrowings from the colonists’ intellectual traditions: from the Enlightenment the notion that some societies are “ahead” of others (see page 70 of Young Dark Emu), and from secular social science his materialist framing of “economy.” Sutton and Walshe are not Indigenous but they have spent years training to re-present “Indigenous knowledge” in terms that are scientifically credible because (unlike “the Dreaming”) their accounts are open to refutation. Truth-telling’s best hope is to keep in mind the distinction between teller and tale.”

  • March says:

    The Oz Mocker article rejected the following. I think now my subscription is over….

    So finally mainstream media work out what Dark Emu Exposed website, Peter O’Brien (Bitter Harvest) and Andrew Bolt have been saying for the past 2 years. How about now turning some investigative resources into looking at Pascoe himself? His claims of Aboriginality are key to the way the media overlooked his now debunked book. Close inspection by Bolt and others has revealed his claims don’t stand up to scrutiny and he refuses to produce the evidence he claims he has. I smell a rat!

  • lbloveday says:

    I had 7 consecutive comments to The Australian rejected – all grammatically correct, unlike so many they publish, non abusive, no slang, just did not fit the moderators’ world-view.
    I made a promise in writing to myself and read it each morning, NO MORE COMMENTS, but I’ll keep up my subscription because of:
    Adam Creighton
    Chris Kenny
    Chris Mitchell
    Gerard Henderson
    Henry Ergas
    Janet Albrechtsen
    Judith Sloan
    Jennifer Oriel
    Nick Cater
    Rachel Baxendale
    Sharri Markson
    Terry McCrann
    and “guest” appearances by the likes of Bjorn Lomborg and Brendan O’Neill.
    There may be some I’ve overlooked, but I fear that when Rupert fully hands over the reins and the daughters-in-law from Hell take over it’ll be goodbye.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    March, yes The Oz is running a protection racket for Pascoe, despite the Mocker column (which does not go to print,) as Chis Kenny effectively noted in the comments thread. My comments are routinely rejected, although always couched in polite terms. I’ve thought of cancelling my subscription, but will hang in there for the time being.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    A bit off topic but on the subject of The Oz, below is the text of a letter I sent yesterday – predictably not published:

    On Tuesday morning I was struck by the fact that neither the Australian nor the Sydney Morning Herald had bothered to report on the non-event that was ABC’s QAnon fatuous but feeble hit job on the PM. Good on you both, I thought. But now, days later, we have Niki Savva claiming the PM has questions to answer. That’s seriously at odds with your paper’s consistent and totally justified attempts to pressure the ABC to clean up its act. Is Savva your Louise Milligan?

  • Peter OBrien says:

    And further on the topic of this article. From a Canberra Times article by Sally Prior covering the views of ANU environmental historian (whatever that is) Ruth Morgan:
    “It’s not often that debate between academics makes it into the news.”
    Repeat after me, Sally, ‘Pascoe is not an academic’.

  • March says:

    After requesting my rejected Oz comments be reviewed they have now been posted. However as the comment feed is pretty immediate their impact is somewhat dulled.

    Ibloveday… yes that list the reason I’m still a subscriber.

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    The lefts march through the institutions on plain display

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Good piece Peter. I cannot help but be suspect of any comment that uses the political grouping of a critic to ground their rejection of it. My experiences in life, and reading have always identified conservative people more on the right, with more common sense, reason, belief in God and truth and those on the left in all generations more with idealism, be it secular or religious, revolution in one form or another, atheism or it’s modern equivalent agnosticism ( outside the priesthood ) and truth only incidentally, just if it happens to get them out of trouble, usually it’s just plain good old lies , seamlessly, with rarely a sign of conscience…., in my observational reading of it all anyway. I notice even Sutton and Walshe make the comment that they’re not of the right….as if it means something !

  • Tony Tea says:

    To Pascoe: (verb) to take out of context; to knowingly concoct theories out of unrelated facts; to make shit up.

  • Tony Tea says:

    PS: I only publish that here because The Australian and the Herald Sun and The Age all refused to publish it, (without the last bit).

  • Michael says:

    It will be interesting to see how the green-left establishment respond to the debunking of Pascoe. In particular, if the ABC doesn’t change its tune, its once traditional role as a medium for informed middle-brow discussion and debate in Australia is consigned to history and its new role as a purveyor of ideologically constructed ‘truths’ is in the spotlight.

  • Lonsdale says:

    Friday afternoon. Has anyone actually seen a copy of Sutton’s book? Was supposed to be out on Wednesday but online booksellers don’t seem to have copies and pre-publication orders have not been processed. Also, is not showing up on Kindle. In the meantime MUP has added more favourable quotes on their Sutton page.

  • nfw says:

    Any day now the aboriginal space launch and control centre will be discovered. No doubt all the signs will be in “The Aboriginal Language” unless they were using mobile phones and that would mean the cell towers will be apparent soon.

  • March says:

    Is it too late to start a chronicle of Pascoe Recommendations by our noted institutions? Had to laugh at this one from the very gullible Australian Academy of Science…

    Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe

    Recommended by: Professor Jennie Brand-Miller FAA
    This book will change forever how you think about Australia and its traditional owners. Pascoe argues forcefully that Indigenous Australians were thriving in an environment that was semi-settled in many parts of the country, with villages of thousands of people and huts up to 15 meters in diameter. The description of a ‘fairy-like’ burying-ground by the explorer Thomas Mitchell brought me to tears (see page 100).

  • Stephen says:

    Dar Emu. Everyone who bought this stupid book should be entitled to a refund. I would otherwise never support such a thing but, one time only and just for Dark Emu; lets have a book burning!

  • lbloveday says:

    Jason Gagliardi is very good, and has reinstated scores of my comments, but as you suggest, a bit too late by then, and I’m sick of that game.

  • Harry Lee says:

    Yes, Pascoe is a fantasist. That is obvious.
    Now, consider these people:
    Marcia Langton, Linda Burney, Mick Dodson, Pat Dodson, Stan Grant, even Noel Pearson at times, and their many backers/promoters of non-Aboriginal descent, who make utterly fake/false claims and fantasies about Aboriginal culture and matters pertaining.
    And ask: What is the actual goal of all this falsity and fakery?
    What is the actual aim of these people -people senior in the legal system, in the education systems, in the mainstream media, in elective politics, in various parts of the public services, and increasingly in business (esp mining)-, to make anti-factual statements regarding so-called (false/fake) positives in Aboriginal culture? And to do so when none it saves a single Aboriginal from neglect, abuse, violence.
    “Sorry” was/is a Left’s idiocy in apologising for the work of well-meaning social workers who were trying to save Aboriginal babies and children from neglect, abuse, violence, imminent death.
    Why would the Left want us all to pretend that the dysfunctions in Aboriginal cultures can be remedied by Sorry, Reconconcilation, and Voice?
    Note the obvious:
    The arrival of the British in 1788 has offered Aborigines the best chance they have ever had to lead flourishing lives -if they would take up the offer.
    Young Aborigines are condemned to lives of terrible misery by the Left’s awful ideology.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Just posted this comment in response to the Australians editorial this morning.

    “Professor Sutton and Dr Walshe have certainly done us all a favour in having destroyed the last vestiges of Pascoe’s credibility. Perhaps just as importantly, they have severely damaged the reputations, such as they were, of the ABC and other media celebrities who were so eager to hitch a ride on Pascoe’s bandwagon. More fools them.

    It is sad, however, that Peter O’Brien who was one of the first to bell this cat with his earlier critical book “Bitter Harvest” has received little if any acknowledgment of his efforts in the mainstream media. If it were not for his book and Quadrant Magazine, the debate may never have occurred. If it were felt that Mr O’Brien lacked relevant qualifications, he was at least as qualified as Pascoe himself. It did not take archeological or other scientific qualifications to check Pascoe’s sources to uncover the fraud.

    Our mainstream media should lift their game and protect us from these charlatans instead of slobbering over their clay feet.”

    It will probably be added to my large file of rejects.

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Yep. Rejected. Oh, well, I tried.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Doubting Thomas, I put this up:
    I am the author of Bitter Harvest and I thank all those commenters who have acknowledged it. It was published in 2019 and, because I am not an academic, it was ignored by most of the media. But it does not take an academic to rebut Dark Emu. It just takes an auditor. I checked every reference in Dark Emu and found the vast majority to be corrupted of fabricated. This is not a difference of opinion over facts, as Pascoe claims.


    So I tried (in which I removed the word ‘fabrication’):
    I am the author of Bitter Harvest and I thank all those commenters who have acknowledged it. It was published in 2019 and, because I am not an academic, it was ignored by most of the media. But it does not take an academic to rebut Dark Emu. It just takes an auditor. I checked almost every reference in Dark Emu and found the vast majority to be misrepresented. This is not a difference of opinion over facts, as Pascoe claims.


    I am not sure what is objectionable in the above but I finally finally resorted to:

    I am the author of Bitter Harvest and I thank all those commenters who have acknowledged it.


    And by the way, Doubting Thomas, thank you also for your efforts and support.

  • Tony Tea says:

    Yes, but, Peter, have you renewed hostilities with Wikipedia?

  • lbloveday says:

    Peter OBrien,
    Maybe rejected because of the poor grammar – ” corrupted of fabricated”
    Just joking – an example of what they do publish from comments on Chris Mitchell’s column:
    Look at you all whingeing about the abc again
    Do Something
    I am Lettters,emailprotest talkto pollies awhatever do it

  • James Falkiner says:

    I cancelled my Aus sub when they started filling it up with Leftist claptrap from that fishwrapper The Times.

  • Peter OBrien says:

    I have been banned as an editor, even from my own talk page, so I can’t even ask to be re-instated or, in fact communicate with the politburo. I notice that Sutton and Walshe have made it into the Dark Emu article, immediately followed by a reference to an article (not a peer reviewed paper or book) by archaeologist Michael Westaway that might be said to tangentially support Pascoe’s thesis. Both these were done, by editor unknown, without any discussion.

  • DougD says:

    “And did you notice that Drs Sutton and Walshe are not accorded the courtesy of titles, whereas Pascoe is repeatedly referred to as ‘Professor’. Yes I did. I think it’s misleading. Honesty requires that Pascoe should always be referred to as “Melbourne University Professor Pascoe”. That university, which touts itself as Australia’s premier one, laurelled Pascoe with the title. Professor Pascoe should hang around its neck for evermore to remind people that its intellectual standards match those of Wollongong University’s. [It awarded a Ph D to anti-vaccination activist Judy Wilyman.]

  • Elizabeth Beare says:

    Professor Pascoe?
    The award Chairs in Nonsense now do they?

  • Doubting Thomas says:

    Just added another reject to my pile at the Australian:

    “So, now that the very dubious “Dark Emu” has been exposed by experts, politicians are now slipping away from their earlier unequivocal support for Pascoe’s “work”. They should not be allowed to deny their culpability in this fraud and should be mocked unmercifully along with the rest of the woke fools in the chattering classes who have contributed to this shameful farce.”

  • Tony Tea says:

    Another academic, Dr Hannah McGlade, opened fire in today’s Australian.

    “It’s a nonsense to say that we support truth-telling and at the same time support Dark Emu, which clearly is not very truthful or accurate.”

    Pity they wouldn’t publish my comment:

    “Great to see proper experts lining up to belt Pascoe’s fantasy.
    The reason that “Professor Pascoe has not responded with hostility in his public comments” is that he knows his own qualifications aren’t in the same timezone as his critics’ qualifications.”

    Once again, can’t see what’s wrong with that.

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