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The Forum > Article Comments > The gains must not be squandered > Comments

The gains must not be squandered : Comments

By Megan Davis and Sarah Maddison, published 5/5/2008

Providing the appropriate legal underpinning to future relations would be a significant step for Indigenous Australians.

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Megan and Sarah, I have no doubt you are both people of good will and intent, people who hope (like most people) for a time when the heredity of an individual has no influence on their prospects as a citizen of Australia - or anywhere else for that matter.

Can you give readers some idea of the terms and intent of the Treaty you propose?

Can you also advise what sort of Constitutional Reform you have in mind?

Sadly your piece is a little short on the detail of these 2 fundamental tenets of your position.

I find the work/words of Noel Pearson quite refreshing - it has sparked my interest in creating an environment where indigenous Australians feel a part of the community (if they do not already feel that way).

So I am not inclined to support a process that will slow down moves to give as many indigenous people as possible a reason to focus on their humanity and their potential as participants in the broader society first, rather than spend their energies forever focused on their aboriginality and the past.

I admire your sincerity but doubt you'll ever win popular support if what you are trying to achieve is a referendum that recognises anything more than that indigenous people deserve the same respect and the same life opportunity as any other member of our society.

Why not leave the Constitution "as is" (you both know how difficult it would be to actually amend it) and focus your energies on ways to get more indigenous kids interested in becoming literate so they have some chance of competing for real work and/or higher educational places.

That's one way to help improve the lot of indigenous people who also happen to be disadvantaged.

Let's get real. Let's use 2020 as an opportunity to treat indigenous people as just another sub-set of Australians who deserve the same access to opportunity as anyone else.

Let's not get side-tracked by symbolism and Quixotic exercises like forays into constitutional amendment.

Let's stop wasting time.
Posted by tebbutt, Monday, 5 May 2008 10:31:39 AM
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So I guess that Davis & Maddison have neither malice, nor an ideological agenda.

Their snide asides about Langton & Pearson don't create a great deal of confidence in me that they are shooting straight about that.

Their complete inability to comprehend or mention, let alone suggest solutions to, the deep malaise in "Aboriginal political culture" is further proof of the poverty of their analysis.

The way forward lies with open honest respectful debate and political struggle, growing out of ethical, well developed and factually based positions and behaviour, rather than with "constitutional reform or a legal agreement or treaty" per se.

These important proposals may or may not be outcomes of the process, but right now we face an extremely serious social and political crisis within the Aboriginal community.

This crisis demands our immediate and focussed attention and action, particulalrly in remote areas which have little access to adequate mainstream services such as policing, education and health.

Incidentally, the situation is not improved by Macklin's sudden and very unwise decision to re-introduce CDEP without strings into 30 of these communities.

This is a formula for a great leap backwards.

Already the merchants of death will be ordering in vast quantities of alcohol and dope in preparation for the resumption of the Federally funded perpetual party that will ensue once Income Management is lifted from several thousand people addicted to a bingeing stoned lifestyle with little other content or futures apparent to them in their short frustrated lives.
Posted by Dan Fitzpatrick, Monday, 5 May 2008 10:57:30 AM
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ďThe summit gave the Government an opportunity to listen to a wider range of voices in the debate about Indigenous futures. Whether it has the courage to do so remains to be seen.Ē

How naÔve. The Summit was a joke. The Government spouted the silly apology aborigines wanted. The show is over.

Not that we will be free of the constant carping and nonsense from aborigines and their mates who think that the majority of Australians owe something to them
Posted by Mr. Right, Monday, 5 May 2008 11:49:07 AM
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Megan and Sarah

I found your analysis interesting. I haven't been able to access any of the discussion in the forum you've attended.

But I agree, understanding can only be achieved with people listening, especially in the non-indigenous community. I am well aware of the views of Langton and Pearson and others, but I don't know if those views were included in 'the emerging concensus'. But more importantly I don't understand what intended action makes up the emerging concensus of 'Resolving unfinished business between Indigenous people and the state'. Of course it should and would unify the 'Indigenous stream at the summit'. It should also unify the wider community as well if it is to work.

If that includes a treaty... well frankly I'm interested and would like an imput too. You might not like my ideas on a treaty though and I don't believe a discussion of such should be the exclusive domain of indigenous radicals or activists.
Posted by keith, Monday, 5 May 2008 4:45:18 PM
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Megan and Sarah say >> ďThat the Government may be captured by a handful of noisy but marginal individuals - who achieved extraordinary influence under the previous government and who are clearly frightened to let it go - bodes ill.Ē

Iím sorry but that is not a considered or rational statement. It might just as easily be said of those who are seeking a treaty.

The very reason that the govít is listening to Pearson and those like him is because of the failure of the rights orientated model pushed by people like Megan and Sarah for near on 30 years. For many years the aboriginal industry relied upon this mentality to perpetuate their fiefdoms and their petty nepotism. Those who are overly interested in symbolism are doing the people they purport to represent a grave disservice.

Pearson actually gets out to remote communities. He makes speeches and garners agreement for his policies. I donít know if Megan or Sarah have done that but I suspect not.

Noel Pearson has been a breath of fresh air in the cause of Aboriginal people. He is unafraid to say that which needs to be said. There are no sacred cows for him, unlike the academic left. Noel Pearson is head and shoulders above his nearest rivals as the most important and effective advocate for Aboriginal people this country has yet seen.

Its time for the leftist academia to take a back seat in this process, rather than continually fighting for the wheel.
Posted by Paul.L, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 10:27:49 AM
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"failure of the rights orientated model pushed by people like Megan and Sarah for near on 30 years"

Without the rights oriented model nothing would have happenned, and much would not have been gained. Pearson knows this, Langton was at the forefront of this 'orientation'.

Its a history you don't know,its a life you've never lived.

Burrowing neo-con slogons is easy for lazy dullards.

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will
Posted by Rainier, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 7:50:25 PM
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