Tag Archives: Northern Territory

The profound nastiness of the Turnbull government

29 Aug

pyne box


It was inevitable that any opposition by the ALP or Greens to Abbott’s reeking legacy, the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality, would provide the Turnbull government with the ammunition to  claim (with confected indignation) that both parties are creating an obstacle that thwarts an opportunity for same-sex marriage.

There are bound to be those who accept this warped inversion, however they are likely to be the same groups and individuals that reject marriage equality anyway.

What this situation reveals yet again is the profound nastiness of the LNP. This nastiness (there really isn’t a better word for it, their attitude towards their fellow humans is as base as that) has been evidenced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s decision to deprive the unemployed and pensioners in order to fix his budget, and the vengeful exercise of raw power as illustrated by Peter Dutton’s ongoing implacability over asylum seekers and refugees. It’s reflected in the image that heads this post: even the dead are perceived as new sources of revenue for the LNP.

I don’t need to go on, the evidence of their nastiness is everywhere we look, and it multiplies as we sleep.

Nastiness is the Turnbull government’s default position. From the apparent banality of nastiness all manner of evils flourish, and if you ever doubted that it is being enacted daily, for you to witness, in our parliament.

Though the Northern Territory can’t be ever be taken as typical, the carnage wrought on the CLP this weekend gives me small hope. Citizens can become sickened by nastiness, and they can wreak havoc on the party of nasty when they’ve had enough.

There is not one rational reason to deny marriage equality. We are a secular state: religious arguments ought not to influence our decisions. The unholy alliance of religion and nastiness currently hold sway.

It’s my hope that the ALP hold out against a plebiscite. No Liberal MP has any obligation to honour a yes result. Those who touchingly believe a plebiscite =marriage equality need to disabuse themselves of that belief, because it does not. We could well go through the torturous process and still have necessary amendments to the Marriage Act blocked by MPs who are not bound to accept a yes vote.

At the heart of the demand for a plebiscite is nastiness, and a poisonous hatred for anyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of “normal.” The influence of pure nastiness has been overlooked in our arguments yet it is a powerful driver of irrational behaviour and you’d have to go a long way to find behaviour more irrational than that of Turnbull’s government in just about any area you can name.

There are rumours again that Abbott is preparing himself to challenge Turnbull’s leadership. Not only are they nasty to citizens, they are exceptionally nasty to one another. I would take great pleasure in watching the LNP continue to cannibalise itself. I doubt it would affect our governance to any great degree: they aren’t doing much of that anyway.

It’s my hope that the fate of the NT CLP is the Turnbull government’s future. Barely enough seats left to form a party? I’d go for that.




Why Four Corners sickened but did not surprise

27 Jul


Punishment in the Don Dale facility, Northern Territory

Punishment in the Don Dale facility, Northern Territory

In his 2014 book, Dark Emu, Bunarong, Tasmanian and Yuin man Bruce Pascoe challenges white man’s history of Indigenous people as hunter gatherers, and instead puts forward an absorbing thesis, well researched and documented, of systems of agriculture, aquaculture and governance recorded by early white settlers, but somehow overlooked by those who have insisted upon an ongoing account of this country’s Indigenous peoples that denies them as anything other than primitive.

Every time we discuss this book in our household I express my disbelief that evidence such as that so compellingly presented by Pascoe could have gone unnoticed, ignored, concealed, disregarded, disrespected by the legions of white writers and commentators, to whom it has been available, if only they had cared to seek it, for the last two hundred plus years. Many white careers have been built on this wilful ignorance.

Why aren’t we teaching Australian children about the successes and achievements  of Aboriginal culture? asks Pascoe.

Why indeed.

Of course the evidence gathered by Pascoe does not fit what remains the dominant white narrative, even after Mabo. Hard to declare terra nullius if the country is occupied by people who’ve devised successful and sophisticated system of farming and governance. Far easier if you frame them as primitive savages, flora and fauna.

The consequences of this cover-up, this conspiracy one might go so far as to suggest, have dominated white attitudes to Aboriginal people ever since invasion, and it should have come as no surprise to anyone when ABC TV’s Four Corners revealed on Monday night that Indigenous children are being tortured in detention facilities in the Northern Territory, and quite likely elsewhere in the country.

The Don Dale facility, and the horrors enacted within it, have not developed in a vacuum. They are the logical outcome of  a brutal and expedient racism that has existed in Australia since 1788, and continues to thrive. It’s excruciatingly apparent that the torments perpetrated on Indigenous children in this hell hole have been known to Northern Territory governments for the last few years. Absolutely nothing has been done to alleviate this suffering, inflicted in the service of “law and order.”

I would like to point out here that none of the offences committed by the incarcerated children come anywhere near the criminal acts perpetrated upon them by those who guard them, those who oversee the guards, and those who turn their blinded eyes away from the sight of the children’s suffering. There is nothing either lawful or orderly about the behaviour of the men in charge of these children, or the men in charge of the men in charge.

There is a deeply ingrained culture, the face of which is for today the Don Dale facility, that has its origins in the denial of Aboriginal people as capable of agriculture, aquaculture and governance, and the framing of them instead as primitive savages upon whom it is permissible to wreak any kind of havoc deemed necessary for the protection and furtherance of white society.

Sick of your car being stolen? Get out the canisters and fucking gas the fucking cunt kids who took it because your car and your right to not have it nicked trumps a young black life.

Don Dale may be closed down, there will be a Royal Commission, right and left alike will continue to express bipartisan outrage but unless Australia’s fundamental attitude towards Indigenous peoples is changed, the suffering will continue.

I leave you with the words of Nigel Scullion, federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs. He’d never taken any notice of complaints that reached him about the mistreatment of Aboriginal children in the Don Dale centre, he said. The reports had never sufficiently  “piqued his interest.”








Behrendt, Bess Price, and Bolt. And adios from the Diaper Fox

15 Apr

“I watched a show where a guy had sex with a horse and I’m sure it was less offensive than Bess Price.”

Larissa Behrendt

So tweeted Larissa Behrendt, Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, about remarks made by Bess Price, Chair of the Northern Territory Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council, on ABC’s qanda, Monday April 11.

Behrendt and Price disagree on the NT intervention implemented by John Howard in 2007, and Price expressed her support of the policy on Monday night.

Marcia Langton has now taken Behrendt to task for her tweet, framing it as a betrayal by a sophisticated urban Aboriginal woman of her bush sisters, and as an unprecedented public insult directed by a younger Aboriginal woman at an elder.

In a further twist, Behrendt is the principal litigant in current action against

Bess Price

columnist Andrew Bolt, who, it is alleged, indulged in racial vilification of Behrendt and other Aboriginals in a piece in which he questioned the right of what Bess Price calls “white blackfellas” to identify as Aboriginal. The case has provoked vigorous debate about the parameters of the right to free speech.

Oh my. This is why I don’t tweet anything, except the titles of posts. It’s taken many years for me to learn that putting my foot in my open mouth doesn’t have to be a default position, as was suggested to me on more than one occasion by a husband. Tweeting can only be trouble for a fool such as I, and given the stories, for many others who hotly squirm long after after reckless Twitter moments are over. Blogging is big enough risk.

Bolt published his views in a newspaper, and Behrendt thought she was only tweeting a friend, so in that sense comparisons are weak. However, if one considers the spirit of the content of both communications, there are un-nerving similarities. Contempt, disregard, mockery, denigration, insult, efforts to invalidate the other, inability to deal with opposing points of view; intolerance, prejudice, and  hatred.

Nothing more than you read in the comments on any blog on any day. We are, on the whole, an un-evolved lot.

Price is apparently consulting lawyers about the tweeted slur. Behrendt may yet find herself in Bolt’s shoes. What a time to have to leave the country, but leave I must!

Talking about slurs: how I came to be known as the Diaper Fox.

Diaper Fox

Some years ago a grandson of mine (growing up in the US, hence diaper) out of nowhere one morning took to calling me the Diaper Fox. At the time I was complaining about changing his little brother’s diaper while we discussed how we needed a fox to help us get rid of the jackrabbits that hop under the back fence from the desert and eat the lettuces. These two superficially unconnected issues became linked in his imagination, and I became Diaper Fox.

The name has stuck, and now everybody uses it. On the phone it’s when are you coming over, Diaper Fox, and will you bring me a toy crocodile, a sarong, a koala (real) a cool surfer t-shirt, and Vegemite!! while the littlest talking child sings out in the background “Diaper Fox Grandma! Diaper Fox Grandma!”

So on Monday I’m off to hold this gang of four scallywags in my arms again.

These kids are the best antidote I know to the beltings and bruisings of the adult world and though I always come home exhausted in body, I’m replenished in spirit. Children and dogs. They do it for me every time. I just wish I could persuade their parents to come home so I don’t have to suffer the indignities and dangers of long haul travel – last time our Qantas flight ran out of fuel (???) between LA and Brisbane and had to divert to Noumea. The time before it was water they ran out of, and everybody was asked to try not to pee. When we landed the stampede at the LAX dunnies was life threatening.

Adios, friends, be well and lively, and will see you again in a few weeks.

Gang of four Scallywags

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