Category Archives: History, current affairs

Sort of political, too

Comrade Pupils, Here’s Today’s History Lesson

School education is bathed in a green-Left miasma, and so a new Victorian Year 12 history text  is unlikely to create much of a fuss. It’s  Volume 1 of a four-part lavish and expensive series from Cambridge University Press, Analysing Australian History – From Custodianship to the Anthropocene ($49.95). In production and multi-media values it’s state of the art. It’s also keyed specifically to the Victorian Certificate of Education syllabus.

The five woke authors begin with a racist apology for being “all non-Indigenous Australians, mostly of Anglo-Celtic descent … Each volume has been reviewed by First Nations educators … and checked by many people, including the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc and teacher forums.”  (p iiv).

Despite being “checked by many people”, the textbook is replete with howlers such as how we’ve been “exporting” brown coal (p294). We don’t. [1]

On p169 the politically-naive authors refer to Tribunethe official newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia, as “the union newspaper The (sic) Tribune”.  They unwittingly provide a 100-word slab of 1958 Tribune agitprop for kids to study  the “struggle around issues of benefit to the people generally”. On the same page is an hero pic of Whitlam’s far-left  minister Tom Uren on the march, “a respected federal Labor politician” – the others presumably being less-respected.[2]

On page 17 of the Introduction we view a lone forlorn sheep, backside facing us, suffering from the so-called Anthropocene at “Pejar Dam in southern NSW, 2005” near Goulburn. On page 261 a pic of the very same ewe becomes “An exhausted sheep searches for food on a farm near Ivanhoe, New South Wales, 2002.” Googling suggests that Mrs Ewe took the three years to trot 730km south-east from Ivanhoe to Goulburn. No wonder she’s done in.

The authors are Richard Broome, president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria and an emeritus professor at La Trobe; Ashley Keith Pratt, vice-president of the History Teachers Association of Victoria; James Grout, a junior and senior history teacher at Geelong; David Harris, teacher and environmental historian; and Geoff Peel, teacher, school department head and examiner.

The book’s title itself is a howler. There is no “Anthropocene”, as the authors claim. It is only a so-far-unaccepted recommendation by the  Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) to bolster the global warming narrative.   This wished-for “Anthropocene” has lasted a mere 70 years. Officially we are in the Holocene era (12,000 years) of the Cenozoic (66 million years). The IUGS has declined to declare any “Anthropocene”, preferring to wait maybe 50,000 years until some evidence of it shows up in rock strata. In the book, kids must elaborate on this misleading brief:

“Evaluate the significance of the scientific community’s adoption of Crutzen’s idea of the Anthropocene.” (p282).

Like those ‘brown coal exports’, this is just plain wrong, as the AWG makes clear:

The Anthropocene is not currently a formally defined geological unit within the Geological Time Scale; officially we still live within the Meghalayan Age of the Holocene Epoch. A proposal to formalise the Anthropocene is being developed by the AWG.

Now flip to the full page opening picture of Chapter 8: “Environmental movements contest the Anthropocene [sic], 1986-2010.” We see a triumphant crowd of Labor Party members in 2007 raging against coal and led by rock star Peter Garrett and flanked on his left – wait for it! – by a beaming Anthony Albanese, aged 44. Our Prime Minister had then the gravitas of  Manager of Opposition Business in the House and Shadow Minister for Water and Infrastructure.

 As well as three “Australian Labor Party” banners , the pic shows the Labor Party heroes surrounded by placards like “Quit Coal” and “Clean Coal a Dirty Lie”. The caption reads, “Marchers led by Federal MP and Labor’s environment and climate change spokesman Peter Garrett start the Walk Against Warming in Sydney, 11 November 2007.”

Flip past a second heroic pic of Bob Hawke, and conservatives will be affronted by a quarter-page image of the official Greens Party logo (p273). The authors claim the party got up in 1992 because state and federal governments “were overwhelmingly reluctant  to enact changes that might jeopardise economic growth for the purposes of conservation.” The book makes no reference to the international Green movement’s actual origins with Nazi philosophy morphing into the  admitted paedophile-tainted German Greens movement, which involved up to 1000 child victims.[3] Kids should get extra marks for independently researching that.

In apparent role as Greens recruiter, the book intones (emphasis added)

Over time, the Greens developed socially-conscious policies beyond environmental issues, but maintained its initial strong focus on conservation matters. Its platforms have continually advocated  matters such as recycling, water management, habitat loss, specie extinction, deforestation and pollution, but above all, democracy(p274).

Kids will assume conservatives oppose democracy. The book then serves up retiring Greens leader Bob Brown’s absurd manifesto to his “earthians”:[4]

So far it seems like we are the lone thinkers in this vast expanding universe. (If not, why are they not communicating with us?). They have extincted themselves. They have come and gone.  And now it’s our turn. Just as we are causing that destruction, we could be fostering its reversal. Indeed nothing will save us from ourselves but ourselves. So democracy – ensuring that everyone is involved in deciding Earth’s future – is the key to success.

As a clincher, kids are treated to an adoring pic (above) of five Greens demonstrators in yellow shirts with Greens logos and matching placards, “Clean energy clean air: The Greens”. They hold high a globe of the purportedly endangered planet. The caption reads:

Greens activists dressed as surf lifesavers march through the city to condemn Prime Minister John Howard’s inaction on climate change…7 September 2007.

The book’s standard question-boxes require kids to spout knowledge about the Greens formation (but ignore Hitler and Green paedophilia) and its local electoral strength, followed by

What is Bob Brown’s basic solution for the world’s environmental problems? (p274)

Another topic goes:

In Australia profit will always be valued more highly than the health of the population and environment. Discuss.  (p264).

Fans of even-handed history will be delighted at how kids are now taught about the Cold War. The book gives the West and the Communist states precisely-equivalent treatment, e.g.

Historians have identified several causes that led to the outbreak of the Cold War, including the desire of both the United States and Soviet Union for geopolitical dominance at the end of World War II, the ideological conflict between these superpowers, the emergence and existential threat of nuclear weapons, the fear of communism in the United States and the concomitant fear of capitalism in the Soviet Union.

Quoting historian Timothy White, it continues:

While scholars may have been blinded by loyalty and guilt in examining the evidence regarding the origins of the Cold War in the past, increasingly, scholars with greater access to archival evidence on all sides have come to the conclusion that the conflicting and unyielding ideological ambitions were the source of the complicated and historic tale that was the Cold War. (p160-61)

In other words, the Communist dictatorships which murdered 100 million of their own people and defenceless “class enemies” are really just the mirror image of the Western law- and market-based democracies.

Apparently reluctant to offend Russia’s top dog Vlad Putin, the authors say that un-named “leading nations and world rivals” got some atomic bomb secrets by spying.  The authors put in favorable references to “peace movements” actually inspired or controlled by Moscow, as documented by KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin. (p148, 156, 169, 180).  Talking of peace, the book refers identically not once but three times to what it regards as the historic founding of Greenpeace in 1971 (p143, 147, 183).  In reality co-founder Patrick Moore quit after 15 years, unable to stomach Greenpeace’s irrational and destructive policies.

The book even directs kids to the ridiculous Doomsday Clock cooked up by leftist scientists. To elaborate, those idiots in 2018 set their clock to “two minutes to midnight” or comparable with the H-bomb stand-off of 1953, because of President Trump and climate change. Nothing more relieves hormonal teens’ angst these days than a Doomsday Clock. The book demands of them, “At what time has the Doomsday Clock been set at most recently? Why has it been set at this time?” (p162).  I can answer that: it is set (pre-Ukraine war) at 100 seconds to midnight, “the closest it has ever been to civilization-ending apocalypse”,  but with sponsors’ hope that President Biden will be our planetary saviour. Our kids, by the way, are also offered a diet of “the 14 most frightening films about nuclear destruction” (p167), such as the corny Melbourne-based On The Beach of 1960. (p167-8).

The book devotes multiple references to avowed Communist Jack Mundey of Green Bans fame (p141, 188-189, 197-98, 212). He gets almost as much messiah treatment as the Green’s Bob Brown. Kids are told to debate the topic, “Jack Mundey was an environmental hero” (p222).

Needless to say, the uranium and nuclear industry get a bad rap, starting with kids being fed a Moscow-friendly conspiracy theory:

In August 1945, the United States used nuclear weapons on two civilian targets in Japan – the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The action was ordered by President Truman, ostensibly to hasten the end of the war in the Pacific. However intense controversy remains about the underlying motives of the United States, with many people arguing, both then and now, that it was unnecessary at that point to defeat Japan and, in fact, the bombing was primarily carried out in order to intimidate the Soviet Union(p 148)

There was nothing “ostensible” about the 82-day casualty toll on Okinawa shortly before (ignored by the authors) which let the Americans know what to expect on the home islands: 100,000 civilians or a quarter of the Okinawa population killed or dead by suicide, 45,000 American troops killed or wounded and 100,000 Japanese troops killed. It was this high toll that persuaded President Truman to use atomic weapons, rather than send an invasion force into Japan.

On the home front, the history authors are respectful of would-be Aborigine and Melbourne University Professor Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu nonsense about the thriving agriculture of town-dwelling pre-contact Aborigines. He gets half a dozen references. For the susceptible kids, the authors rank Dark Emu (2014) with Geoffrey Blainey’s  1975 Triumph of the Nomads (p8), although, in what looks like a desperate last-minute addition, the Cambridge authors say,

…anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist Keryn Walshe in their book Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate (2021), argue that Pascoe has exaggerated his case for Aboriginal farming and used evidence loosely. But clearly in some areas, Aboriginal food production was intensified. (p25).

Pascoe’s map of a purported original Aboriginal “grain belt”, covering half of the continent and dwarfing modern wheat cropping, is reproduced across almost the full page.[5] The original map-drawer Norman Tindale was talking about grain collecting/harvesting, but the Cambridge authors twice refer to it as “production”.  I find it odd, especially in a class textbook, to conflate Aboriginal gathering of sparse native seeds with modern wheat productivity.

A litmus test in textbooks  is whether  such authors hit kids with Murdoch Derangement Syndrome. This history doesn’t disappoint. It quotes activist journalist Maria Taylor, author of Global Warming and Climate Change: what Australia knew and buried, which she helpfully assures visitors to her website is ‘suitable for secondary, tertiary studies and research and as a case study in environment environmental education, environmental policy, science and society studies, political science, policy and political economy, contemporary Australian and western history, climate change studies, media and communication…” On the climate wars, the Cambridge authors quote her thuis:

Great influence was also exerted by News Limited, with a virtual monopoly in Australian print media circulation. The Murdoch media shared the notion that accepting climate science is unwarranted and a threat to business and has spent the last 20 years conducting a ‘culture war’ on this issue. Through politics and media these reasserted beliefs and values had taken over the whole society [what!!!] by the early 2000s and have returned in force in 2014.” (p290, my emphasis. I assume she refers to Tony Abbott’s election).

I googled Dr Maria Taylor, wondering how any Canberra-zone journalist could think The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Financial Review, Canberra Times and The West Australian are part of a Murdoch hegemony. Dr Taylor publishes a monthly semi-rural community newspaper focused on sustainable lifestyles, does some part-time lecturing on journalism to ANU undergraduates and  in 2007 wrote a score of articles for the Bungendore Bulletin.[6]

Australia’s mining and petroleum producers ought to riot about use of this text in class. The authors dismiss the global impact of the 1960s mineral boom in the style of the ex-ABC’s Emma Alberici:

The Fitzgerald Report [1974, for the Whitlam government]  revealed who benefited from this boom. The Report showed the mining industry paid $263 million in royalties to the government from 1966–67 to 1972–73, but five times that amount went overseas in profits to parent companies. The same thing occurred during Australia’s most recent mining boom in the early twenty-first century. Government fuel subsidies, equipment tax deductions and other benefits led to high profits from mining, amidst record high metal commodity prices…(p246)

Through gritted teeth the authors acknowledge that “Mining is important to human development and livelihood” but laud every anti-mining success that activists can cook up.

Mining is also destructive of the environment and the Aboriginal peoples’ custodianship of the land. Iron ore, bauxite and some coal mining is done by open-cut mining. The existing vegetation and topsoil are bulldozed aside, the fauna is destroyed or retreats, and large excavations are made to expose the minerals, often resulting in water and dust pollution. The holes and trenches expand as mineral extraction increases…( p246-7).

Flip a few pages and kids get a section in praise of extreme Left-dopey arts and culture, like “George Turner’s 1987 dystopian work The Sea and Summer depicting a Melbourne of the future drowning under rising seas of climate change”. (p280). No wonder kids suffer education-inflicted pessimism and mental health issues extending even to suicides). The book offers Ms Oodgeroo Noonuccal, aka Kath Walker, alleged “poem”:

The miner rapes
The heart of the Earth
With his violent spade
Stealing, bottling her black blood
For the sake of greedy trade.

There follows (p282) John Williamson’s 1989 Rip Rip Woodchip song and its chorus,

Nightmare Dreaming, can’t you hear the screaming?
Chainsore, eyesore – more decay.

The  book’s question box includes

 Identify specific ways in which the [woodchip] lyrics suggest that the environment is being destroyed

♦ Why do you think the song resonated with society?

In a gesture to impartiality, the authors do give brief air-time to conservatives Hugh Morgan (ex-WMC) and Keith Windschuttle (Quadrant editor-in-chief), and more so to Geoffrey Blainey. I couldn’t avoid the entirely subjective suspicion the authors selected weak quotes to enable kids to knock the conservatives down. For example, Morgan is cited arguing that “2000 years of Christian tradition supported the rights of companies to mine”. His cited views in the book include the correct point that Aboriginal culture “demanded vengeance killings and in the past had involved cannibalism” which I assume is inserted to set him up for kids as a nasty hateful person. Question (p253): “What might have contributed to Morgan’s views on Aboriginal peoples and Christianity?”

The authors in their onslaught against the invading colonialists don’t mention the prevalent “coming in” of Aboriginal families to missions and stations for easily-accessible rations. They do provide kids with a positive quote that

The rate of economic progress in Australia between 1820 and 1850 far exceeded that of any other British Colony, and approached that of Britain herself. (p84).

But they match it with an opposite:

The squatters and their flocks drove away the game, and the sheep ate the plants and killed the roots upon which the Aborigines lived. But the transformation did not stop there. The grazing of sheep first opens then kills forests, first converts grassland to wealth then reduces them to indigence [poverty] … biological impoverishment now began in Australia. (p84).

Emotionally exhausted, I have yet to tackle Volumes 2-4 of this curious history series. But at least it puts its cards on the table.

Tony Thomas’ latest essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt

[1] The book: Australia’s mineral industry was expanded [to 2010], accelerating growth in mining, burning and exporting brown coal.  (p294). Geoscience Australia: “Although Victorian brown coals are low in ash and sulfur, they have high moisture contents and are not exported from Australia to overseas destinations. Brown coal is produced and utilised almost exclusively in Victorian mines and power stations.”

[2] Uren sued the Fairfax and Packer news organisations in 1963 over allegations that he had links to communists which amounted to his being a traitor. The judgment in his favour for £43,000 was then an Australian defamation record. 

[3] For the Nazi’s environmental credential, see Darvall, R., The Age of Global Warming – A History. Quarter Books, London, 2013. P40:  “Were it not for its crimes, the Nazi record on the environment would have been praised for being far in advance of its time…”

[4] “Fellow earthlings, we believe in world government. We abrogate the rights of nations to rule themselves.”

[5] The authors write, “Bruce Pascoe made a case for a more complex food production, an ‘Aboriginal agricultural economy’.”

[6] Dr Taylor’s ANU profile cites an ANU Press book she wrote on global warming (free via PDF)  which includes this quote

 … one of the most unnerving scientific pronouncements ever made: ‘Humanity is conducting an enormous, unintended, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war’. 

How the UK Combats Activism in the Classroom

Tony Thomas

This essay, the first of two, looks at the UK education system and its praiseworthy laws under the Education Act 1996 against teachers pushing partisan views. The ban prohibits not just touting for political parties but promoting contentious ideas in a one-sided way – trashing Winston Churchill as an imperialist, for example (let alone “Critical Race Theory”). The law would require teachers to also discuss Churchill’s positive achievements. The Ministry issued 9000 words of further and comprehensive “guidance notes” for teachers on February 17 on interpreting these laws.

Indoctrination by schools is also a boiling political issue in the US. School board elections are now political battlegrounds across states. In Virginia, anti-indoctrination candidate Glenn Youngkin became the first Republican to serve as governor since 2009.[1] Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis is a likely presidential nominee, on a platform that includes condemning Critical Race Theory, explicit sex materials and other “woke” indoctrination by Democrat brainwashers in schools.

Part II: Why Australian teachers are free to brainwash kids

Do the Australian states’ education systems have similar laws? My second essay will spell out these policies plus examples of how they are violated continuously and with impunity.

The UK ban on classroom indoctrination

Under the heading “Political Indoctrination’, Section 406 of the UK Education Act forbids

(a) the pursuit of partisan political activities by any of those registered pupils … who are junior pupils [under 12],[2] and

(b) the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject in the school.

 Section 407 is headed, “Duty to secure balanced treatment of political issues” and comes with sub-sections that enable teachers to advocate fundamentals such as rule of law and religious tolerance. But the key clauses ban partisan political teaching of any subject or distribution of partisan material, and require that teachers give kids a “balanced presentation of opposing views.”

February’s guidance notes provide teachers with about 20 illustrations of contentious situations in class. Clarification was needed because many schools have been convulsed by angry parental protests about teaching and withdrawals of kids from state education.[3] At the sharp end is the teaching of issues like Black Lives Matter and “white privilege”, LGBTQI+ affairs in Muslim-heavy schools, #metoo, statue-trashing, “Critical Race Theory” and of course, the supposed climate apocalypse. Even if a topic like net-zero is bi-partisan in Parliament, UK schools must give it balanced treatment if it remains contentious in the UK community.

The Guidance was precipitated by an adverse Commons education committee report last June and a dossier to Parliament from the Free Speech Union last November, citing partisan teaching in 15 schools, described as ‘the tip of the iceberg’:

“They [teachers] are so far down the woke rabbit hole, they think these claims are incontestable facts rather than contentious political positions and regard anyone who challenges them as completely beyond the pale,” the Free Speech secretary said. Examples included a history teacher comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler and diatribes against the police, racism and colonialism. The earlier Commons report said teachers preached against “white privilege” even though their working-class white students were low-achieving and disadvantaged. Tory MP Jonathon Gullis, an ex-teacher, said teachers pushing “white privilege” racism should be disciplined and reported to counter-terrorism programs as extremists. The Ministry agreed any such teaching was contrary to the Education Act’s impartiality clauses.

UK teachers hit back at the government’s ‘awful’ Guidance, calling it a “war on woke” while dismissing it as patronising and gratuitous advice to schools. Some teachers argued the guidance is “non-statutory” and could be ignored.

The Minister for School Standards, Robin Walker, explained in the Commons, “Pupils must form their own political views, and schools should not indoctrinate or encourage children to pin their colours to any particular political mast.” Similarly, the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, says in the foreword to the Guidance,

Parents and carers want to be sure that their children can learn about political issues and begin to form their own independent opinions, without being influenced by the personal views of those teaching them.

The Guidance says, “Given the changing nature of political issues and how they are taught, schools may wish to consider reviewing their approach to political impartiality even where issues have not already emerged.” The department clearly expects schools rife with parental complaints will rigorously review and reform any illegally-biased teaching.

“Teachers are role models and authority figures, and hence should seldom share their personal political views,” the Guidance says. If they do, they should alert pupils to equivalent contrary views. Schools should consider whether or not to ban teachers altogether from expressing personal political opinions.

Third parties, including charities and campaigners are welcome to supplement teaching, but schools should ensure in advance that speakers or materials do not undermine schools’ legal impartiality, and visitors should represent a fair cross-section of views. The guidance instances an external agency invited to speak on economic challenges of the Global South, but the agency wrongly promotes partisan free-market economic reforms like privatisation and deregulation.

On climate, the guidelines cite the 2007 legal challenge by citizen Stuart Dimmock[4]against schools airing Al Gore’s 2007 Inconvenient Truth disaster movie. The UK High Court, ruling against the Education Department, defined “partisan” as “one-sided” and defined “political views” as “those expressed with a political purpose, such as to further the interests of a particular partisan group, change the law or change government policy. This could be on a wide range of matters such as economic and social issues at a local, national, or international level.”[5]

The High Court ruling was that Gore’s movie was politically partisan and the court required teachers to alert kids about this and provide balancing material, as well as obliging them to point out nine major errors in the film (which Gore has never corrected).[6] [7]

The UK guidance notes define climate change as “scientific fact” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and not political, but says correctly that discussion of causes and policy responses to it might well be politically influenced. Teachers and pupils should distinguish between climate facts, solutions and opinions. Teachers need not reference misinformation that “anthropogenic climate change is not occurring,” it says. [A straw-man as the controversy is over how much is occurring and why].

An inquiry by the skeptic-minded Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2014 picked up these examples of UK teachers’ partisan preaching on climate:

♦ A mind-map (schematic) suggests global warming will be worse than famine, plague or nuclear war. The mind-map was sourced to a pamphlet from a “passionate” green activist.

♦ “Scientists believe that a 1◦C increase in world temperature is all that the world can tolerate before climatic chaos sets in.”

♦ “Explain why developed rich countries should provide money to poorer, developing countries so that they can reduce their CO2 emissions.”

Academics and renewables executives invited to a Norfolk school did a futuristic presentation:

♦ As the day begins, the students are informed that the Earth’s remaining reserves of fossil fuels have finally been exhausted and, as a result, the fabric of what we consider normal life has immediately started to crumble. No more light, no more heat, no more iPods. No more anything, in fact, meaning something needs to be done – and soon – before the world falls into total chaos.

♦ Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money. Is it all about money?

UK teachers’ comments to a draft survey suggested that even half a decade ago UK schools were overdoing the climate scare:

♦ “It’s done to death in UK schools across a range of subjects and in nearly all year groups. We risk turning them off it.”

♦ “Blimey, it is virtually impossible to do any science topic without some reference to greenhouse effect/global warming/climate change having to be included.”

♦ “It has become a bit of a joke in my higher groups that on the long exam questions the words carbon dioxide and global warming will always get a mark regardless of the question!

GWPF said the “sustainability” teaching isn’t improving kids’ scientific and economic knowledge.

Our research for this report suggests, perhaps unsurprisingly, that having unqualified primary school teachers explain complex physical phenomena to primary school children has not been a successful strategy…

The slant is on scares, on raising fears, followed by the promotion of detailed guidance on how pupils should live, as well as on what they should think. In some instances, we find encouragement to create ‘little political activists’ in schools by creating a burden of responsibility for action on their part to ‘save the planet’, not least by putting pressure on their parents… Children are being treated as political targets by activists who wish to change society in fundamental ways…

The fact that children’s ability to pass their exams – and hence their future life prospects – appears to depend on being able to demonstrate their climate change orthodoxy, is painfully reminiscent of life in communist-era Eastern Europe or Mao’s China. Politicians seem to have given the nod to this process, effectively handing much of the curriculum to green activists.

Many kids — possibly most — became upset and frightened for their future, GWPF added.

The UK Ministry now urges teachers to thoroughly review third party material on all controversial topics. It instances fact-sheets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which might seem balanced and helpful but omits historical and other contexts. It welcomes anti-racist views but warns that organisations such as Black Lives Matter can have partisan policies — ‘defund the police’ for starters — that teachers should not promote.

Teachers are encouraged to talk politics but not to promote their own, or anyone’s views, as worthy or factual, instead to use a ‘fair and dispassionate’ approach. Teachers should not offer mere variants on their preferred views, and instead should give kids “at least two significantly different perspectives.” Pupils’ engagement and interest in political issues should be encouraged, on an age-appropriate basis. Political/environmental activity by senior pupils is acceptable and should be encouraged, providing staff do not incite or direct them. Teachers should ensure a dominant group of pupils doesn’t over-influence others.

It would not be appropriate for a teacher to suggest that pupils join a certain campaigning group or engage in an upcoming protest. Teachers and staff can, however, explain to pupils how they can get more actively involved outside of school. This might be by:

♦ explaining the different partisan political views campaigning groups advocate

♦ telling pupils where they can find out more about this

♦ providing a balanced account of political issues related to the environment.”

Reading the Guidance, I got the impression that the opposite can apply in Australian schools. This will be documented in Part 2 on Australian State policies.

 Tony Thomas’ latest essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt

[1] The Democrats and media brazenly lied that “Critical Race Theory” was not being taught in Virginia schools.

[2] That is, within school or outside school with school involvement

[3] Up 34% in 2021, but with COVID an important factor.

[4] A school governor and father of two schoolboys

[5] This appears to be the ministry’s paraphrasing of the judgement

[6] In Australia, literally millions of kids have been force-fed Gore’s film.

[7] For example, Gore lied in the movie that entire island populations had been evacuated to NZ to escape rising seas from climate change.

Memories of the Troubles in Timor

Tony Thomas

As a 25-year-old reporter in Perth in 1966 I had more zeal than worldly wisdom. I’d never been north of Geraldton and it was a brave decision of my editor at the West Australian, Griff Richards, to send me on a three-week reporting trip to Portuguese Timor with photographer Richie Hann in tow.

I made a complete ass of myself. Before the first week was up the Portuguese governor, José Alberty Correia, summoned the Australian Consul John Dalrymple Colquhoun-Denvers, an ex-artillery officer, and told him my safety could no longer be guaranteed. I would do well to get on the Fokker Friendship to Darwin next morning.[1]

I’d spent the day with the consul in his Land Rover touring the hills to Maubisse amid much bonhomie. He dropped me at the hotel at dusk. As I was changing for dinner (not exactly black tie) a scream at the back of the hotel split the air. A woman murdered? No, just a goat for dinner having its throat cut. Strolling later, I was swooped on by a consular car and rushed to the furious Consul, smarting from a two-hour diatribe about me from the Governor. Barely suppressing his rage, he said I’d been behaving like a second rate juvenile spy. “I won’t hear the last of this for months. If you’d just played things quietly, people would have come to you!”

During the Darwin stopover I filed the story of my own expulsion, describing myself judiciously in the third person. In those weird days reporters didn’t try to become the news. From my bland report:

Mr Denvers told them [Thomas and Hann] of complaints that Mr Thomas had entered a military barracks in Dili without having obtained permission from military authorities and that he had asked three junior officers for information about Portuguese military strength on the island. He said that the Portuguese also considered that Mr Thomas had been objectionable in questioning troops about Portuguese politics. The junior officers had sent written reports on their conversations with Mr Thomas to their commanding officer.

Mr Denvers said the Portuguese considered the two men’s safety would be endangered if they remained on the island because the sentry at the barracks had been sentenced to five days solitary confinement for having permitted Mr Thomas to enter, and other Portuguese soldiers might take individual action against them.

He said the two men had not been expelled but it was in their interest to fly to Darwin on the aircraft leaving this morning…

Tourists Minister Barbosa and the Governor had [earlier] told Thomas he was free to go where he pleased on the island.

The strength of the military garrison was common knowledge on the island and Mr Barbosa, who was president of the Portuguese Union National political party, had given him freely the information about the troops.

The European population of the island consisted largely of soldiers, Mr Thomas said. He had talked to them openly about Portuguese affairs…

I must also have typed a long feature about Timor, because in my old scrapbook I’ve scribbled on it: “Error due to Darwin telex operator”. My total four reports and an attack on them are here.

The reason my trip lasted even five days was that External Affairs Minister Paul Hasluck had given me a letter of recommendation. Paul had been a sub-editor and mentor to my father, Pete, on The West Australian in the 1930s and was happy to do Pete’s son an apparently harmless favour.

I guess Governor Correia was worried that expelling me might create a diplomatic breach with Australia, as distinct from “advising” me to sod off. Australia was Portugal’s sole ally in the region and the Indonesians were itching to push in, although this didn’t actually happen until a decade later. I now know that in 1964 High Command ordered the Indonesian Frogman Unit in Surabaya to send an infiltration team to East Timor. The team spent five months as — literally — horse traders (pedagang kuda) stirring up trouble.[2]

I must say that, after my impromptu inspection of the barracks, I bumped into a group of soldiers in the street. One who spoke English ranted about how Portuguese soldiers were the world’s fiercest. His mates crowded menacingly but allowed me on my way.

I think the Governor was also perturbed about me getting pally with the Indonesian Consul, Dr Sorosa, who had photos of Indonesian military might on his walls, such as Tupolev “Badger” bombers.[3] One evening Dr Sorosa stopped by me in his Mercedes in a dark street. I hopped in, the car being pretty full already with three administrators from Kupang. He was driving them home after a good dinner. I interviewed till midnight, taking shorthand in the dark. [4] I know this because I finished my story, “The mosquitos finally broke up the party.” I assume someone reported this odd encounter to the Portuguese.

My chats were admittedly political. Back in Perth I wrote,

[The Indonesian Consul] criticised the heavy Portuguese spending on their army in Timor — I calculated soldiers’ salaries alone to equal about two-thirds of the civil [$A3m] budget. He said that because the Indonesia army – if it wanted to – could sweep over Portuguese Timor like an avalanche, the Portuguese were wasting money keeping even a nominal army there. The money should be developing the country, he said.

When I first hit Dili, the Governor plied me with cake and read with respect my letter of recommendation. He extolled his island’s peace and progress. He invited me to go anywhere, talk to anyone, and send news to Australian tourists of his happy isle, this precious stone set in the silver sea. Lacking much adult perspective, I took him at his word.[5]

Actually, eight of his less happy breed were arrested only a year earlier for plotting to blow up him and his advisers with hand grenades, as revenge for Portugal’s brutal put-down of a revolt six years earlier.[6] I’ll get round to that later.

One incident still baffles me. Walking dusty Dili’s boulevards, I spotted $A5-10 worth of local banknotes in the weeds. Who lost them in that poverty-stricken town and what odds that I’d find them?

One evening disaffected soldiers dropped in, but when I tried to visit one next day, his frightened wife slammed the door. I figure they’d re-assessed me as a loose cannon under watch by the “PIDE” secret police.

I was B-grade chess champ of Fremantle (no big deal, let me tell you). In Dili I’d ask, “Do you play chess?” Obviously a code, the authorities imagined.

On the hill tour, the consul’s Land Rover flew the Australian flag. I wrote,

Men and boys on their indefatigable treks to market, would hastily upend the hundredweight of firewood on their heads to give us the slow Portuguese salute, a mixture of respect, servility and sometimes fear in their eyes.

 Colquhoun-Denvers played this down as an odd colonial relic. But fact-checking my 1966 juvenilia last month, I chanced upon a meticulously-documented 100-page monograph from 2009 about the failed 1959 revolt. I located author and ex-Brigadier Ernie Chamberlain by phone near Geelong and interrupted his research on Australian and North Vietnamese wartime units.[7] Reading his Timor books and studies jolted me into the realities of Timor around my 1966 visit.

EVEN in the late 1950s – and maybe beyond – the exploited villagers were disciplined with torture instruments, jocularly called “education devices”.[8] In the Viqueque district, central to the 1959 revolt, chiefs and landowners enforced village labor with internal passports, whips called chouriços – or ‘sausages’ and the “palmatoria”, a ferrule 2cm thick and 40cm long with a special head for beating a peasant’s palms. One Timorese explained, “It’s really painful. Sometimes they would beat someone’s hand until the hand became swollen and was bleeding. If they hit you a lot, you couldn’t use your hand for weeks. … Sometimes people got it simply because they could not afford to pay the imposto (head tax).”[9]

Australia’s Timor Oil Company signed on laborers for $A90-300 a year. Administrators doled out a paltry $A21 and pocketed the rest, locking up anyone refusing to work.[10] Farmers were forced to sell their livestock at low prices, while the regime spent little on education and infrastructure. [11] A Lisbon high official visiting in 1956 was appalled and issued a 17-page demand for reforms, which was ignored as soon as he left. My own reports bore little relation to the reality:

Eduardo Barbosa, chief of public works in Portuguese Timor, switched off the ABC News on his shortwave transistor. “They have executed four ex-ministers in the Congo,” he told me. “This is what happens when you give people independence before they are ready for it.”

He screwed a monocle under his left eyebrow and ran a finger round the open neck of his shirt. “One time our natives would not work,” he said. “All they wanted was to feast. We made them plant rice. They would have starved without a crop.

“The United Nations said, ‘They are slave labour. You must not do that.’ Now if they want to work they can, if they do not our government will not let them starve. They are better off than the peons of Portugal. The peons who do not work, they die.”

Just as Waterloo was preceded by Duchess Charlotte’s ball at Brussels, the Timor revolt involved an anniversary ball at the sporting men’s Club Benfica in Dili.

 Informers – including a jilted girlfriend and the Bishop of Dili – had divulged rebel plans to the authorities months earlier. The Indonesian consul deferred the plot to the December New Year celebrations when fireworks would mask the opening attack. This was for a mixed band of Indonesian refugees and Timorese to seize arms depots in Dili, release prisoners and give them machetes to kill revellers and blockade the town. Outside Dili, local officials would be invited to a New Year party and beheaded.[12]

The army suspected freelance rebels might still attack the ball on May 27. The plotting was Dili’s worst-kept secret with people arguing in restaurants and the Australian Consul, Francis Whittaker, speculating about bombs being thrown among the revellers. The army upgraded security, and officers (attending out of uniform) waltzed with pistols in their pockets. Whittaker went to the ball anyway, dancing till 3am “without any bangs”, as he put it with admirable sang froid.[13]

Within days authorities rounded up 15 suspects in Dili, precipitating an uprising by provincial rebels to forestall their own arrest. They hoped at least for international attention, but nothing public reached the outside world, even Portugal.

They acquired rifles at Uatolori town and at midnight broke into offices at nearby Viqueque. After bashing the guards and throwing them out of upper windows, they seized 70 old rifles but with mismatched bullets.[14] Administrator Ramos escaped by jeep, evading roadblocks and ambushes.

The main battle was at the small fort at Baguia, pitting rebels against prepared defences of machine guns and grenade launchers. Rebels’ bullets were exploding in their rifles and they had to turn their heads away, so their aim was poor. The Portuguese, further armed with mortars and bazookas, soon retook the districts. One captured leader was whipped till his back was in shreds and an Indonesian captive died under torture. Others were shot on the spot and Portuguese soldiers crushed one man’s head with a rock.[15]

To the east, rebels lost to a 450-strong force of loyal arraiais (warriors). With army protection, they laid waste to tribal enemies’ villages, killing dozens and stealing property and cattle. Poor and ignorant villagers beheaded even children to get bounties per head offered by the Portuguese. The army took seven rebels to the Bebui River and Administratr Ramos had them cut them down with automatic weapons fire. Helpers mutilated the bodies with spears and machetes and threw them in the river. (There’s now a simple memorial of river stones at the site).

Some 300 Timorese were killed (Portuguese casualties – zero). They tortured prisoners for confessions and dumped them in a derelict freighter in Dili harbour in unbearable heat before exiling them to Lisbon, Angola and Mozambique. The Portuguese burnt down the Dili “Timorese-only” club, considered a centre of anti-colonial subversion.[16] Viqueque Administrator Artur Ramos concluded his report:

I still wish to say that, in my modest opinion, the repression of this movement was much too benevolent and can encourage the repetition of such an event.[17]

And Prime Minister Salazar informed the UN in December 1960:

Any person of good faith can see for himself that peace and complete calm reign in our overseas territories, without the use of force and merely by the habit of peaceful living in common.[18]

After the revolt Australia installed W.A. Luscombe as consul in Dili, apparently a full-time Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officer.

Whether the Indonesian government itself had endorsed the revolt remains a mystery. Consul Jakub certainly stirred things up on a freelance basis. He was upset if not deranged over his wife’s death in the Dili hospital in 1957, which he blamed on Portuguese neglect.[19] Ernie Chamberlain finishes his account:

Perhaps future reviews and studies by Timorese scholars may yet more adequately recognise the sacrifices of the rebels and the suffering inflicted on the villagers of Viqueque and Baucau. The Rebellion might still find broader recognition and acceptance as a “legitimate” contribution to the independence struggle of the Timorese people.[20]

I was lucky I didn’t meet a worse fate on my Timor trip. I’d begged the Indonesian Consul for a visa but left before I got one. At that time the Indonesian army and death squads had been murdering 500,000-plus Communist sympathisers and other minorities (with CIA and, allegedly, Australian help). My bull-in-china-shop interviewing might have got me killed in some nameless village. I did write third-hand regarding Indonesian Timor, “A small girl described to one traveller how she had seen ten Communists led to a hillside and shot.”

‘Communists are outside the law,’ the [Indonesian] Consul told me. Dr Sorosa said they had moved outside the umbrella of Indonesia’s Pantjasila – the five principles of belief in God, nationalism, social justice, humanitarianism and sovereignty of the people. So they cannot live in Indonesia. 

From embarrassment I’ve put off writing this piece for half a century. I knew that I would one day, and preserved my four 1966 Timor notebooks of shorthand (pictured), which have followed me through multiple jobs, cities and marriages. Within another half century I’ll get round to transcribing them.

 Tony Thomas’s collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher Connor Court

[1] The Consulate in Dili was more important than you would think. Portugal had no embassy in Canberra, and Dili handled all our diplomatic traffic.

[2] Faltering Steps – Independence Movements in East Timor – 1940s to the early 1970s – by Ernie Chamberlain (Edition 3, 2010) p142

[3] Whether the Badgers were airworthy is a separate issue.

[4] “Mr Ataupa, a senior education administrator told me he was one of the island’s first high school graduates and first teachers. He taught three schools in one building – the first from 7.30am to 1pm; another from 1pm to 5pm and a third till 10pm. This was how they had done the impossible, he said.”

[5] Julia Gillard said she was “young and naïve” at 31, six years later than me at 25.

[6] Chamberlain, p99

[7] Brigadier – Head Australian Defence Staff, Jakarta 1996-1998. UN service East Timor in period 1999-2006; strategic policy advisor to Timor-Leste Defence Minister 2004-2005 (Australian Department of Defence contract). Specialties: Linguist: Vietnamese, Indonesian languages; Colloquial speaker: Khmer (Defence Attache Phnom Penh 1991-1993). Written/published eight books/monographs on political history of East Timor. Advising on “enemy documents”, Vietnam War.

[8] Faltering Steps, p36

[9] Rebellion, Defeat and Exile -The 1959 Uprising in East Timor. Ernie Chamberlain, 2009, p26

[10] Faltering Steps p51-2

[11] Australia was interested only in security angles. The Consulate reported in the mid-1950s: “The indigenous native is very primitive, and it is usually considered that his intelligence is far below that which would be required to absorb communist doctrines or any other form of political thought. … he is generally regarded as a very loyal person and obedient to the Native Chiefs who in turn are responsible to the Administration. The loyalty of these Native Chiefs is unquestioned.”

[12] Rebellion, Defeat and Exile P34

[13] ibid P34

[14] ibid P41

[15] ibid p46-52

[16] ibid p67

[17] ibid p51

[18] ibid p66

[19] ibid, p28

[20] ibid p99Show your supportDonate Now

1 comment
  • Geoff Sherrington – 2nd February 2022Tony,
    Interesting that you illustrate with stamps.
    Shortly after Timor l’Este in 2002, I sent a number of First Day Covers and Timor stamp sets to the authorities, with some money, asking if the top guys would autograph them and send them back
    The outcome? No signatures, no returns, no money. Geoff S

The Sadly Ubiquitous Karl Marx

The Left fights the culture wars in various ways. They fight hot wars by censoring, cancelling and firing opponents. They fight cold wars by monopolising the information-space, such as newspapers and the ABC excluding questioning of climate alarmism. But the ‘progressives’ most insidious and successful campaigns put the emphasis on “culture” so that kids and citizens absorb the desired world-view without even noticing.

I have an unlikely case in point: my wife and I enjoy watching Welsh orange-haired Professor Alice Roberts on SBS prancing about compering her TV series Britain’s Most Historic Towns”. We gets bits of history and a lot of entertainment – she’s still looking yummy at age 48.

Professor Roberts doesn’t appear to have a political bone in her body but, actually, she’s active on several fronts. She’s the atheist president of the charity Humanists UK, which campaigns for state secularismand for “a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail”. She campaigns against state-funded religious schools, although she did enrol her two daughters in a classy Church of England school.

Her Historic Towns pieces are made for UK’s Channel 4, a hybrid State/commercial TV outfit. Its remit is to be innovative, educational and catering for Britain’s diverse community, including the religious. However its initial Easter show called Jesus: the Evidence suggested the Gospels were unreliable and Jesus was into witchcraft, if he had existed at all which the program doubted.

As an Alternative Christmas address in 2008, Channel 4 handed its pulpit to Iranian President and Jew-hater Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who spoke on how Christ would have censured the evil United States. Channel 4 followed up with a “Masturbate-a-thon”, called Wank Week, involving a mass masturbation event (cancelled after protests) to raise funds for Marie Stopes International’s sexual health work.[1]

So if you’re getting my drift, Professor Alice and Channel 4 aren’t in the Maggie Thatcher mould. All the same, Alice’s Historic Towns seem an unlikely vehicle for Left brainwashing — until you dial up Series Three, Episode 7: Manchester and the Industrial Revolution. It was in the Reading Room of the 15thcentury Chetham Library in Manchester that Karl Marx in 1848 cooked up much of his Communist Manifesto. Alice is told by a local Marx-adoring historian, Jonathan Scofield, that the Marx-Engels liaison “seems the closest, most important friendship in world history.” Alice gives Jonathan a feminine gasp: “Ohhh!”

She visits the library like a pilgrim: “I am heading for the desk where Marx and Engels actually sat and collaborated … He (Marx) sits at this desk and chats and gets books out.”

The librarian lets her touch the first edition. Alice rhapsodises, “Look at this, this is a copy of the original Manifesto! I’ll skip to the end, it doesn’t take long, 50 pages in total,

Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries unite!’ ”

She pauses to let this inspirational message sink in, and says, “Isn’t it amazing, such a small book, such HUGE impact on the 20th Century. This call to arms would become arguably the single most influential publication of all time. Its theories underpin the Russian Revolution of 1917 and creation of the Soviet Union.” (A good thing in Professor Roberts’ opinion, apparently). That’s it: she has no inkling that Manchester-originating Communism was not a boon to the 20th Century.

She’s so impressed with Marx and Engels that her show runs grabs from the Communist Manifesto at the front as a highlight and teaser. Her overall thesis is about Manchester being a “workshop of radical ideas that changed the world”.

TV-wise, she lumps Marx and Engels in the middle of heroes from the Peterloo martyrs of 1819 to the Corn Law and Parliamentary reformers, the activists against working-class squalor, the Manchester anti-slavery movement praised by Abraham Lincoln and freed slave Frederick Douglass, Dickens, Disraeli, Benjamin Franklin, reformist author Elizabeth Gaskell and finally the women’s liberator Emmeline Pankhurst.

Alice’s woke credentials are cemented by interviewing “Caroline”, who is no relation to the original Pankhurst but changed her name to Caroline Pankhurst. This re-named virago, who is every man’s nightmare of a feminist, says “Pankhurst would be horrified to see how social media has added another way of silencing and oppressing women.” Huh? If you say so, dear.

Alice poses against a mural of two black men and one black women, all wearing Adidas gear, with a label, Hated, Adored, Never Ignored. “It is great to see that tradition of protest thriving in this century,” she says, although I think it’s actually an Adidas ad. Alice ends her show by laying a wreath at a statue of Ms Pankhurst, saying, “I can’t think of a more fit way to end my time in Manchester than to pay tribute to Emmeline Pankhurst and all the Manchester radicals — those brave men and women who call out inequality and injustice wherever they saw it, who fought for the greater good, for what was right. And their work goes on.”

In the case of Marx, his work does go on in China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba…

If you find Professor Alice a bit odd, keep in mind that the mainstream leader of the British Labor Party from 2015-20 was Marxist/socialist Jeremy Corbyn. You can currently find Marxists galore teaching kids in our universities, such as here.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush created a memorial to the “Victims of Communism” in Washington DC. Its pedestal reads, “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty.” You can argue all day about whether Marx’s disciples slaughtered 60 million , 80 million or as the memorial claims, 100-plus million. The means include murder, war, politically-engineered famines such as the Ukrainian Holomodor (about four million died of hunger), and being worked to death in gulags.

Brooding about the program, I decided to read (for the first time) Marx’s Communist Manifesto and its drafts and 1848 sequels. Professor Alice clearly hasn’t. She has a husband and two girls: Marx proposed abolition of the family and kids being handed over to State educators for indoctrination from when they first lisp and toddle:[2]

But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social. The bourgeois clap-trap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour… Our bourgeois, not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives. 

Under Communist State aegis, Professor Alice would be lumped into Marx’s “community of women” pool.

“Bourgeois marriage is, in reality, a system of wives in common and thus, at the most, what the Communists might possibly be reproached with is that they desire to introduce, in substitution for a hypocritically concealed, an openly legalised community of women.” 

It’s worth the mentioning, I suppose, that Marx’s Manifesto urges the abolition of private property. Professor Alice, as one of Britain’s most adored scientists (so far showered with five honorary doctorates), would have a lot of stuff to lose.[3]

“(T)he theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property … In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend. 

Much of Marx’s Manifesto involves snarling against other more moderate reform groups.[4] Professor Alice can thank her idol for terms such as “the idiocy of rural life” and “Lumpenproletariat” viz:

The social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue. 

I hadn’t realised that Mao’s Great Leap Forward was foreshadowed by Karl Marx. In his paradise to come, “existing improvements and scientific procedures will be put into practice, with a resulting leap forward which will assure to society all the products it needs.” Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1962) killed 45 million, or twice the current population of Australia.

Marx like two other monsters, Stalin and Pol Pot, wanted his nirvana to be fuelled by “an entirely different kind of human material.” Meanwhile this crazed scribbler imagined that

the difference between city and country is destined to disappear. The management of agriculture and industry by the same people rather than by two different classes of people is, if only for purely material reasons, a necessary condition of communist association. 

Marx dreamed that under his Communism, someone would organise

construction, on public lands, of great palaces as communal dwellings for associated groups of citizens engaged in both industry and agriculture and combining in their way of life the advantages of urban and rural conditions while avoiding the one-sidedness and drawbacks of each.

The palaces would house his “industrial armies, especially for agriculture.” Sure,Karl, that makes sense!

As an atheist, Professor Alice would be untroubled by Marx’s replacement of all religions with Communist catechisms.

Question 22. Do Communists reject existing religions? 

Answer: All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous and brings about their disappearance.

While Marx was penning the Manifesto he was also formulating “Demands of the Communist Party in Germany”. Law firms, like Labor friendly Maurice Blackburn, will be disturbed to learn Marx’s demands included, “Legal services shall be free of charge.” Victoria’s Marx-friendly bureaucrats will be equally dismayed, as Marx decreed

all civil servants shall receive the same salary, the only exception being that civil servants who have a family to support and who therefore have greater requirements, shall receive a higher salary. 

An unintended consequence could have been a spate of babies among Victoria’s half-million public servants.

I’ll close with a couple of paragraphs from Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, to suggest where Marx’s ideology led. Solzhenitsyn mentions a peasant during one of Stalin’s famines:

Because he had six mouths to feed he devoted himself whole-heartedly to collective farm work, and kept hoping he would get some return for his labor. And he did—they awarded him a decoration. They awarded it at a special assembly, made speeches. In his reply, the peasant got carried away. He said, “Now if I could just have a sack of flour instead of this decoration! Couldn’t I somehow?” A wolflike laugh rocketed through the hall, and the newly decorated hero went off to exile, together with all six of those dependent mouths.

There are plenty of documented horrors of Communism in the three volumes’ 1000 pages, but here Solzhenitsyn writes of a speculative one:

There was a rumor going the rounds between 1918 and 1920 that the Petrograd Cheka, headed by Uritsky, and the Odessa Cheka, headed by Deich, did not shoot all those condemned to death but fed some of them alive to the animals in the city zoos. I do not know whether this is truth or calumny, or, if there were any such cases, how many were there. But I wouldn’t set out to look for proof, either. Following the practice of the bluecaps [secret police], I would propose that they prove to us that this was impossible. How else could they get food for the zoos in those famine years? Take it away from the working class? Those enemies were going to die anyway, so why couldn’t their deaths support the zoo economy of the Republic and thereby assist our march into the future? Wasn’t it expedient?

That is the precise line the Shakespearean evildoer could not cross. But the evildoer with ideology does cross it, and his eyes remain dry and clear.” 

I suppose one can cut Professor Alice some slack. She was only 16 when the Berlin Wall came down and like almost everyone else in the West under the age of 50, has no idea what Communism was about. But I’d prefer she sticks to anatomy.

Disclosure: Tony Thomas was a member of the Communist Party of Australia (Willagee, WA branch) between  1960 and 1962 from the ages 20 to 22.

Tony Thomas’s Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars ($29.95) is available from publisher Connor Court

[1] No channel is all bad, and Channel 4 screened The Greenhouse ConspiracyThe Great Global Warming Swindle and a third program mocking environmental hypocrites.

[2] Precisely, “from the time when they can do without the first maternal care.”

[3] Her qualifications are in medicine, biology and anatomy, I suppose she’s doing history travelogues because she’s photogenic.

[4] As satirised in Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People’s Front? 

REG: F**k off! 

BRIAN: What? 

REG: Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front. Cawk. 

FRANCIS: Wankers. 

BRIAN: Can I… join your group? 

REG: No. Piss off.

The Durack Clan’s Tempests and Tragedies

The Durack Clan’s Tempests and Tragedies

Tony Thomas

Patsy Millett, daughter of famed Perth writer-historian Mary Durack (1913-94), hasn’t spared the vitriol throughout Inseparable Elements, her astounding memoir of her mother’s tribulations. Least of all does she spare her father, aviation pioneer Horatio ‘Horrie’ Miller, and aunt Elizabeth, the celebrated artist of tribal Aboriginaes.

Dame Mary Durack AC DBE, soft of heart, was beset by rascals, human leeches and time-wasters throughout her long creative life of novels, plays, poems, biographies and kids’ books. She was also suckered into hopeless roles in hopeless arts bureaucratic ventures. It’s a miracle she ever completed her immaculately researched bio-epics of her cattle-pioneering forebears, Kings in Grass Castles(1959) and Sons in the Saddle (1983).

The Greeks’ Furies would be more tolerant than Patsy in outing Mary’s torments and tormenters. Patsy tosses enough grenades for a 100-year war among Perth’s society. For starters: Mary’s absurd 42-year-long and thankless marriage to brutish Horrie Miller (1893 – 1980). Horrie (right) helped get Qantas started and criss-crossed WA’s North-West in the vintage planes of MacRobertson Miller Airways. As Mary ruminated, “There may have been more selfish men than Horrie, but I never met one.” Today Perth Airport’s main artery is called Horrie Miller Drive. So why did Mary marry him? Patsy writes

When pressed by the curious as to what – frankly – she had been thinking, she would resort to speaking in nebulous terms of her children and the felicitous link with an airline that allowed her travel north free of charge…

Clinging to his solitary and abandoned self-image, Horrie bypassed his extraordinary good fortune in having such a wife, such a family, such freedom and means of movement and adventure … Always insisting that he was working his fingers to the bone in the interests of his family, who were insufficiently grateful, he meanwhile steadily drained family company assets.

Horrie’s operating style wouldn’t cut it these days – he was finally ordered to keep better radio protocol in his Wackett on take-off than, ‘Going for a bit of a spin, shouldn’t be too long.’ As for Patsy, she felt serious urges to patricide when Horrie in her palliative care continued to harass the deteriorating Mary beyond endurance.

Was there not some way to hasten the process of Horrie’s departure? To this end, I conferred with the venerable whodunnit aficionado Ida Mann [a retired outback ophtalmologist], who, all too eager to assist, scrabbled round for the least out-of-date barbiturates from her medical sample drawer. There was no doubt in her mind that such a move constituted a mercy killing. Whether I could have steeled myself to the grim task or whether the intervention of fate saved Horrie from patricide remains undetermined … To the end of my days, I will wake from a nightmare where he is still alive and kicking

Patsy’s tone throughout is wittily sardonic, bordering on incredulous that Mary could absorb so many arrows and impositions mixed with friendly fire from family and in-law elements. Patsy gives Mary’s artist sister Elizabeth – a lifetime cadger from Mary – a particularly bad press

Bet could, over the decades, be found supporting some fairly obnoxious political figures, although Joh Bjelke-Petersen was not in the same ballpark as Hitler, for whom during the war years she had formed an ardent admiration . Perforce always chasing the money and power, had her stars been otherwise aligned she might easily have slipped into a role such as that occupied by Leni Riefenstahl.[1]

Elizabeth herself could be merciless, prone to

…demolish anyone who crossed her path, including, without compunction, those held dear by her sister. Absorbed by her artist’s eye, she disposed of [novelist] Ernestine Hill as ‘ a little scorched-up leaf ’, and [historian] Henrietta Drake-Brockman as ‘ Nicely dressed, clear, fair skin, well done hair, hands that have done no hard work – a numbskull, not even likable like the average nitwit ’. [2]

While all families have their feuds, Elizabeth was capable of furthering them, even to the Supreme Court, in her irrational fight over control of Mary’s Durack archive. Mary during this unsought fracas was on her deathbed with stomach cancer.

Bet was the driver of this runaway bus and her destination more far-flung than the others were able to grasp. Duplicity her stock in trade, she was a virtuoso when it came to pitting one family member against another and switching sides at will.

After loosing this intra-family wrecking ball and with Mary dead, Elizabeth was surprised not to be forgiven, according to Patsy, who signs her off:

Fatally freed from Mary’s restraining hand, she was soon heading for the next – and ultimate – reckless stunt . Eddie Burrup was just over the horizon .

By this Patsy refers to Elizabeth’s selling work in the persona of an imaginary Aborigine, ‘Eddie Burrup’. However, Patsy is never small-minded and sums up:

Changing faces and motivations according to requirements, even her pictures subject to caveat emptor, she was a genuine miracle of contrivance – one who would nonetheless produce images powerful enough to eclipse anything that might be revealed by her puny detractors, including this niece.

Among Mary’s exploiters was boot-salesman R.M. Williams (right), who inveigled her onto the board of the Stockman’s Hall of Fame at Longreach with blah-blah about including the north-west cattle industry. He only wanted her name as a PR drawcard. At the 1988 official opening, they seated her with Queen Elizabeth:

Next to the costly ensembles and silly hats, she looked singularly unpretentious, if a little surprised, since prior warning of the prestigious seating had somehow escaped her. The loose perm given way to a neat French roll, she presented a respectable but homespun figure.

As a nod to the madness of the Whitlam times, someone nominated Mary as a potential State governor and there was even press talk of her as our first female Governor-General, in a hypothetical contest with the louche Germaine Greer.

Mary had four daughters and one son by Horrie, and I was startled to learn from Inseparable Elements that in 1955, Mary, at the age of 42, had a last child, Johnson, by her live-in odd-job man Bob Hill during Horrie’s north-west flying absences.

Entering her room one morning, I had seen the house guest going out the window, and my mind shied away from what seemed my mother’s descent into some kind of French farce. And so, knowing as I did, I simply dismissed the possibility. In retrospect, what happened is plain enough … She had always regarded Bob as a permanent adolescent who, for all his fooling about with paint and poetry, was no more than a likable ratbag. Predicaments of this sort not unfamiliar to her, it would have been utterly confounding that dear, sensible ‘Mare’ had fallen to such a folly, the worse for it not being in her sister’s nature to avail herself of the practical means of extrication .

Further particulars are baroque. Horrie, cuckolded, put up with the cuckoo.

Bob Hill himself was the son of Ernestine Hemmings, later “Hill”, celebrated author of the Matthew Flinders novel My Love Must Wait. Patsy confirms Bob Hill was sired by Kerry Packer’s grandfather Robert Clyde Packer (right), in what was poor Ernestine’s probable “one and only dalliance.” Ernestine made what Patsy calls “an expedient retreat” to Tasmania and there invented a husband called Mr Hill. R.C. Packer provided some cash support and Bob’s school fees to age 11, when Packer died.

A Perth contemporary of Patsy, I’d imagined the Duracks’ family home “Mildew” in Nedlands[3] as an oasis of creativity. More the opposite, with Horrie adding his chainsaw to one episode of backyard bedlam.

…enhanced by a multilayered sound track combining Johnson’s guitar, Sesame Street at top volume from the TV, a barking puppy running dangerously underfoot, and [secretary] Connie’s sharp tones directed at the resident mother for her lack of control over her child .

Anything but a businesswoman, Mary entered gross commitments of time and creativity “with as little concern as she signs a grocery bill”. Case in point: script-writing for a Swan River Saga theatrical, grossing $10,381 and for which she was paid $259. She labored gratis over months to edit the legends of an Aborigine called Butcher Joe, and was taken aback, Patsy says, to learn that writer Hugh Edwards[4] required a $5000 grant to complete the job.

Mary suffered her cruellest blows from the deaths of two daughters, Julie, at just 27, and outback nurse-pilot Robin at 35. Julie was felled during pregnancy from complications stemming from a botched operation by an incompetent medico when a child. Robin (below), in the midst of her daily work flying trauma cases to hospital, was struck down by melanoma.

Julie in Broome in 1949 got a bad stomach ache. The available locum, somewhat the worse for wear and, according to Patsy, biased by an extra-marital affair he was having with Elizabeth, assumed an appendix problem. Julie’s pain was actually just from eating unripe mangoes. Describing the “shocker” of an operation, Patsy says,

Unable to find the appendix but convinced of his diagnosis, the doctor kept cutting until, located at last, a normal and uninflamed appendix was removed . A long time recovering, Julie was left with a livid scar from the right side of her abdomen to the navel . But by 1952, the event was no more than a bad memory and Julie restored to good health and cheer. Not even Horrie, acquainted as he was with the concept of connective elements, foresaw the forging of the first awful link in a tragic chain.

Twenty years later, in an under-equipped small hospital, she died of complications from another faulty operation to fix the original damage. Sister Robin authored two best-sellers about her flying nurse role.[5] In Patsy’s words,

Through her hands passed a gruesome parade of burns, bashings, botched suicides and incomplete abortions; victims massively haemorrhaging within the confines of a small aircraft all over her and other patients aboard. And always for her the most heart-rending sight : the limp little hands of dead or dying children. Unmasked and vulnerable, she sat cheek by jowl with infectious diseases : tuberculosis, hepatitis, glandular fever … It was the pilot’s responsibility to restore the cabin to a sanitary state, and that for Robin included taking linen and seat covers home for washing and mending.

By 1975 she herself was gravely ill. Her rigors were worsened by an incorrect pathology report leading to an overdose of radium therapy. Her torments included her despicable and parasitic husband, Dr Harold Dicks, (according to Patsy), a Royal Flying Doctor Service stalwart and president. In her last days, Robin woke to see  Harold forcing a “vulgar embrace” on her sister Anne-Marie. “Stop it, Harold,” Robin said. “I know what you are doing.” Within days of Robin’s death, Harold was also coming on to an outraged Patsy as well; within three weeks he found a new girlfriend and in six weeks installed a woman among Robin’s belongings at suburbia’s inaptly named Mt Pleasant. Patsy later discovered Harold surreptitiously visiting Mildew.

Suddenly overcome with revulsion and rage, and having the hose in hand, I flushed him off the property – down the garden path, past the ‘bear-pit’ where with Robin he had so often enjoyed the hospitality of the house, and out the gate. Unfortunately, the weak water pressure made it a symbolic gesture that dampened rather than cannoned him away on the end of a jet. ‘How do you live with yourself, Harold Dicks!’ I shouted rhetorically, to the wonderment of my watching children.

Robin’s headstone had the quotation from aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“Can these be the same stars? Is this the same sky? How bright, how clear, what safety I have reached.”

Patsy also has much to recount of Mary’s involvement in Aboriginal theatre and politics, including city-based climbers fostering race-hatred and pushing aside tribal members and their “fossilised culture”. We get vignettes such as Mary trying to organise an Aboriginal Theatre Foundation performance in Broome, with women from La Grange Mission “who modestly insisted on dancing in white bras and pink slips”.

A Whitlam grant despatched a 140-strong troupe to a festival of black artists in Lagos, Nigeria, where amid chaos our urban “black power” members trumped their tribal rivals.[6]

In the prevailing melee, the one performance of a genuine corroboree failed, along with the sound and lighting. Eighteen members, disassociating themselves from the messages of discord from their city brothers, pulled out. Unique Australian Aboriginal culture had, in a final mockery, been represented by a sassy urban group dancing Filipino jazz ballet to American soul music. Kath Walker, there to promote black literature, had blamed the whites and the tribal groups for ‘being out of their element’ and producing a ‘flop’. Amid widespread criticism at home, the $203,000 grant that had gone into the project was put down to the folly of the previous government.”

Mary’s years of work for the Aboriginal Theatre Foundation, and the ATF itself has now gone down the memory hole.

That there is today virtually no record of this enterprise to be found in any public institution raises conjecture that it has been ‘disappeared’ as inconvenient to more popular (or less contentious) constructions of Aboriginal contemporary history.

Mary’s attempted sponsorship of the scattered remnant of the original Carrolup Aboriginal artists of the south-west provides another vignette. She located Aboriginal artist Revel Cooper (left) in Fremantle Prison, his life a disquieting “tale of confusion and alienation that could be applied to so many of his countrymen”.

 And all too poignantly predictable was the end of the story. On his release, having blown his cheque from the publisher, Cooper began to turn up at [Nedlands family home] Mildew to demand further payment from his patron. With a waiting taxi full of his extended family, if he found no-one home he would bail up neighbours. Sadly knowing that it was just a matter of time, Mary could only see him away with the contents of her purse. Periodically re-incarcerated, he would eventually be killed in a drunken brawl.

Utterly poignant was the official treatment of Aborigines and their culture when, in 1971, the Ord Dam drowned the Duracks’ Argyle holdings.

Bulla, keeper of the ancient stones and tjuringa boards, forfeited his entire cache to the waves . Why, he continued to ask, had ‘the old boss’ left his properties to strangers rather than to the Aboriginal workers he had trained and who belonged there? He was genuinely bewildered by this. ‘We feel we lose everything that we belong,’ he said, and his sorrowful summary of the situation for himself and his people became the title of the coming ABC Big Country episode. 

Patsy has little to nothing to report on the alleged “stolen generation” crimes of Mary’s parents’ era, other than forced removals to quarantine hospital of those afflicted with leprosy, and pastoralists’ casual ‘picking up’ of Aboriginal children to raise for station labour.[7]

“I suppose we can’t sit in judgment,” Mary wrote, “no-one in the old days would have suggested blacks had human rights.”

 The Durack-Miller clan had something in common with the forlorn Trappist missionaries of the 1890s north-west. Mary wrote:

They expected to find ‘ crosses ’ and to embrace them – even martyrdom, but the greatest crosses they had to bear were not from external discomforts or persecutions but from their own inner conflicts and each other.

Inseparable Elements is a moving and fascinating insight into the heartland of a great Australian family. As Patsy sums up,

Through the pages of my mother’s diaries, I relive our close and sometimes embattled relationship – the furious love and jealous guardianship of her creative flame that yet demands my vigilance.

Tony Thomas’s just-published “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from author at or publisher Connor Court

[1] Hitler’s chronicler in her propaganda films

[2] The family dubbed the elderly Henrietta Drake-Brockman as “Henrietta Great-Frogman” for her penchant for diving on wrecked Dutch galleons.

[3] A witty and later apt amalgam of the Miller and Durack names

[4] Island of Angry Ghosts about the Abrolhos Batavia wreck and a score of other works

[5] Perth Airport’s Sugarbird Lady Road is named after Robin. She wrote Flying Nurse (1971) and Harold completed Sugarbird Lady (1975) from her archive.

[6] The roll-call was 30 tribals vs 110 urban hangers-on.

[7] Indefensible by today’s standards, this picking-up is in a different category to the “stolen” syndrome. As Patsy notes, “One of the Aboriginal children thus casually acquired was Boxer, who became a CD&D [Durack] stockman and lifelong henchman of M.P.Durack.”

The Pascoe Stain on the Academy of Science

Tony Thomas

Britain’s science reputation took a blow in 1953 when the fossil of the famous Piltdown Man turned out to be bits of an orangutan glued to a small-brained human skull. Let’s hope the Australian Academy of Science doesn’t come a similar cropper for tying its reputation to self-described Aboriginal Bruce Pascoe, author, seer and would-be overturner of the entire corpus of Aboriginal historiography. Of course, the Academy will be in the clear the minute Pascoe names his Aboriginal forebear, thus smiting us doubters with his irreproachable Aboriginality.

Future Earth is a woke subsidiary of the woke Academy.[1] Future Earth and the Academy hosted a three-day “summit” about Reimagining Climate Adaptation on zoom last April. Its opening plenary speaker was Pascoe, giving what co-sponsor, the loopy Sydney Environment Institute, called a “perfect introduction” to the gabfest.

Pascoe’s nonsense, as uttered:
read a partial transcript here

I’ve often wondered what flights of rhetoric Pascoe delivers at his innumerable speaking events. Future Earth has obliged by posting its Pascoe recording here – see my part-transcript here pro bono. It includes the following gems from this Aboriginal shaman:

# “We” were camped on Bass Strait until a whale warned us circa 12,000BC to scamper to higher ground north and south, and “we” took our language and culture with us

# In Australia “we” were made welcome by our peace-loving southern “cousins”, demonstrating for today’s Western nations how wars are unnecessary. (Someone please let Xi Jinping know).

# “Our” cultures have always eschewed organised violence (I assume the shields to be found everywhere in museums were to ward off enraged wombats)

# Australia’s irresponsible white farmers should cease emitting CO2 in ploughing for wheat and cotton, and instead plant roo-grass and murnong yams. (Mmm. Delicious).

# These farmers should also run kangaroos as livestock on fenceless expanses – sharing the profits in ways that do not actually involve Communism.

# He intends to do some “illegal” shooting of tender young male kangaroos as an improvement on his classic dish, roast lamb with sage and herbs (Aborigines like Pascoe are, apparently, above the white man’s law).

# It would be useful to overturn “contemporary political and economic systems” in favor of Aboriginal ways and Aboriginal sexual mores.

This nonsense was brought to you by the Academy’s Tim Flannery and his 550 brainiac colleagues, who “support excellence in Australian science”. It was also brought to you by the Academy’s Future Earth, with its 10,000 scientists wedded to the crooked UN’s 17 “Sustainable Development Goals”. Future Earth, I read, is “the largest organised group of universities, industry and government in the world working towards achieving global sustainability … to accomplish societal transformation.” Funny, I thought we elected governments to do the societal transformation: wankademics and corporate CEOs can get the hell out, I say.

Pascoe’s opening words, possibly protesting too much, was that he is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man. Genealogist Jan Holland has found that every one of Pascoe’s ancestors on both sides of his family was of British descent. Pascoe is yet to name an Aboriginal forebear who can be checked out.

He’s Yuin? Josephine Cashman, an inaugural member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, has tweeted: “Pascoe is not Aboriginal. My son is Yuin and his father doesn’t know who [Pascoe] is.”

He’s Bunurong? Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council says it does not accept Professor Pascoe “as possessing any Boonwurrung ancestry whatsoever”

He’s Tasmanian? Michael Mansell, chair of the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, says Pascoe’s not one of theirs: “For political reasons, journalists of the left wanted to believe Pascoe was genuine and put up the blinkers to any contrary view. Now they must eat humble pie and admit they got it all wrong,” Mansell told the Tasmanian Times.

Pascoe told the larger New York Times last August he is both “solidly Cornish” and “solidly Aboriginal”. I hope you can make sense of that. He’s now upped the ante by telling the Future Earth followers he’s more Cornish than Aboriginal.

Pascoe gained fame in our Marxist-minded education establishment for claiming Aborigines lived in towns of 1000, sowed, harvested and stored their crops, and kept their livestock in pens (Wallabies? Koalas? Dingos?). My fellow Quadrant Online contributor Peter O’Brien has dismantled all those claims in his magisterial Bitter Harvest, which can be ordered here. Pascoe, meanwhile, has moved on to a newer shtick: how peaceful Aboriginals were towards tribes around them.

How does he know they were so peace-loving? It’s because of his blood-memory of Aboriginal lore of millenia ago. Trigger warning! After describing his talk, I’ll provide examples of not-so-peaceful pre-contact Aboriginals.

Pascoe claims Aborigines have been in Australia for 120,000 years – mere Pascoe hot air, but a claim now believed by millions of schoolkids whose teachers are thrusting Pascoe profitable fantasies down their young throats. He cites archaeological research from Warrnambool, but even those research leaders tell the ABC that it’s inconclusive.

Pascoe continues that Aborigines have survived in situ through many cycles of genuine climate change, from desertification to glaciation (as distinct from that past century’s beneficial 1degC warming).

As for the whale that recommended “we” depart Bass Strait, this must have been before the seas rose, since otherwise they’d all be in the swim together.

 The academic community, he complains, has yet to “engage” with this impeccable sourcing. Anyway, the Atlantis-style languages of Bass Strait-land blended with mainland Victorian languages of the northern “cousins”, and this proves that Aboriginal tribes were welcoming to new arrivals and didn’t do horrid warlike things like bashing their heads in with nulla nullas. Drawing the longest bow imaginable, he rhapsodises,

[Thus] humans can cooperate. It is not absolutely necessary for us to go to war, we should be able to conduct ourselves to meet adversity such as climate change and do so without another group losing. In our adversarial political system, our adversarial economic system and social media system, we presume we have to fight each other. Aboriginal life is telling us that is not the case, we can cooperate. Human has proven that she can cooperate with other humans. I should have said ‘he’, because in the past it would be ‘he’ who chose war or peace.”

The academics glued to their zoom screens must have squirmed with pleasure over his gendered correctness.

Anyway, Pascoe says this whale-led peaceful immigration from Bass Strait is a “hugely important indication of diplomacy — diplomacy that should be manna for the world.”

Drawing an even longer bow, he fantasises that the sea level rises following the last ice agewould have driven “massive” numbers of land dwelling Aborigines off the North-West Shelf to inland and, again, the incoming tribes blended amicably with local tribes, languages and cultures intact.

When I was last up on the Kimberley coast (about 2010), the cave art fell into two types – “Bradshaw” or Gwion Gwion art involving delicately drawn figures and animals, and cruder Wandjina art by people of more recent origin, involving stylised crowned “god”  figures. Our guides were certain that the newly arriving Wandjina artists and culture wiped out the older Bradshaw artists and culture – Bradshaw figures were defaced or demolished many millennia ago. As usual, the truths are concealed within that vast expanse of time. Pascoe is just trying to wow his pals on zoom. His conclusion is the need to overturn “contemporary political and economic systems” along with Australian agricultural know-how that has helped feed the world for a century.

Pascoe, Melbourne University’s enterprise professor in indigenous agriculture, went into Rousseau-like rhapsodies:

Aboriginal people believe earth is our mother. The British adversarial system and economic system which is profit at all costs, mean that we would indicate to people from outer space, ‘These people despise their grandchildren: they don’t care what the planet will look like in another generation’s time, they don’t care what they do to the country as long as they make profit’. And as long as they get their huge ugly house, their huge ugly car, and then everything will be OK. We can do better than that and Aboriginal Australia has shown that humans can operate in better way.

He also banged his kangaroo drum – thanks to Pascoe, credulous kids at Williamstown High near Melbourne are convinced “soft-footed” roos are the future of the Australian livestock industry. As he told his Future Earth acolytes:

I am suggesting we eat roos instead of cattle and sheep, which are incredibly destructive of soil. I personally bought a lamb roast because I know how to cook it, I have sage and herbs making it beautiful. I also eat roo. People argue against (killing) roos, saying they are beautiful and very soulful. The sight of a female roo nurturing her young, both asleep in the sun in my front yard really warms my heart. It is not disturbing to think at some stage I will shoot a young male roo illegally to get meat. [Tut tut: TT]. A young roo is only as beautiful as a young lamb, they are still animals.

Capitalist accounting systems legitimise tax avoidance in the Bahamas, so it’s no worse to shoot roos broad-scale and share the roo dividends equitably among the farm-holders, he says, venturing into the field of what might be dubbed Pascoenomics:

I don’t see that sharing the dividend of the country is descent into Communism, it’s asking us to cooperate. We should not allow some of our right wing politicans to say it is Communism and Socialism, it is co-operation because we don’t despise our grandchildren. We sensibly start looking at those things that would allow us to continue as a species.

He’s been reading some book called Sapiens[2] and was profoundly shocked that the author predicted our probable extinction in a thousand years from planetary neglect.

I am not pretending Aboriginal people are all good and all wise, what I am insisting on is to look at the longevity of Aboriginal cultural advance and see the cultural, political and economic stability and see that is a good model for the human race.

He scoffs at criticisms that we – i.e. Pascoe and “his” fellow Aboriginals – didn’t invent the wheel, but he points out that roos can’t pull carts and, anyway, nasty Westerners hooked the wheel to cannons and, with the help of wheels, are sending rockets into orbit and further and “destroying outer space”. But back to Pascoe’s favourite subject, himself:

I can’t think of another civilisation which managed the human spirit and problems of geography, economics and cultural life as successfully as the Australian Aboriginal people. My attachment to Aboriginal life is fine, I am more Cornish than Aboriginal, but investigation of my background dragged me into contemplation of these things.

He exampled the Yuin and Gunditjmara, insisting they eschewed being warlike or being ambitious to get other people’s land. The land owned the people not the other way around [blah blah for another sermon]. He claimed that, although “we” Aborigines might be individually violent, “we” didn’t do warlike violence. This leads him to suggest human society re-organise itself to divide labor between the sexes in a civilised, Aboriginal-style way, along with sexual relations.

Like any good speaker, Pascoe’s has learnt to end on a high note, like a tenor hitting that high “C” in Nessun Dorma. Pascoe: “It is not an irrational wish, not beyond the human soul, reimagining our future. I think our species is capable of enormous cooperation and, dare I say it, love.”

David Schlosberg, director of the Sydney Environment Institute, went beyond normal “thank you” to Pascoe and said his talk was “beautiful, really amazing and a perfect introduction” to the conference about adapting to climate change. He’s spot on, there. Just so you know, Schlosberg’s fortes are “Enviro justice, just adaptation, sustainable materialism.”

I HATE to rain on Pascoe’s “peaceful Aborigines” parade but I warned you earlier and here ares some extracts.

Historian Geoff Blainey concluded that annual death rates from North-East Arnhem Land and Port Philip, were comparable with those of countries involved in both world wars, although some might say Blainey’s estimate could be somewhat on the high side. Many such violent incidents are in a peer-reviewed 2015 paper, Proving communal warfare among hunter-gatherers: The quasi-rousseauan error,  by Profess Azar Gat of Tel Aviv University. Some extracts, starting with escaped convict William Buckley, who lived from 1803-35 among Port Phillip Aborigines.

Buckley recounts some dozen battle scenes, as well as many lethal feuds, raids, and ambushes, comprising a central element of the natives’ traditional way of life. There was fighting at all levels: individual, familial, and tribal. Some of the intertribal encounters that Buckley recorded involved large numbers: five different tribes collected for battle; a battle and raid against an intruding enemy tribe, 300 strong; several full‐scale intertribal encounters, the last one a raid with many dead; two other encounters, the second against a war party of 60 men. Ceremonial cannibalism of the vanquished was customary. Buckley reported that the large‐scale raid was the deadliest form of violence and often involved indiscriminate massacre:

The contests between the Watouronga, of Geelong, and the Warrorongs, of the Yarra, were fierce and bloody. I have accompanied the former in their attacks on the latter. When coming suddenly upon them in the night, they have destroyed without mercy men, women and children.

In the 1870s, Lorimer Fison and Alfred Howitt studied the Kurnai tribe in southern Australia, specifically in Gippsland, Victoria. They described feuds and whole groups’ fighting. In one episode, fresh tracks indicating trespassing into the tribal territories were revealed and a spy was sent to reconnoiter. He found the intruders, with “lots of women and children.” The Kurnai men “got their spears ready…in the middle of the night they all marched off well armed.” After several marches, “when near morning … they got close to them …. The spies whistled like bird, to tell when all was ready. Then all ran in; they speared away, and speared away! They only speared the men, and perhaps some children. Whoever caught a women kept her himself. Then they eat the skin of the Brajeraks [the trespassing tribe].” The native informants told of other episodes that ended in ceremonial cannibalism of the vanquished.

Gerald Wheeler in The tribe and intertribalrelations in Australia(1910) cites different observers’ reports from all over Australia. According to one such report, after “march by night in the most stealthy manner … then follows a night attack and a wholesale extermination.” According to another report, “A common procedure in such warfare is to steal up to the enemy’s camp in the dead of night and encircle it in the earliest dawn. With a shout, the carnage then begins.”

The most lethal and common form of warfare among the Murngin was the surprise night raid. This could be carried out by individuals or small groups intending to kill a specific enemy or members of a specific family. But raids were also conducted on a large scale by war parties coming from whole clans or tribes. In such cases, the camp of the attacked party was surrounded and its unprepared, sleeping dwellers were massacred. It was in these larger raids that by far the most killings were registered: 35 people were killed in large‐scale raids, 27 in small‐scale raids, 29 in large battles in which ambushes were used, three in ordinary battles, and two in individual face‐to‐face encounters.

Arnold Pilling wrote about armed conflict among the Tiwi of northern Australia: ‘The night raids were effectively terminated, about 1912, when Sir Baldwin Spencer was inadvertently injured by a Tiwi during a spear‐throwing demonstration.” In fact, however, death‐causing battles with clubs occurred there as late as 1948.

One major action in Arnhem Land is described by Ted Strehlow.

To punish Ltjabakuka and his men meant the wiping out of the whole camp of people normally resident at Irbmankara, so that no witness should be left alive who could have revealed the names of the attackers. A large party of avengers drawn from the Matuntara area along the Palmer River, and from some Southern Aranda local groups, was accordingly assembled and led to Irbmankara by Tjinawariti, who was described to me as having been a Matuntara ‘ceremonial chief’ from the Palmer River whose prowess as a warrior had given him a great reputation . Tjinawariti and his men fell upon Irbmankara one evening, after all the local folk, as they believed, had returned to their camps from their day’s quests for food. Men, women and children were massacred indiscriminately.

Arthur Chaseling, too, mentions the whole spectrum of violence, from frequent individual fights to regulated battles between clans to raids. “Entire hordes have been exterminated,” he notes.

Ted Kimber cites evidence of some such major conflicts, including the one described by Strehlow:

In about 1840, at a locality called Nariwalpa, in response to insults, the ‘Jandruwontas and Piliatapas killed so many Diari men, that the ground was covered with their dead bodies”… Strehlow gives the most dramatic account of a major arid‐country conflict. He estimates that 80–100 men, women, and children were killed in one attack in 1875 at Running Waters, on the Finke River. In retaliation, all but one of the attacking party of ‘perhaps fifty to sixty warriors’ were killed over the next three years, as were some of their family members. This indicates that some 20% of two identifiable tribes were killed in this exchange.

Kimber adds,

The red ochre gathering expeditions … involved travel from the eastern portion of the study area to the Flinders Ranges … One entire party, with the exception of one man, is recorded as having been ambushed and killed in about 1870, whilst in about 1874 all but one of a group of 30 men were ‘entombed in the excavations’.

He concludes,

Although exact figures will never be known, a low death rate of possibly 5 per cent every generation can be suggested for the regions of least conflict, and a high death‐rate of perhaps 20 per cent every three generations elsewhere.

Warfare was not confined to water‐rich northern and southern Australia, but was evident in every climatic zone throughout the continent. (End of Gat extracts).

THE  reality of Aboriginal division of labor and treatment of women, vaunted by Pascoe, is horrific and  requires a trigger warning.

First Fleeter Watkin Tench noticed a young woman’s head “covered by contusions, and mangled by scars”. She also had a spear wound above the left knee caused by a man who dragged her from her home to rape her. Tench wrote,

They (Aboriginal women) are in all respects treated with savage barbarity; condemned not only to carry the children, but all other burthens, they meet in return for submission only with blows, kicks and every other mark of brutality.

He also wrote,

When an Indian [sic] is provoked by a woman, he either spears her, or knocks her down on the spot; on this occasion he always strikes on the head, using indiscriminately a hatchet, a club, or any other weapon, which may chance to be in his hand.

Marine Lt. William Collins wrote,

We have seen some of these unfortunate beings with more scars upon their shorn heads, cut in every direction, than could be well distinguished or counted.

Governor Phillip’s confidant, Bennelong, in 1790 had taken a woman to Port Jackson to kill her because her relatives were his enemies. He gave her two severe wounds on the head and one on the shoulder, saying this was his rightful vengeance.

Phillip was appalled that an Eora mother within a few days of delivery had fresh wounds on her head, where her husband had beaten her with wood.

In 1802 an explorer in the Blue Mountains wrote how, for a trivial reason, an Aboriginal called Gogy

took his club and struck his wife’s head such a blow that she fell to the ground unconscious. After dinner … he got infuriated and again struck his wife on the head with his club, and left her on the ground nearly dying.

In 1825, French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville wrote “young girls are brutally kidnapped from their families, violently dragged to isolated spots and are ravished after being subjected to a good deal of cruelty.”

George Robinson in Tasmania said in the 1830s that men courted their women by stabbing them with sharp sticks and cutting them with knives prior to rape. The men bartered their women to brutal sealers for dogs and food; in one case, such a woman voluntarily went back to the sealers rather than face further tribal violence.

Also in the 1830s, ex-convict Charles Lingard wrote:

I scarcely ever saw a married woman, but she had got six or seven cuts in her head, given by her husband with a tomahawk, several inches in length and very deep.

Explorer Edward John Eyre, who was very sympathetic towards Aborigines, nevertheless recorded:

Women are often sadly ill-treated by their husbands and friends…they are frequently beaten about the head, with waddies, in the most dreadful manner, or speared in the limbs for the most trivial offences…

…few women will be found, upon examination, to be free from frightful scars upon the head, or the marks of spear wounds about the body. I have seen a young woman, who, from the number of these marks, appeared to have been almost riddled with spear wounds.

Louis Nowra visited outback communities and found them astonishingly brutal:

Some of the women’s faces ended up looking as though an incompetent butcher had conducted plastic surgery with a hammer and saw. The fear in the women’s eyes reminded me of dogs whipped into cringing submission.[6]

Nowra quotes Walter Roth (1861-1933) a doctor, anthropologist and Chief Protector of Aborigines in Queensland. Roth described at the turn of the 20th century how, when a Pitta-Pitta girl first showed signs of puberty,

several men would drag her into the bush and forcibly enlarge the vaginal orifice by tearing it downwards with the first three fingers wound round and round with opossum string. Other men come forward from all directions, and the struggling victim has to submit in rotation to promiscuous coition with all the ‘bucks’ present.

Even worse was his description of practices around Glenormiston:

A group of men, with cooperation from old women, ambush a young woman, and pin her so an old man can slit up the shrieking girl’s perineum with a stone knife, followed by sweeping three fingers round the inside of the virginal orifice. She is next compelled to undergo copulation with all the bucks present; again the same night, and a third time, on the following morning.

In Birdsville, a hardwood stick two feet long with a crude life-sized penis carving at the top, was used to tear the hymen and posterior vaginal wall.

In the Tully area, a very young man would give his betrothed to an old man to sleep with and train her for him. The idea was that the elder would ‘make the little child’s genitalia develop all the more speedily’. There was no restriction on age or social status at which the bride would be delivered up. As Roth observed,

It is of no uncommon occurrence to see an individual carrying on his shoulder his little child-wife who is perhaps too tired to toddle any further.

This has not been a pleasant piece to write. First, there is the sponsorship of “Aboriginal historian” Pascoe by Australia’s most eminent scientific body. Then there is the nonsense Pascoe spouts about supposedly peaceful and gender-harmonious pre-contact society. Finally, there’s the reality as observed in early white contacts with authentic Aboriginal culture. This essay package could be summed up, as per Xavier Herbert, “Poor fellow my [woke] country.”

Tony Thomas’s next book from Connor Court, Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars, will be launched at il Gamberos, 166 Lygon St, Carlton Vic on Wednesday June 16 at 6.30pm. All welcome, contact

[1] The Academy’s CEO Anna-Maria Arabia’s pre-appointment roles included adviser to Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. Her philosophy is “Scientists can be politically active without politicising their science.”

A job ad for an Academy researcher read: “Candidate applications from a range of diverse and inclusive groups of the community including applicants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent are encouraged to apply.”

[2] I’m making an educated guess the book Pascoe is referencing is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.Show your support

The Write Stuff

Tony Thomas

Invited to a War is  Air Vice-Marshal Alan Reed’s memoirs of a 37-year RAAF career, spanning what he calls “a fortunate life”. The war was Vietnam and the “invitation” was from the US government.

Reed, now 87, retired in 1990, but in 1967 he was on exchange and training USAF pilots in Phantom fighter-bomber reconnaissance roles. He felt inadequate without Vietnam experience but the Pentagon couldn’t order a foreign national to go. Hence the “invitation” to which Reed responded, in effect, “Yes, please”.

On his first night bunking down at Tan Son Nhut airbase with his “Blackbirds” group, the Viet Cong sent in a rocket salvo, burning a C130 transport. Kitted with his shoulder-patch “Alone Unarmed and Unafraid”, he was told that over-flying Cambodia was taboo but by omission, it was OK to over-fly North Vietnam and Laos, where the locals were known to skin captured pilots alive.

He did ten “out-country” sorties, winning two Distinguished Flying Crosses. The first was for photographing a surface-to-air missile site under construction and heavily defended. The citation said, “Despite intense and accurate automatic weapons fire and antiaircraft artillery fire, he made multiple passes over his target to ensure complete photographic coverage.” The second DFC was for spotting a Phantom crash site. A total of some 761 Phantoms — US Air Force, Navy and Marines —  were lost during the war. In one loss in Reed’s group, Major General Bob Worley was consumed by fire before he could eject, becoming the only USAF General lost in combat.

In contrast, Reed was always lucky. He was one of 13 pilots graduating from No 13 Course at Archerfield base, Qld, in 1954. Against the odds, none died in action. Curiously, Reed’s steed was the only Wirraway ever to shoot down a Japanese Zero – by Pilot John Archer above Gona in 1942.

On Good Friday 1955 Reed was rostered second pilot for a Lincoln bomber making a midnight dash from Townsville to Brisbane with a blue baby and nurse. He did the pre-flight checks and strapped in the bassinet, but then was ‘bumped’ by a squadron leader keen to visit Brisbane. Reed declined an offer to sit in the back of the plane. The skipper mistook Toowoomba’s lights for Brisbane and all died in the crash 100ft below the top of Mt Superbus.

Later, flying an F111 at Mach 2.4 or 3000km an hour, an intake vent problem caused an engine to stall and surge. It felt like he’d hit a brick wall, but he was able to regain control. (The F-111’s top speed was Mach 2.5). His nearest-miss, ironically, was in retirement as co-pilot of a Tiger Moth in peaceful Wooloomanata, near Lara, Victoria. The pilot stalled the left wing at 50 feet and Reed grabbed control a second before the plane was about to cartwheel into the dirt. Strangely he’d learnt the “unload to live” manoeuvre flying a Phantom.

His career ranged from command of Australia’s No 6 Phantom squadron to leading our first F-111 squadron at Amberley and high-level staff work. Indeed he signed the RAAF’s final recommendation for F-111s rather than more Phantoms, against spirited opposition from Russell Offices. Later an F-111 pilot sent a recalcitrant deputy secretary an F-111 photo with the bureaucrat’s office window marked with target cross-hairs. F-111 “Pigs” or “Aardvarks” served Australia well from 1973 to 2010.

With some trepidation, Reed included in his book his flights photographing Indonesian air bases during “Konfrontasi” in 1959-60. It was also 1960, when Russians caught spy pilot Gary Powers after downing his U2 with a missile the Americans didn’t believe was capable of reaching such a high-flier. The big risk was from contrails alerting MIG15s and 17s. Reed’s role as “Little Reed” was to fly half a mile behind the lead bomber piloted by “Big Read” – Group Captain Charles Read – and alert him with VHF “clicks” to switch altitude if contrails formed.

The pair of intruders avoided Java but inspected bases at islands including Ambon, the Celebes, and Lombok. Reed doesn’t know if they were detected. At the time he was sanitising his logbook with official cover stories about “contrail research” so he’s short on remembered detail. Reed and Read were awarded Queen’s Commendations, without specifics mentioned. Today Reed thinks his memoirs are the first public disclosure.

Two years’ later Reed’s flight of five Butterworth-based Canberras had just finished war games with USAF F-100 Super Sabres when the Cuban missile crisis hit. Reed writes that the same F-100 base-buddies were on the tarmac readying for a one-way flight to Chinawith a nuclear weapon apiece.

His Biggles-like yarns are a constant delight. In a 1980 war game, his F-111s’ job was to hit the carriers USS Constellation and HMAS Melbourne before their planes could attack Hawaii. The “Pigs” dealt with HMAS Melbourne but the formidable Constellation, with its 80 interceptors and two Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, was coming in undetected from the north, with more strike-power than the whole Australian Defence Force. When it was spotted, the admiral in Hawaii ordered Reed to attack it with four F-111s – suicidal against the carrier’s radar coverage and F-14 defenders. Weirdly, still without opposition 200 miles from target, the F-111s split up and at 100 feet, surged over the carrier from the four points of the compass at 600 knots. It turned out that one of the carrier’s two Hawkeyes had just landed with a fault, and the second hadn’t yet taken off. Next day, with both Hawkeyes vigilant, Reed was once more coming in at 100ft when a defending F-14 streaked underneath him and pulled up ahead in a victory roll.

Reed has no embarrassment recounting his early love life – they called the Townsville nurses’ quarters “the bulk store”. With superb candour he relates how he teetered on a third-floor balcony to jemmy the shutters of his irate wife’s locked bedroom at Butterworth. Instead he fell off and broke two arms, one wrist and pelvis, and when just recovered and running Point Cook, got his sound left leg broken playing rugby.

His ultimate embarrassment was in the late 1980s at Laverton, between Melbourne and Geelong, when taking a lady on a joy flight in an antique Tiger Moth. He’d misjudged his fuel, the engine cut out and he glided to a landing in the Werribee sewage farm. They were rescued by old lag with a rowboat. Reed and his PR flacks managed to hide from the curious media that an Air Vice-Marshal was the shitty pilot.

Invited to a War
Air Vice-Marshall Alan Reed. 
Altech International 2020, 314pp.
Amazon $43.73

Tony Thomas’s new book, Come To Think Of It – essays to tickle the brain, is available here  as a book ($34.95) or an e-book ($14.95)Show your supportDonate Now

  • Peter OBrien – 9th May 2021What an fascinating life of active service. Hate to pick you up on a pedantic point Tony but Konfrontasi was between 1963 and 1966. I know this because my father was the Met Officer at Butterworth air base during this time and we Aussie kids were evacuated from the RAAF School Penang one morning under threat of a bomb having been planted in the school. Turned out to be a hoax.
  • Harry Lee – 9th May 2021Always good to hear of the exploits of outstanding members of the Australian military.
    For many generations now, they have done excellent work, and made many sacrifices on behalf of Australia and Western Civ generally.
    Now the Left is now working hard to feminise the ADF and emasculate it.
    And advancing mightily in this regard -see the current assaults by the marxist/ people and agents of Islam and China on the SASR and the Commando Regiment, and members thereof.
    Of course, the present greatest threats to Australia is here at home -by way of infiltration of all of our institutions by agents of various anti-Western foreign and transnational political forces.
    And of homefront warriors who might resist and destroy these internal enemies, there are precious few.
    Maybe none.
  • Tony Thomas – 9th May 2021Peter, pedants don’t hate what they do, they enjoy it immensely 🙂
    I’ve checked the book, it is curious because according to Alan Reed, he got a medal for the overflights in 1960. Either he’s made a date mistake, or stuff was going on pre-1960 that we don’t know about:
    “While we photographed several airfields, I did not get to see the photographs in detail so I am not sure what we actually found. Thankfully, no Migs were sighted and I am not even sure whether any of our flights were ever detected. Naturally, my log book refers to these missions as contrail research so that is why I am a bit vague about the details. I am sure that a few people at
    Darwin and in our squadron realised that there was something funny going on when Big Read and Little Reed went off together to Darwin for several days at a time. After one of these operations, Frank and I delivered the film to the intelligence centre at the barn in Canberra. The barn was a photographic interpretation centre built during the war to actually look like a barn on what was allegedly a farm not far from the Fairbairn Air Force Base. In recognition of our work on this task, but without formal acknowledgment, Frank and I were both awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in the 1960 Queens Birthday Honours List: so much for my venture into the arcane world of intelligence gathering.”
  • joe.moharich – 9th May 2021Following that very embarrassing Tiger Moth“landing” at the sewerage farm, Alan was summoned to appear before the the Department of Civil Aviation’s Examiner of Airmen who took delight in tearing strips off Alan.It appears to have bee a great opportunity for “payback
    “ for a roasting handed out by Alan , to that Examiner, when the Examiner was in the RAAF serving under Alan.

Abe Saffron and the Man From ASIO

Tony Thomas

The ABC series on the Ghost Train fire in Sydney’s Luna Park was great TV. Congrats to Caro Meldrum-Hanna and her ABC team’s 18 months of investigation of the fire. That’s right, you’re reading this in Quadrant Online, but praise where praise is due.

What a parade of crooks helped in the sleazy cover-up of undoubted arson on June 9, 1979: Inspector Doug Knight, who bulldozed the burnt site within half a day and stymied any forensic work, and his mafia-linked Deputy Police Commissioner Bill Allen who resigned in disgrace three years later.[1] Then we go one step up to the premier who appointed Allen, Neville Wran, and then even higher to Mr Justice Murphy on the High Court. They were all in thrall to NSW’s crime czar and mobster Abe ‘Boss of the Cross’ Saffron.

The ABC program provides evidence that Saffron organised bikies to light the ghost train fire that incinerated one father and six schoolboys. Saffron then secretly acquired the Luna Park real estate, with help from Wran and Lionel Murphy.[2]

One player in the tawdry NSW scene wasn’t mentioned in the series: the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Through much of Saffron’s career, a top ASIO operative, Dudley Doherty, was Saffron’s best mate and actually did the mobster’s secret accurate accounts, as distinct from the tax accounts. Doherty, when not mole-hunting or spying on communists and their associates, was enjoying Abe’s prostitutes in Abe’s brothels. As foreplay, he fed the ladies plates of oysters. Doherty died in office in 1970, long before the Ghost Train fire, while Saffron died at 87 in 2006.

Doherty’s long-time boss was ASIO chief Sir Charles Spry, who left office the same year Dudley died. His successor was the randy and hopeless Peter Barbour (1970-75) followed by Frank Mahony and Justice Sir Edward Woodward.[3] Did ASIO post-Doherty continue its intimacies with Saffron? Who knows?

Was Doherty a rogue ASIO operative moonlighting for a mobster? Or was his decades-long intimacy with Saffron in the line of ASIO duty? We all know how J. Edgar Hoover controlled US presidents Truman, Nixon and Kennedy through his blackmail-worthy files on their peccadilloes. ASIO’s Doherty must have collected for Spry a heap of dirt on top NSW and federal figures, including long-serving and corrupt NSW Premier Robert Askin. (Saffron had been paying Askin and his equally corrupt police commissioner Norm Allen $5000-10,000 a week, in return for protecting his illegal liquor, brothel, loan sharking and gambling activities across mainland Australia. That’s as much as $70,000 a week in today’s money in 1975, Askin’s last year in office). Doherty also winked at Saffron’s thuggery, crimes, and tax evasion.

You can read the sanitised account of Dudley Doherty and his wife Joan (also an ASIO agent) scattered through the pages of David Horner’s 2014 official history of ASIO — Volume 1, The Spy Catchers. Horner celebrated the Dohertys chiefly for the family’s role in harboring the Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov defectors when they were at maximum risk from Soviet assassins during the 1956 Olympics. Joan had also toiled at early and primitive intercepts of Soviet spies’ conversations.

Paul Monk: Soviet Moles in Australia

Dudley Doherty was also ASIO’s lock-picker extraordinaire. Horner relates that Doherty, to pass a special lock-picking course, had to choose an apparently un-pickable lock. He picked the personal safe of ASIO boss Spry and left a note in it, “which did not go down well with Spry”.[4] However Sandra Hogan, quoting the family, says the safe belonged to Director-General Justice Geoffrey Reed, not Spry.

Another evening, according to Doherty’s kids, Mark and Sue-Ellen, they got themselves locked into the subway under the Anzac memorial in Brisbane, behind heavy iron bars. Their father, rather than go through the rigmarole of calling the city council, instead paid the gates a visit with his lock-pick kit and the kids were free immediately. The kit? It was “in a leather roll, like a jewellery roll, only with little pockets. And the triangular tools inside. They got narrower and narrower and narrower. They had points and hooks of all different shapes”[5]

In ASIO’s three-volume official history there is no mention of Saffron.[6] The ASIO/Saffron revelations are in a new and extraordinary biography of the Doherty family by journo Sandra Hogan, With my Little Eye: the incredible true story of a family of spies in the suburbs.[7]

Dudley and Joan educated their three kids about their ASIO jobs from the time they left their cots. The Dohertys taught them tradecraft against Communists and spies, such as memorising number plates and learning to accurately describe a suspect’s clothing, manners and behaviour. They also trained the kids to keep silent on all the secrets of ASIO spying – even from each other, let alone from other family, school — friends and acquaintances. The kids’ childhoods were spent in a maze of mirrors where all their bits of ASIO knowledge had to be secretly compartmentalised. For example, the kids must never remark to a Croatian contact about a Serb contact who had dropped in to dinner the night before. Or mention their frequent visitor “Uncle Mick”, an ASIO boss.

The Doherty spies used their kids as props. The kids would pose for street photos while Dudley actually focused on suspects behind them. Or Dudley would drive around the block, past Trades Hall or a private house, to monitor suspects. First time, three kids in the front seat. Second pass, two in the back and one hiding on the floor. Further times, they changed clothing and kept popping up and down: “They looked so average they were invisible. They were right there but no one noticed them.”

I thought my own childhood was tough growing up as a primary-school Stalinist in a household of Communist Party executives. But my opposite-number kids in their ASIO household had it far tougher.

Brisbane journo Hogan interviewed the Doherty kids as middle-aged adults. At last they could take some family jigsaw pieces out of their brain compartments and fit them together. But none could create a coherent picture of Dad Dudley … and especially not of Dudley’s dealings with Saffron.

That connection began during the war, when Dudley graduated from the Salvation Army (playing the euphonium) to the real army at Moorebank depot in southwest Sydney, rising to warrant officer second class. One of his corporals and (literally) procurement specialists was Saffron. But his friendship with Saffron became life-long.  Hogan writes,

The wartime period was the only time that Abe worked for Dudley. Later on, the relationship was reversed. Abe served in the army for less than four years before he left to set up Staccato, the first of his strip clubs in Kings Cross, offering a welcome service to the American GIs looking for fun in Sydney. 

“He never wasted an opportunity and, while he was in the army, he spotted Dudley’s talent for bookkeeping. Abe hired him to do the stocktakes for his clubs, a role Dudley continued to do for the rest of his life, even while he worked for ASIO. Dudley’s books were the real ones, which were hidden, while somebody else prepared a different version for the taxation department. 

“It would be interesting to know whether Dudley told ASIO about these extra-curricular activities, and how they viewed his work for Abe, but that is one of the many secrets Dudley took to his grave. 

It’s obvious that Saffron’s army “procurements” were lucrative enough to finance his Staccato nightclub.

Mother Joan Doherty was always an upright and loyal citizen. Hogan writes that she always insisted that, whatever Abe was, Dudley wasn’t a criminal—he just liked to stretch things to the limit. ‘He was a rogue, but he was a good person,’ she said…  

Rather improbably, Hogan says Dudley might have swallowed Abe’s persona

as a family man and a philanthropist and it is possible that Dudley did not know the extent of Abe’s crimes. Joan knew from the beginning that Abe was Dudley’s friend, but they did not discuss Abe’s business life. By the time Abe had become notorious, Joan would have guessed, perhaps even known, that Abe’s hospitality to Dudley included the use of the ‘girls’ in his brothels; she may have suspected that Dudley knew Abe’s books were rigged. But she never believed Dudley knew about the possible murder, drugs and extortion. It probably took a long time for her to believe those things of their old friend, as she was highly sceptical of what she read in the newspapers… 

The bond remained when the Doherty family moved to Brisbane. Joan always put Abe’s Christmas cards featuring snow and angels at the front and centre of their collection on the best dresser. Dudley and Joan sometimes holidayed in Sydney at Abe’s digs, with treats “on the house” as thank-you’s for Dudley’s book-keeping.

“Every year, he went down for a few days and helped Abe do his stocktake. It was hard work and he always came back exhausted,” the family recalled.

Dudley gave his lad, Mark, at 16 a card for Abe’s Pink Pussycat club and told Mark to see Abe in Sydney and get a good time. But Mark “chickened out” of that thorough-going sex education.

 Joan was a trained observer and no fool, so she must have kept quiet about some of the things she suspected or knew. In an expression from her youth, she ‘put up with things’. Secrecy and containment were features of their marriage from beginning to end … He was away so often from Joan. And there were the prostitutes he visited with oysters, and the girls at Abe’s clubs. He said he was working. She kept asking if he was sleeping with other women and he finally admitted it … He said it was separate, it was work, it didn’t have anything to do with them and their undying love. Joan thought about leaving, but what would become of her and the children? She would wait. She was a perfect ASIO wife, supporting Dudley in every way.”

Dudley did, however, get the silent treatment for hours or days.

Joan knew that if she spoke, she might say things that could never be taken back. So she simply took away the warmth of her regard and let him shiver. Despite Dudley’s faithlessness, Joan liked to believe that they were equal partners, that she wasn’t submissive like her mother, or her sister Clair who was married to a bully.

The kids realised that Dad might mix with criminals and villains, but that was ‘work’. But when Sue-Ellen fell in love with an older man, “suddenly she couldn’t help wondering what it actually meant that Abe Saffron was Dad’s best friend and that Dad took oysters to visit brothels. Who was her father, really?

Sue-Ellen eventually met with Dudley’s long-time ASIO boss Mick (known to the kids as “Uncle Mick”) to seek the truth.

‘But how could you be the director and not know what was going on?’ she asked him, frustrated. ‘That’s how we kept secrets,’ he said. ‘Well, I think there were things about Dad you didn’t know,’ she told him. ‘I just don’t know if he was everything we thought he was,’ she continued.

‘Sue-Ellen, do you think your father was a double agent?’ he asked her. ‘No. No. But why was he friends with Abe Saffron?’ she blurted out.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘I can see that would worry you. Well, don’t worry too much about it. Your dad served our country well.’ There was something those ASIO men did—she didn’t know what it was—but people always ended up telling them everything and they never revealed anything.

The Dohertys were ASIO key workers almost from its inception. Dudley was one of three ASIO eavesdroppers – I won’t call them ‘buggers’ – who bugged a flat above a NSW Communist Party meeting room. Dudley also picked the locks to let them break in.

Joan, too, was an ASIO pioneer, specialising in telephone tapping Soviet MVD/KGB operatives like “Tass correspondent” Fedor Nosov. She worked ‘behind a green door’ in a basement in ASIO headquarters typing up recordings made on a Pyrox wire recorder. She kept this work secret even from her fellow spy and husband Dudley, little knowing that Dudley himself had helped install the taps.

Joan left ASIO when her first child was born, but the Dohertys continued living in a flat alongside Nosov in Darlinghurst, assisting the phone taps. It must have been a crowded flat with ASIO officers also there working in shifts round the clock monitoring the devices.

“She recalled that she tiptoed around the flat and her children wore slippers so that the ASIO officers could listen to what was happening without hearing thudding in their headphones. She made coffee and fed the officers on duty,” Horner writes.

Later the Dohertys ran a house for the Petrovs in Northcliffe, Qld. The Petrovs were not trouble-free boarders. One night Vladimir was arrested while drunk after he tried to enter a residence at Surfers Paradise that he mistook for his flat. He got into a fight with the residents, which destroyed his trousers. (Malcolm Fraser would sympathise.) Police took him to the Southport Police Station, charged him with drunkenness and released him the next morning on ten shillings’ bail (forfeited, says Horner).

Harry Blutstein: Vladimir Petrov in Surfers Paradise

I happened to read Sandra Hogan’s book With My Little Eye and its ASIO/Saffron revelations mere days before watching the ABC’s Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s expose on police and other corruption concerning the Ghost Train arson and Abe Saffron. What value was ASIO boss Spry getting from Saffron? I asked myself, What was ASIO’s relationship with Saffron  from 1970 (Doherty’s death) to 1979 (the Ghost Train fire) and thereafter? It’s obvious that ASIO senior spy Doherty was personally corrupt. How corrupt was ASIO?

Tony Thomas’s new book, Come To Think Of It – essays to tickle the brain, is available here as a book ($34.95) or an e-book ($14.95)

[1] Commissioner Mervyn Wood, scandal-plagued, stepped down four days before the Luna Park fire.

[2] Luna Park’s new lease-holder was run by Saffron’s two cousins and nephew, while he installed 100 gaming machines there.

[3] Molly Sasson, long-time UK and Australian intelligence agent with ASIO from 1969-83:

[Barbour] was a tall male with heavy-lidded eyes behind horn-rimmed glasses, often described as having “bedroom eyes”. His conduct did not befit his position. He certainly was not the gentleman that his high office demanded. He was a creepy individual whom I instinctively avoided … He was a very complex character with airs and affairs. He betrayed his office by chronic mismanagement and exploitation of his position for sexual favours. He had a voracious sexual appetite which offended many people’s moral and professional perceptions …

Whitlam sacked Barbour after Barbour returned from a lengthy but unproductive overseas trip reviewing counterpart agencies, accompanied by his beautiful Eurasian secretary.

[5] From Sandra Hogan’s biography

[6] The later volumes were The Protest Years and The Secret Cold War.

[7] Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, 2021.

The White Privilege of Being Black

Between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, 129,649 people “newly identified” as Aboriginal. There might be up-to-date figures after the 2021 census. Aboriginality is so popular that I imagine newly-identifying is continuing or accelerating. Some academics think so too.[1]

New Identifiers’ motives have never been seriously examined. The first published study was by Watt and Kowal 2018, and that involved only 33 New Identifiers.

Many New Identifiers gain profound benefit from re-connecting with their Aboriginality. Many were separated from their heritage two or three generations back, largely for welfare and education reasons, and traumatised by the loss of family.[2] Other New Identifiers are whites who persist although they cannot point to any Aboriginal ancestor. The most famous of these currently is Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, who told the New York Timesenigmatically last August  that he was both “solidly Cornish” and “solidly Aboriginal”.

Woke folk take to Aboriginality like ducks to water, or should that be chooks? Here’s one case study from a 1996 Griffith MA thesis by Fiona Noble (p36):

I was just different, really different, in that all the animals were my friends and I used to spend hours in the chook yard talking to my chooks, because like they were the only ones who understood anything that I was feeling or that I was thinking, but I felt very isolated and lonely growing up and always in my whole life just searching and wondering who I was.

Compared with Australia, in NZ there has been much less contribution to Maori population from New Identifiers. And in the US and Canada, New Identifiers have to overcome major legal and social barriers, with native organisations calling the newcomers gold-diggers, ethnic frauds, culture-vultures, “pretendians”, New Age poseurs, cultists and wannabes. A classic case is Senator Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (Democrat, Massachusetts), who got a career leg-up and much kudos for her claimed Cherokee ancestry, until DNA testing suggested she was from 0.097% to 0.156% American Indian, about the same as Americans generally.[3] Her great-grandfather was not a Cherokee as she claimed. but a white man who boasted of shooting a Cherokee. An equally famous US case is Rachel Dolezal, who became president of a Washington office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an instructor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. Her two white parents outed her in 2015.

THIS essay is in three phases. It first covers the Australian data based on an ANU study by Nicholas Biddle and Francis Markham,[4] then explores the Watt and Kowal material [5], and then looks at how Australian life can be viewed through a racial lens, as illustrated by Professor Kowal herself.

There are good reasons why New Identifiers are a hot-potato topic, in white and Aboriginal society alike. For example, In Tasmania the Aboriginal population soared from 671 in 1971 to 19,625 in 2016. Long-established Aboriginals there claim they’re being overrun by New Identifiers with specious genealogies.

The New Identifiers are concentrated in Australia’s urban south-east, and the workings of federal-state tax formulas drain funds from the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal disadvantage is extreme. In NSW and Victoria, some New Identifiers are mopping up cushy government-funded jobs reserved for Aborigines.

The more healthy, educated and well-off New Identifiers are also making the “Closing the Gap” data look better than the reality of outback Aboriginal life. New Identifiers in the south-east get official encouragement and plaudits from the woke community on the basis that Aboriginal links were broken in the “Stolen Generations” era. Moreover, challenging a New Identifier is a dangerous move. For example, university or public service bureaucrats who deal with Aboriginal applicants for places or privileges could be deemed racist and have their careers cancelled if they require evidence from the applicants about their Aboriginality.[6]

From the ANU study, the  129,649 New Identifiers at 2016 were somewhat offset by 45,042 Aborigines (at 2011) doing the opposite – citing themselves as white in 2016. The net number of at least 84,607 was still greater than from natural increase and equal to 13.7 per cent of the 2011 Aboriginal population.[7] Assessing flows of “New Identifiers” in 2016 shows the highest number and rate in the babies-to-age-15 group – 17 per cent vs the 14 per cent total. The flow falls among adults but rises slightly among those over 65.

Nearly all New Identifiers hail from the cities and regions – only 3507 were from remote Australia. Victoria, ACT and NSW were over-represented and WA and NT under-represented.

Michael Connor: The white Aborigines trial

New Identifiers in 2016 had higher living standards than the always-Aboriginal. Their employment rate was 60 per cent vs about 50 per cent for traditionals. The Prime Minister’s Department in 2018 failed to allow for this and claimed Aboriginal employment was slightly improving. In fact employment rates for traditional Aboriginals actually fell from 2011-16.

The ANU authors say there is no evidence from the data that identifying as Aboriginal leads to the claimants becoming better off. In fact their employment fell slightly. The motivation seems instead to relate to social and family reasons, they say: “In no way do we suggest that there should be any intervention to reduce identification change – on the contrary, to the extent that a reluctance to identify is due to discrimination, this should be seen as a positive development.”

Deakin researchers Elizabeth Watt and Emma Kowal say other researchers are reluctant to explore the New Identifier phenomenon lest deplorables like Andrew Bolt and his racist or “mean-spirited” followers make hay with the findings. The comment is interesting as I thought academics bravely pursued truth whatever the consequences. Bolt was successfully taken to court by nine fair-skinned Aboriginals in 2011 under S18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.[8] They claimed Bolt had argued they “were not genuinely Aboriginal and were pretending to be Aboriginal so they could access benefits that are available to Aboriginal people.”

Judge Mordy Bromberg also banned republication of Bolt’s articles, and the ban continues to this day.

One of the nine fair-skinned Aboriginals was artist Bindi Cole who announced seven years later:

One of my identities is Aboriginal. I can’t stop thinking Aboriginal. I am what I am. But when I made this my sole identity it was confusing because I am also white so I was both Aboriginal victim and white oppressor. And then being female I was oppressed by the patriarchy. It was always kinds of ways of identifying that meant I was victim to so many different things that I didn’t actually have to take any responsibility whatsoever for myself or my behaviours. I could constantly blame everything and everyone else.” She continued that her role in the Bolt 18c court case was her first exposure to conservative ideas after life lived in a leftist bubble where she could be a social justice warrior and virtue signaller, constantly looking down intolerantly on all others with different views. “The more I read the more I realised I had been on the wrong side.”

Anyway Watt/Kowal say that some of the stories from New Identifiers collected in their article would 

no doubt provide fodder for Bolt and his followers.  While taking this risk seriously, however, we strongly feel that the fear of conservative co-option should not deter research conducted with respect, quality scholarship and in good faith. (emphasis added)

The Watt/Kowal paper looks at motives from interviews of 33 New Identifiers. Eleven interviews were by Fiona Noble in the unpublished Master’s thesis at Griffith University way back in 1996. Noble had an inside track as she herself late in life thought she had Aboriginal ancestry and recruited informants through her own group of “Brisbane inner city ‘alternative’ and feminist communities” (Watt/Kowal p66). Watt/Kowal say social trends “have created an environment where people are encouraged to both “choose” their own

ethnic identity and to experience this chosen identity as given, essential and fixed. Our research also affirms North American findings that, for those making this choice, White identities have lost appeal relative to Indigenous identities because of wider awareness of colonial injustice, an increased emphasis on autochthony,[9] and the rise of environmentalism and holistic spiritualism.

Watt says she has Scottish-German origins and Kowal, Polish-Jewish. They write,

Both authors are female anthropologists who identify as White Australians … but whose research has focused on Indigenous issues… Some may take the view that, as non-indigenous people, we should not pursue research on the sensitive topic of Indigenous identification – or, for that matter, any topic relating to Indigenous people. However, we believe that empirically-informed discussions about this subject will be useful to Indigenous communities that are currently dealing with its implications. We also intend to address the vacuum in Australia’s broader public debate surrounding this issue: a vacuum that has been readily filled with the polemical voices of right-wing commentators.

Take “right-wing commentators” as a reference to Andrew Bolt and Pauline Hanson.

 A Queensland interviewee said: “We’re talking about what’s the oldest culture on this planet. We still have genetic memory.”  A NSW woman believed she was a product of her grandmother’s affair with an Indigenous man, and used similar language: “Heritage is something that runs in your blood. It’s not necessarily how your skin comes out all the time either, how you look. It’s in your DNA down deep in there somewhere”. A third spoke of Indigenous ancestry as the “spark” or “consciousness” within their body, stressing: “You can’t get it out of your system. If you’re an Aboriginal, you’re an Aboriginal.”

Many “always felt different” from White Australians. One interviewee, who was told when she was 15 that her great grandmother was an Indigenous woman, described how she grew up in a “sort of glorified shack in the bush” in semi-rural area of Brisbane with her six olive-skinned, brown haired siblings, and never felt at home among the “blond, blue eyed girls” who lived “in a brick house, with carpet and a carport” and were “sleek and shiny”.

Some cited life-long connections to animals, “the land”, “country” or the “bush”, embodying their ancestors. Others had deep interests in Indigenous culture or people. One noted:

I have been drawn to the stories and art of the Aboriginal people since I was a small child. Now I know why … Whenever I hear about the atrocities of the past I really hurt deep inside. I never had that feeling when hearing about the European atrocities and death.

 One woman described a “magnet dragging me to La Perouse”, and a man explained how “strange” it was that “I used to pester my father, my parents, on a weekend to go for a drive over to La Perouse”. [10]

But a NSW interviewee who believed his grandmother was of Wiradjuri descent, didn’t identify that way:

Well, only to the extent that I ever identified with Aborigines all around Australia. As political allies and friends … [Identifying as an Indigenous person] has that danger of suggesting that blood links you, and I don’t accept that. My upbringing has been totally European.

Another described late identification as a “big farce”, explaining “I couldn’t possibly say that I was Aboriginal, because I haven’t suffered anything that Aboriginal people have”. Another claimed, “to stand up now and say, ‘Look I’m Aboriginal’, to me is like a little bit rude almost, because you’ve never been treated in the world as Aboriginal”.

Another complained of New Identifiers who have been brought up as White people all their lives:

They’ve never experienced any discrimination an Aboriginal person would feel … They’ve been identified by white people and then they turn around and say, “I’m an Aboriginal I know how Aboriginal people feel”. That really pisses me off, and I am sure that’s a real insult to Aboriginal people who have to try and struggle for their rights.

One attraction for New Identifiers is that they have been persuaded that whiteness has been downgraded culturally because of pluralism, anti-colonialism and holistic spirituality. “White is now commonly seen [by researchers] as ‘dull, empty, lacking, and incomplete’ … associated with ‘white bread and mayonnaise’, ‘guilt, loneliness, isolation’, either ‘bland nothingness’ or ‘racial hatred’”.

Subjects have been encouraged by interviewers’ Rousseau-like view of indigenous people who harmonised with nature.Thus

White Australians of a certain inclination can embark on ‘solo-dreaming’ – engaging with the land and evoking the spirits seen to lie within it. Yet this process is complicated for ‘White anti-racists’ because of their sensitivity to claims of appropriation and abuse of Indigenous culture. This tension has prompted many to search for Indigenous ancestors in their family tree, hoping this discovery would explain and validate their existing feelings of connection to Indigenous culture and people.

Many interviewees began searching for Aboriginal ancestors after hints, such as a family Bible with a mission address. “These searches were often fruitless, but many interviewees continued to identify as Indigenous regardless. These New Identifiers’ attachment to their Indigenous identity was sufficiently high, and their conceptualisations of ethnicity sufficiently subjective, to overcome the lack of material evidence.”

Some espoused New Age notions. As a Sydney interviewee put it

I see straight through materialism and don’t adhere to forced social conventions such as Christmas. I believe in sharing, community and compassion for the earth and human kind at its best. In other words, there is enough for everybody on this planet and no place for greed …  Living simply, looking after family, and caring for our Mother Earth for me is what defines my Aboriginality.

Some interviewees had stumbled across strong evidence of their Aboriginality but declined to accept the identity.

These differing motivations help explain why we observed an inverse relationship between the strength of evidence and strength of identification:  those with the weakest evidence tended to have the strongest convictions, and vice versa. (emphasis added)

The final phase of my essay is the insights from Kowal about what it’s like diving into the maelstrom of racial politics. Kowal is a highly-rated academic who has received $6m worth of grants and authored 100+ papers and books.  

WITH a privileged middle-class upbringing, Ms Kowal decided in high school to fight for “the oppressed people of the world” by air-mailing protest letters and joining activists. “In 1996 at the Canberra protests against the Howard government’s first budget, it dawned on me that, as an Australian, the gap of Aboriginal disadvantage was the one that should trouble me most,” she writes.

Graduating from Melbourne University as a medico, she packed a second-hand Toyota and drove it north to her new life as intern at Royal Darwin Hospital. She later figured public health research in the NT was the most fulfilling and joined a Darwin research institute. But there was disillusionment in store. Staff enjoyed power plays and in-fighting rather than cooperation; government programs promoted as panaceas turned out to be dubious on the inside; and staff loved to criticise others’ projects as disempowering or racist without offering any help themselves.

Much “closing the gap” effort was actually channelled into “creating and maintaining racialised identities.” Anyone walking in the front door to the “indigenous” research institute would be smartly categorised as Indigenous or non-Indigenous, and sub-categorised as “community” or “urban”. The whites could be classified “red-necks” or “anti-racists”, or “white” or “non-white and non-Indigenous”. Someone not known to insiders could be parked as “possibly Indigenous”, pending investigation. Maintaining identities was hard work: for example whites had to keep up the auru of a “good” white rather than an “ignorant, exploitive racist White person”. The main internal drive was for Aboriginal control of affairs: “The tendency to demonise white researchers in particular seemed an inadequate way to explain the situation, once I had got to know many of them and of course become one myself.”

What she calls “the moral politics of race and identity” became toxic. A question about Aboriginal pay rates could be interpreted as managers being exploitive or racist. White researchers involved with presentations to the public had to edit themselves out of videos and stand aside silently to let Aborigines make presentations. If an Aborigine’s facts were wrong, Whites wouldn’t contradict, and went along with exaggerations of Aboriginal inputs. Kowal wrote in her journal, “In the political world of Indigenous health we don’t have arguments, we have positions. And the position of the ‘authentic Aboriginal voice’ trumps even the most eloquent argument, and has no need for it.”

She found “closing the health gap” to be a minefield. The health gap could suggest continued colonial oppression but fixing it could undermine traditional, but unhealthy, ways of life. It could “leave White anti-racists concerned that their efforts to improve the health and social status of Indigenous people might be furthering the neo-colonial expansion of bio-political norms.” White anti-racist health workers might be tarred as no better than “racist bureaucrats and missionaries of the past.”

In another paper, Welcome to Country Acknowledgement, Belonging and White Anti-racismKowal dives deeper into the predicaments of  Whiteness:

In my reading of Whiteness studies, there is no way for anti-racists to act without reinforcing their privilege…

The acceptable modes of action for White anti-racist subjectivities are silence and experiencing the discomfort and self-loathing of being the source of pain for others without seeking relief or resolution…

My view is that silent and suffering anti-racist subjectivities may be appropriate and useful for academics, but they are incompatible with effective work in Indigenous affairs. The even larger wager of this article is that silent, suffering anti-racist subjectivities that don’t belong are not up to the prodigious task of charting paths to coexistence in this settler society.

She has studied how white anti-racists act both in front of the public at seminars, conferences and publications, and backstage, i.e. in tearooms, corridors, back verandas and closed talk. In this backstage, “group members can refine the performance without the pressure of staying in character…

For instance, at front of house, the number of Indigenous presenters at an event should be at least equal to the number of non-indigenous presenters—a stage full of White people discussing Indigenous issues is a bad look. Though, if some of the people on stage that appear White are in fact Indigenous, any overt, whispered or unspoken criticism from the audience is not a concern, as any such criticism simply portrays the critic as ignorant at best, and racist at worst, for assuming that a pale-skinned person is not Indigenous. Non-indigenous dark-skinned people are intermediate in their visual impact—better than a White person, but not as good as an Indigenous person. Indigenous men and Indigenous women should be equally represented. The appearance of White women on stage is generally slightly better than White men…

“Making explicit this knowledge of ‘how to be an anti-racist’ seems distasteful in print, although it is acceptable to talk of these things, if somewhat obliquely, in conference planning meetings. The techniques required to privilege Indigenous voices are employed tacitly on the backstage and are not for consumption by a public audience.

She notes that it is often hard to get good Aboriginal speakers because they are in such high demand and the job is usually honorary. A properly balanced cast of speakers might be organised, but then the key Aboriginal speakers might fail to turn up or leave abruptly. The organiser will then remark about “family” or “cultural” issues, getting another opportunity to display his/her anti-racism. She instances a departure she saw of  Aboriginal “Kylie”, which saw the presenter handle it tactfully.

The mainly white audience had an opportunity to not react, to not blame or judge, exhibiting their anti-racism. His [presenter’s] explicit comments acted to silence (but also, paradoxically, highlight through demonstrating the need to silence) the ideas that are certainly not voiced, and perhaps barely thought: musings about whether Kylie really had a family emergency, or perhaps was disorganised enough to be double-booked, or behind in her paid work, or offended at being asked to be a ‘token black’ by the organisers, or maybe she had a gambling habit and went off to the casino. Some of these imaginings would have raised the possibility that her absence was a snub to the organisers, undermining their implicit claims to have meaningful relationships with Indigenous people. Because if they did, Kylie would care enough to stick around. It was this smoulder of inchoate musings that necessitated the facilitator’s careful words. (emphasis added)

At another workshop, a white male had to stand in as presenter when the booked Aborigine did not show up. The stand-in apologised for being white, especially as an Aboriginal co-facilitator had a junior role beside him.

One can only imagine that he implored her, she whose identity was better suited to the task, to read out the notes accompanying the slides instead of him when the scheduled presenter failed to turn up. But for whatever reason (lack of confidence? lack of familiarity with the material? resentment she was being asked just because she was Indigenous?), she had declined.

I hope Australia doesn’t dissolve into a hotbed of racial claimants and discord. There’s not much corroboration these days of the “We are one” jingle perpetually played on the ABC, or of “Australians all” in our national anthem, which is a bit of a dirge anyway.

 Tony Thomas’s new book, Come To Think Of It – essays to tickle the brain, is available here as a book ($34.95) or an e-book ($14.95) 

[1] “We have no reason to expect that the process of identification change will not continue into the future.”

[2] Keith Windschuttle in The Fabrication of Aboriginal History – the Stolen Generations, Macleay, Sydney 2004, counts the numbers of Aboriginal children removed from their parents for all reasons nationally between 1880 and 1970 as 8250. That’s about 90 a year, including orphans, the destitute, the neglected and those given up voluntarily by parents. The small numbers leave small scope for any “stolen generation” national genocide involving a total 50,000-100,000 forcible removals.

[3] Warren even submitted recipes to a Native American cookbook called “Pow Wow Chow,” which was released in 1984 by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Okla. She signed her entries “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee.”

[4] “Indigenous Identification Change Between 2011 And 2016: Evidence From The Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset.” Authors are from the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research.CAEPR TOPICAL ISSUE NO. 1/2018

An ABS spokesperson tells Quadrant: 

“The 2021 Australian Census Longitudinal Dataset (ACLD) analytical outputs are expected to be released during the second half of 2023.

In September 2019, the ABS Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics (CoATSIS) published new analysis regarding identification as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person in the Census over time. This analysis is available on the ABS website

[5] They say theirs is the first such published study: “Existing sociological research is more concerned with politically defending identification changes than sociologically analyzing them.”

[6] Windschuttle, in The Break-Up of Australia (Quadrant, Sydney 2016, p113) cites the case of actor and Aboriginal elder Jack Charles, who applied to the Australia Council for a book-writing grant. When the Council applied its protocol and asked him to prove his Aboriginality, he created a cause celebre and an embarrassed Council thereafter dropped its requirement for proofs involving Aboriginality. In another case a white male author, Leon Carmen, who couldn’t get published, submitted his book to Magabala Books as a young Aboriginal woman “Wanda Koolmatrie” and it won prizes and was put on the NSW Board of Studies High School Reading List. No-one had checked his “Aboriginal” identity or even sighted him. Ibid p114.

[7] The data are from an anonymised sample of 23,059 people who identified in  2016 as Aboriginal, with links to the 2011 census.

[8] Mordy Bromberg J concluded: I have observed that in seeking to promote tolerance and protect against intolerance in a multicultural society, the Racial Discrimination Act must be taken to include in its objectives tolerance for and acceptance of racial and ethnic diversity. At the core of multiculturalism is the idea that people may identify with and express their racial or ethnic heritage free from pressure not to do so. People should be free to fully identify with their race without fear of public disdain or loss of esteem for so identifying. Disparagement directed at the legitimacy of the racial identification of a group of people is likely to be destructive of racial tolerance, just as disparagement directed at the real or imagined practices or traits of those people is also destructive of racial tolerance.

He banned republication of the Bolt articles, and added:

It is important that nothing in the orders I make should suggest that it is unlawful for a publication to deal with racial identification, including by challenging the genuineness of the identification of a group of people. I have not found Mr Bolt and the Herald & Weekly Times to have contravenedsection 18C, simply because the newspaper articles dealt with subject matter of that kind. I have found a contravention of the Racial Discrimination Act because of the manner in which that subject matter was dealt with.

[9] “Nativeness by virtue of originating or occurring naturally (as in a particular place)”

[10] La Perouse is a Sydney former Aboriginal reserve and continued to have a large Aboriginal population.Show your supportDonate Now

  • Peter OBrien – 1st December 2020Tony,
    Warren’s initial pejorative nickname was ‘fauxcahontas’. It’s a pity it didn’t stick.
  • IainC – 1st December 2020If the true blue indigenes can classify themselves as First Nations, perhaps the pretenders can be grouped under False Notions.
    The only perspective on aboriginal thought ever presented is by hardcore activists, who I would wager represent the usual angry, loud 1% while the moderate 99% remain silent. We get surveys on a myriad of topics until they leak out the Khyber, but we never seem to get a random sample of (genuine) aborigines responding to various important life questions, such as: “do you really want to be segregated?”; “what is the most important issue that would better your life?”; “do you want to live a traditional lifestyle or be a doctor/motor mechanic/brain surgeon?”. It’s Time.
  • jvernau – 1st December 2020“… an increased emphasis on autochthony…”
    *Now that’s a word you don’t see every day. I suppose when someone becomes a “New Identifier” their previous self evaporates, and it is as though the new one has sprung up from the earth, full-grown and fierce like the Spartoi.
    In Mr Pascoe’s case, I imagine one of his ancestors may have appeared from the underworld by climbing back up from the depths of a Cornish tin mine.
  • en passant – 1st December 2020So where is the social dividing line when in many cases the name calling is actually intended by the user as a term of endearment? The first outback aboriginal I ever met fluently spoke several complex ‘desert languages’, yet his mumbled English, (through no fault of either of us) I could barely understand. He told me to call him Jacky. Would the Orwellian ‘thought police’ call me a racist if I called him that today? I have no doubt about it, not to mention the ASIO file opened on me as a right-wing racist bigot. As for Jacky, he would tarred and feathered as a full-blooded fake aborigine …
  • sabena – 2nd December 2020Tony,
    In Shaw &Anor v James & ors 1998 FCA 389,there was an issue for the purposes of being elected to ATSIC as to who was an aboriginal-link here:;query=aboriginal and tasmania;mask_path=au/cases/cth/FCA
    In the judgment Merkel J quoted the following from an earlier case as to what was sufficient:-
    the Aboriginal race of Australia refers to the group of persons in the modern Australian population who are descended from the inhabitants of Australia at the time immediately prior to European settlement (580); * some degree of descent is a necessary, but not of itself a sufficient, condition of eligibility to be an Aboriginal person (581); * a small degree of Aboriginal descent coupled with genuine self-identification or with communal recognition may, in a given case, be sufficient for eligibility (583-5); * a substantial degree of descent, given the general communal recognition of Aboriginality that usually accompanies it, may by itself be enough to require that the person be regarded as an ” Aboriginal person” (584); * communal recognition as an Aboriginal person may, given the difficulties of proof of Aboriginal descent flowing from, among other things, the lack of written family records, often be the best evidence available of proof of Aboriginal descent (585).
  • Blair – 2nd December 2020The question asked in the Census is simply:
    “Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?”
    Nothing to do with identification. by the respondent.
    The respondent can answer yes to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin or simply yes to either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. But there is no question about (say) Aboriginal and English origin or Aboriginal and Irish origin.
    It is the ABS who identifies a person who answered yes to “”Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?” as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or both.and then counts them as either Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders or both.
  • Elizabeth Beare – 2nd December 2020“She continued that her role in the Bolt 18c court case was her first exposure to conservative ideas after life lived in a leftist bubble where she could be a social justice warrior and virtue signaller, constantly looking down intolerantly on all others with different views. “The more I read the more I realised I had been on the wrong side.”:I wonder if Bindi Cole has ever apologised to Andrew Bolt for the trouble and pain she caused.It well overdue for some very clear parameters to be legally placed around who is aboriginal and who isn’t, and perhaps a points system introduced (we do it for intending migrants) awarding benefits for both living assistance and self-improvement and employment on the basis of some pre-determined box-ticking criteria of need and disadvantage with special focus on remote area dwellers and those in rural Australia.
  • STJOHNOFGRAFTON – 3rd December 2020The trick cycling is that it’s about dressing up. A good example is the Russian figure skaters dressed up in an Australian Aboriginal theme. It’s great entertainment for a short while and then it is time to go home. These ‘New Identifiers’ don’t know when to go home to reality. They’re stuck in a theme. When the money runs out they’ll apply for a grant and call it art and run ‘workshops’.
  • Tony Tea – 3rd December 2020Is it possible to read Bolt’s article?
  • March – 5th December 2020Tony Tea… Link to one of Bolts articles… If that does not work just try searching “bolt It’s so hip to be black”
  • DG – 8th December 2020So much for amusement here. First off. I’m indigenous. I was born here. I enjoy telling people that!
    Genes have feelings? No. Genes a chemical signalers. Let’s be real about that.
    Compassion for the ‘earth’. I’ll always bulldoze it lovingly, I guess. The challenge is, the earth is not compassionate back (ROFL).

The apotheosis of Adam “Stager” Goodes

The Apotheosis of Adam ‘Stager’ Goodes

Climate is not the only topic where school systems set out to establish a dominant narrative. They also want to inculcate in kids that Western society is racist. Here’s an example of how it’s done — in the face of evidence that Australians are among the least racist in the world.

The cult of Indigenous footballer Adam Goodes is cranking up. Last week Vincent Namatjira’s crude portrait of Goodes (above) as social-justice saint won the Archibald Prize which, in this instance, might have been retitled the Black Lives Matter Sycophancy Prize. Namatjira was inspired to paint Goodes after watching last year’s documentary on Goodes by Ian Darling: The Final Quarter. It re-ran on NITV a week ago and will be rescreened again there shortly.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun has just given Goodes a two-page color spread modelling nice clothes. The writer’s beatitude began, in all seriousness,

The legend of Adam Goodes permeates deep and wide within the Australian psyche … And so he looms like a Greco-Roman god: a figure of worship…

Complainer-in-chief Stan Grant’s The Australian Dream, last year’s rival weepy tribute to Goodes, is streaming on Apple TV, Microsoft and YouTube. On August 28, UK-based Monocle magazine featured Goodes as its “Big Interview” on global radio. He was on BBC Sport in June. In the same month his face was painted on the side of a Sydney house.

This essay is in no way an attack on Swans’ ex-star Goodes, who had indeed suffered from overt and covert racist incidents since school – albeit none for eight years of his AFL stardom. He’s led a model life, supports Aboriginal charities and sadly, retired prematurely from football at end-2015 because booing in 2014-15 destroyed his peace of mind and love of the game. But the booing does not prove footie fans were racist, let alone Australians generally. And Goodes as urger of “treaties” and Constitution changes is no more entitled to a free pass than any other political lobbyist.

It’s in Australian schools where the myth-making about Goodes is at its zenith. Cool Australia, the third-party supplier of pre-cooked materials for teachers, is providing no fewer than 52 lessons extolling Goodes, based largely on The Final Quarter movie. As Cool Australia recommends to teachers: “Make sure you can darken the room. Play it LOUD.”[1]

My editor depends on clicks to demonstrate to his sceptical boss that he’s doing a good job. Give the poor fellow a little credit for knocking this piece into shape by clicking to the original  HERE.

Director Ian Darling paints Australians as racist by the usual cinematic tricks of material put in or left out, snazzy or moody editing, and inspirational background music. Meanwhile the ABC has run amok with lessons for schools carrying the same messages about our racism and need for a racially tweaked Constitution. Between Cool Australia and the ABC, kids from the ages of 5 to 17 could be blasted for close to half a school week in total with films about Goodes, plus the pre- and post-conditioning sessions and the spin-off lessons.[2]

Teachers themselves are expected to spend even greater slabs of time slavering over the film. They will also teach kids to make their own didactic (i.e. propaganda) movies about racism, climate, asylum seekers and the usual grab-bag of leftist tropes.[3]

The film’s subsidiary message is nakedly political: that the Constitution be changed to benefit Aborigines (at least three-quarters of whom are city or regional-dwellers). This new racially-based Constitution will somehow “unify” Australia. Director Darling and Goodes want a “First Nations Voice to Parliament”, in line with the “Uluru Statement from the Heart” involving treaties and constitutional change “to empower our people”.[4] Cool’s 52 separate lessons implant these ideas. Cool uses definitions provided by Aboriginal lobby Reconciliation Australia to show kids that any opposition to treaties and “black armband” history is racist.[5]

Over at the ABC, its unaccountable ‘Education Unit’ is run by ex-history teacher Annabel Astbury with some seven or eight staffers and a $1.2m budget base. It “works closely” with the Victorian and NSW Education Departments (whatever that means) on mapping its projects (whatever that means) to the national curriculum. It’s currently foisting Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu farrago on classrooms. Peter O’Brien, author of the forensic take-down Bitter Harvest, describes Dark Emu’s tale of pre-colonial town-dwelling Aboriginal farmers as “egregiously fraudulent.”  As a sample of the awe in which Ms Astbury holds Dark Emu‘s fauxboriginal fraudster, here she is singing the praises of his dishonest book (emphasis added):

We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Bruce Pascoe on Country, helping us understand the physical and written evidence of a people who, for thousands of years, had an organised, innovative and considered use of land that supported bountiful cultural economies. This is not the history I learned in the 1980s or, I suspect, that some have learned in the 1990s. This collection is not just a resource for school students, it is a resource for all Australians.

ABC Education’s take on the Goodes saga is even more pernicious in destroying kids’ pride in the Australian settlement. It substitutes agitprop for historical inquiry and balance while wittering about “teaching truths [and also Pascoe material]  in the classroom”.[6]

The ABC doesn’t spare pre-schoolers and bubs from its blitz. Its lessons focus on Stan Grant’s Australian Dream. It has five core lessons and teachers’ guides for each year from pre-school to Year 6. In high school the lesson portfolio expands to a dozen, and one of the items has 11 sub-units.

One lesson (pre-school upwards) is titled “Teach Aboriginal history and truths in the classroom” and opens,

From 1850 until the 1960s, under Australia’s various state protection laws, Aboriginal people were driven off their lands and gathered into specific missions, reserves and stations…Between 1910 and 1970Indigenous children – particularly children with lighter skin colour– were taken from their familiesin order to remove them from their culture and people. Babies were takenfrom hospitals, from mothers on the missions, and from churches and schools without their families’ permission.[7]

The distortions here are horrific, such as omitting the dominant child-protection element of removal policy.[8] Only one child, Bruce Trevorrow, has ever been found judicially to have been ‘stolen’. The stealing was contrary to SA Government policy and he was awarded $775,000. The ABC also provides kids with a six-minute video that is even more inflammatory than the text.

Who writes this stuff? Here’s the ABC Education attribution (my emphasis):

The Australian Dream education resources were written by Aboriginal education specialists Shelley Ware and Thara Brown for Culture Is Life – an Aboriginal organisation that deepens connections and belonging by backing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander solutions

There is not even a pretence of objectivity!

Another of the ABC lessons for primary classes (from pre-school), is titled Aboriginal customs like the war cry need to be embraced as part of Australian cultureThis was about Goodes’ 2015 spear-throwing dance at Carlton fans. It was an Aboriginal “custom” dating all the way back to 2009.

As is now standard in school practice, ABC Education’s final goal is to turn kids into activists:

As educators, you recognise the impact young people can have in creating change in the world. All they need is a platform or an opportunity to be heard[9] Many Australians stood with Adam Goodes, letting him know they valued his leadership and efforts to stop racism. ..

Invite students to share their voice and visions for Australia. If possible, what would you say to all Australians?…Students can do further research about how past and present government policies have affected and continue to affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today… If students feel safe to do so, they can share the visions of their Australian dream with their class, friends, family or community. This takes courage and vulnerability, but it emphasises that their voice is important, regardless of their age, background and experiences.

Yeah, right, to improve Australian society we need 9-year-olds’ worldly wisdom from classrooms infected by the ABC’s social justice warriors.

It’s the same with Cool Australia. Dozens of its provided lessons on Goodes aim at turning kids into pro-Aboriginal activists and campaigners, often using their own school for target practice:

Students will conduct a class-based audit to assess how well their school is combating racism, bullying, discrimination and harassment. After envisioning a world free from racism, bullying, discrimination and harassment, students consider possible improvements to the school’s policies and craft a letter to the school principal, outlining their proposal.

The premise of Cool Australia’s 52 lessons is that the booing of Adam Goodes during his 2014-15 seasons with Sydney Swans was racist. Cool Australia and The Final Quartersuppress or undermine the contrary claim: that Goodes earned the booing by provocative behaviour, or in the blunt words of media pundit Sam Newman at the time, “because you’re acting like a jerk”.

The critiques by Swans haters is that Goodes “staged” or play-acted for free kicks. He outed and humiliated a 13-year-old girl who called him an “ape” while being innocently unaware of the racial context. Then he mimed throwing a spear at Carlton supporters, who responded in their own tribal way. And Goodes used his “Australian of the Year” podium through 2014 to whinge about whites’ historical and current oppression/maltreatment of Aborigines. (To load the dice, Cool Australia often omits the crucial incident with the teen girl).[10]

The Cool Australia and ABC lessons besmirch Australian history of settlement by omitting all favorable and compassionate colonial dealings with Aboriginals.[11] Instead the narrative fosters endless grievance and relentless claims for special benefits. Worst is their studied brainwashing of schoolkids, under the aegis of the Labor-designed “cross-curricula priority” of “Aboriginality”. This priority is to be shoe-horned into all lessons – even maths: one boomerang plus two boomerangs equals three boomerangs.[12]

Cool Australia’s broadest agenda is to undermine capitalism via net-zero CO2 emissions, and use multi-culturalism to denigrate our Western liberal heritage – evinced by Cool Australia’s promotion to kids of Canadian anarchist/nutter Naomi Klein, and encouragement of asylum-seekers. Cool Australia’s materials flood into 8400 primary and secondary schools or 90 per cent of the Australian total. Nearly half teachers use the lessons. They downloaded 2.1 million lessons last year.[13] See here for the details.

There is no real-world evidence that Australians are a racist lot. Among us are a tiny number of nasty and/or stupid racists, but they are no more significant than the odd criminal or Marxist academic. Reconciliation Australia’s own survey barometer shows the Aboriginal industry’s reputation is declining, even among its own constituents. Asked in 2018 if Aborigines are responsible for their own disadvantage, 33 per cent of Aboriginals agreed, up from 24 per cent in 2016. Only 41 per cent disagreed, down from 51 per cent in 2016. Among non-Aboriginals, the proportion is 35 per cent agree and 32-33 per cent disagree. The rest don’t know. In other words, Aboriginals are increasingly agreeing the buck stops with them, not with governments or “historical colonial oppressors”.

In terms of grievance-mongering, the proportion of Aboriginals agreeing that “wrongs of the past must be rectified before all Australians can move on” has dropped in two years from 44 per cent to 40 per cent. Among non-Aboriginals, only 28 per cent agree. The bad side of the report card is that 33 per cent of Aboriginals in 2018 reported experiencing at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the prior six months , down from 37 per cent in 2016.

Reconciliation Australia’s surveys might well involve some contestables. A less vested group is the World Values Survey, benchmarking among countries. Its 2018 run found only 3.9 per cent of Australians don’t want people of a different race living next door (for whatever reasons), compared with 2.7 per cent of New Zealanders – who live with a large and respected Maori minority. Eighty percent of Australians want their children when at home to learn tolerance and respect for other people (NZ 83 per cent). About 10 per cent of Australians don’t want people speaking a different language to live next door – for whatever reasons.

The findings generally give the lie to Cool Australia’s classroom shtick. It has no cause nor rationale for nudging kids to lead us into racial virtue.

When the local Daily Mail polled readers whether the booing of Goodes was racist, more than 60 per cent said it wasn’t. Sam Newman wrote, “Criticising someone from another race doesn’t make you a racist. The groveling doco by Sharkshit Productions ‘The Final Quarter’, should be ‘The Last Straw’.”[14]

Ex-Labor iconoclast Mark Latham tweeted,

It’s all blah, blah, blah, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that the booing of Goodes was about his race. Just because the elites, from the comfort of clink-clink corporate boxes, think footy fans in the outer are racist deplorables does not make it true. Fast Forward to 2045 at the ABC: ‘Today we are launching our 39th film on the Booing of Adam Goodes, who retired 30 years ago, sure, but this time we have really nailed it, showing the racism our 38 earlier films didn’t quite prove’. Always Biased Crap.” 

It is significant that Goodes says that until the girl called him an ape, “I had not been racially abused for eight years and it just rocked me.”[15]

Pretending to give a rounded account, Cool Australia typically sets up columnist Andrew Bolt and Sydney radio pundit Alan Jones for kids to boo and hiss, rather than, say, ex-PM Howard or chair of the Institute of Public Affairs and ex-ABC director Janet Albrechtsen. In a lesson headed by Cool Australia as “Media Watch debunking Andrew Bolt”, kids are directed to a clip of The Final Quarter showing Bolt criticising Goodes for singling out the 13-year-old Collingwood barracker. ABC’s Paul Barry asks, “But is that really true?” Barry does agree Goodes singled the girl out [Goodes: “I just turned around and I said to the security guard, “I want her out of here. When I looked at the person I could see it was a kid.”][16] Barry then runs clips of Goodes excusing her as innocently racist. But Goodes continued to demand an apology from her. “Yeah OK sorry for that,” she tells him by phone on TV. She had turned 13 only five days earlier – it was quite a transition from childhood. Barry and the Human Rights Commission virtue-signallers ignore her genuine human rights and privacy after she was shown on TV, named (“J—“), and shamed to the world. In Goodes’ words, “Racism had a face last night, it was a 13-year-old girl.” Even 13-year-old murderers are not publicly identified: diminished culpability and all that.

According to her mother, J— “doesn’t get out that much…She’s only a 13-year-old little girl. This has been taken way out of proportion.” The mother was angry that security men handed J— to police, who grilled her for two hours without parent or guardian present. This was infamous, even by current Victoria Police standards, as shooting fancy-dress revellers in a nightclub, encouraging false testimony against a cardinal or failing to proecute Premier Daniel Andrews’ red-shirted Labor rorters. J— herself said, “It was kind of a joke and then he heard it.” Her schoolmates and the town’s people could identify her. As a young adult she’s now being exposed again through The Final Quarter and Grant’s Australian DreamFinal Quarter at least blurs J—‘s face. Stan Grant’s film does not, in fact it lingers on her face in four takes (from 40.00mins). However, Grant’s film is more honest than Darling’s Final Quarter because it gives the mother and daughter a hearing, and Andrew Bolt is allowed to make his points about it.

In Final Quarter, Bolt gets more swipes in another clip pushing constitutional change. Sarah Harris, presenter of Studio 10 on Channel 10, shows Goodes complaining that the Constitution doesn’t refer to pre-1788 Aborigines and urging kids to support the Recognise treaty lobby. Goodes says, “We have a great opportunity as a nation right now to do something that is right, and help change the next 200 years of our history.”

Sarah Harris continues, “Bolt says the campaign could divide us all and make the Constitution racist” before dropping her role as presenter to snicker at Bolt’s claims. Final Quarter adds sinister music to headline grabs from Bolt’s columns, like “Our constitution is not racist and Goodes and his supporters will only make it so”.

 The clip finishes with Goodes and schoolkids – some as young as five or six – raising their fists to disavow racism, thus emphasising the demarcation between Bolt and the ‘good guys’.

Collingwood Football Club president Eddie Maguire after the match rushed to console and support Goodes in the club room and deplore the girl’s taunt. But a week later on air he jokily suggested Goodes should market the King Kong musical.[17] The ABC and The Age, which had both reeled at the 13-year-old’s alleged “racism”, both described Maguire’s joke merely as a “gaffe”. Maguire grovelled, was despatched to counsellors, and there was no suggestion he forfeit his prestigious jobs. “People don’t resign because they make a slip of the tongue. It’s as simple as that,” he explained. Thus a 50-year-old media veteran’s extended joke about King Kong on Triple M Breakfast was a forgivable gaffe, but a barely 13-year-old’s unknowing shout of “ape” during the footie match was an unmitigated ‘racist slur’.

Another use of film’s deceptions involves Reconciliation Australia preaching that average Australians are ignorant mugs about Aborigines. The lobby’s short film “Don’t keep history a mystery” is a rapid fire of put-downs of “average” whites mixed with dubious or false claims about Aboriginals. It begins with a beer-gutted ocker at the footie boasting that our white civilisation invented utes “and has the tastiest coat of arms in the world” – as if we snack daily on emus and roos. (Leftist wit on display). He doesn’t mention democracy, social welfare or equality under law. He gets a pile-on from virtuous Aborigines and woke whites. A sassy and attractive Aboriginal woman corrects him, “There is also a bit you don’t know. We have the oldest surviving culture on earth”. In reality traditional culture died out 100-200 years ago when the old men ceased passing down creation stories to youths who had refused the painful initiations.

A smug woke white says Aboriginal culture is “even older than the Greeks”, implying it surpassed Greek learning. Others chime in about Aboriginal “inventions”. They include “grass growing machines” (audio not clear) and “the first-ever bakers”. An Aborigine eats a pie to give us the idea. These wild claims about grass-cropping and bakers come from the fake history of bogus blackfella Bruce Pascoe. An Aboriginal footballer arrives to claim they were “the first ever Aussie footballers”, a nonsense as historian Geoff Blainey attests.[18]

Another white cranks up the grievance, “It is a culture that has survived centuries of pretty average treatment”. (No mention of positive aspects). Their message is that the average ocker is an imbecile. This one minute inflammatory exercise originally attracted a host of angry comments on YouTube, suggesting Reconciliation Australia is hardly living up to its name.

Critics say Goodes’ complaints about victimhood looked odd coming from a highly paid player. His late-seasons paypackets have attracted little media curiosity. The only estimates I’ve seen are from anonymous online commenters mentioning $900,000 yearly. Goodes was a match-winner for the Sydney Swans, including one of the two clinching goals in its 2012 Premiership win. He would have to have been in the top salary tier. Pay for elite players first topped $500,000 in 2000, and the $900,000 mark was hit in 2006. There would be a fair chance Goodes from 2000-11 did $500,000 or better.

Goodes also had a fair chance of being in the millionaire-average club from 2012 to his final year 2015, as suggested by the following data. The number of players earning $1m-plus is documented by the AFL as 2012: 8; 2013: 5; 2014: 2; 2015: 4; 2016: 6. Two of the 2015 millionaires were widely identified as Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett and West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui. The other two were mystery men. Goodes’ colleague at the Swans, Buddy Franklin, was said to have earned only $700,000 in 2015 but his contract had positive back-ending.

Apart from Goodes’ salary, his endorsements have included Campbell’s Chunk Soup (2006), AFL ads (2007 and 2009), and Powerade (2014). In 2015 he became and remains a David Jones stores “Brand Ambassador”, and from 2013 he’s also been a Qantas “Ambassador”, certainly until 2018. As mentioned, he’s also been a generous benefactor of Aboriginal child causes.

Whatever the criticisms of Adam Goodes, he’s entitled to his views and others are entitled to disagree with him. What is not acceptable is leftist groups like Cool Australia and the ABC using him to batter kids with their divisive agendas. As an inquiry report was once headlined, “Little Children are Sacred” and that includes 13-year-old white country kids at the footie.

Tony Thomas’s new book, Come To Think Of It – essays to tickle the brain, is available here as a book ($34.95) or an e-book ($14.95) 

[1] Teachers log in to access the material

[2] “Specialist lessons will achieve the best results when THE FINAL QUARTER documentary is introduced as a topic across the curriculum. This requires planning among multiple teachers and across specialist streams.”

[3] “Hand out one sticky note to each student and invite them to write an issue that they feel strongly about. E.g. Climate Change, Gambling, Refugees, Human Rights, Community Health, Homelessness, Illness, Crime.” Apart from the brainwashing, I think movie-making is technically too complex for 99% of kids.

[4] “With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood…We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country.”

[5] “Reconciliation is an ongoing journey that reminds us that while generations of Australians have fought hard for meaningful change, future gains are likely to take just as much, if not more, effort… “Reconciliation” includes “the unique rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised and upheld. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are self-determining. Our rights as First Australians are not just respected but championed in all the places that matter. Australia’s colonial history is characterised by devastating land dispossession, violence, and racism. There is widespread acceptance of our nation’s history. Australia makes amends for past policies and practices.”

[6] The ABC offers classes 20 films involving Pascoe at last count, starting with 6-year-olds.

[7] Pascoe Braun on March 3 posted on this ABC page, “I find parts of this offensive, I’m a SG [Stolen Generation] Survivor and I never lost my culture and connections, don’t make sweeping generalisations.”

[8] Keith Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History – the Stolen Generations 1881-2008, Macleay Press Sydney 2009, 630 pages, provides the facts.

[9] Emphasis in original

[10] “During the last three years of his career, Goodes was named Australian of the Year, accused of staging for free kicks, and performed an on-field war dance celebration. When the football crowds turned on him, the Brownlow medallist left his beloved game.” [Note there is no reference here to the 13yo]

[11] In SA, for example, the archival primary material can be inspected at and in Crooks, Alistair and Lane, Joe, Voices from the Past. Extracts from the annual reports of the SA Chief Protectors of Aborigines, 1837 Onwards. Hoplon, Adelaide, 2016. Forward by Tony Thomas.

[12] It is not clear how obligatory this is, but to be safe, teachers need to err on the woke side

[13] Cool Australia Impact Report, 2019

[14] Newman is riffing on the film’s maker Shark Island Productions.

[15] The Australian Dream, at 41mins.


[17] Maguire said: “Get Adam Goodes down for it, do you reckon?” before adding: “You can see them doing that can’t you? Goodsey. You know with the ape thing, the whole thing, I’m just saying pumping him up and mucking around, all that sort of stuff.”

[18] The game was codified in 1859 and, according to some accounts, based on rugby at English public schools. Others posit that Tom Wills, genuinely regarded as the father of the code, was inspired more by the “village football” matchesShow your supportDonate Now

  • pgang – 1st October 2020In his early days Goodes was an exciting and inspiring footballer to watch. At the end he just became unwatchable and a part of everything that is wrong with the AFL.
  • padraic – 1st October 2020Thank you Tony for bringing to light the role of the ABC in brainwashing our kids with leftist nonsense, I was surprised some years ago when my primary school grand daughter came home and began work on the computer. Thinking she was not doing her homework I asked what she was up to. She explained that she was doing homework set by her teacher but had to log in to an ABC education website (using a password). She had to comment on a short essay about mining which contained the usual Green hysteria about mining. I was stunned. Firstly, why was the ABC allowed to produce such material for school use and secondly why was the Education Department allowing it to happen? It was a far cry from the time when people voted in a government who nominated ministers to be in charge of departments who were responsible for the functions assigned to them. I thought the ABC was a “broadcaster” who told adults the news of the day. Whoever allowed them to exceed this remit is dangerous and spineless. The ABC is not a department in the traditional sense of the word. It is the responsibility of the education department to design the school syllabus and for the teachers to teach that syllabus. The department in this respect is answerable to the Minister and the Minister is answerable to the voters. That’s how democracy used to work and ministers were supposed to reflect the values of those who voted them in. This is another example where the system has been “captured” by non-elected people. We are seeing more and more of this – we elect people to Parliament who are appointed Ministers – Ministers bypass their departments (“outsourcing”) to give work to private concerns like international law firms or accounting firms or “independent Commissions” staffed by activist lawyers. The decisions of Parliament itself are now subject to control by various non-elected semi-judicial bodies outside the High Court. The recent Narrabri gas project is a case in point – first of all the relevant NSW department does not make the decision – that is done by the “Independent Planning Commission” and this decision, according to today’s Australian newspaper, can still be subject “to a judicial review”. In the past if a political decision was good it was the Minister who got the kudos, if it was bad the Department copped the blame. These days, as we have seen recently in Victoria under this new paradigm, no-one gets the blame, so it’s left up to law firms of a certain persuasion (and funded by US litigation funder corporations) to make some money out of the situation with class actions. Let’s get back to the original democratic model of Ministers running departments who carry out the government’s programs themselves and put the ABC back into its broadcasting box.
  • Elizabeth Beare – 1st October 2020I don’t appreciate any sort of football, wasn’t raised to it, and that shows. My husband sparked my interest a few years back telling me about this great aboriginal footballer who was top of the game, and I said I’d watch a game he was in. Then this ‘great’ guy monstered a thirteen year-old girl for a comment that she would never regard as racist – just bit of football riff, where she may not even have known nor cared that he was aboriginal. VicStasi, showing early their true colours that we see daily now, grilled this young girl for hours without a guardian present and her photograph was put up under the term ‘racist’ in the mass media. Now the same thing is happening to her again with these films, and she lives in a small town where she is easily recognised.Goodes, in my opinion, should have immediately smoothed the situation by apologising to the girl, giving her a complimentary seasons ticket, and had his smiling photograph taken with her. That would have been the decent Aussie thing for a wealthy sports star to do. He didn’t do it, and he’s totally lost me over that since then. And I suspect many people felt as I did, and felt it even more when he did the spear attack stuff. He was catcalled because of these incidents, not because of ‘racism’. I was looking forward to getting to see a good sportsman, like many other aboriginal sportsmen. I didn’t see one in Goodes.I am sorry if he has endured genuine racism when growing up or in sport. The evidence overwhelmingly is that Australians today have no time for it and will shun anyone who is clearly racist, in the sense that the word once carried – that is, of intentionally and with malice attributing facets of a person’s character or behaviour to the colour of their skin or to their cultural or genetic inheritance. In my view, Goodes has been hypersensitive to ‘offence’, another thing entirely.
  • Dave Carter – 1st October 2020Yep I have to agree “pgang”, and respectfully Tony, I think you’ve missed the obvious in titling this piece with reference to staging, but saying that Goodes somehow “retired prematurely.
    I don’t follow the Swans closely, but it was plain that Goodes had become what John MacEnroe called “a step slow”- being suddenly but unmistakably outpaced by fresher opponents in one-on-one contests. This turned on the staging- the collapses to the ground, the two arms outheld- the cries to the umpire- that very quickly led to the crown turning on him. Footy is rough, even from the stands, and the ridiculous war dance spear throw, to a knot of Blues supporters who were being crushed by an ascendant Sydney and mulling on their loss of Coach and Brownlow-winning captain, was catastrophically bad grace.
    I believe that his own fallibility was creeping up on his aging body and unsustainable self-belief. A correction was always going to come. But he did not retire early- indeed he did not retire anywhere near early enough. A year or two earlier, he would almost certainly be cast in bronze somewhere now.
  • young bill – 2nd October 2020I don’t get this Adam Goodes thing at all. I believe he has an Aboriginal mother and an Irish father. Is he ashamed of his white heritage?
  • lbloveday – 2nd October 2020“Is he ashamed of his white heritage?”.
    As Obama seems to be – always referred to himself as “Black” or “Of Colour” despite having a white mother.
  • deric davidson – 2nd October 2020Just pointing out the fact that the aboriginal footballer who rebuked a football crowd by lifting his jumper and pointing to his skin was St Kilda player Nicky Winmar NOT Adam Goodes. The artist has plagiarized Winmar’s action and attributed it in the painting to Goodes! False attribution! and Goodes needs to acknowledge this if he has any sense of decency, specifically involving another aboriginal player. But then again Winmar is into BLM big time so I don’t really care.
  • Tony Thomas – 2nd October 2020Thanks Deric but Goodes did do the jumper-lifting-and-pointing thing as a staged event for the cameras, so there are two (at least) versions.
  • Dave Carter – 2nd October 2020Three versions, Tony!
    The original version was Winmar after a tenacious goal, stickin’ it up a small cadre of Collingwood fans on the boundary fence who had called him “gutless”. Rather than the obvious rejoinder of calling them “toothless” in return, he gave what I reckoned was a pretty concise and physically menacing reply- with a flat and focused gaze.
    The racism claim came later- the fans were officially pushed down the memory hole by Collingwood- the guernsey auction (much later) was passed in, which I’d like to think was a reminder that the man on the street has a longer memory than the thought police might wish them to.
  • Peter OBrien – 3rd October 2020My (unpublished) letter to The Australian:This year’s Archibald prize winner resembles nothing so much as a mural painted on an outback dunny by the local primary school kids. All it lacks is a flock of galahs representing the misfits who made this award.