in service of the
Voice of Reason
It is difficult to hear a voice of reason in the conflicting babble of noise that passes for our democratic process; a binary political system of government where political triumph is always more important than principle or substance. It is not even about winning; it is more about making it abundantly clear others have lost. This is where political rivalry has taken dialogue on the forth coming referendum.
I have just finished reading Megan Davis’s “Quarterly Essay” (issue 90 2023) commending the Yes vote at the forthcoming referendum. It is such an important read.
My level of despair has been rising in recent days as the referendum approaches, not only because of the false and conspiratorial claims made by the No campaign, but because those promoting the Yes case are doing such an ordinary job.
A few days ago, I linked into a conversation Noel Peason conducted with members of the Christian community. One of the important points he made is also affirmed in Davis’s article – namely that, in the process leading to and following the Uluru statement from the Heart, multiple conversations were held with both sides of politics to ascertain and confirm strategy and wording which might garner bi-partisan support. History reminds us how important this support is in the championing of a referendum which inevitably asks for change to a perceived norm.
My admiration for Julian Leeser has grown substantially. He was a key figure in those discussions on behalf of the Coalition. He has upheld integrity in the process. His support is not simply because he believes in the outcome, but also because what is now being presented is in significant part, framed following conversations with coalition members on what they considered to be politically deliverable. That Dutton and his troops have turned their backs is worse than deplorable, it is duplicitous.
What has become abundantly and shamefully clear is that the No case is not about opposing a mechanism in the constitution for the furthering of Indigenous empowerment, but primarily about an opportunity for the Coalition to regain political ground over its opponents. This is made transparently clear through the aggressive campaign of its media champions, Fox News and Murdoch publications.
Through the influence of my sister Valerie, I have become accustomed to understand that poverty is not best defined through its presenting features of homelessness, incarceration, morbidity, lack of education etc, but through an acknowledgement of powerlessness – not being heard, not understood. Davis explains that it was through this understanding that ‘Voice’ was settled on as the ground on which to stand in seeking to address disempowerment. The depressing statistics of poverty with which we are familiar in our First Nations communities, and which are recited in the regularly disappointing ‘closing the gap’ reports, can only be addressed through empowerment of those disadvantaged. This is why the Voice is so important – and it is why its defeat would be so catastrophic.
I was intrigued by the names Davis claimed to have influenced the development of her thinking.
Hope on the one hand is an absurdity, too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one only does that at great political and existential risk.
On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question. (the “prophetic imagination” Fortress Press 2001 p 110).
2. Theoretical Physicist David Bohm
“Bohm talks of the Greek word dialogue: ‘dia’ meaning through, and ‘logos’ meaning word. It evokes the image of a stream of meaning flowing among us, through us, and between us. Bohm says, It’s something new which may not have been in the starting point at all. It’s something creative. And this shared meaning is what holds people and societies together…. Contrast this with ‘discussion’ which has the same root as percussion and concussion which is to break things up.
Davis finishes her essay with a wonderful quote from the late Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu.
“What Aboriginal people ask is that the modern world now makes the sacrifices necessary to give us a future. To relax its grip on us. To let us breathe, to let us be free of the determined control exerted on us to make us like you.
And you should take that a step further and recognise us for who we are, not who you want us to be. Let us be who we are – Aboriginal people in the modern world – and be proud of us. Acknowledge that we have survived the worst that the past has thrown at us, and we are here with our songs, our ceremonies, our land, our language and our people – our full identity.
What a gift that is that we can give you, if you choose to accept us in a meaningful way”.
The proposal before us is that we walk together in a new, creative, and respectful way. We have always thought our way to be superior, that our way would lift ‘these poor savages’ out of a much lesser world. The truth of the matter is that what First Nations people mean by sovereignty and treaty is no threat to other Australians, but an invitation for us to enter a more connected way of being. Of course, our world, particularly its science, medicine and education, have much to offer. We can and will all benefit from shared lives. A No to walk together is unthinkable and will entrench enduring racist attitudes.
A Yes is a yes to a shared life of respect. There are still songlines to be carved across this ancient land, may these lines be ones of listening, companionship and shared story.
Oppenheimer and the hand of God
This week has seen the release of two box office hits: Oppenheimer and Barbie. Both films touch on existential threats to humanity. The first intentionally so: the impending and omnipresent cloud of nuclear disaster keeps the hands of the doomsday clock frighteningly close to midnight. The second reminds us of human narcissistic obsessions with the banal and unimportant, whilst living with blind indifference to what is important. Residents of North Africa, North America and Europe suffering oppressive heat and fire must be pleased and comforted that economies are built on encouraging ever increasing consumer desire for the expendable, thus making this climate experience the new normal.
Has humanity’s tombstone already been quarried, lacking only an epitaph to be inscribed? This was the dark musing of one of this week’s media commentators. To forestall such ignominy, is dependence on technology as humankind’s saviour the sensible way forward? Coming home from watching Oppenheimer and remembering what it was like as a child growing up in the 1950’s, worrying about nuclear war, suggests this is not a smart option. Those responsible for the latest technological advancement – Artificial Intelligence – while appropriately proclaiming it’s obvious and seductive benefits to education and medical science, warn us negative outcomes of the technology could have the capacity to completely overwhelm us.
Where to from here? I want to promote a counter intuitive and easily ridiculed alternative as we contemplate humanity’s future. Rather than looking to future technological discoveries for salvation, let us look again at past, but enduring wisdom. (Thinking of ridicule, the political right loves to make fun of any attempt to measure wellbeing as an appropriate gauge of a nation’s state of health).
Over centuries mighty empires rose and fell – Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman. Numerous ethnic groups were made subject to these mighty powers. People known as the Israelites were one of these groups. At one stage or another they were subject to them all. Approximately 2,500 years ago they were taken into Babylonian exile. Whilst in exile they demonstrated an amazing and abiding truth about humans, namely, we learn more from adversity than we do from triumph. This should be a salutary reminder as we contemplate our present predicament.
Here in exile, an unknown scribe (he is known to us as Deutero Isaiah) penned a soaring piece of theological insight. “Is there any god beside me? There is no other rock; I know not one”. Isaiah 44:8. – a declaration of monotheism. Their God was not in fact ‘their’ god. There can only be one God. If God is God, God must be sovereign of the whole created order, including Israel’s oppressors. The passage is set within a broader piece which refers to Israel’s role as servant(s) of the good that God intends. This is where their blessing lies, not in being patron of the divine with entitlement to special consideration.
Prior to this monotheistic statement, and sadly subsequent to it, divinity was/is an expression of tribalism. The most dangerous form of tribalism is national tribalism. Putin’s current use of the Russian Orthodox Church is a flagrant attempt to manipulate divinity in support of Russian nationalistic ambition.
Genuine monotheistic belief has consequences.
At this time of monotheistic awareness, what we know as the first creation story, Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 probably reached the form we recognise today. It stands in contrast to the second creation story (Adam and Eve and their descendants) which became and remains linked to the tribal emergence and history of Israel.
In the first creation narrative humanity is conceived universally. Adam, earth creature, is the whole of humanity, integrally part of the whole created order. What is proclaimed as ‘very good’ is the harmony and beauty of the whole created order. Identity is inextricably bound within a web of relationships. Each is celebrated in its own place. Each contributes to the flourishing of the whole.
Modern humanity likes truth to be defined, quantified. However, foundational truths are too big to be defined, let alone reduced to data or information. The only way to properly encompass such insight is within story or narrative. This is why Jesus taught in parables.
The creation narratives are destroyed as vehicles of truth when made instruments of history. They are not stories of the past but narratives through which to interpret and understand the present. They neither prove nor disprove the big bang. They neither support the theory of evolution nor are they enhanced or reduced by it.
Because monotheism is belief that God is sovereign, we can assume it is a grave mistake to assume we are – sovereign. The dominion humanity is endowed with in this narrative must be understood as service, or at the very least as stewardship of the good that God intends.
It is more likely we face the erection of our species’ tombstone sooner rather than later if we think we are sovereign, or we are entitled to act in any way that serves our short term wants and desires. While most technologies have greatly enhanced human wellbeing, especially those that have advanced human health, the reality is that they have also been used to advance negative human sovereignty, both over the nonhuman world, but also in competition with, and to the diminishment of, other humans.
The first creation story concludes with an account of Sabbath. This is not to be understood as one climactic ‘day’ in a cycle of seven, but a description of how the ‘six days’, or life in all its fullness, is to be celebrated.
It is almost certain that ‘sabbath’ began as ritual associated with the new moon, specifically the three-day period between the waning of the old and the birth of the new. This period of ‘rest’ was deemed of such significance that the principle inherent in it became applied to all aspects of life and expressed in the creation narrative itself. No part of the created order should overreach itself. Every part should be respected and honoured for its uniqueness. To quote the late Bishop of Winchester, John Vincent Taylor, the principle of ‘enough is enough’ is a divine intention that cannot be abrogated without serious consequence.
Unfortunately, the whole economic system upon which the health and prosperity of nations is supposedly based exists in aggressive opposition to this principle. We are told that enough should never be enough, that our wellbeing depends on more being spent, more being owned, more being used.
Being in awe of the sheer abundance and beauty of the world we experience and being deeply grateful for it, is not part of the common lexicon.
We are used to the fact that physical laws govern the universe. We have become oblivious to the truth that relational laws also stand beyond abrogation. Enough is enough. We cannot occupy the space of another without reducing them and ourselves. In the created order of which we are part, sovereignty can only be understood in the service of good.
What is good is necessarily also common.
What is wrong with humanity? - The spirit of Entitlement
What is wrong with Western Christianity? – Moralising has taken the place of ethical behaviour
These last weeks have been filled with sickening items of news. The following serve as a cross section: the invasion of the Jenin refugee camp by Israeli forces; the continued killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian drones; the outrage that is Donald Trump; the duplicitous theft of taxpayer money by PWC; continuing reluctance to deal responsibly with damaging carbon emissions; the scandal that is robodebt, the torture of refugees for up to 600 days in a small airless hotel room; growing opposition to the proposed indigenous voice to parliament based on the Uluru statement.
Looking at the diverse issues named above, one theme links them – a passive or active spirit of entitlement. To feel entitled is to misunderstand life. Life is not about things or objects, but about interactions or relationships. People of faith face only one challenge - choose life. To choose life is to choose to be a blessing in life’s interactions. To choose life is to act ethically.
The moralizing of Christians always misses the point. We are not here to condemn or judge, we are here to enable all and every person to choose life.
Clearly humanity has a major problem. But as a Christian, the problem for me is more painfully acute. It is manifestly and shamefully clear that some high-profile Australian political leaders who publicly attest their ‘Christian allegiance’ either do not see the above issues as a problem, or, worse, have been active promulgators of them. Conservative Christian leadership is quick to moralise about personal human behaviour but seems utterly incapable of seeing the bigger picture of systemic abuse. It is little wonder the world at large has long since rejected Christianity as a base for society’s renewal.
The catalyst for the Jenin incursion is not Palestinian militarism, but the entitled behaviour of Zionism and Settler activity. Since 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have lived as refugees, some in their own country. Jenin houses one such camp. The inhabitants of the camp are expected to accept their lot. Denied basic human rights, caged without freedom to travel, denied an economy or employment and facing further summary loss of land, homes and livelihoods by the spreading illegal settler community, they are expected to quietly submit. The Lions Den, targeted by the Israelis comprises 18+ year olds who simply refuse to accept this must be their lot. Why should they? Why should Zionist feel entitled to what historically and legally is Palestinian? Why is the international community so quick to condemn Palestinians as terrorists, but does absolutely nothing to challenge its cause, the entitlement of illegal settlers. Those aligned to the Christian right support Israel’s oppression on grounds that God intends Israel to occupy all the territory. IS THIS WHAT JESUS OF NAZERETH WOULD DO?
That Donald Trump is considered a serious candidate for reelection as president of the US is beyond astonishing. He lives a life of absolute entitlement demonstrated in keeping national documents, not paying taxes, lecherous behaviour towards women, encouraging or initiating anarchy, threatening national security etc. Trump’s electoral base is the Christian religious right. IS THIS WHERE JESUS OF NAZARETH WOULD STAND?
The behaviour of PWC is quite shocking. But what is perhaps even more shocking is that over a period of two decades self-interested and self-serving consultancy took the place of the public service in the monitoring and implementation of public policy. The lobbying power of consultancy firms is enormous, as is their rapacious self-interest. The spirit of entitlement is staggering. Telling the public service their fearless advice was not wanted, but that they would do what their political masters demanded was instruction from Prime Minister Morrison. This attitude of party-political entitlement led to the robot debt outrage and many Australians taking their own lives. Stuart Robert and Scott Morrison, high profile Pentecostal Christians, were central to the conception and implementation of this scheme. WHERE WOUD THE PRIORITIES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH LIE IN RELATION TO THE NATION’S MOST VULNERABLE?
Opposition to the Voice referendum has become a cause célèbre to the right of politics and by extension to the Christian right. Why? The arguments are self-contradictory. Some who oppose say the Voice does not offer enough, others that it offers too much. There is inability to accept or understand that indigenous sovereignty is not about control, as it is for us second comers, it is about spiritual and cultural relatedness. HOW WOULD JESUS OF NAZARTH VOTE?
As recently attested by Mostafa Azimitabar, treatment by the Australian Government of individuals found to be refugees has been cruel and shameful. Locked in small hotel rooms after arriving from offshore detention for months on end, this was torture. Why was this done? “To protect Australia’s borders”. Did boat arrivals increase when the men were eventually released into the community – no, of course not. The treatment was dehumanising and cruel. The main craftsman of this policy was Scott Morrison. WAS THIS A POLICY CONSISTENT WITH THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS OF NAZARETH.
Human behaviour has changed little over the centuries. We are all capable of greatness, but more often our lives are marked by the lowest levels of human behaviour. As St Paul said: “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do”.
However, what has changed is that personal damage is more than ever likely to be experienced systemically. Institutions, including the Church, can be quite damaging as members of the LBGTQI community readily testify. Damaging treatment of the indigenous community for 200+ years has been systemic; this damage has been possible because of willful ignorance, shamefully continuing in the no campaign. The same is true of most of the other calamities mentioned in the opening paragraph. Where are Christian voices of justice? I am sorry to say they are drowned out by the moralisers. It would be preferable that no practicing Christian hold public office if they have no capacity to understand ethical issues lying at the heart of policy made, or policy ignored.
Popular sections of contemporary Christian teaching proclaim prosperity as a reward for faith. The many scandals in which Stuart Robert has been embroiled appear to confirm that this is what lies behind his Christian faith.
None of us are blessed for our own sake, we are blessed in as much as we are a blessing to others. On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending our local NAIDOC celebration. It was a privilege to be there. The ceremony was resonant of the Christian faith that I know. Release of energy, choosing life, honouring elders, singing the songs of the plants and animals, being aware of the Spirit’s movement.
The Voice Referendum
Influence family friends and communities to vote Yes
What follows is an historical overview of bad faith, ignorance, failed policy, and lost opportunity that has preceded the upcoming Voice referendum. To fail First Nation people again is unthinkable, worse, it would be the cause of anguish and loss of respect from which, not simply First Nations people, but all Australians would struggle to recover trust. Having read this material, surely it would be morally impossible to do other than Vote Yes. If not now – when, if not us – who?
June 10 1838 28 women, old men, and children of the Gamilaraay nation were butchered, their bodies piled up and burnt, at Myall Creek, Bingara, NSW. It was not the first nor the last massacre of First Nations people. But it was the first and perhaps only massacre following which colonists were arrested, charged, and prosecuted. Seven were hung. However, popular public opinion favoured the stockmen murderers. In its editorial, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote: "The whole gang of black animals are not worth the money the colonists will have to pay for printing the silly documents on which we have already wasted too much time.” Also: ʹthe colony did not want “savages to exist". "We have far too many of the murderous wretches about us already.” The paper encouraged the shooting of Aboriginal people. It is shameful to have to admit that while not as extreme and violent, a racist attitude towards First Nations people remains within some spheres of the Australian psyche.
The journey forward, from this appalling inhumanity, to decency and shared humanity, was going to be long. Need it to have been so long and so strongly resisted? Is it still to be resisted?
In 1924 The Australian Aborigines Progress Association was founded in Sydney by Fred Maynard and Tom Lacey. It called for the right of Aboriginal people to determine their own lives, the restitution of land, an end to the practice of removing children from their families and the abolition of the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Board
In the 1930s, articulate First Nation activists began emerging from the missions and reserves of N.S.W. and Vic., among them: William Cooper, Bill Ferguson, Margaret Tucker, Doug Nicholls, Jack and Selina Patten, Tom Foster, Pearl Gibbs, Jack Kinchela and Helen Grosvenor.
1932 William Cooper, a Yorta Yorta, man circulated a petition across Australia calling upon the Government to improve living conditions for Aboriginal People, and to enact legislation that would guarantee Aboriginal people representation in parliament. The petition was sent to Joseph Lyons, P.M., in August 1937, with the hope that it would be forwarded to King George V1. The petition was signed by 1814 Aborigines. Joseph Lyons acknowledged the petition, however it appears not to have been forwarded onto King George. It was marked “no action to be taken”.
26 January 1938, Aboriginal men and women met at Australia Hall in Sydney and moved the following: “We, representing the Aborigines of Australia, assembled in conference at Australia Hall, Sydney, on the 26 of January, 1938, this being the 150 anniversary of whitemans seizure of our country, hereby make protest against the callous treatment of our people by the whiteman during the past 150 years, and we appeal to the Australian nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, we ask for a new policy which will raise our people To Full Citizens Status and Equality within the Community”
This resolution of indignation, protest was moved and passed at 5 o’clock. A large blackboard displayed outside the hall proclaims “Day of Mourning”. The group that met on 26 January were members of Australian Aborigines League and the Aborigines Progressive Association. Both organisations became the driving force calling for a constitutional referendum that would take place in 1967.
31 January 1938, an Aboriginal deputation that included Jack Patten, William Furguson, and Pearl Gibbs, met with Prime Minister Joe Lyons, his wife Enid and the Minister for the Interior John “Black Jack” McEwen. They asked for Commonwealth control of all Aboriginal matters, a Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, an administration advised by Aboriginal representatives, full citizen status and civil equality with white Australians, including equality in education, labour laws, workers' compensation, pensions, land ownership and wages.
1 May 1946, 800 pastoral workers from 27 stations in W.A. walked off the job for better pay and conditions.
This strike became known as the “1946 Pilbara Strike”.
The strike lasted until 1949, paralysing the sheep industry
1953 nuclear tests began at Emu, S.A., moving to Maralinga S.A. in 1956. Maralinga, means “thunder”. This name was taken from the now extinct Top End Aboriginal language called Garik. The social, physical, mental and environmental impacts resulting from the testing and its fallout continue to have ongoing effects on the local Pitjantjatjara and Luritja Peoples today.
In 1957 a National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NADOC) was formed, which continues to this day as NAIDOC.
1965 A group of students from the University of Sydney went on a 15-day bus journey “Freedom Ride” to draw attention to the appalling living conditions of NSW Aboriginal People, and their experience of overt racism. Rev. Ted Noffs of the Wayside Chapel assisted in co-ordinating the ride. Charles Perkins, a student at Sydney University at that time, was elected president of the group.
During the fifteen-day journey through regional NSW, the group directly challenged a ban against Aboriginal ex-servicemen at the Walgett RSL and local laws barring Aboriginal children from the Moree and Kempsey swimming pools. They also took up living condition issues in several other NSW towns. At the end of the journey a full report was written and presented to relevant authorities.
23 August 1966 saw the walk off from Lord Vestey’s property, Wave Hill
Protest events held prior to 1967, include The Warbuton Ranges Controversy 1957, the Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963, the Freedom Ride 1965 and the Wave Hill walk off which began in 1966.
The 1967 referendum put the following Question to the Australian people: Do you approve the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled, “An Act to alter the Constitution so as to omit certain words relating to people of the Aboriginal Race in any State and so that Aboriginals are to be counted in the reckoning the population.”
This amendment deleted part section 51 of the Constitution and repealed section 127. 90.77% of the Australian population voted “Yes” in the referendum.
1968-69 saw the introduction of equal wages for pastoral workers. September 1967, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission removed the racially discriminatory clause from the Federal Pastoral Industry Award and equal wages for Aboriginal pastoral workers were phased in from December 1968, in the Kimberly region.
In earlier decades, Aboriginal station workers were usually given no wages, but instead received food, clothing and tobacco rations in return for labour. When the equal wages decision was handed down, hundreds of Aboriginal people were forced to leave the stations, moving into towns or onto reserves.
September 1973 Whitlam Government announced the idea of a National Aboriginal Consultative Committee (NACC). The NACC quickly asserted its political muscles during the Whitlam Government, clashing with DAA head, Barry Dexter and the minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Jim Cavanagh. DAA was established in 1973.
16 August 1975 Gough Whitlam transferred leasehold title of Wattie Creek (Daguragu), 90 square kilometres, to the Gurindji people which led to the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (N.T.) 1976
May 1977, Ian Viner, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in the Fraser Government, replaced the NACC with a new body, National Aboriginal Conference (NAC). The NAC members were selected by Indigenous People. April 1979 the NAC recommended a form of treaty between Aboriginal peoples and the Australian Government, using the word “Makarrata” to describe this. Makarrata is a Yolngu word for the restoration of good relations after conflict.
The NAC was eventually abolished by the Hawke Government in 1985.
In Geneva, Jim Hagan chair of the National Aboriginal Conference, addresses United Nations Human Rights Commission Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. (At this time there were protests against oil drilling on Aboriginal Land of Noonkanbah.)
Hagan’s speech, on 3 September 1980, was reported internationally: “The Noonkanbah community have sought justice, and have been given obstruction. We have sought peace and have been given violence. The Australian Government’s acquiescence in this continuing breach of human rights must be condemned in the eyes of the world”.
Hagan is the first elected Indigenous Australian to address a UN committee.
The Hawke Government’s ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) legislation was introduced into the parliament in August 1988. April 1989 John Howard strongly expressed opposition to the ATSIC proposal, stating that it would divide the Nation. In the six months following the introduction of the ATSIC Bill, over 90 amendments were made to the legislation, making the Bill the second most amended piece of legislation since Federation. ATSIC Act 1989 was passed in November 1989.
Section 3 of the ATSIC Act 1989 sets out the following objectives:
May 1982 a group of Meriam, led by Eddie Mabo from the Eastern Torres Strait, lodged a case with the High Court of Australia for legal ownership of the island of Mer. Over a period of 10 years Meriam people generated 4000 pages of transcript of evidence. The evidence presented included proof that eight clans of Mer (Murray Island) have occupied clearly defined territories on the island for hundreds of years, and proved continuity of customs on Mer.
3 June 1992, six of the seven judges agreed that the Meriam held traditional ownership of the land of Mer. The decision led to the passing of the Native Title Act 1993, providing the framework for all Australian Indigenous people to make claim of Native Title.
This decision altered the foundation of land law in Australia and rendered terra nullius a legal fiction.
Paul Keating gave his Redfern speech on 10 December 1992.
August 2007 Northern Territory Intervention (N.T. Emergency Response) was introduced following the “Little Children are Sacred Report”
The intervention was a $587 million package of legislation that made a number of changes affecting specified Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. It included restriction on alcohol, changes to welfare payments, acquisition of parcels of land, education (linking income support to school attendance), employment (the ceasing of CDEP) and health (compulsory checks for all children).
In doing so, several laws were affected or partially suspended: Racial Discrimination Act 1975, Aboriginal Land Rights (N.T.) Act 1976, Native Title Act 1993, N.T. Self-Government Act and related legislation, Social Security Act 1991, and Income Tax Assessment Act 1993.
Since the introduction of the intervention in 2007, many social problems facing communities have become worse, (as reported on NITV), namely:
2009 K. Rudd supported the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 3 of the declaration states that: “Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
K. Rudd PM, implemented the Basic Card, it later changed to the Cashless Debit Card
2016 the Cashless Debit Card, (CDC) was trialled in Ceduna, East Kimberly and Gold Fields in WA and the Bundaberg-Hervey Bay region in QLD. The CDC has been operating in the Cape York region in QLD and across the NT since 2021
17 December 2020, the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (continuation of cashless welfare) Act 2020, came into being. The Act supports the continuation of the Cashless Debit Card for a further two years.
2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations gathered at Uluru for a National Constitutional Convention to make “The Statement from the Heart”.
Referendum on The Voice will be held in 2023
The Uluru Statement from the heart identifies three objectives:
Voice to Parliament
The Voice to parliament would be advisory, it will have no powers to overrule parliament. First Nations communities will be able to bring matters relating to their social, spiritual, and economic wellbeing, via Local and Regional Voices, to the twenty-four-member National Voice which in turn would give advice to parliament. This would empower government to enact best case policies and laws for the flourishing of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rather than igniting racism, it will hopefully remove remaining vestiges of disempowerment and inequality.
Racism, Social Media, the Voice
A minority of people who live with unresolved issues bombard others with a reflection of their cyclopic state, rather than resolving discord and blindness in their personal lives. Social media has now become the ever-available channel of choice for this self-indulgence and self-delusion. The agenda or personhood of others they bombard are not the issue, confected and unpleasant outrage is the issue. These people seem to so dominate the air waves of social media that the good the medium offers is easily swamped under a dark cloud of abuse and, at times, vengefulness. It is, perhaps, impossible to turn the clock back, or put the genie back in the bottle, but if it is reasonable to assert all forms of communication in the public domain should serve common good, how is the dark side of social media to be addressed? If not, will the next generation be smart enough to shut it down?
Sure, domains can and should be expected to be far more diligent about what they allow to be published on their platforms. But, behind the front which is social media, is there a powerful ill-wind that feeds on discontent and division, a wind that encourages conflict and serves to stimulate mindless abuse on social media?
Recent court cases have confirmed there is such an ill wind blowing in the United States. It is called News Media with its subsidiaries like Fox News. The recent US court case showed Fox News to depend upon discontent and division to sustain and perhaps grow its business. When Trump looked like he was losing the 2021 election, News Limited momentarily called it accurately in Arizona. They quickly discovered that telling the truth cost them significant readership. They backed down and gave comfort to those who were determined to claim that Trump had won.
The News Limited stable in Australia is hewn from the same stock. Whether the ABC should have asked Stan Grant to give his important commentary on the crown, colonisation, and the fate of indigenous people while people were entering Westminster Abbey for the coronation could be debated. But News Ltd used all its media outlets in a scathing attack not just on the commentary, but on Stan himself. Having fed the hounds of racism (in social media) they tried to redeem themselves in a belated show of sympathy for Stan.
It is hardly a surprise that the State most likely to reject the referendum on the Voice slated for October or November is Queensland. News Limited has a strangle hold on print media in that State. Now, I know few people make use of print media, however the ideas presented through News Ltd and its stable mate Sky News percolate in the public space and are picked up and repeated in social media posts.
News Media is not a serious journalistic player nor a serious presenter of news, it is a propaganda platform in support of conservative ideology. This statement is hardly contentious.
The conservative side of politics is currently arguing that the Voice referendum should be defeated because it is inherently divisive, giving privilege to one section of the population that is denied to the rest. Nonsense! the reverse is true, opposition to the Voice is divisive, and purposely so, for division and discontent is the political weapon of choice for conservative politics seeking electoral approval here, and in the US.
There is goodwill among Australians for such significant advancement as will enable Australia’s First Nations people to flourish and prosper on their terms. That indigenous people have chosen the path they believe will best facilitate this journey, that should be enough for all Australians to vote for it. Sadly, we know there is always a gap between what is ideal and what in a democracy is politically deliverable. Mr Dutton has said he and his party cannot (will not) accept the wording asked for at Uluru and accepted by the Prime Minister.
Mr Dutton has been invited to offer an alternative set of words that in his view are politically deliverable. He has declined to do so. Like News Ltd deciding to support Trump’s false claims, he has calculated this stance is the one most likely to win him accolades from those on the right of politics. Does he follow Murdoch and Sky, or do Murdoch and Sky parrot Dutton?
History shows it is almost impossible for a referendum to succeed if it does not enjoy bipartisan political support.
The respected Jesuit priest and lawyer, Father Frank Brennan, has been working hard to find a path that both sides of politics will accept. In his recently launched book, An Indigenous Voice to parliament he offers an alternative set of words:
There shall be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice with such structure and functions as the parliament deems necessary to facilitate consultation prior to the making of special laws with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and with such other functions as the parliament determines.
He argues that these words do not alter the constitution but complete it.
The Prime Minister has made it clear he will not offer a set of words that do not fully embrace the intent of the Uluru statement. This is the right path to take, but it may not be politically astute. What is presented must be politically deliverable and workable in practice. On the other hand, Dutton’s refusal to offer a different set of words demonstrates a lack of good will. Clearly his ʹnoʹ is ʹnoʹ regardless of the words.
At both ends of the spectrum people will vote yes or no regardless of words and arguments presented between now and the referendum. However, there are significant numbers in the middle who need to be persuaded, some of whom will sadly be seduced by disinformation.
The best possible result will be the passing of the referendum with words that most adequately express the desire of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and which serve the intended outcome of improved lives. The worst possible result would be for a referendum to be held and lost.
The vitriol experienced by Stan Grant is a sad reminder that we Australians are not readily open to hearing that the advantage experienced by most of us has come at the expense of disadvantage suffered by First Nations people. Listening is the first and necessary step to reconciliation. The Voice is the best, perhaps the only, offering in the room which might put our listening into effect.
Making sense of Monarchy
Called not to be served, but to serve
Do I have any credibility to contribute to the debate? Perhaps not, for I am a republican in Australia but a monarchist in Britain. It is not that I am confused, it is that contemporary Australian demographics makes a Republic a necessity, whilst British conventions remain well served by the obligations of office placed upon the monarch.
As Australia moves inexorably towards a republic, I both rejoice and am saddened. Australia comprises a population drawn from the four corners of the planet, for whom a foreign head of state makes absolutely no sense. But in becoming a republic how will we ensure our new head of state will make the same commitments to service that Charles was obligated to make at his coronation. Meaningful and lasting service deepens a sense of sacred, value beyond self.
Australia’s political and civic psyche appears to have moved beyond any real sense of the sacred as a primary value. Measurements are made in economic terms. Critics of the monarchy at home (Britain) and abroad have used the same measurement – what economic contribution do the Royals make? Politics is all about economics, nothing deeper. Unless we are lucky enough to find a Mary McAleese, how would an Australian president draw us into a deeper sense of who we could and should be. Politicians have demonstrated they are incapable of doing that.
There can be little doubt Charles is underestimated, and equally underestimated is the burden he undertook to carry at his coronation. There is no reason to doubt he will take these oaths as seriously as did his mother, Elizabeth ll.
Two key symbols at the coronation are orb and sceptre. The orb represents the spiritual dimension of existence and the sceptre its material dimension. To what I consider to be our considerable loss, we Australians appear to have abandoned any meaningful sense of life’s sacred or spiritual dimension. Perhaps worse, many who do acknowledge such dimension are territorial, using dogma to exclude, ambitious for superiority, even domination. Spirituality necessitates humility, awe in the presence of that which is greater than self. It also requires that we acknowledge we are but a small part of a greater whole that deserves our service. Charles is right to have included all dimensions of religious expression in his coronation. While being an Anglican Christian by conviction, he recognises that spirituality is inevitably part of ethnicity, place of birth and culture. His Anglicanism is authentically that.
This inclusiveness and conviction is drawn from his deep Christian faith and from his traditionalist philosophy. I commend the following link to this philosophy:
Those who rightly wish Britain, or specifically the crown, to face up to the scandalous horror that was British acquisition of Australian land and resources, and the slaughter of Aboriginal people, may well be making a serious mistake in opposing Charles because of his association with the crown’s ignominious history. At his coronation he accepted symbols of justice and mercy as hallmarks of his service. He must stay out of politics, but he is to be a champion of what is right. Contemporary politics may be challenging enough, but as many commentators have pointed out, he must face the contemporary consequences of historical injustice, perpetrated in the name of the crown in many countries of the previous British Empire. Already some West Indian Nations have made clear the stench of historical slavery cannot be ignored. I expect him to observe his oath and exercise his influence towards meaningful recognition of, and responsibility taking for, the past.
It should surprise no one that his commitment to the environment is an expression of his Christian conviction. We can only hope that, as attention is given to the ʹVoiceʹ, a gift to all Australians from its first nations people, aspects of spirituality which undergird their culture may reignite this dimension now lost in most Australians. By the manner of his life, Charlesʹ role as monarch is to nourish and strengthen a deep sense of connectedness to the sacred - inclusive of the natural order. Life is too easily reduced to the mundane.
It is said Charles wishes to modernise the monarchy. This should be applauded. If the coronation is essentially about the person, Charles, then its pageantry and expense is obscene. If on the other hand, it is about the citizens of Great Britain and other realms, then at a cost of 1 or two pounds per citizen it is not. It was my experience of Great Britain that paraphernalia relating to the monarch of the day was far more likely to be found in labourers’ cottages than in the mansions of the elite. On the day of his coronation Charles swore allegiance in service to the people. I personally found the invitation to the people to swear allegiance to him awkward. If it had been worded differently, namely that we were invited to swear allegiance to the same values, service, justice, mercy, God: I would have had far less difficulty. The invitation as it stood sat uneasily within Australian culture.
The oil used in the coronation was harvested from the Mount of Olives and consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Anglican Palestinian Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum. The symbolism should not be hard to grasp in terms of what is expected from the sovereign. The Mount of Olives was the place of Jesus prayer before the crucifixion. It is expected the sovereign will embrace a deep sense of service. Clearly it was this spirit that defined the life of Queen Elizabeth.
Much is made of the extraordinary privilege and wealth of the Royal family. There is no denying this reality. However, does this privilege and wealth gift them with greater personal contentment or happiness than most of their citizens? The evidence suggests not. Indeed, it could well be the case that much of what is described as privilege is experienced as burden. We don’t want them to be like us, we expect them to be different. It is when they behave like us, when the muckiness of life envelopes them, they no longer fulfil the role we expect of them.
Greater wealth is seldom the source of personal wellbeing. How that wealth or privilege is exercised is the channel of such contentment.
The crowning of the monarch was accompanied by George Frederick Handel’s Zadok the Priest which reminds the monarch, as do the orb and sceptre, of life’s two dimensions. Zadok was accompanied in the crowning of Solomon by Nathan the Prophet. The role of the prophet is to call all, especially earthy rulers, to account in justice and righteousness. This is also Charlesʹ burden.
Let me conclude with two quotes from one of the more interesting coronation invitees – Nic Cave
I am not interested in anything that doesn’t have a genuine heart to it. You’ve got to have soul in the hole. If that isn’t there, I don’t see the point.
All of our days are numbered. We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all, because the worth of an idea never becomes apparent until you do it.
GAFCON, the Global South, the Diocese of Sydney, the Bible, and Sex
Appropriately, little if any publicity has been given by the secular press to a claim made on 23rd April by a conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, supposedly "representing 85%" of the Anglican Communion that they no longer recognise the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Anglican Communion’s instruments of unity.
The Conference was called by GAFCON and the Global South, a network of Anglican Churches that are seeking to establish an ʹalternativeʹ structure of communion. Unsurprisingly representatives of the Diocese of Sydney Australia led the charge. Michael Stead, one of its Bishops, chaired the committee formulating the conference statement.
What needs to be clearly appreciated is that this group makes two claims:
Let me endeavour to explain.
The Diocese of Sydney’s starting point is not openness to walk the path of Jesus, but obligatory commitment to a dogma, namely the penal substitutional theory of the atonement. For members of the Diocese of Sydney scripture must be read through this lens. Now if you want a full-throated demolition of this theory may I refer you to the writings of the acclaimed New Testament scholar and self-proclaimed English Evangelical, Bishop N.T. (Tom) Wright. This theory relies upon an assumed historicity of a ʹfirstʹ human, Adam, and is fundamentally dualistic. To claim historicity to ʹAdamʹ is not to take the Bible seriously. Essential truths of the creation narratives are diminished when read in this way, frankly, leaving the interpreter open to deserved ridicule. Ridicule from those with no faith and ridicule from those with faith who take these passages very seriously. Dualism can find no home in Christianity.
God cannot be reduced to the image of a truculent parent who demands some form of payment for past and present ills. The theory casts God in the image of needy humanity, not the other way around. There are many biblical images/metaphors/characterisations of the atonement. Among the most compelling and confronting is Philippians 2: 5 – 11. Here we are presented with the extraordinary truth that service and sacrifice, are of the very nature of God, and whatever we may think of Kingship or Lordship we have to think of these concepts through this lens. We are challenged to believe that this is also the true nature of humanity. It is not right to say that God sent his Son to die on the cross. It is more correct to say that, extraordinarily, God is on the cross – and so must we be.
There is one overriding truth in the New Testament, a truth that shaped and formed the first Christians – the resurrection. What did the first Christians make of the resurrection? – a new Creation. As in the first creation narrative, life is imparted through the breath of God, so in the new creation the breath of the resurrected Christ transforms and renews. This is what is meant when it is said we are baptised into Jesus through water and the spirit. We are free, but that freedom will not be fully realised until what is mortal dies. 2 Cor. 4: 16, while our outer nature is wasting away our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
So, GAFCON, Global South, Diocese of Sydney, do I take the bible seriously? absolutely I do. So seriously in fact that I know the Bible teaches Jesus is the Living Word of God, to whom the Written Word, the Bible, bears testimony. The Written word has no authority to do anything other than bear witness to the Living Word.
Now, for first order issues of human behaviour in response to the Living Word - Jesus. The Bible, in bearing testimony to Jesus makes it clear there is no such entity as the individual, all individuals are inextricably part of community, we are responsible for and to the wellbeing of ʹneighboursʹ. First order issues of recalcitrant human behaviour are those that diminish others, undermine community. This conference was held in Kigali Rwanda. I visited the Church in Rwanda a few years after the genocide. Some of its Bishops had been so implicated in the slaughter they could not return to office. I found it incomprehensible then and I find it incomprehensible now, that a decision to demonise people of homosexual orientation was made while embers from the genocide had not even cooled. Consciously or unconsciously, it appears to have been a strategy of distraction for a Church too disempowered to deal adequately with a darker and more primary issue.
Unredeemed capitalism is a form of usuary. It has disempowered and impoverished millions. In the spirit of capitalism colonisers have raped and are raping the colonised and their resources, in much of the world. Should you expect a peep out of Sydney in relation to this abuse – sadly no. Usuary and greed is also the major contributor to global warming, the dire threat facing Pacific Islands and ultimately the planet. Will there be a peep out Sydney Diocese in relation to this, of course not, sadly in the reverse, we can expect an insinuation that those who care for the environment have abandoned Christianity and are following a new age religion. This is the position of the political arm of conservative Christians, the Australian Christian Lobby.
The Bible is unequivocally clear that any activity that seeks power over others is abuse and must be condemned. Sexual activity can be, and sadly often is, a channel of such abuse. Abusive sexual activity is present in the lives of males and females, homosexuals and heterosexuals, married people, and single people. It is only in relatively recent times that we have come to understand that a percentage of the population are born homosexual. People so born are no more likely to be abusive than heterosexual people. No one can, or should, be expected to deny who they are. In reality of course, homosexual people have been terribly abused and isolated by the judgement of others – especially by people claiming a Christian prerogative to do so.
In the Roman Empire much of what presented as homosexual activity, rightly suffering biblical condemnation was in fact abuse of vulnerable members of the population, and children, by heterosexuals. Of course, it had to be called out. Any sexual activity which is abusive must be condemned for it diminishes others. Sexual activity which diminishes self should also be condemned. Sexual promiscuity is self-diminishing. Intimacy that fulfils the life of another and nourishes commitment is neither abusive of others nor is it self-diminishing.
The Kigali statement implores those who do not agree to repent. The word ʹrepentʹ is the English translation of the Greek ʹmetanoiaʹ. This literally means to see afresh, or to see with new eyes. Is it not those who claim to be conservative Christians who need to repent, to see that homosexual people are being who they are? With knowledge that being gay is an accident of birth, how can Christians not want equal opportunity for intimacy and fulfilment?
Power, control, autocracy, Empire: not the path to a life of harmony and peace
The 1924 Hibbert Journal published what appears to be the earliest printed version of a very well-worn joke with the final punchline: "a gintleman with a face like your honour’s can’t miss the road; though, if it was meself that was going to Letterfrack, faith, I wouldn’t start from here."
It is relatively easy for most Australians to dismiss the message and celebration of Easter as bizarre religious pageantry of dubious historical origin and of no contemporary relevance; thus treating the weekend solely as a holiday and the finale of a hot cross bun eating season that began on Boxing Day,
But think again.
Almost all human beings desire a secure and stable world. A world which offers a reasonable expectation of wellbeing and harmony for our children and grandchildren. A world where the memory of war recedes into the background. A world in which the rich do not have too much, and the poor do not have too little. A world in which all experience the freedom to live with opportunity to thrive, where trust and respect is normal, greed and exclusion an aberration.
Are we on a trajectory towards such a world? We might wish!
The Easter message is: if this is really the world we hope for, then we are not heading in the right direction. There is only one route that leads to harmony, justice, wellbeing, life in all its fullness and that is the way of service, putting the other first, sacrifice – the way of the cross. The problem is that for most of us, this is too counter-intuitive.
Early Christians compiled a song which found its way into Paul’s letter to the city of Philippi, a city familiar with Roman power, grandeur and brutality, and an emperor who desired to be worshipped as a God.
Have the same mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus
Who, though he was in the form of God,
Did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited.
He emptied himself taking the form of a slave.
And became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross.
In the Christian narrative, the cross unveils the very surprising but true nature of God and at the same time it reveals the true nature or calling of humanity. Both God and humanity are on the cross. Whatever thought you may have of a ʹhigher powerʹ, Christianity requires you to think humility, think emptying, think generosity, think forgiveness, think service. Equally, whatever thought you may have of humanity at its best, think the same.
This is counter intuitive for all of us, but it is especially counter intuitive for those who long for power and wealth and for those to whom everything else is expediency.
We do see glimpses of this higher nature in people of faith like Mother Theresa, or perhaps someone of faith near and dear to you. But equally we can discern the same nature in those with no necessary faith commitment like Nelson Mandela or one of my favourite Australians – Rosie Batty.
Overall, most of us miss the mark of being whom we could be – some of us terribly. I usually run a mile from Christian ʹin-wordsʹ most notably ʹsinʹ. But what it really means is failing to be the nature we are called to be.
So, if a world of peace and harmony is the world we all desire, why do we refuse to take that route?
Mainly because we have been conditioned to believe power, wealth, and ambition, sought publicly or personally, are a guaranteed short cut.
Ambition for supremacy from both Russia and the West is fuelling the awful war in Ukraine. Who knows how many lives have been lost on both sides, not to mention the millions of others who are permanently scarred. About 130 years ago Tsars Alexander and Nicholas commissioned Carl Fabergé to create jewelled eggs as Easter gifts for their mothers and wives. Eggs are symbols of life. Apparently, Easter was taken seriously in the Russia of the Tsars! Today, under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, 100 million Russians Orthodox adherents (70% of the population) are led to believe the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a sacred and noble obligation.
Whether it be, Ireland, Russia, India, Syria, or Israel, religion tied to political and national ambition always turns adherents away from the Easter hope of new life towards the darkness of human failure.
Perhaps, most of all, the Good Friday Easter message confronts human hubris in thinking that somehow, we are above nature, it is our vocation to conquer nature. As science (and religion) is telling us, we are part of nature, our health and wellbeing is completely tied to the wellbeing of the natural order. This has been unequivocally clear for decades, and yet we still engage in activity which not simply disrupts the natural order but is literally removing the sure ground upon which we might have hoped for continuity and security for generations to come.
Christianity grew rapidly in early centuries of the first millennium because it was apparent Christians believed in, and lived, a path that led to a world in stark contrast to the world of brutality and greed, they otherwise experienced. Today, in the West, Christianity is in steep decline. It is not transparently clear that Christians live by standards of humanity that contrast with the wealth and power ambitions endemic in our society.
The power of the Easter message does not lie in words, least of all in dogmas or doctrines, it is immersed in transformative lives. It is in transformative lives that the real blessing of Easter resides.
Let me finish with some other well-known words, these of course spoken by King George Vl
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown".
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way".
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
Netanyahu’s Nakedness: Democracy – Whose Democracy?
"Look at the King! Look at the the King! Look at the King, the King, the King!
The King is in the altogether, but altogether, the altogether
He's altogether as naked as the day that he was born
The King is in the altogether, but altogether, the altogether
It's altogether the very least the King has ever worn"
The Danny Kaye song of yesteryear could easily have been penned for Netanyahu and his ragtag bunch of ideological extremists masquerading as legislators of a western styled democratic government.
That they are primarily interested in themselves has been transparently clear for some time. Now they are daubing their nakedness on the walls of Jerusalem, the streets of Tel Aviv, the hills of Palestine and the worlds media.
They are not interested in security which can only be achieved through trust and respect, not armaments. The sacking of the defence minister is evidence of this. They have not been interested in the international rule of law for some time, otherwise they would not be building illegal settlements on the West Bank, evicting Palestinians from East Jerusalem or caging 2 million Palestinians in Gaza. Now they are apparently not interested in the domestic rule of law built on the separation of powers either. At least they are consistent.
They have not been interested in democracy for a long period of time either. Netanyahu and his ʹgovernmentʹ effectively control all the land from the river to the sea. The Zionist conundrum is that wanting ALL the land, makes holding to both a Jewish State and Democracy an impossibility. On some calculations, non-Jews are in the majority. What currently exists is apartheid. A choice has to be made between Democracy and the idea of a "Jewish State" on all the land. Both cannot coexist.
Nor are they one bit interested in the "Abrahamic Accords". As the title indicates, such cooperation would be based upon religious or ethical commonality; not nationalistic, sovereign, or political self-interest and ambition. The Zionist project which lies behind the activity of Netanyahu and his extreme right wing (self-described thugs - as in the case of Bezalel Smotrich) has little if anything to do with religion. It is all about naked political, nationalistic ambition, an ambition in which ethics or morality have no place and the annihilation of historical residents becomes a cause célèbre.
To Netanyahu and his Zionist conspirators Abraham has become exactly what he was not – a nationalistic figure. Abraham was without land or territory. Children of Abraham across all three religions are those who offer respect without partisanship, and who seek to be a source of blessing across all cultures and ethnicities.
All of this points to a deeply divided, even paranoid, nation. Is there a way forward, a way forward that at least tacitly can and should have the support of the international community. I am not alone in thinking there is, and now is its moment.
The Palestinian community has never thought of the Jewish community as the enemy, or even the problem. The Zionist project is the problem. The problem that besets Palestinians and open minded, clear thinking and progressive Jews is the same – the Israeli government and the Zionist project. Hopefully Jews in Tel Aviv and other cities will now come to see that the problems they face, are spawned from the same cancer. No community can survive indefinitely if one group of people is denied rights enjoyed by others, nor can a community survive if privileges enjoyed by one group receive legal protection at the expense of others.
Settlers who have recently arrived with extremist ideologies forged in Russia, Eastern Europe and the US extreme right, are the enemies of peace-loving Israelis as much as they are enemies of Palestinians.
Now is the time for Palestinians and peace loving, educated, and democratically committed Jews to grow together.
The clear facts of the matter are that if Palestinian ingenuity and skill were released, and the insane expenditure of Israel on defence, and the forced military indoctrination of its youth were to cease, Palestine/Israel would become an extraordinary powerhouse economically. (Palestinians currently need humanitarian aid only because of their suppression, while Israel requires US aid only because of the expense required in effecting that suppression). Israeli and Palestinian cooperation would also be a beacon of hope in a world that lives constantly on the precipice of disaster. Stereotypical divisions can have no place in a century which demands cooperation and harmony.
After a long time and considerable opposition, we Australians have found we are infinitely richer because of our multi-cultural life.
On its present trajectory, becoming more extreme with every new government, Israel will implode. It is not a matter of if, but when. Perhaps it already has.
Its salvation ironically lies with the people the Zionist project has done it best to obliterate, the Palestinian people. Together they can and will forge an entity deserving international honour respect and support.
Australia supports, indeed resources, Ukrainian armed resistance to Russia’s invasion and its attempt to forcibly exert its sovereignty over Ukrainian soil. Very few Australians appear to find fault with this position. If you like, it is seen as a "just war" by Ukraine and its allies.
For what reason is Israel’s provocative and continuing colonisation of Palestinian land, Palestinian homes and Palestinian rights not seen in the same light?
Human convenience is served through words that place perceived opponents or potential antagonists in a universally despised category.
In international affairs one such word is terrorist.
An internationally acceptable definition of terrorism, or terrorist, is stubbornly hard to achieve. In general terms a terrorist is one who inflicts terror on others through the pursuance of political or religious ideology, or even because of economic ambition The membership of Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, and ISIS are clear examples.
Ironically, the violence inflicted by proponents of extremist ideology often falls on those who might otherwise identify with them religiously or politically. Muslims have suffered most from the action of Islamic extremists. Christians suffer from Christian extremism.
The Australian government has recently listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation, presumably at the request of Pro-Israeli activists. Hamasʹ military wing had been listed, but now the entire organisation is also included. Given Hamas was democratically elected by the people of Gaza and that Hamas is the provider of most humanitarian facilities, such as they exist, it is an extraordinary step for the Australian government to have taken. The step makes it a criminal offence to send money to Gaza for humanitarian relief channelled through Hamas.
On an individual basis, the Australian media follows the Israeli propaganda line that anyone who gets in the way of the Zionist project of colonisation is a terrorist. In East Jerusalem or anywhere on the West Bank you are deemed to be a terrorist if you object to your house being demolished, your orchard being decimated, or your basic human rights being denied.
In April 2017, the then immigration minister, Peter Dutton, cancelled the visa of Bassem Tamimi as he was about to board a plane in Amman for Australia, on the basis that his visit would present a danger to Australian society. Mr Tamimi’s crime is that he passively resists the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. His home and indeed his entire village of Nabi Salih in the West Bankʹs area C is constantly under threat of demolition or confiscation.
Australia supports, indeed resources, Ukrainian armed resistance to Russia’s invasion and its attempt to forcibly exert its sovereignty over Ukrainian soil. Very few Australians appear to find fault with this position. If you like, it is seen as a "just war" by Ukraine and its allies.
For what reason is Israel’s provocative and continuing colonisation of Palestinian land, Palestinian homes and Palestinian rights not seen in the same light?
May 15, 2023, is the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe, the loss of 78% of mandatory Palestine to become the State of Israel; the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and the attempted erasure of any notion of there ever having been Palestine or Palestinians.
If the Nakba were a past event that would be terrible enough. But it is not. It is ongoing. The Zionist project clearly believes unfinished business remains, with clear intention to take the remaining 22%. Confiscation of Palestinian land continues, permission, to build Palestinian homes is refused and every attempt is made to stymie Palestinian economy and culture.
In these circumstances, how can resistance to this onslaught be described as terrorism?
International law is clear, states may not use force against the lawful exercise of self-determination, while those seeking self-determination may use military force if there is no other way to achieve their goals (again cf Ukraine).
Most Palestinians are arrested, or lose their lives, simply for resisting provocative intimidation.
It now appears that one of the strategies of the Zionist project’s extreme right is to provoke another intifada. Why would they do this? Clearly the answer is to provide a catalyst for a new Nakba.
Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli minister for the West Bank has already asked his security forces to show no mercy to Palestinians and suggested they should obliterate the Palestinian town of Huwara. The US response in this instance has been to describe such action as abhorrent, but in the same week approved a visa for Smotrich to visit the US and speak and raise funds for the Israel bonds conference. It is reasonable to assume that many Jews also find such language and intended action abhorrent.
Most Palestinian youth have no allegiance to old political movements such as Fatah or Hamas. They overwhelmingly hold contempt for the Palestinian Authority which they perceive to be simply an extension of the Israeli occupation. Born long after Palestine was supposed to have become a State, they have given up on the PA and feel they need to take control of their own destiny. They will increasingly stand up, resist, and simply refuse to disappear or fade away.
If Australia and similar friends do not step up and call out Israel’s contempt for international law, its subversion of a two-state solution and its overt apartheid policies, then responsibility for further suffering must be sheeted home to those who saw but did not act, heard but did not listen, those who turned their back on morality and justice to walk on the other side of the road where might is right.
Yes, there are many other situations in the world where injustice prevails, and suffering is intolerable. But there can be few if any others which were inaugurated by international agreement, imposed out of transferred guilt and shame, and supported out of western domestic policies and alliances.
Those who resist colonisation, intimidation and loss are not terrorists, whilst those who inflict such humiliation and loss can justifiably be so described.