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The Forum > Article Comments > Fireworks among the scrum in the political stadium > Comments

Fireworks among the scrum in the political stadium : Comments

By Stephen Hagan, published 24/6/2005

Stephen Hagan argues compares the rugby scrum with the political scrum of Canberra.

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Steven Hagans comparison of the State of Origin with the reconciliation week negotiations would have been funny if it wasn't so serious.

It raises some pretty raw emotions in terms of indigenous relations in this country and the political tactics to confront (or as some may claim avoid) reconciliation issues.

Sadly, aboriginal reconciliation is a complex and highly emotional problem. There seems dispute as to a sensible and practical way forward. As the political wraggling continues it seems that those that most need reform, indigenous aboriginals, are missing out.

But then we see arisng from the ashes, of supposed reconciliation gone wrong, the triumph of Matt Bowen and his aborginal team mates in the victorious Qld State of Origin side. A quietly spoken hero who could do more for aboriginal reconciliation in this country than any political initative could ever achieve.

Matt Bowen displays the essential ingredient to the solution for aboriginal reconciliation- pride and respect. Pride for his achievments and respect for his culture.

My opinion, and sure to be disputed, is that the Aboriginal people need more than access to land, access to free government money and a formal apology from the PM. They need to develop pride and respect for themselves and for their culture. They, as a race, and as Australians need to stand on their own two feet and be counted. The government does not need to comfort them when they are down but help them stand up.

Pride and respect can be facilitated by government but ultimately needs to be driven from within. Political point scoring and 'blaming' and 'shaming' have proven to not work. Tough decsions need to be made and I believe John Howard and Noel Pearson are on the right track to solve these issues

Like Matty Bowen, lets hope that the indigenous Australians of this proud land can snatch the intercept and score the winning try for themselves.
Posted by Marlo, Friday, 24 June 2005 3:08:49 PM
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Some corrections and comment Stephen: 1. Noel Pearson is not an elected leader in Cape York [or anywhere for that matter] and 2. He does not live in Hopevale. I believe he lives in one of his many investment properties in Cairns. (Question: Who will wean NP off his dependency on government consultancies?) And you forgot to mention the National Indigenous Council who were cheering for Howard from the sideline and chanting something about making amendment to the Native Title Act. Other than these minor observations you did Roy and HG proud Brother.
Posted by Rainier, Friday, 24 June 2005 7:20:45 PM
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i dont know about this pearson/howard alignment, there are elements that i agree are necessary but the means for the achieveing them are questionable. i think the one thing that concerns me with regard to pearsons agenda is the seeming lack of community consultation. there will always be dissenters of course but consultation and negotiation will reduce the percentage.

i think that is what is missing from pearson and howards policy line - negotiation with the community. the mutual obligation and sra policy agenda seems to fit the bill but its too flimsy and ad-hoc for claims of 'best practice method' to be affixed to it. that lack of aboriginal voice to advocate for the community is another 'missing' element.

the call for pride and respect belies the false assumption that aboriginal people/communities are berefit of these qualities - not true. agreed that from the grass-roots level and up our communities need put in place changes that will benefit each person, family and community - pretty much the same for all cultures really.

im inclined to agree with dodsons words on reconciliation day, australia is the home of two sovereign peoples, aboriginal people and the commonwealth. this has been recognised in the highest courts of this land, the lie of terra nullius exposed.

marlo says 'more than access to land' and in the same breath 'develop respect and pride for self and culture'. seems to be the dichotomy of most australians really. land rights is not ok but having respect for cultural heritage is. how does that work when the land is your cultural heritage?

and standing up and being counted, please. do you seriously consider that no aboriginal person has ever done this? there are plenty of examples pre 1967 too. those oldies pre 1967 did it hard back then admist the full on rife and blatent racism and inequality. if not for their actions aboriginal people would not have seen the changes in law and public policy that we have today, successes notwithstanding successive failed government policy agendas.
Posted by kalalli, Saturday, 25 June 2005 9:10:52 AM
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Kalalli wrote: **"and standing up and being counted, please. do you seriously consider that no aboriginal person has ever done this?"**

Good point! I too am tired of the media and political profiling of Aboriginal people being without pride, welfare dependent and without any sense of achievement in who and what they/we have done. Itís simply a myth that both sides of the political spectrum have invented to silence any so call radical Aboriginal dissent and one that Pearson and others are happy to perpetuate because it gives them public appeal and regular media coverage.

This now potent whitefella perception of dysfunctional Aboriginal people and communities bodes well with liberals who want quick and easy understandings of the psycho-social pathologies of Aboriginal people and communities. The manufacturing of consent and controlling of this discourse whose primary focus is upon managing "Aboriginal behavior" - is deliberate and calculated - and swings away from issues relating to civil, political or human rights.
Posted by Rainier, Saturday, 25 June 2005 6:50:20 PM
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Stephen

Thank you for a most insightful article! The analogy you draw is not short of brilliant. I do not have the political expertise to argue re the political scrum in Canberra. I will leave that to others who are better versed. I will read their posts and learn from them.

Aboriginal people and people of Aboriginal heritage do not have to stand up and be counted in 2005! They have been doing that since the first settlement.

Some years ago I lived in Townsville with a person of Aboriginal heritage. As a result I was invited into the homes of many Aboriginal people. Their hospitality was warm++ and their homes were immaculate - hardly the stereotypical picture that the media and politicians would have us believe. And when we had BBQs they did not get legless drunk as is common practice in some many white Aussie backyard barbies.

I taught mental health to Aboriginal TAFE students. What compassion and what talent! What a privilege it was for me. They taught me heaps.

Cheers
Posted by kalweb, Sunday, 26 June 2005 1:00:30 PM
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