I watched with a mixture of dismay and disgust the rancour which came to a head on this year’s Australia Day, all the while wondering why our Australian way of life is the target of such widespread enmity? The happy, relaxed, egalitarian and successful society we have built appears very much under attack from a vocal leftist brigade hell bent on destroying the best of what we have achieved while rewriting our nation’s history to focus not on admirable milestones but on myths of genocide and the like. It is a warped, irrational and profoundly dishonest perspective and, alas, also the one that has taken root in schools, the mainstream media and the young hearts and minds of those who have been denied the opportunity to know better.
I am reminded of the age-old wisdom Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat — Those whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad. This quote seems an ideal diagnosis of so many of our present so-called leaders. Sadly, across all spheres of government and all major political parties, we have people who personify that mental and cognitive deficiency, many of them policy-setting bureaucrats and heads of departments. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the handling of Aboriginal affairs, an area of failed management that has seen billions of dollars wasted. At last assessment, Aboriginal affairs cost taxpayers in excess of thirty billion dollars per year ($30,000,000,000.) Yes, that is the bill year after year to sustain the obvious failures of policy we see being played out on, amongst too many other locations, the streets of Alice Springs.
Those of us who have not been stripped of our wits can only be taken aback by so little benefit, if benefit at all, flowing from such stupendous sums. Why the unwavering devotion to an approach so clearly at odds with reality, with the horrors to be witnessed almost every night of late on the TV news? Because present leaders (a misnomer, forgive me) lack the will and diligence to seek out, expose and act meaningfully in response to the truth. Were they to do so, they would realise the problem with outback Aboriginal communities is rooted in the falsely hyped “culture.” You know, the one we hear has continued unbroken for 60,000 years. Surely that has been enough time to grasp that it is a curse enforced by those who now extol it.
So what is Aboriginal culture and why should we laud or condemn it?
Surely it isn’t exemplified by the shuffling of dusty feet to the beat of clap sticks. Just as surely it cannot be the moaning drone of a didgeridoo or the claiming of eternal sovereignty over all the land amid a smokescreen of burning gum leaves. Nor is it a culture – forgive me for being blunt — based on any notable achievement other than survival and adaption on and to an often harsh continent.
Aboriginal culture as practiced when Europeans settled our wide brown land, and as it’s noxious vestiges persist in remote settlements, was and remains a vile, dominating, patriarchal ethos that condemns women and children to physical and sexual abuse by older men. Before we start tampering with the Constitution, let our so-called leaders find the courage to acknowledge the truth and act upon it. This abuse often results in hospital admission, sometimes in death. That this unacceptable debasement of human dignity continues to prevail is evident in the hospitals of Alice Springs, or Katherine, or any other hospital catering for Aboriginal people in remote areas. That this abuse is magnified with the uncontrolled access to alcohol is beyond dispute, except by those who find it expedient to claim victimhood rather than face the truth. Present Aboriginal culture provides its unassimilated people with no opportunities, no hope and an endless future in which dignity is destroyed by hand-outs and sit-down money. As such it has no place in a society that recognises every citizen as the equal of every other citizen, regardless of ethnic origin. If progress is at last to be made, the toxic elements of traditional Aboriginal culture must be consigned to the garbage bin of history. Only then can those Aboriginal people totally reliant on taxpayers enjoy the pride that comes with work and self-sufficiency.
It may be hard to credit right now, when the advocates of separatism and division are everywhere and growing louder, but Australians really can enjoy lives of harmony as one people, all of us united by the land we share, but only when we recognise that everyone born in Australia is indigenous to Australia and that no one has the right or need to ‘welcome’ fellow citizens to their own country. Australia belongs to all of us. We are fortunate to share in its bountiful resources.
Attempts to have different laws based on race, as proposed with the Voice, can only drive a further wedge into Australian society, making the racial division wider and even more entrenched. We can and must do better. A nation with one set of laws for all citizens backed by a uniform observance and implementation of those laws. We can no longer tolerate, for example, the courtroom defence that the sexual abuse of children is somehow mitigated by “cultural” factors and heritage.
Given the grace of God and the wisdom of humble leaders and each of us respecting the other, we will build on this wonderful land a future that blesses all of us. I can dream, eh?
Ron Pike is a water consultant and third-generation irrigation farmer