Australia’s Aboriginal Industry: Always Was, Always Will Be About Power

By David Barton

In 1983, as a naïve youth worker and concerned by what I had been reading since the early 1970s about what was happening with Aborigines in Alice Springs, I moved there to see what I could do to help. All told, I spent six years in Central Australia, leaving both depressed and convinced that the situation could never be fixed. …

Unfortunately, much of what passes for Aboriginal ‘culture’ today is an invention of the last 50 years. Fortunately, much authentic Aboriginal culture of the past has vanished. The gruesome initiations, genital mutilation, inflicted cicatrices, burns, ritual spearings, sorcery and payback murders have by and large disappeared. Nevertheless, inter-tribe clan grievances often remain, as can be seen at some football indigenous matches, both on the field and amongst the spectators. Even though these encounters can still become violent, at least those conflicts are mostly played out with a football, not spears and clubs.

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2 thoughts on “Australia’s Aboriginal Industry: Always Was, Always Will Be About Power”

  1. While it would be nice to be able to “close the gap”,” a voice to parliament”will never achieve that goal. It is unbelievable that anyone thinks that giving any race or culture a separate voice to parliament isn’t in itself racist, when other races or cultures are denied the same access to government. Currently we all are supposed to have a say through the ballot box, even though the system is far from perfect; and this applies to all adult Australians irrespective of race, culture or creed.

    In effect a separate “voice” to parliament will further divide the Nation and imbed racial division within government and our constitution.

    Nobody can change the past problems on any side, other than rewriting history to someone’s benefit. It’s time for Australia to look forward to what could be, rather than dwelling on and blaming one another for the past that cannot be changed. It appears to me that our governments are incapable of forward thinking and planning on most fronts today; the consequences of this will be catastrophic to Australia’s future!

  2. Individuals have different morals, and groups have different morals. Conflicts are often the result of differences in moral perspectives. Therefore treaties are based on reasons, not morals. Usually, the grounds are to end a terrible war, share contested territory, and trade.

    However, when a treaty serves the morals of one party rather than the other, the treaty document becomes divisionary because the disenfranchised party see it as unreasonable. Case in point, native title is almost the same as freehold, and today the combined lands under the label are about Victoria’s size, with more to follow.

    Some will say from their moral perspective, it always was and always will be indigenous land. But conversely, others will say that had it not been for the English, it would have been anyone of the nations participating in the game of Empire 200 years ago that settled here. But, in addition, all must conclude that had it not been for the protection of Queen Victoria, Australia would never have become the nation of Australia.

    Should we have a permit system akin to passports between nations, or are we one nation that shares a country?

    We could share the land and build systems to maintain our harmonious multicultural society that respects all its people’s different cultures, religions and customs, or we can take a different view, separate nationally, and create fences.

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