If there was one thing we needed more of in the discussion on Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous people, it was the centring of the voices of wealthy, conservative white men. The entire discussion on CR has been missing the voices of conservative white men and what they think on a topic which is going to have very little impact on their lives. And no conservative white male voice has been sidelined more on this topic than that of Andrew Bolt. What with his regular News Limited column, his blog, his TV show and his radio appearances, poor Andrew has been struggling for space to elucidate why he thinks Indigenous recognition would be racist. Therefore, I think it’s wonderful that the ABC have sought to rectify this travesty, and have engaged Bolt on their documentary series I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition and give him the platform he’s truly been lacking.
Yes. They really are a bad idea. (I could pretty much end it there, but that probably doesn’t make for a very interesting post though, so I’ll go on a bit of a rant as well and see where it takes us…)
In fairness, not as bad an idea as the NT Intervention, or trying to implement religious tests for refugees, or cutting over half a billion dollars from Indigenous Affairs, and not even as bad an idea as giving Bolt his own tv show, but still… it’s a pretty bad idea.
Finding the ‘most appropriate’ term to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/Indigenous Australians/First Australians/First Peoples/First Nations etc is like the Holy Grail of stuff that seems like it would be way easier than it actually is to resolve. Sadly though, it is a conversation that will never go away, and is also one that will probably never be entirely resolved.
A big part of the problem stems from the refusal to accept and use the hundreds of original names that exist, eg Wiradjuri, Noongar, Gamilaroi, etc, and even that often has the issue of agreed upon English spelling of these words. This also doesn’t solve the desire to refer to all groups under a single banner, even though we never had one ourselves.
I don’t “feel” Australian. I don’t ever identify as just “Australian”. I don’t sing the anthem. I don’t wave the flag and don’t really care when I see someone burning it. I don’t feel proud on Australia Day. I don’t eat lamb chops. Frankly, I don’t particularly care for the people who do all the aforementioned. Indeed, a good portion of the time, I tend to view them with disdain and frustration.
The idea that Indigenous people should have their own democratically elected governance structures is referred to directly and indirectly in more than one article in the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP). If Australia as a nation wants to have a mature response to the socio-economic woes affecting its Indigenous population, self-determination, self-representation and direct input into political decision making and policy development are systems that must be implemented. However, recent Australian political history hasn’t been favourable toward this model, as paternalistic and top down approaches have once again become the preferred method of engagement.