Reflections on the Aboriginal Problem in the Northern Territory
Fredrick Töben, Darwin 23-24 March 2007
Just a couple of days and nights spent in Darwin, the largest top-end city of Australia, enabled me to get a feel of what is going on here. There is a large tourist–transient population of young individuals that is working here for a while as it makes its way through Australia. Besides the significant presence of defence personnel here, there are also thousands of Australians working in the service and mining industries that are largely drawn from the territory's own 250,000+ individuals. I am reminded that it was about such a number of Europeans who made Rhodesia with its six million indigenous Shonah and Mtabele a functioning country by forming a buffer between these two warring groups, something that since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 has again erupted.
On a much smaller scale the Northern Territory has similar problems and according to some prominent individuals who wish to remain anonymous Darwin as a city will not be able to maintain its current status because the frontier mentality will continue to pervade everything that happens here.
For example, a glance at some of the head and by-lines of the Friday, 23 March 2007 edition of Northern Territory News bear this out, but let’s begin with the editorial:
>>Editorial: Calm solution to clan feuds
There are several long-running, violent clan feuds raging across the Northern territory. Most are confined to remote communities, although they are no less terrifying for the victims for that. But a seven-year dispute at Yuendemu has even led to pitched battles in the streets of Alice Springs.
A mediation service combining indigenous and non-indigenous ways of resolving arguments has been set up by the Justice Department. The elders from the warring families will be brought together to settle disputes over the table and through a traditional ceremony called Mawul Rom.
This will sound a bit touchy-feely for many Territorians.
After all, these families are committing crimes - bashing people, trashing houses, torching cars and generally indulging in riotous behaviour. But it is always harder to feel violent towards someone you have met over tea and biscuits than to someone facing you across a dusty township square armed to the teeth.
Justice Minister Syd Stirling seems to have great faith in Mawul Rom - he says it could be an >enormously effective and powerful tool< to end the violence. It should be acknowledged that the new mediation service shows that solutions are being sought from within the indigenous community, rather than imposing them from outside.
Having said that, it should be made clear to feuding families that they are breaking the law and if they don't settle their disputes by talking to each other, they will face the full force of the law.
...and another thing
The packs of wild dogs at East Point should be controlled before the wallaby population is wiped out.
The Northern Territory News
GPO Box 1300
Darwin NT 0801
Most of us do not have the time or interest to read a newspaper in full, and so we skim through the papes by glancing briefly at the headings. Here is a selection of headings, sub-headings and first liners of articles featured in The Northern Territory News:
1. Lifer sent back to jail. NT's longest-serving prisoner behind bars again.
2. Here's mud in your eye. Six-time champion Gordon Fern has just two words for his rivals heading into tomorrow night's NT Mud Racing Championships - >I'm back!<
3. I'm coming back. Mayor threatens to return before charges are settled. Darwin's Lord Mayor has threatened to storm back into his office before his criminal charges have been settled because he is being frozen out of council business.
4. Numbers up but 207 head south.
5. Our crocs are feeling the heat. Heat is on: Research has found crocs have amazing in-built temperature gauges.
6. Alice amazes. Alice Springs is the >adventure capital< of the Territory, according to a $2.1m tourism campaign.
7. Court told late guilt plea >self interest<. A homosexual man who raped a woman after abducting her off the street waited until a week before the start of his trial to plead guilty, Darwin's Supreme Court heard yesterday.
8. Pilotless spy plane test. The plan to have pilotless surveillance planes patrolling north Australian waters has taken a giant step forward.
9. Pine Gap >not legitimate<: protesters. Four protesters charged with breaking into a top secret Australian spy base did not believe it was a legitimate defence facility, an NT court has heard.
10. Unlawful sex plea. A territory man made his 14-year-old >promised wife< pregnant, A Darwin court has heard. The 29-year-old man pleaded guilty in the NT Supreme Court to having unlawful sex with the teenager. The court heard the sexual relationship began in March 2004 after both their families arranged the relationship under traditional law. The girl fell pregnant when she was only 14. Defence lawyer Chris McGorey said the sexual intercourse was consensual. The man also pleaded guilty to hitting the girl on the head with a tree branch. He will be sentenced on Monday.
11. Cops >refuse to be riot escorts<
12. Call for 60 GPs. Overcrowding at Royal Darwin Hospital could ease if the NT health system gets a boost of 60 GPs.
13. CLP redundancy >hit list<. The CLP was yesterday accused of >declaring war< on public servants.
14. School access comes under fire. Up to 500 indigenous Territory children do not have access to secondary school, a Federal MP said - Not providing school places for indigenous children was genocide, Territory Aboriginal activist Tracker Tilmouth said yesterday.
15. African student digs NT hospitality. African student Arrey Besong thinks the Territory is as cool as ICE. The 32-year-old is the first Cameroon student to study hospitality at Charles Darwin University after winning a scholarship by THE ICE - the Tourism and Hospitality International Centre for Excellence.
16. NT jail rate triple national average.
17. Business warns of card scam.
18. Driver hits traffic light.
19. Cattle station workers dry up. Labour shortages are crippling the Territory's $100 million cattle industry.
20. Council warns smokers. Alice Springs has declared war on cigarette butts as part of a national crackdown.
21. No jail time after teen rapes boy. A teenage petrol sniffer who raped a five-year-old has been allowed to walk free.
22. Border police set up. A police station to be manned by territory and Western Australian police will open today. The $3.67 million multi-jurisdictional police facility is in the WA community of Warakurna, about 100km from the NT border.
23. Power to the poor. MP says land release may ease homeowner crisis. The Federal Government has proposed taking over the Territory's power to release land to ease the housing shortage. But the NT Government said a flood of new blocks would >devastate< the property market.
24. Who do you vote for if neither party should win?
25. Rail cyanide protest. Sydney: Green groups plan to stop a goods train that they say is carrying cyanide in northern NSW.
So, what’s new?
At this point it is all too easy to pull out the race card and contextualize any social commentary by referring to racial disparities, by claiming Australia's Aboriginals belong to stone-age peoples and thus we cannot expect any personal development from them. Although such a view is in parts factually correct it is static and fails to account for the many individual exceptions that transcend this stereotypical view of Aboriginals — and it can quite specifically also be applied to any non-Aboriginal peoples. Note that the adjectival form of the noun Aborigine >Aboriginal< is preferred when reference is made to Australia's Aboriginal population.
Two fundamental human principles usually collide when factual, empirical observations about human behaviour are abstracted.
1. Difference: It is an undisputed fact that each human individual is a >unique< being, much like each grain of sand does not resemble another. I say this because I am an identical twin, and I know that my brother and I are indeed two separate individuals who, however, share a common genetic background. One day I shall write a book about being an identical twin, and it should prove a best seller, especially if I include therein all the nonsense, lies and myths that surrounds the twin phenomenon! It would be a good yarn but much like the >Holocaust< it would only be factually true in the mind/memory and not in space and time. In our current language use >Difference< is not directly addressed but rather indirectly when individuals are invited to >make choices<.
2. Equality: The concept of >equality< is a guiding principle used by those who wish to eliminate any human differences. [A better word to use than >equality< would be the concept of justice!] On the one hand government policy celebrates individuality, for example through Common law principles that cherish the individual's right to property. On the other hand the equality concept enshrines a deficiency principle that creates a bureaucratic dependency syndrome - BDS - escape from which for an individual can be a harrowing and painful experience. We saw this recently when Australian terror suspect David Hicks participated in the >plea bargaining< at Guantanamo Bay in order to get out of this hell-hole and return home to Australia.
Further, if we add to the above a little >false consciousness< into the equation by adopting static >class thinking< and you have a dialectic charged with envy, malice and hatred that aims to destroy anyone who dares to dance to a different tune than that played by those who control the prevailing orthodoxy. For example, those who believe in the >Holocaust< and in >class< are doubly bent on eliminating, even terminating those who refuse to believe in these categories. The current convictions of Germar Rudolf and Ernst Zündel in a Mannheim court speaks for itself.
Hence, applying this destructive dialectic process leads to disaster and tragedy for all those caught up in it, something that concerned citizens in the Northern Territory have observed for decades. So much so that the compassionate, the idealists and even the opportunists who have settled in Darwin and other major population centres of this last frontier territory of Australia, now are prepared to throw in the towel on propagating >equality< and to admit that their policies have not produced the desired results.
The problem lies with those who have adopted the Marxian dialectic that sets out to eliminate the contradictions contained within the dialectic, such as the >class enemy<. In the true Hegelian dialectic it is a matter of >Aufheben< - of >conserving< the difference and merge them within a new synthesis. There is none of the nonsense of >killing< those one opposes. At a less defined moment the matter could be regarded as reaching a compromise with one's opponent. For example, in Teheran the traffic situation is, literally, chaotic - until you realize that in such density hundreds more accidents should be happening. Why does this not occur? Pure self interest. It is in each driver's self-interest not to have an accident, and so there is little road rage present where individuals claim right of way through force.
In the Northern Territory's situation the static model with which one has attempted to resolve the Aboriginal problem has failed because individuals are still self-destructing because they have no sustaining moral and intellectual values that would see them survive life's normal trials and tribulations. The >race card< comforts some of those who have become victims of life, but it does not help them develop a home within their own mind.
Fortunately for those who still retain compassion for their fellow citizens there is a way out of this >pussy-footing policy quagmire< by calling upon and further developing communal structures with some renewed effort.
This does not mean simply to continue swimming along with the current Australian voluntary model of clubs and communities where moral, social and legal principles are actively propagated by those who consider themselves still to be concerned citizens. For example, to date anyone who shows social and other communal potential is >invited< to join various service clubs, such as religious groups, service clubs such as Apex, Lions, Rotary, Freemasons - and a host of other self-improvement clubs where public speaking, singing, researching, mere socialising, conservation, etc. unites individuals to participate in some common goal beneficial to Australia's overall wellbeing. When such activity leads to thriving community contentment, then there is the home-grown Australian honours system that publicly will celebrate such individuals' achievements.
What is needed to get things moving along a desired path in the Aboriginal communities is a patriotic approach, dare I say it: a national approach to bring individuals into a social and national framework that develops individual respect and national pride within all Australians.
Many an Aboriginal person has a depression to fight as well, stemming directly from the >broken spirit< of the consequences of surviving European settlement – but not only!
In 1984 then Prime Minister Bob Hawke prided himself in getting the Labor Party's policy on Aboriginal advancement going. The ATSIC bureaucracy was disbanded last year after about 20 years of following an apartheid-kind of separate development, which benefited its bureaucrats but failed to help the fringe dwellers. The fraudulent dream of a separate Aboriginal nation reached its peak with individual Aboriginals traveling overseas on >Aboriginal< passports.
The separate nation dream, as celebrated within the failed policy of multiculturalism, has now been dreamt out and decisively abandoned. The visible result of having adopted the dream was that nothing changed for the traditional Aboriginals, except that those who had the opportunity of becoming a bureaucrat did well in their personal life. After all, what kind of ideal is it to romanticise the lifestyle that has individuals sitting in the sand and participating in >dreamtime<, when it is quite obvious that such individuals also wish to participate in the consumer society by having a home, a car, a fridge and a cold can of coke!
Further, there is a specific nasty and mean mental mindset about in Australia that celebrates disadvantage as a virtue, thereby blocking individuals from developing their full potential by continuing to imbue them within a slave-mentality mindset of >hand-outs without effort<. A nation that nurtures its homeless by >keeping< them homeless, is in trouble. There is no excuse to tolerate anyone sleeping, as they do in the USA and elsewhere, in doorways, abandoned buildings, in parks or under bridges.
I note there are individual multimillionaires who sponsor and promote globally the >Homeless World Football Cup<. I wonder in whose interest it is to nurture a >homeless mentality<. It certainly cannot be in the interest of those who have not the ability to find and maintain a home.
Perhaps the Prussian model of military organisation, as was adopted by the USA and Israel military, needs to be considered here. Some form of national service is imperative for individuals to experience so that they can lay a claim to their home, to Australia.
In this context one may even consider the >Arbeit macht Frei/Kraft durch Freude< model without its prejudiced perversions that the >Holocaust< myth imbued it with.
I immediately hear cries of >racist<, >antisemite<, >hater<, >Holocaust denier<, >Nazi<, >xenophobe<, >terrorist< even.
Fortunately I known the usual suspects who make use of these words because they delight in switching-off critical thinking, then by any means enjoy intimidating anyone from daring to think independently about pressing social and economic issues facing Australia.
I would be interested to hear your suggestions on this vitally important matter.
Fredrick Töben at Darwin’s Plaza Hotel waiting for the Airport Bus – looking somewhat tired of travelling.
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