Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Only an estimated 10 per cent of all marine life caught ends up on dinner plates

Click on chart to enlarge

April 2, 2014 — What percentage of all the marine life caught by industrial fishing operations ends up on our plate? Ninety percent? Seventy-five? Fifty? Not even close. Try just 10 percent. The rest is simply discarded as bycatch — the unwanted fish and other marine creatures caught during commercial fishing operations. And we’re not just talking fish. The “other marine creatures” includes everything from whales and porpoises to turtles and albatrosses.

Fascist Echoes: when are the Abbott Government's foreign relations blunders going to finally cease?

Tony Abbott čestitao svim Hrvatima 10. travanj!

U ime australskog premijera Tony Abotta koji se danas nalazi u Japanu prenosim vam njegove čestitke i dobre želje povodom slavlja 10. Travnja, vama, i svim Hrvatima Australije a i onima u Hrvatskoj. - rekao je Mr Craig Kelly Federal Member for Hughes

Tony Abbott congratulated all Croats April 10!

On behalf of the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is now in the Japan I am imparting to you his greetings and good wishes on the occasion of the celebration of April 10, you, and all Croatians in Australia and those in Croatia. - said Mr Craig Kelly's Federal Member for Hughes [Google translation of the publication Boka Cro Press]

The Guardian 22 April 2014:

The Australian ambassador to Croatia has been summoned after a Coalition MP was reported as passing on the best wishes of the prime minister, Tony Abbott, to a group celebrating a fascist period in the country's history.
Hughes MP, Craig Kelly, said he was "mortified" at reports he attended the Croatian Club in Sydney last week for an event marking the anniversary of the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in 1941.
The NDH wanted to rid the country of Jews, Roma and Serbs and was established after the invasion of Yugoslavia overseen by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini….

Facebook page of the Australian Croatian Club O'Connor (Social Club)

April 16
Australski premijer Tony Abbot Hrvatima čestitao 10. travnja - Bravo Tony. Great to see only a month after Milanovic described Australian Croatian's as "living in isolation" and Pusic described us as "extremists" the Australian Croatian community still has a friend in the highest office in this great land.

Federal Liberal MP for Hughes Craig Kelly delivering his speech at a lectern draped with the fascist Ustasha flag:


A brief history of the event being celebrated, taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica online:

In April 1941 Germans and Italians set up the Independent State of Croatia, which also embraced Bosnia and Herzegovina and those parts of Dalmatia that had not been ceded to Italy. Though in fact this state was under occupation by the German and Italian armies, Pavelić’s Ustaša was put into power—a takeover facilitated by the refusal of Maček to take part in a puppet government and by the passivity of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac. Initially there was enthusiasm for the independent state, but once in power the Ustaša ruthlessly persecuted Serbs, Jews, Roma (Gypsies), and antifascist Croats. The Ustaša planned to eliminate Croatia’s Serb minority partly by conversion from Orthodoxy to Catholicism, partly by expulsion, and partly by extermination. As many as 350,000 to 450,000 victims were killed in Ustaša massacres and in the notorious concentration camp at Jasenovac.

Taken from Arutz Sheva 7 Israeli news online 8 February 2007:

 a video broadcast 9 December 2006 on Croatian TV, which shows Mesic in 1992 telling Australian-Croatians:
You see, in the Second World War, the Croats won twice and we have no reason to apologize to anyone. What they ask of the Croats the whole time, "Go kneel in Jasenovac. Kneel here..." We don't have to kneel in front of anyone for anything! We won twice and all the others only once. We won on 10 April [1941] when the Axis Powers recognized Croatia as a state ... and we won because we sat after the war, again with the winners, at the winning table. -- BBC Monitoring; December 10, 2006

The Sydney Morning Herald 8 September 2005:

But on April 10 this year, Mr Clarke attended and was snapped at a similar event - which the author and historian Mark Aarons wrote amounted to a "glorification of April 10, 1941, the day Hitler installed Ante Pavelic and the Ustashi into power as Nazi puppets".
The function was held at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl - the same place where a meeting of the Liberal Party's newest branch erupted into an all-out brawl last year, prompting the arrival of eight police officers, three patrol cars and even a sniffer dog. Mr Clarke - who says politicians from both sides of politics are seen at such ethnic functions every year - has been forced to defend himself amid further allegations of his political involvement with far right-wing groups. Last night, the Liberal MP John Ryan confirmed he was one of several MPs at the Punchbowl function....
The Herald published a photograph on Monday that showed Mr Clarke in 1978 alongside Ljenko Urbancic, later exposed as a Nazi propagandist. Since then a number of individuals, including the former Liberal candidate for Auburn, Irfan Yusef, have publicly accused Mr Clarke of using religious wedge politics to recruit new members to the party....

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The new NSW Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government ministerial line up

If everyone listed below survives the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Operation Spicer hearings, this is the ministerial line up which will face the state electorate at the March 2015 election.

Don Page the MP for Ballina is missing from this list, having been demoted to the backbench in the Baird reshuffle and he has announced he will not be standing for re-election next March.

Mike Baird
Premier, Minister for Infrastructure and Western Sydney
Andrew Stoner
Deputy Premier, Minister for Trade and Investment, Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Minister for Small Business and Minister for the North Coast
Gladys Berejiklian
Minister for Transport and Minister for the Hunter
Adrian Piccoli
Minister for Education
Mike Gallacher
Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Central Coast, and vice-president of the executive council
Duncan Gay
Minister for Roads and Freight
Anthony Roberts
Minister for Resources and Energy
Jillian Skinner
Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research
Andrew Constance
Pru Goward
Minister for Planning and Minister for Women
Brad Hazzard
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
Gabrielle Upton
Minister for Family and Community Services
Katrina Hodgkinson
Minister for Primary Industries, Assistant Minister for Tourism and Major Events
Kevin Humphries
Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water, and Minister for Western NSW
John Ajaka
Minister for Ageing, Minister for Disability Services, and Minister for the Illawarra
Stuart Ayres
Minister for Fair Trading, Sport and Recreation, Minister Assisting the Premier on Western Sydney
Victor Dominello
Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Veterans Affairs, Assistant Minister for Education
Rob Stokes
Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage and Assistant Minister for Planning
Troy Grant
Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing, and Minister for the Arts
Dominic Perrottet
Minister for Finance and Services
Paul Toole
Minister for Local Government
Jai Rowell
Minister for Mental Health and Assistant Minister for Health

Siv Parker: Part Two - A dedication to storytelling

The politics maelstrom of Indigenous issues can distract from what my preferred work is these days, having first spent thirty years in Indigenous affairs - I am a storyteller. I’d like to dedicate Part Two of my Easter long read guest spot to story telling, and also acknowledge the great loss to her family, community, friends and admirers of an Indigenous writer of international renown who passed recently.

Doris Pilkington Garamara the novelist and screenwriter was best known for her book filmed to international acclaim - ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ [2002]. An award winning writer, her accounts of child removal practices and the impact on their mothers in WA is an exceptional contribution to Australian literary and cultural life, and provided the narrative for the findings of the Bringing Them Home report.

I was working in the arts and through some contacts we’d gotten hold of a copy of Rabbit Proof Fence from the Director, Phillip Noyce, with permission to hold a free community viewing. The small hall was full with mostly Aboriginal people. The audience was deathly quiet for the duration of the movie. And then in one of those lucky connections, I was invited to chaperone the author for a Q & A screening at Albury/Wodonga.
On protocol – and there are many that ensure the respectful and effective approach to Indigenous filmmaker - if an older Aboriginal lady is touring with a film – her film - my inclination would have been for her to be accompanied by a member of her own family. I felt a tremendous honour to be asked but I felt embarrassed that the organizers had thought it more appropriate to have me – a stranger  – escort her, especially as they’d gone to the trouble to have me travel from outback NSW to the NSW/Victoria border city. 

It was at the town’s main cinema complex, and mostly women, it looked like we’d have a fairly substantial pool to throw up questions during the Q and A with the author scheduled to immediately follow the screening.
Following introductions, Doris and I returned to the Lobby. I recall there were some occasional chairs but set well apart. To sit together we shared a seat for one. I’d just met someone I was in awe of and now I was trying not to squash her.
I hope she knew I was doing my best to ensure her comfort for the two day visit, especially as her gentle words and determined spirit went on to inspire a change of direction in my life. It was because of her that I decided I too wanted to win the David Unaipon award. (I won in 2012). Like her, my first books will see the light of day when I’m starting my 50s and a grandmother. And just like many Aboriginal writers today, I write because we have stories that we want people to know. With so little research, some may be the first time these stories are told beyond the circle of family or community. Or they supplement research by filling in the gaps of the lived experiences.
Screenings are synchronized down to the minute and she was a professional. My most vivid memory of this remarkable, talented and dignified woman was when we moved to the door to wait for the credits to roll.
You may recall the ending, the final scene is of the two sisters – Molly and Daisy – as they were when Rabbit Proof was filmed.
‘I never watch that scene’ she told me, so she stood outside the door, in a deserted lobby while I waited at the back of the cinema till they’d faded from view, before walking Doris down to the front as the lights come up and the audience broke into warm applause. It had clearly been a harrowing experience for some, and many looked tear stained and haunted.
The questions were respectful and reflected the extent to which the broader community were coming to terms with the Stolen Generations. And then there was one that changed the mood.
I’d noticed her sitting in the middle of the audience, by herself. Her arms were crossed in front of her body and she sat tightly screwed into her chair. Horizontal stripes and a short neat hairstyle.
Her question went something like ….’ Aren’t claims of stolen generations taking the black arm band movement too far. And I don’t have anything to be sorry about because I wasn’t there’.
The question would have made more sense if it had been asked when the audience member was still in a state of complete ignorance rather than after having sat through 94 minutes of a dramatized account of a true story.
And then I took the Tony Jones approach and informed her ‘ I’ll take that as a comment’ but she would not be stopped from commenting. On and on it went. Clearly distressed, she was now quite agitated and talking over everyone in the cinema. Ok, she was yelling. And then the audience started to murmur and hiss at her to stop.
It wasn’t a great way to finish the event but most were already emotionally drained by the experience. Slowly making our way to the exit and out on to the street and I saw the horizontal tee coming our way.
And then my eye caught a face I knew. Though I’d never met her, I was familiar with who Shellie Morris was from seeing her in my travels in the Northern Territory. ‘I know you’ she said, and we embraced on the footpath. Something about our public display of affection stopped the horizontal tee in her tracks. She turned around and walked away.
Over a decade later, maybe she feels the same or maybe she has moved on like most people who accept this chapter in Australia’s history.

At any time the exploits of three children walking 2,400 kms (1500 miles) is an extraordinary story. At the time there was a desire and a willingness to invest in the making and the viewing of that film.

I’m frequently asked for recommendations for Indigenous reading and I recommend all of Doris Pilkington Garimara’s works :
Caprice, A Stockman's Daughter, (UQP, 1991)
Under the Wintamarra Tree, (UQP, 2002)
Home to Mother, (UQP, 2006) ** children’s version of Rabbit Proof Fence

And where are we today? Stories about identity and bigotry would seem to the order of the day. But there is far more to the Indigenous experience than skin colour and how it feels to be racially vilified. In the context of Indigenous diggers from over a hundred years ago, no mention whatsoever is made of the colour of their skin, but they were referred to as black trackers, and were expected to be willing to die for their country.
If I was going to make comment at all it would be this – when we are living, we’re directed to grow a thicker skin in our determination to be treated as human, and accepted as Aboriginal, but when we die, no one argues that we were Aboriginal. The test for identity is that a person identifies, is accepted by and has connections with the Indigenous community. There is no legal reference to skin colour.
And yet some continue to want to raise it again and again if only to hear the sound of their own voice, much as the wearer of the horizontal tee from Albury Wodonga. She had a freedom to speak, and then as now I have freedom to decide how I respond, and these days I choose writing and filmmaking. Just as I did a decade ago, I can continue to acknowledge a wilfully blind point of view, and embrace the Aboriginal experience.


Siv Parker is an award winning writer, blogger and tweets from @SivParker. Her next publication is in a new anthology being launched at the Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival in May 2014.
For more opinion by Siv Parker on racism and the RDA, please read.
Repealing the race hate laws isn't 'freedom' to Indigenous people
Demonising people of colour is no way to make society safer

A new unconventional gas threat on the horizon for New South Wales?

On 9 September 2008 the Newcastle Herald reported on the proposal for a NSW in situ coal gasification project which was finally rejected in 2010:

Energie Future has applied under the Commonwealth Offshore Minerals Act for four mineral exploration licences that cover a total of 5940 square kilometres from Stockton Bight to Stanwell Park.
Energie spokesman Rick Somerton told The Herald that his company wanted to extract energy from seabed coal in a process called gasification.

However, in 2014 the NSW Coalition Government still lists in situ underground coal gasification (UCG) as a clean coal technology.

The UCG process involves using air or oxygen to ignite coal while it is still in the coal seam to produce gas. This process produces waste water/chemical by-products as well as a commercial gas often primarily composed of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane.

To date there appears to have been only four or five UCG pilot projects in eastern Australia. None have been in New South Wales. Three have been involved in serious environmental breaches.

In Chinchilla, Queensland, Linc Energy Ltd is decommissioning its UCG plant following a 2013 investigation by the state environmental agency.

According to ABC News on 16 April 2014:

Linc Energy is facing four charges of "wilfully and unlawfully" causing serious harm, each of which carries a fine of more than $450,000 or five years' jail…
The ABC understands one of the charges relates to a so-called overburden fracture, a crack in the layers of rock and soil that sit above the coal seam.
In some cases this can lead to the escape of gases into the air or allow groundwater into the cavity.

The Australian Financial Review on 24 September 2013 stated:

Cougar Energy [now known as Moreton Resource Pty Ltd] has been fined $75,000 for releasing a cancer causing chemical into groundwater at its coal seam gas trial project in Queensland.
The company's $550 million underground coal gasification (UCG) trial at Kingaroy was shut down by the Queensland government in January 2011 after the cancer causing chemical benzene was found in nearby bores.
Prosecutor Alan MacSporran QC told Brisbane Magistrates Court on Tuesday that Cougar had failed to install a production well in line with agreed environmental conditions and later released benzene into the local groundwater.
Mr MacSporran said Cougar also failed to notify authorities about the benzene release as soon as reasonably practicable.
Cougar pled guilty to three counts of contravening conditions of an environmental authority for a licence earlier in 2013….

Queensland Government media statement 6 December 2012:

Carbon Energy, which has a plant located between Dalby and Chinchilla, was fined $60,000 and its executive officer, Andrew Dash, was fined $2,000 for breaching their environmental conditions [by releasing contaminated water] and failing to notify the department….
Carbon was also ordered to pay $40,000 in legal and investigative costs.
Mr Powell said the company was charged following an investigation in 2010.

ABC News 8 July 2011:

The Queensland Government has dropped a controversial gas project in the state's south.
The underground coal gasification pilot in the South Burnett region has been shut down permanently after an investigation found it posed an unacceptable risk to underground water near the site.
Locals are relieved and are warning communities near other pilot projects to be vigilant.
Cougar Energy's underground coal gasification project is based at Kingaroy - a rich agricultural region in southern Queensland.
Terry Wall from Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management says the project was temporarily closed last year when traces of cancer-causing chemicals were found in water bores at the site.
"We found readings of chemicals, of benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene and xylene, known as BTEX chemicals. The most one of concern there was benzene," he said.
The Kingaroy project is one of three underground coal gasification testing plants in Queensland.
The State Government approved the plants to explore the viability of the new technology, which converts coal to gas using heat and chemicals.
But after the Kingaroy site was found to be contaminated, Cougar Energy was asked to explain and provide plans to prevent it happening again.
Mr Wall says the department was not convinced by Cougar's explanation.
He says the site has been shut down and the company must come up with a plan to nurse it back to health.
"To ensure that the groundwater actually is rehabilitated to its normal state and that equipment and other activities are removed from the site and the site is actually put back to its appropriate state," he said….

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Great NSW Crown Roads Scam

Suppose that by some historical mishap a section of your neighbours' land been included into your block. In farming communities this can happen due to a bad sense of direction while fencing.

It is up to the owner of the land to have the land surveyed and the cost of fencing the area properly are shared 50-50 between the neighbours. 

Once this land is returned to the legal owner it is up to the owner to control weeds and feral pest.

Not so if the land in question are crown roads belonging to the state government. 

The state government has decided that you the land holder have to pay for the land surveyed then pay for all the fencing and once this is done you are still responsible for weeds and feral pest.

Talk about a bad neighbour, you cannot even take them to court to achieve a fairer settlement.  

I suppose I should explain what crown roads are, they are in reality lines that were drawn on maps to accommodate for population expansion, or access to plots of land.

No investigation was done to find out the need or suitability of these roads. The result is that there are roads going through wetlands, floodplains, through steep gullies and even up cliff faces.

For years the rent was very low, then the state government had a problem with the crown roads around the Sydney harbour area. Millionaires renting foreshore crown roads for $5 per year so KPMG the financing firm were brought in to investigate and report on the crown road systems.

The result was the rent for these crown roads went through the roof, it all depended how many blocks of land you own and how many crown roads are within the blocks. Increases in rent from $50 per year to $800 per year are common.

If this was residential land you could go to the rental board and protest the large rental increase. but since the state government is the landlord you do not have any options for redress.

I agreed to buy the crown roads on my land 7 years ago when I received their offer of purchase, but because of the inactivity of the Department of Trade & Investment Crown Lands it has taken them 7 years to present me with their final offer.

All this time I was forced to pay them rent on the roads. Since it was no fault of mine that the process took so long I thought that at least some of that rent money should be credited towards the sale.

Not so the state governments reply.

Then we come to the purchase price of the crown roads, this process has followed the same reasoning that caused the roads to be created.

Neverland thinking has decided that the valuer generals estimation of property value should be used regardless of the market value of the land or its production potential.

This means that cliff faces can cost $7,000 per hectare, and is included if you wish to fence the area out.

Wetlands are another source of problems, these areas come under the state government Wetland policy SEPP 14, with all the restrictions to land use that are under this act, but when the price of crown roads is concerned it makes no difference.

An example of this is a lower Clarence farmer who owns land that is a wetland. He has been told that the crown roads on his property will cost him $7,243 hectare. 

When he pointed out that his neighbour who has flood free prime cropping land has had his place on the market for 3 years for $3,000 per hectare and has still not been able to sell his land, he was told that it was not relevant and the price of the crown roads in his farm would remain at the price the department demanded.

Back to my gripes with this process - it has taken the state government 7 years to come to the party and give me a price for the crown roads on my property yet they give me a deadline of 30 days to accept or decline the offer.

It seems that I have no right to negotiate a more realistic price for this land based on market value or production potential or restriction imposed by the state government. If I refuse to buy the roads I have two options:
  •     Pay for surveying the land and fencing it out of my property, and then still be responsible for weeds and feral pests on this land. Not to mention that the road would cut the property into two portions which would make the farm management very hard.
  •      Pay the rent that the state government demands, which has no basis in land use or land value. Currently the state government rent on 2 hectare on a 97 hectare property is more than a third of my council rates. I am sure that this rent will increase exponentially.
So what can you do when the state government, who makes the rules and enforces them, extorts farmers to pay for a historical stuff-up of the government's making. 

Then the state government demands fees and charges of over $1,700 which are not negotiable on each transaction.

Who do you go to get some justice? Who has the money to take this to the courts? Not me.

This process is a classic standover practice commonly used by criminal gangs but because it is the state government using this process it is deemed legal, with no thought given to fairness or justice.

I wonder if they’ll accept that interesting bottle of Grange I found on my doorstep this morning in lieu of those dollars........

Siv Parker: Part One - On the RDA & opposing the repeal of 18c

If you have an interest in Australian politics, you’d be aware that a Senator from Queensland who is also currently Australia’s Attorney-General  generated a flood of opinion when he responded to a Question in the Senate with ‘People have a right to be bigots, you know’.

Some days later, following an interview with one of the Australian Human Rights Commissioners, an outspoken ‘repeal advocate’ – the journalist followed the Commissioners line of argument with the obvious question… culminating in the N-word trending nationally.

In the weeks since, public debate has moved from emotional gut reaction, to personal disclosures of victims and observers, and now we’ve arrived at the theoretical, touching on:
–      the merits of bigotry (so far nil that I could see);
–      the risk to free speech (those with the most strenuous complaints to the threats to their freedom of speech, continue to have more access to speech, the means to pursue defamation and at worst at slight risk of racial abuse);
–      the case that was cited as central to efforts to repeal (was lost because as per the finding the offending articles 'included 19 errors of fact and one gross error of fact)'; and
–     ‘what is freedom of speech?’ (falsely attributed to Voltaire, and confusion around what John Stuart Mills actually meant by ‘freedoms’ because few have actually read first hand, preferring to be falsely informed or take a wild guess).

So how is your Easter? I’d wanted to use my guest blog spot to share some of my thoughts on Indigenous story telling, and what I think a person would do well to keep in mind when making use of the new technology that continues to come our way.
But the furore surrounding the proposed repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act has eclipsed my literary pursuits, with no sign of waning on Twitter – my usual platform for commentary - until at least the deadline for submissions. [30 April 2014]

Social media can’t force people read, but it can give a voice to both the marginalized and the powerful. It magnifies the cycle that surrounds many Indigenous issues – outrage, division, retreat – because it is so easy to tap out a tweet, a blog or an opinion piece. However Indigenous issues compete with 24 hour news cycles, engaging commentators and professional provocateurs of social media, ensuring a constant flow of tantalizingly, easily accessible information.
In short, people get bored or readily distracted. If you’re not directly affected – if you can comfortably expect to never be racially abused, and to very rarely be called upon to intervene when you see it happen in front of – you have the luxury of taking quite a relaxed point of view.
Yes, it pollutes your view of the world, but how you engage in it, what depths you need to navigate to keep your chin above its murky depths is a choice you get to make.
Indigenous people, especially those who look a certain way – and depending on the situation it could be due to the darkness or the lightness of their skin – are in perpetual readiness for something to happen.
It may just be that comment – that you have heard week in, week out for your entire life. It could be more pointed, and depending on what circles you move in, it could feel like an interrogation at a writers festival in front of an audience of two hundred people.
Or perhaps you wrote an opinion piece that was shared on Facebook over 600 times and a whole lot of people wanted to tell you what they thought about it, starting with ..I’m not racist but, or I don’t agree that…, or ‘the author is deficient’ in some way – lets count them, because of not fighting back and giving up (vague criticism); being too conservative (vague again); being too opinionated; using the wrong tone; suspected of merely having ‘a short term political agenda’; or my personal favourite (not really) that I have ‘missed the real question’ altogether, despite it being my opinion and my life.
It is just so…wearisome. In fact, if the Indigenous person would just stop talking about it, we could all focus on something more positive. Or lately, isn’t it better that people get to say whatever vile lie that pops into their head. Isn’t that better than just thinking it?
Well, no. It’s not. And the only people with staying power in the racism debate are the victims of racial abuse, and the people who think treating some people with the rough end of free speech is what makes for a better society.
Rather than listen to someone tell me how bereft they feel at not being able to racially insult people, I’d rather discuss story telling. Stories that would have people less inclined to tolerate and on occasion contribute to the continued ‘not racist but’ dehumanization of Indigenous people.
If we talked more about the contribution that Indigenous Australian’s have made to Australia, for instance. Not in the thousands of deaths that made land available, but from the labour and land management skills of the generations of Indigenous people that built Australia’s prosperity.
An enduring example was the development of the pastoral industry, and the proud tradition of Australian sheep and cattle properties. Livestock only reached pastoral properties across Australia because of the Indigenous jackeroos and jilleroos who drove on horseback from one side of the country to the other, over the last hundred years.
My mother was a jillaroo, and came from a family of station workers. Very few of them ever received a full wage, and most died before the state (Qld, NSW and WA) made arrangements to make partial payment. Though ‘payment’ barely describes the paltry sums on offer to workers, many of whom were already deceased.

But for some, this is ancient history – Stolen Wages, which were only relatively recently settled, is an awkward conversation, particularly if your family or industry benefited from enforced servitude, and is another example of why some observers encourage Indigenous people to grow another layer to that thick skin they suggest will make racial insults easier to bear.

So let’s confine our conversations to timeframes and events that people are comfortable talking about. Let’s start with the Boer War, 1902, when 50 black trackers were rounded up and sent to South Africa.
Technically the majority weren’t enlisted, though it’s highly unlikely that in 1901 black trackers – at least fifty of them – decided to move to South Africa of their own accord. There are records that they left Australia, but no confirmation that they returned. Research is limited but indicates that return travel was impaired by the White Australia policy in operation at the time. People are very cautious in the telling of this sorry story and – to my mind – truly shocking treatment of Indigenous people. ‘Leave no man behind’ is a mainstay of war stories, after all. Descendants of these Indigenous service men certainly didn’t forget – how could you, that’s the sort of story that people would continue to tell for generations, regardless of your heritage.

There’s been a history of those who remain unconvinced certain events occurred. This was certainly the case with the Stolen Generation though these days – post The Apology - people accept more readily that children were removed and their families deeply traumatized.

Siv Parker is an award winning writer, blogger and tweets from @SivParker.


Hansard Senate March 24 2014 Questions without notice Racial Discrimination Act Senators Peris & Brandis
‘People have a right to be bigots, you know’.
Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson says race hate laws are bizarre, unequal
Amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975
Stolen Wages
Aboriginal pastoral workers seeking compensation for years of unpaid labour
New project to shed light on legacy of Indigenous diggers
Claims 50 Aboriginal trackers left behind during the Boer War