Friday, 27 January 2012

Australian media blacks out blackfellas unless there's a blame game to play


Picture from here - inserted 2 February 2012

Apologies for the length of this post. 
Put things needed to be said.
Please stay to the end because there's and eyewitness account
and an eyewitness photo ... even if the professionals turned blind eyes.

On the 24 January, I received an email from switchedon@your.abc.net.au.  In this email, the ABC - Australia's national, government funded, public radio - let me know what they were planning to put to air on Thursday 26 January, Australia Day.  Here is what they told me they were doing.

I was rather disgusted at what the ABC was boasting about showing Australia in relation to Australia Day.  Please note: there was not one mention of Aboriginal people or events.  In Canberra, the 40th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was being celebrated and commemorated.  Indigenous people were coming to town to remember the history of the Embassy and were planning to make and re-make public claims to Aboriginal sovereignty on the continent of Australia.   I would have thought this was a newsworthy event and I wrote to Switched On as follows:
Dear Switched On Folk,
Wonderful to hear of all the goings on at the ABC including the Australia Day stuff.  Just thought it funny that nothing Aboriginal rated a mention.  I would have thought the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra would have provided enough interesting people and goings-on for the ABC to have a field day with some left over.
SO, could you please advise what, if anything, you are doing that is Aboriginal on 26 January - or mustn't we embarrass the nation by reminding it of its history?

Needless to say, I have not received a reply.  However it is now clear that the Australian media has had a field day:
Let's face a few facts here:
  1. People right and left, black and white - over the past 40 years - have wanted, and have tried, to rid Canberra of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.  The Embassy has been regarded as unsightly - and, to be sure, it is certain not to win any prestigious architectural or design awards unless there is a new category of 'Occupy in Protest'.  However, this week one of Australia's most significant writers on architecture has found the Aboriginal Tent Embassy newsorthy.
  2. In the last year or so, we have seen - across the world in Egypt, the USA, London, Melbourne, Sydney - tents set up in conspicuous places as an aid to protest.  Seems that the oldest culture in the whole world has come in ahead of more 'civilised' cultures with their Occupy movement maintained not for forty days but forty years.  See Greg Cowan's paper Nomadic Resistance: Tent Embassies and Collapsible Architecture: Illegal architecture and protest.
  3. Tony Abbott's words - "I think a lot has changed for the better since then," Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney on Australia Day. "I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian. "I think a lot has changed since then, and I think it probably is time to move on from that."  - demonstrate the inability of the majority of Australian people to think themselves into the situation that many - but not all - Aboriginal people find themselves in.  This comes from a leader whose party conspired on the basis of lies and innuendo, racism and ignorance to establish a system of Intervention in the lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.  Abbott and Gillard are members of governments who, to act against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, removed from Australian law the need to abide by Australia's obligations under the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
  4.  Abbott claimed that Aboriginal people are held in respect in Australia.  As a generality and on the basis of Liberal/National Party and Australian Labor Party actions, this is not true.  In fact, it is my own view, that lack of respect has always been at the heart of majority Australian attitudes to Aboriginal people.  Which brings me back to the fact that the ABC had no plans to bring inclusive positive stories of Aboriginal Australia in its Australia Day coverage.  
  5. Yesterday, in connection with the 40th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, 1500 people marched from the Australian National University (ANU) to new Parliament House.  I am told that no media was visibly recording or reporting this event.  The media was not to be seen. In short, the media don't want to know about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy or Aboriginal views on sovereignty.
  6. Australian professionals providing security to our public figures need to reconsider their intelligence and their methods.  Yesterday's public performance looked like they had participated in too many American Presidential motorcades and watched too many American action movies.  The security organisations concerned clearly had no respect for the presence of Aboriginal Australians in the vicinity of The Lobby restaurants.  
It is clear to me that there is widespread disrepect for Aboriginal peoples, culture, and claims in Australia.  Respect is absent from the very top of our civil and political leadership down to yobbos on the beaches at Cronulla and Bondi.  There are people - black and white - staffing the beachhead of reconciliation together.  However, they are few and their message is being ignored.  

EYEWITNESS PHOTO FROM 
DIANA HAYWOOD RANKINE IN CANBERRA

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