Australian Politics 2020-06-13 15:38:00


Trachoma among Aborigines

This is another desperate effort to blame whites for black failings.  He rightly notes the vast amount Australian governments spend on trying to help Aborigines with little result -- but goes on to say that yet more should be done.

He uses the example of trachoma incidence as an example of something that should have been fixed by now.  But he glides over the main reason why trachoma is so prevalent among Aborigines:  Dirty faces, particularly the dirty faces of children.

Aborigines do not have good facial hygeine.  I wash my face at least twice a day and I doubt that many whites do less.  But it is not an Aboriginal custom.

There are many contribhuting causes of trachoma among Aborigines but just keeping the kids' faces clean would break the chain of transmission.  I had Aborigines in my classes in primary school and I remember those dirty faces well

So what is the government supposed to do? Are they supposed to go around washing black faces?  It's not going to happen.  And it will not happen because of practicality, not racism

A common remark in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests around Australia shows many of us are still missing the point about race and inequality.

Australia spends billions of dollars on Indigenous affairs every year and yet the challenges facing communities don’t seem to ever get any better.

And so, the failing must naturally lie with Indigenous people, who are either unwilling or incapable of helping themselves.

That’s an argument I’ve seen and heard countless times in recent weeks, since Black Lives Matter protests erupted across Australia, seeing tens of thousands of people take to the streets.

The truth is that an extreme inequality exists in Australia that seems to disproportionately affect Indigenous people.

To illustrate this, I want to tell you about a horrific eye disease that was all but eradicated in developed and wealthy nations a century ago.

Trachoma causes an infection in the eye that sees the eyelid swell and scar, causing the eyelashes to turn inward and repeatedly scratch the eyeball.

It makes blinking excruciating. The sensation is akin to have a handful of small rocks stuck in your eye, with no relief possible.

Those with Trachoma slowly and painfully go blind. It’s one of the leading causes of preventible blindness.

I saw the horrific impacts of Trachoma while on a trip to Ethiopia with the charity The Fred Hollows Foundation a few years ago.

There, some 160 million people have the condition. It’s preventable and treatable, and if caught early enough, blindness can be avoided, and that’s what Fred Hollows is doing on the ground.

You know the other major hotspot for Trachoma? Remote and regional Indigenous communities in Australia.

We are the only developed country in the world where Trachoma still exists at endemic levels.

Surveillance in 131 remote and regional Indigenous communities conducted in 2016 found that 30 per cent of the population was experiencing Trachoma.

That rate puts us on par with Afghanistan. And yet, we haven’t seen it in the mainstream population for almost 100 years. Why does no one care?

Why is it up to charities to try to address this preventable but seemingly ignored problem and not our health system, which we’re told is one of the best in the world?

Indigenous communities are also plagued with higher instances of preventable disease, higher risk of acute illness, lower life expectancy and higher childhood mortality.

Access to health services, poor provision of care and systemic failure at the community intervention level contribute to these unnecessary problems.

With a disease like Trachoma, poor water and sanitation are typically to blame.

While we might spend billions on Indigenous affairs, it’s clear this money is being poorly administered or wasted.

But the public health experts I’ve spoken to tell me that it’s rarely the fault of the communities themselves.

Bureaucrats make spending decisions without the consultation of communities, who typically know what the challenges are and how they should be addressed.

Put simply, it seems those in government departments don’t trust Indigenous Australians to make their own decisions and do it for them. The results have been dismal, I think we can all agree.

When a wealthy nation leaves people behind on multiple fronts, and those people are all black, then you have to ask if race plays a role in our apathy.


If separatism is such misery, do we try integration?

Henry Ergas does not seem to agree with affirmative action. He puts up in an intellectual way the "one nation" argument of Pauline Hanson

That indigenous Australians, who make up 3 per cent of this country’s population, account for 30 per cent of its prisoners is a national disgrace. That by the time they reach the age of 23, 75 per cent of young indigenous people in NSW will have been cautioned by police, referred to a youth justice conference or convicted of an offence in a criminal court — compared with just 17 per cent of their non-indigenous counterparts — makes the disgrace all the more searing.

And the fact that just in the past five years nearly a quarter of the indigenous male population has been arrested and more than 10 per cent jailed, while one indigenous child in five has, at some stage, lost a parent to prison, raises that disgrace into an outrage.

However, the worst of it is that the fault does not lie in the criminal justice system. After all, were these shocking outcomes due to racial bias, the path to a solution would be straightforward.

But indigenous Australians are not imprisoned at such appalling rates because our system of law enforcement treats them unduly harshly.

Rather, they are disproportionately represented in this country’s jails, and in the deaths that occur in those jails, because they are far more likely to commit violent offences. Nor is that seriously in dispute. On the contrary, as Don Weatherburn, perhaps Australia’s most eminent criminologist, concludes in a recent paper with Hamish Thorburn, “the overwhelming weight of evidence” confirms that “differences in rates of offending (and reoffending) account for most, if not all, of the difference in imprisonment rates” between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

And with indigenous women being nearly 40 times more likely to be hospitalised for intentionally inflicted violence than are Australian women generally, it is also beyond dispute that the harm those offenders inflict falls most grievously on indigenous Australians themselves.

Yet none of that lets non-indigenous Australians off the hook. It was not indigenous Australians who destroyed thousands of Aboriginal jobs in country areas by suddenly raising the wages of cattle station labour in 1965; it was the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

Nor was it indigenous Australians who decided, just as the commission’s judgment was having its devastating effects, to massively subsidise remote Aboriginal settlements, condemning generation after generation to inadequate housing, an education scarcely worth having and a future shorn of jobs and hope; it was the Whitlam and Fraser governments.

And it was not indigenous Australians who removed the prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol by, and the sale of alcohol to, Aboriginal people that had been in force throughout Australia since 1929.

It was state and territory governments that, in keeping with the 1960s zeitgeist of self-determination, repealed those controls and decriminalised public drunkenness, plunging fraying Aboriginal communities into a spiral of alcohol-fuelled violence and helping to ensure that indigenous offenders are nearly three times more likely than non-indigenous offenders to be intoxicated when they commit their crimes.

The result, as one Aboriginal community after the other succumbed to the epidemic of substance abuse, was that indigenous incarceration rates, which had been falling since World War I, began to soar.

Far from slowing that rise, the explosive growth in welfare outlays that followed the onset of the crisis perpetuated the pathologies by allowing dysfunctional communities to survive. And instead of frankly confronting the root causes, successive governments relied on grandiose statements of good intentions and on torrents of cash in an increasingly futile attempt to paper over the cracks.

Had the thousands of Australians who marched last week learned from that history and drawn its lessons, one could only have cheered them on.

Of that, however, there was no sign. Epitomised by the participants’ slavish imitation of the ritual gesture of kneeling — which has clear resonance in America because of the prominence of the kneeling slave in the imagery of the abolitionist movement, but which lacks those associations in Australia — the rallies were copycat protests at which self-proclaimed representatives of indigenous people could vent imported rhetoric in tones of punitive hysteria.

No doubt the slogan-mongering went down well with the crowd, many of whom had been chafing at the bit to return to protesting, regardless of the health risks that imposes on the community as a whole.

And it would have been mother’s milk to the young Australians who had been taught since childhood that Europe’s expansion was a plague on the skin of the earth, that its civilisation was a monstrous imposture and that its arrival on these shores 2½ centuries ago heralded the destruction of a Garden of Eden.

But demeaning the past does nothing to heal the present. Nor, for that matter, does setting ambi­tious targets that we do not know how to achieve, as the government seems intent on doing.

Rather, what is needed is honesty and clear-sightedness. And the starting point must be to confront some uncomfortable realities. It is, to begin with, clear that much-touted nostrums, such as diverting juvenile offenders from the court system, have been tried and largely found to fail, with most studies concluding that they do not decrease the risk of reconviction, the time to reconviction, the seriousness of further offending or the number of reconvictions.

And it is equally clear that while those approaches are not a viable solution, imprisonment does reduce the extent and incidence of serious offending, as well as shielding, at least for a time, the victims of violence from their tormentors.

That hardly implies we should simply accept the dreadful costs mass incarceration imposes on indigenous Australians and on the moral fabric of the nation.

What it does mean, however, is that we face an alternative. We can salve our conscience by retaining the unstated premise that has led to the current calamity: that indigenous Australians are essentially a separate race, who should be funded to live at enormous expense in places where there are no viable jobs, where supplying basic services is prohibitively costly and where alcohol and drugs are the only antidote to squalor, boredom and despair.

If that is our choice, today’s pathologies, and the mass incarceration that is their symptom, will persist for decades to come.

Or, while recognising the deep and enduring scars, we can reconsider the whole notion of racial separateness, reaffirm our commitment to the ideal of integration and begin the transition to a country whose principles, policies and ways of life are genuinely colourblind.

The one thing we cannot do is pin the repeated failures on anyone but ourselves. They are a tragedy of our own making. And more than ever, they are our responsibility to repair.


Two jokes derail a young Australian conservative

The money box joke is explained below and the second joke turns on the fact that "Fuehrer" in German simply means "leader".  To most people who know no German it is known only as a common title of Hitler. 

The student below however did know the meaning of the term and used it in that sense -- to indicate in a jocular way his admiration of a student who was critical of ties with China.  He was saying that he too was critical of ties with China. 

The Australian "Young Liberals" are a conservative group

A young Liberal who was fired as an MP's staffer over 'racist' social media posts has said his sacking was 'unfair' and political correctness has 'gone mad'.

University of Queensland economics student Barclay McGain, 20, said he reached a 'mutual agreement' to leave Coalition MP Andrew Laming's office this week after two offensive social media posts were unearthed.

One was a snapchat which he sent to friends and family showing him holding a money box featuring a picture of an indigenous person with exaggerated features.

The other was a Facebook post in which he called suspended student Drew Pavlou 'Mein Fuhrer' - German for my leader - alongside an altered video of a scene showing Adolf Hitler in the movie Downfall.

In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Mr McGain - who was suspended from the Young LNP in December over a video of him laughing at a racist joke - apologised for the posts but said he should not have been sacked.

'I think it's unfair. My posts have been misconstrued and misinterpreted,' he said. 'All the things that have been tabled against me have been taken gravely out of context.

'The picture of me holding my stepfather's money box was to display the irony of me being cast in the media as some-one who disrespects indigenous culture when in reality I've grown up for the last 12 years with an indigenous stepfather who always respected an honoured his heritage,' he said.

'The Mein Furer comment to Drew was a joke and in no way insinuates that I sympathise with the despicable actions committed by the Third Reich in WWII. That's not the case.

'If anyone who wants to heavily misconstrue it that way then I apologise that they've taken offense. That was not my intention.'

Drew Pavlou is fighting his suspension by the University of Queensland for allegedly breaching its code of conduct by holding anti-Chinese government protests on campus. 

The 20-year-old, who yesterday left the LNP youth wing to focus on his studies, said he thinks his sacking is 'definitely linked' to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of African-American security guard George Floyd.

He railed against the resulting 'cancel culture' which has seen demonstrators in the US and the UK topple statues they deem offensive while streaming services pull old shows they perceive to be racist, including Netflix which has axed Sydney comedian Chris Lilley's work.

'I think this is political correctness gone mad. My gripe with this is that companies are completely virtue signalling and telling us that we can't watch an Aussie icon's comedy without being racist,' Mr McGain said.

'I disagree with that assumption and I don't think them censoring anything on their platforms changes any racial attitudes that still exist today or any issues facing indigenous people today.'


Sydney shows how to do it

Demonstrators stay peaceful.  No riots, no looting under a conservative administration

Hundreds of police officers in face masks have congregated at a banned Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney - and have warned they won't hesitate to arrest protesters. 

A rally calling for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody - planned for Sydney Town Hall on Friday evening - was deemed unlawful by NSW Police because they weren't formally notified. 

Police officers showed up in force two hours early and protesters decided to move the gathering to Hyde Park in a last-ditch attempt to avoid authority.

'Due to the overwhelming police presence at Town Hall, we will now be starting from the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park,' a Facebook post read.

Police followed the activists to Hyde Park at 6.30pm and immediately attempted to disperse the crowds.

One protester who had also attended Saturday's Black Lives Matter protest said there were 'a lot more police than last time'.

Protesters chanted 'we'll be back' as they were moved on by officers.

The demonstrators were moved on by police from Hyde Park at about 6.45pm. Some protesters walked to Town Hall but were again followed by officers and told to disperse.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here