It is 4o years since the 1967 Referendum restored citizenship to the Aboriginal people of Australia. In the years since then, a great amount of goodwill towards Aboriginal people has been established within the settler community and there is an increasing understanding and respect for Aboriginal culture. But the Howard Government doesn't get it. A clean out of opposition to an ultra-right political culture was carried out in the early 90s leaving very few moderate liberals in the Federal Parliament. There is almost no-one with an understanding of Aboriginal views and culture in the footsteps of people like Billy Wentworth, Ian Viner, Fred Chaney. No-one with the anti-racism credentials of Malcolm Fraser - with the possible exception of Petro Georgiou.
The parlous state of Aboriginal community life has been highlighted in recent times. This has coincided with a new Minister on the block trying to make his name and prove that he can take charge and impose solutions. Ho-hum! Some of us have seen this all before. What we have seen before, are seeing now, and find detestable and reprehensible is people who have not got a clue, have not given their full attention to this issue before, want two centuries of something down right now, and are prepared to pontificate and use hobnail boots to impose their ignorant views. Included in this are politicians both state and federal, and the media who are in bed with them from the most senior political analysts down.
An example of this is that discussion of one of the most fundamental issues and causes of what is going on - lack of adequate and decent housing and skills in communities to build and maintain them - took almost a week to emerge as an issue in the ignorant media. But calls for more and even more police and the army made it there first, of course, of course.
Now, it has become clear for all to see - as if there was no previous evidence - that the Howard Government is going to rip off Aboriginal moneys to provide services and infrastructure which other Australians get directly from the taxpayers' coffers.
John Hartigan, Rupert Murdoch's man-on-the-watch in Australia, has got it right and is saying it out loud. Hopefully, with the power of the News Limited media in this country the message will be taken through the community from citizen to Prime Minister.
THE FACT IS THAT LARGE AND SIGNIFICANT NUMBERS OF ABORIGINAL PEOPLE ARE NON-PARTICIPANTS IN THE LIFE OF THIS COUNTRY. NOT BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO BUT BECAUSE THE WHITEFELLA WON'T LET THEM.
Democracy is government with the consent of the governed. It is inclusive. But time and again Aboriginal Australia has not been included, not given fullest participation in citizenship, not asked for their consent.
Miss Eagle recalls the Jana Wendt interview with Toni Morrison, the black American Nobel Prize winning writer. Morrison said that the white person always has to have centre stage. This comment struck me at the time. Your Miss Eagle, dear Reader, had never heard such a thing before but was struck by how true it is. Miss Eagle has never forgotten this and meditates on it often. The whitefella is greedy. So greedy that we will slam into Aboriginal crimes and misdemeanours while enrolling our kids in posh private schools which are milking taxpayers funds for all their worth while Aboriginal kids don't turn up to school or sit in poor accommodation - or even on dirt floors - when they do. And why should they bother turning up for school. Whitefellas don't include them in their economy with jobs - and certainly no blackfella is notching up salaries like the blokes at the Macca Bank. Does A.C. Neilsen ever poll Aboriginal communities on politics. Course not. The public phone at the community might not be working - so how can they communicate.
Miss Eagle doesn't know how many blackfellas will be at Mal Brough's forthcoming talkfest - but she knows one. And Miss Eagle wishes to state that she personally knows him. That is the new NT Minister for Housing, Elliot McAdam, Member for Barkly. Elliot knows how to ask the tough questions. He is a member of Clare Martin's Labor Government but has been called the Leader of the Opposition for his vocal and forthright representation of his electorate and its needs.