Golden moment–and site stats!

Hey, look what I saw from my window yesterday afternoon! The tail end of January seems to have been trying to make up for a rather dreary summer.



You can tell it has been somewhat wet. The green things have gone crazy!

On the blog in January one or two posts went crazy also.

Here are the sums for the month of January 2012:

  1. Home page 933 views in January 2012
  2. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 363
  3. Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta Episode 3–SBS last night 200
  4. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 114
  5. Jack Vidgen–Australia’s Got Talent last night 61
  6. Australia Day: Being Australian 50
  7. This may well be the best Australian history book I have EVER read! 46
  8. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 45
  9. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 44
  10. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 43
  11. Definitely must see–a shame I was not quite up to it 42
  12. Wollongong pioneers, Sydney High Rugby, HSC results, Jimi Hendrix’s underpants 40
  13. My most ignored posts of 2011 40
  14. Being Australian 20: poem and song, images, dreams, nostalgia, England 39
  15. I can’t believe the brain snaps Charlie Teo is causing… 36
  16. Cabramatta again, and William Yang 35
  17. Tony Abbott was right: we really should move on 30
  18. About 29
  19. Niggling example of political short-sightedness: Maldon-Dombarton rail link 27
  20. Wollongong local history 27

The issue I had copying the stats earlier today has been corrected.


Back to my post “Tony Abbott was right: we really should move on”

I leave you to make up your mind about what I said then: Tony Abbott was right: we really should move on. I still commend the material I referred you to there, but should make clear that I very much support proper recognition of Indigenous Australians in the constitution.

But a few follow-ups on that great Oz Day fracas.

First Jim Belshaw today: “Talking to a work colleague who was at the Embassy at the time, she wanted to know (as I had) just what bleeding idiot organised an official Australia Day function in an insecure venue metres from such a significant Aboriginal location. At the least, it displays remarkable insensitivity.”

Second, John Quiggin: “Looking at the latest TV news I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m sick of the confected outrage surrounding the Australia Day incident. On the other hand, if this is what it takes to make the Labor Party realise they have to go back to Kevin Rudd, and sooner rather than later, then I suppose I can live with it.”

Third, Matt da Silva:

Along with the commentariat, Liberal Party politicians have been pushing hard to keep the issue in the news. The saga goes on and on like a bad and boozy lunch from the bad old days of the fat-jack expense account and the Beemer at the curb on Queen Street. It’s time, folks, to fold up our napkins, visit the necessary one last time, and "move on", in Tony Abbot’s parlance, to other, more productive debates.

Let’s put the thing in perspective.

First, the protesters. Aboriginal activists are not like the anodyne-sounding Institute of Public Affairs, which is actually a highly-active conservative think-tank that ruthlessly campaigns on issues that it deems important. Aboriginal activist groups do not have dozens of well-paid text monkeys researching issues and writing the opinion pieces that the IPA is famous for. They have their Tent Embassy, they have their voices, and they have their passion. At the IPA it’s all a bit more civilised, but it’s no less raw, the protesting and campaigning. Instead of voices and bodies, scribes at the IPA deploy nouns and verbs. But the upshot is the same: publicity. So let’s give credit to the folks at the Tent Embassy. If what they wanted was publicity, they eminently achieved their goal…

So a few noisy protesters made a fuss outside the restaurant. That didn’t justify the response of Julia Gillard’s security detail in treating the event like an assassination attempt. Dragging a puzzled PM off toward the waiting car was bad enough. Making her lose her shoe? It’s truly novelistic. Treating the Tent Embassy protesters like an organised posse of axe-wielding maniacs was the first crime. Treating the event like a major story of national interest was the second. Can we please just turn off the music, put away the cask wine, and clean our damn teeth? At some point we need to start thinking about the serious stuff.

Fourth, Patrick Dodson:

AMY BAINBRIDGE, REPORTER: The political fallout over the Australia Day protests has lasted days, with the Opposition continuing to demand to know who knew what and when.
But at the inaugural Gandhi Oration, hosted by the University of New South Wales, Professor Patrick Dodson implored the public to look at what caused the ugly scenes.
PATRICK DODSON, INDIGENOUS LEADER: It would be simplistic however to condemn outright the behaviour of protestors associated with the tent embassy last week without considering the sense of oppression that some of our people still feel towards our governments on a whole range of matters.
I will always condemn bad manners and unnecessarily aggressive behaviour by whomever. But I will also defend people’s rights to assert their political position and try to look at the heart of why people feel so oppressed that they feel violent confrontation is the only recourse to the resolution of their position.
AMY BAINBRIDGE: Professor Dodson says the events in Canberra won’t derail the bid to recognise the nation’s first peoples in the Constitution. He’s part of a panel that has handed a report to the Prime Minister recommending changes to the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
PATRICK DODSON: But even now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, full and proper recognition of the status of the Indigenous peoples as first peoples, with rights and responsibilities that go with that status, is regarded with alarm by some within our country.
This is despite the fact that countries like Canada, New Zealand, Norway, demonstrating that it is possible to agree and give substantive recognition to Indigenous peoples.
AMY BAINBRIDGE: And he says the world is watching Australia.
PATRICK DODSON: The world must think we’re crazy that we – if we do not go to a referendum on this, just contemplate for a minute: the nation of Australia does not support in its constitution non-discrimination against people on the basis of colour, ethnic origin or nationality. Just contemplate that when you go to New York or you go to Bangladesh or you go to China or India.
AMY BAINBRIDGE: For now, it’s only the politicians continuing the attack over Thursday’s events. Professor Dodson wants to move on.

See also:

AUSTRALIAN governments present a different face on the international stage from the one they show when dealing with indigenous people, the ”father of reconciliation” Patrick Dodson said in Sydney last night.

Speaking five days after a fracas embroiling the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, he said: ”I struggle with this hypocrisy, particularly when they seem happy to intervene in the affairs of other countries but become very defensive when criticised for their treatment of the first peoples of this land.”

Mr Dodson was delivering the inaugural Gandhi Oration at the University of NSW.

Mr Dodson defended the expert panel he co-chairs against criticism that it had gone too far in recommending changes to the race powers contained in the constitution to allow positive discrimination for indigenous people. He said there should be no referendum on it if politicians did not agree.

”If there is no cross-party support for the proposition, it will more than likely fail,” he said.

Fifth, Pat Corowa on Facebook.

Before I left the tent embassy late on Saturday night, there were 3 Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka who had flown into Canberra a couple of hours earlier.. they came straight to the ATE, after they saw the news about us on TV.. They performed with Brothers from Stradbroke Island (Denis B Walker’s sons and grandsons) and then with a brother on the Didge from the Yuin Nation on the South Coast of NSW…


Linked to an album recommended by Pat Corowa

All this to balance my earlier post, but I stand by the view that there is a very real debate to be had about what matters most – as I think Bob Carr is saying. I very much share that concern.

Sydney University’s English Department failed me…

… and thousands of others in the 60s – and for all I know this may still be the case – by passing over gem after gem in the great diamond mine of English Literature.  Only today has my toilet reading revealed another example of my deprivation.

Let me explain. I have a habit of reading reference books in the toilet. The little nuggets of information can be ingested as other nuggets go their way in the course of nature. Today my text was The Wordsworth Companion to Literature in English ed. Ian Ousby, a handy paperback version of the Cambridge Guide and a truly great toilet read. I have quite possibly read all of it in the bog over the years, but my eye fell today on something new:

Stephen Duck (1705?–1756) was an English poet whose career reflected both the Augustan era’s interest in "naturals" (natural geniuses) and its resistance to classlessness.

Duck was born at born at Charlton, near Pewsey, in Wiltshire, but little is known about his family, whether from Duck himself or from contemporary records, except that they were labourers and very poor. Duck attended a charity school and left at the age of thirteen to begin working in the fields.

Around 1724, he married as his first wife Ann, who died in 1730, and began to attempt to better himself and escape the toil and poverty of agricultural work. He read Milton, Dryden, Prior, and The Spectator, as well as the Holy Bible, according to Joseph Spence. He was "discovered" by Alured Clarke of Winchester Cathedral, and Clarke introduced him to high society. Clarke and Spence (the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and friend of Alexander Pope) promoted Duck as a sincerely pious man of sober wit. Clarke and Spence saw poetry that Duck was writing, but none of this verse was published. Between 1724 and 1730, he and Ann had three children.

In 1730, Duck combined some of the poetic pieces he had been writing and wrote The Thresher’s Labour, a poem that described the difficulty of field work. The poem was celebrated throughout London society, and he soon wrote The Shunammite, which reflected Duck’s piety and religious imagination. The poet was taken to meet Queen Caroline, and, while he was there, word came of the death of his wife, but Clarke kept the news from Duck until after the interview with the Queen. For her part, she was pleased and gave Duck an annuity and a small house.

Duck continued to write and to be seen as both a paradigm of self-improvement and the natural poet. In 1733, Duck was made a Yeoman of the Guard by the queen, and that year he met and married Sarah Big, Caroline’s housekeeper at Kew. In 1735, Caroline made him keeper of the Queen’s library at Merlin’s Cave in Richmond. During this period, Duck wrote many poems, with increasing polish and urbanity. His Poems in 1736 had both Pope and Jonathan Swift as subscribers.

Swift and Pope both made disparaging remarks or outright satires on Duck. In 1731 to 1733, Swift satirized the poverty of Duck’s rhymes several places. However, both men seemed to like Stephen Duck as a person, and both were impressed by his religious sincerity. When Duck was rumored to be a candidate for the,Laureate this distinction between the private man and the quality of the verse made him a worthy target.

When Queen Caroline died in 1737, Duck was left without a patron and without direct inspiration. He wrote eight very long poems after her death. In 1744, Sarah Big Duck died, and Stephen married again, although this wife’s name is unknown. Duck was ordained in 1746 and became chaplain to Henry Cornwall and then to Ligonier’s forces in 1750 before becoming the chaplain of Kew. He went on to serve as the pastor of Byfleet, Surrey, where he was well liked by his congregation.

The exact date of Duck’s death is unknown, as he committed suicide by drowning between 30 March and 2 April 1756.

Since the 1990s, Duck has seen renewed interest among New Historicist and Marxist literary critics. Duck’s case featured in the The New Eighteenth Century (Landry), and this inspired further critical work. The Donna Landry and William Christmas edited issue of Criticism featured two articles on Duck in 2005.

That’s Wikipedia of course.


There is a 2011 Tumbler blog called F*ck Yeah Stephen Duck. It includes an extract from the poet:

From “The Thresher’s Labor”

The grateful Tribute of these rural Lays,

Which to her Patron’s hand the Muse conveys,

Deign to accept: ‘Tis just the Tribute bring

To him, whose Bounty gives her Life to sing;

To him, whose gen’rous Favors  tune her Voice;

And bid her, midst her Poverty, rejoice.

Inspir’d by these, she dares herself prepare,

To sing the Toils of each revolving Year;

Those endless Toils, which always grow anew,

And the poor Threshers destin’d to pursue:

Ev’n these with Pleasure, can the Muse rehearse.

When you and Gratitude demand her Verse.

That fan also writes:

This is Stephen Duck. He was an 18th century poet who started off as an agricultural laborer. Other writers of his time, such as Pope, Swift and Dryden used to make fun of his rhymes and writing, but he was a pretty nice guy and a lot of people really liked him, including the aforementioned writers. A lot of people forget he exists, but recently he’s gotten a bit of a following. If you go on Google Books, some of his poetry is available to read for free.

There you go. My toilet Duck, you might say.

Tony Abbott was right: we really should move on

I am far from a fan of Mister Abbott. See most recently Populist crud Abbott’s unworkable asylum seeker policy. But in this case I think only the deepest died haters can deny that he’s been given a bum rap. Former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr agrees.

I agree with Tony Abbott and think his remarks entirely sensible. The tent embassy in Canberra says nothing to anyone and should have been quietly packed up years ago. The “activists” who run it would be better off investing time in youth programs in indigenous communities. Every government in Australia is aware of its responsibilities to Aboriginal Australians. The debate is how you narrow the gap not whether you should and the debate is as serious within the Aboriginal community as between it and the white.

The spawn of the radical chic of the 70s that fawned on people like Colonel Gaddafi and in its senescence still sees Robert Mugabe as an unambiguously good thing has fairly clearly done little but make at least some people a hell of a lot angrier and/or full of their own superior virtue. It’s all about politics and very little about really advancing the lives and conditions of Indigenous Australians.

So what did Tony Abbott say? I will let Legal Eagle explain:

The whole thing started when, earlier on Australia Day, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was asked about the significance of the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Parliament House. Abbott said:

“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.

Although some have seen Abbott’s comments as deliberately inflammatory, personally, I do not think he would have intended them to start a riot.

There isn’t a word there in that quote from Abbott that I find objectionable.  And it is not as if I haven’t been mulling these issues personally and generally for close on thirty years.

Jim Belshaw is admirably forensic on the incident, and gloomy about its impact – way beyond what the incident actually deserves. I fear I agree with Jim on this, even though I am far less drawn to defending and justifying my non-Indigenous ancestors than Jim is.

All the flack is making this necessary change less likely in the short term:

And speaking of moving on, and how we have moved on…

Let’s look at The Politics of Suffering, an interview: Peter Sutton with Marcia Langton. This is a MUST see!

And then, as a balance, one of thousands of stories one could quote — Rob Baiton: The Colly Crew on ABC TV’s 7.30 Program…  This also concerns a 2012 Australia Day event.

The Colly Crew are moving onwards and upwards. The things that we do are being recognised as making a difference. They are being recognised as allowing for change. They are being recognised for creating opportunities. And, they are being recognised for opening doors.

The Colly Crew grew out of a program called "Step-By-Step". It is a hip hop based program designed to engage kids with school and their education. It is worth noting that Collarenebri is a small, very rural and remote community. The school is a central school and there is a significant local Indigenous community with a very rich history. Consequently, the program is often referred to as being an Indigenous hip hop program. For me, perhaps a community hip hop program is a more accurate reflection of what we are actually doing.

About the program. There are elements of literacy and numeracy, but it is more than just about literacy and numeracy it is about understanding how the choices we make impact upon our lives. It is about how we can take control of our lives and make smarter decisions and achieve those things that perhaps others in our families have never had the opportunity to do. Any teachers out there looking for a spoken word, performance poetry, rap unit of work that incorporates what we have done so successfully in this program let me know, we are always happy to share.

I am not sure how to embed just the video. Nevertheless, the link to the 7.30 Program and their report can be found here.

I encourage you to watch it.

Here are The Colly Crew, students from Collarenebri Central School where Rob teaches.

"It’s a new age! React! Don’t look back!" Change the Game! Onya, Colleranebri kids!

Piers Akerman versus the 1933 edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary

It’s ages since I bothered with Mr Akerman, the self-styled conservative who poses as a reasonable commentator in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Today, given my own little dummy spit on Facebook, I thought I would attempt to out-pedant him.

My dummy spit? Here:

I was not impressed by yesterday’s circus in Canberra. If that puts off some of my friends here, so be it. I am sick of crap both left and right on these matters, totally over it, totally!

Akerman’s crap is as follows:

EVER ready to cry “racist”, Labor is now backing proposed changes to the Australian Constitution which would enshrine a two-tier citizenship based on claims of race.

That’s what used to be called apartheid when South Africa had such evil laws.

Labor has promised to hold a referendum on the constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians on or before the next federal election, due next year.

Like the word “gay”, “indigenous” no longer means what it used to – originating and living or occurring naturally in an area or environment.

That would mean that every person born in Australia is indigenous.

But in the Orwellian newspeak of the politically correct “indigenous” does not mean born in Australia. It means Aborigine as in Australian Aborigine, a definition that is also becoming increasingly fluid…

I could be really annoying and point out that so far as I can tell “gay” has never meant “originating and living or occurring naturally in an area or environment” – but that would just be mean of me! However, to “indigenous”.  It would have surprised Sir Thomas Browne writing in the 17th century to hear he was being “politically correct” when he insisted that Africans are not “indigenous or proper natives of America.”


Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia, Piers; rabbits, dogs, cats and Akermans are not.  Even when born here. Which you were not. I suppose that makes you an Indigenous Papuan?

Oh and do note what a true conservative I am in the matter of dictionaries… Winking smile

Not a good look

I was disturbed by these scenes, in all seriousness. Were you?

OK, for the sake of background go to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy website

Then there are some related readings:

Make up your own minds about all this. Reactions have been varied, as the Herald story indicates:

… The protesters had reacted to Mr Abbott’s comment earlier in the day when he was asked if the tent embassy was ”still relevant or should it move?”.

He said: ”I think the indigenous people of Australia can be very proud of the respect in which they are held by every Australian and, yes, I think a lot has changed since then and I think it probably is time to move on from that.”

His comment was replayed on TV and heard by the 1000 people gathered at the embassy.

”The Opposition Leader on national television made a comment to tear down something that we have built over 40 years which is sacred to us,” said the chairman of the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, Fred Hooper.

”So what do you expect us to do when we’re 200 yards away from the person that makes that comment? Do you expect us to say, ‘Yeah, Tony, we’re gonna do that now, we’re gonna rip it down’?”

But the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, said he was appalled at the disrespect and aggression shown towards Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott.

"An aggressive, divisive and frightening protest such as this has no place in debates about the affairs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples or in any circumstances," Mr Gooda said.

"While we need to acknowledge that there’s a real anger, frustration and hurt that exists in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia, we must not give in to aggressive and disrespectful actions ourselves.”

Several of the embassy’s leaders, including Sean Gordon from the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council in north-western NSW, said they planned to protest again on Saturday and in the future. ”There will be more protests on this. You can be sure this will go on for some time,” Mr Gordon said.

”To come here, on the 40th anniversary, to say these things. What does he expect? We are not going to go away. We will not forget this … Our people are dying of depression, of the grog, and we have this bloke talking about tearing us down, taking us away.”…

I am rather with Mick Gooda. I also wish I could point with confidence to “people … dying of depression, of the grog” whose lives have actually been made any better by any of the politicking going on at that Tent Embassy or in Canberra more generally.

See also on Club Troppo An overheard bus conversation. Recounted without comment. I won’t comment either!

At least Australia Day was good for the blog.

In the past seven days:

  1. A very personal Australia Day 26 January – my family 242 views
  2. Home page 234
  3. Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta Episode 3–SBS last night 159
  4. Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes 44
  5. Australia Day: Being Australian 32
  6. I can’t believe the brain snaps Charlie Teo is causing… 29
  7. Being Australian 20: poem and song, images, dreams, nostalgia, England 28
  8. Happy Australia Day: all of us 21
  9. Being Australian 11: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 4 20
  10. Australia’s Got Talent 2011 Grand Final 15
  11. Cabramatta again, and William Yang 13
  12. The Chinese are coming… 12
  13. There is a land where summer skies… 10
  14. Being Australian 1 — Waleed Aly on SBS last night 10
  15. Nostalgia and the globalising world — from Thomas Hardy to 2010 10