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Bye bye Dems

by Dave Riley
I was going to write the header for this post , "Bye bye Dems?" but realised that there wasn't any question at all. The Democrats will function at this upcoming election to deny a few jockeying points to the Greens if they do some nasty preference deals in order to try and save whatever remains of their electoral bacon.

But after losing party registration in Queensland and Tasmania -- this recent failure to thrive in the ACT (see below)suggests that they are indeed on their way out.

Boo hoo.

The GST party is committing, in effect, slow suicide.
  • The Democrats suffered a massive loss of support at the 2004 Federal election, reducing them to 1.24% of the national vote. None of their senators up for re-election survived the vote.
  • On 18 March 2006, at the 2006 South Australian State election, the Democrats were reduced to 1.7% of the Legislative Council (upper house) vote.
  • In the New South Wales state election of March 2007, The party fared poorly, gaining only 1.8% of the Legislative Council vote.
So it goes...
MEDIA RELEASE from the ACT Electoral Commissioner

Proposal to cancel registration of Australian Democrats for ACT elections

The Australian Democrats may be removed from the ACT Register of Political Parties as it does not have enough members, ACT Electoral Commissioner Phillip Green said today.

The ACT Democrats has informed the Electoral Commissioner that it does not have the 100 members required for registration as a political party for ACT Legislative Assembly elections.

Under the ACT's Electoral Act, the Electoral Commissioner is required to cancel the registration of a political party where the Commissioner believes on reasonable grounds that the party does not have at least 100 members who are on the ACT electoral roll. Before cancelling a party's registration, the Commissioner is required to invite written objections to the proposed cancellation.

A notice inviting public objections to the proposed cancellation has been published on the ACT Legislation Register. The notice can be found at www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2007-247/default.asp .

26 Com:

John Tracey | August 24, 2007

Morgan polls suggest your analysis is wrong in Qld.
- Greens 6%
-Dems 5.5%
- Hanson 5%

Any one of them could end up winning on preferences.

The interesting factor of Andrew Bartlett vs. Larissa Waters (the Greens) in Qld.is Bartlett has had a high and consisistant profile on Indigenous issues whereas the Greens have have ignored indigenous issues except about the Burrup Peninsula and a few meaningless platitudes in response to the N.T. situation.

Anyone ivolved in support for Aboriginal Qld. would have come accross Bartlett at some stage.
I believe many traditional Green voters will vote for Bartlett as a way of supporting indigenous struggles.

This is one of the saddest things of S.A. running Sam Watson.
Sam who is perhaps the highest profile Murri in Qld except for Noel Pearson has a potential of rallying huge support in the general population, especially amongst progresives and lefties. But in Sam's campaign, support for murries has been anchored to a marginalised and unpopular white political movement that has in the past and will again create a public perception that Aboriginal issues are fringe demands of isolated and anachronistic political groupings such as SA.

If I had the electoral track record of SA I would not be snickering at the demise of the Democrats. They still have a long way to fall before they hit SA's vote.

Dave Riley | August 25, 2007

But john you are an ex-member of the Dems aren't you? And my snicker was focused on the fact that they would not be morned that much since they did support the GST (amongst other features of their political baggage) and that they are collapsing by dint of the evolving irrelevance in the context of a Greens squeeze from the left.

So it comes down to preferences on an either/or basis -- the Greens or the Dems --since you think the SA is marginal and, I guess, that Sam Watson is a fool to tie his electoral wagon to the Alliance.

It's Andrew B we should be supporting, I guess, unconditionally since, as you have pointed out before, the Greens have been amiss in regard to Murri issues.

But you forget one minor detail: that what has been won here in Qld in regard to Indigenous issues over the past two - three years has had very little to do with parliament or elections and a lot to do with campaigns that are committed to the street and elsewhere.

Sam has secured his profile there -- not in any electoral arena -- and thats' the political point.

And while the Dems do have a track record with Indigeneous issues here -- including the support in the eighties from Oodgeroo Noonuccal --they do carry a lot of political baggage that, in effect, are crippling them now.

You know full well that is was the SA and ONLY THE SA that ran a Indigenous focused campaign with Sam's candidacy at the last state election.

But I guess being anachronistic with fringe demands about such issues is all the Alliance is capable of(according to you).. And I assume you are saying that BECAUSE Sam is so aligned you won't be supporting him. Is that right? Preferring instead the less marginal course of backing the Democrats....?

John Tracey | August 25, 2007

Just to make things clear...

I do not at all support Sam's senate campaign. I do not think Sam is a "fool" but I do think he has made a tragic error of judgement.

I believe Sam and Nicole Clevens (and Ray Jackson?) have undermined the political power that Aboriginal activists have accumulated since the 70's by reducing Aboriginality to a dot point on white campaign literature. Their marginalisation and failure that is inherent in SA's electoral strategy has done more to objectify and dismiss Aboriginal demands of sovereignty and self determination than anything Beattie has done.
Sam played a good role in bringing together left activists around Aboriginal issues, but he has wasted this by becoming just another one of the left activists instead of leading the left towards real connection and understanding of Aboriginality and Aboriginal people.

I am indeed a previous member of the Democrats. I am also a previous member of the Greens, the Brisbane anarchist movement, the Prespyterian Church, the Boy Scouts. The only organisation I am presently a member of is the "Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal, Custodian of the land Minjerribah, Peace, Prosperity and Healing, Sacred Treaty Circles" which operates under the eldership of Oodgeroo's son and former founder and leader of the Brisbane Chapter of the Black Panthers - Bejam Denis Walker.

I am publically endorsing Bartlett purely and simply to add to the momentum of the stolen wages process he has initiated and continues to push. A very limited objective I admit, but electoral politics is bullshit so you take what you can get from it.

Last senate election S.A. was not the only indigenous campaign. You are wrong! The Late John Jones also ran, which S.A. did not ever acknowledge or support.

and finally, you refered to "what has been won here in Qld in regard to Indigenous issues over the past two - three years"

Can you please enlighten me about what has been won?

Dave Riley | August 25, 2007

Last senate election S.A. was not the only indigenous campaign. You are wrong!

I didn't say that at all. I referred to the last state election and I was arguing in the context of your point that the SA was so dedicated to "fringe demands" that it raised such issues as stolen wages and black deaths in cop custody...!?

My point about what has been won in regard to Indigenous issues was the core thrust of the Mulrunji campaign esp in regard to getting the bastard charged and some buoyancy in regard to the affray style charges for the so called 'riot' events on Palm. If you were at the last Invasion Day you'll know that there was a real sense of winning a victory -- despite the fact that later no conviction was achieved.

A victory is a victory despite the massive scale of what has not been won and secured and this victory was secured by the mobilisation of Murris in partnership with supporters in the boarder community.

The Mulrunji campaign , in effect, has been a banner that has embolden indigenous political activism in Tasmania, WA, & Victoria and to some degree in NSW.

You see the core way forward is to vote Andrew Bartlett in so he can raise points of order or whatever in the Senate and maybe blog about it and offer mailout facilities or whatever...I say the way forward is to consolidate that activity and self organisation that was the core dynamic during the Mulrunji campaign. And Sam Watson is a key symbol of that sort opf politics when what Bartlett stands for in Democrat parliamentarist politics...

Theres' a very BIG difference that you ignore.

So you also say you prefer Whitey to do the politicking at the big house instead of an activist and leader who has proven absolutely his commitment to the aboriginal struggle...

You also insist that it behoves Murris -- and I guess Sam especially -- to create a separate Indigenous pole of attraction to which white lefties can relate. While you ignore the whole question of a political partnership you also end up saying that BECAUSE white lefties are involved in Sam's campaign in the form of the Socialist Alliance you don't want anything to do with it -- preferring instead the safe liberality of the Dems.

Thats' your perogative, but don't try to sell me a psalm about some schemata you've concocted about the way to proceed when you are opposed to the context which has buoyed up the Alliance's initiatives. (You could have also been similarly critical of Oodgeroo Noonuccal for the time she spent as a committed member of the Communist Party and bemoan the fact that the CPA was so marginal and old hat that it didn't matter that the party played such a genuine and significant support role in Aboriginal struggles. Today we're supposed to be modern and prefer the Democrats.)

As for the prospect of separate Aboriginal party like initiative -- a black alliance -- that remains to be seen. The SA doesn't preclude that at all. But the reality at the moment is that this is the partnership that exists..even if you don't like it.

John Tracey | August 25, 2007

You seem to have an obsesson with me and the Democrats, why?

I dont say Bartlett or the Dems are the "way forward". I just say its the best thing to do on election day. I certainly dont hold much faith in this as a "way". I regularly rip into Bartlett on his own blog pointing out the limits of both centrism and parliamentariansim. But I will still give him my vote.

Perhaps one day I will expound upon my "schemata", but I assure you it was not concocted by me. I dont know what you think I have tried to sell you for I have not intended to do that. What I have done is critiqued your schemata. I see no common ground yet to explain my schemata.

I had no need to criticise Oodgeroo for her role in the C.P.A. She told me herself of her expereience. She said they wanted her to boost their issues but were not interested in her perspective. She quit when they wrote her speeches for her. It is her wisdom on this matter, as well as her similar experience in the Democrats that is partly behind by concerns about what is happening with Sam.

While the white left got itself quite excited about getting Hurley charged, Murris all new the outcome would be the same as every other death in custody. The only Murris I heard who thought Hurley would get convicted were christians on Palm Island who had faith that God would deliver justice.
And I was at invasion day by the way. You seem to have misread Aboriginal anger for a sense of winning a victory.

The only victory or win that has occured is an increase in numbers and activities of the white left. Aboriginal agendas have not moved forward at all and continue to be forced back.

Clinton Barnes | August 26, 2007

What's wrong with being a member and presenting a favourable argument? Not only am I a member, I'm seeking pre-selection (HOR).

There's little momentum, I believe, in the ACT and TAS when the odds are staked so highly against them. The ACT are focusing on the new era for the party; we are thinking long term. Centrist parties are certainly not a redundant concept. What is are the parties that appeal to employer vs. employee or vice-versa (such as the SA, but of course Labral).

I'm surprised, Dave, by your faith in the Greens doing well? They are clearly plateauing as Labor resurges and as every party now speaks green. Without Brown, who are they anyways?

Also, the GST party? How about the 'heavily-amended-GST party', because that's what happened. The real GST party is the party that got the mandate from the Australian people to govern - the Coalition.

Dave Riley | August 26, 2007

I agree that the expectation was that Hurley would be let off --= I am fully aware of that estimation within the community.

So then you , John, have to ask yourself, what then was the protest movement about? Because you seem to infer it did not amount to much --since it was sentenced not to win.

You then say -- in effect -- that the best it can hope for now is to get behind Andrew Bartlett and make sure he gets back into the Senate.

I think that's a bit of a cop out in regard to the sort of movement that needs to be consolidated and built.At stake, is fostering what Sam calls a new indigenous " political renaissance "

My argument is about politics and method and that's why I'm critical of deferring to the Democrats as they offer but one way forward.: vote me in. and sit back until we need you in three or four years time.

Even if Bartlett was a Murri it still would amount to the same prescription.

Whereas the Greens, are not so absolutely within the electoralist schema. To some degree -- varying from centre to centre across the country -- they do relate to movements and mass action. The Greens also have a platform a lot better than the rag tag baggage that weighs the Democrats down going back decades.

The problem Clinton is that the Dems have facilitated both the Coalition and the ALP to govern in the interest not of the Australian people but for business interests.

Despite the avowed progressive rhetoric of the Democrats especially in the days of the Democrat "left turn" sponsored by figures such as Democrat Senators Sid Spindler and Janet Powell in the early nineties, the Democrats' course has been erratic and untrustworthy --and backing the GST for the sake of 'political relevance' is a prime example of this tact of theirs --just as the sort of preference deals they now engineer each polling day.

So on the question of whether I'd prefer Dems or Greens in the Senate -- my answer is straightforward. And my point was simply this: the Dems are en route out of history...

PS: On the prospect of writing Sam Watson's speeches!!!! Sam Watson is the most articulate person I know. a published novelist. film maker and public speaker... I think him one of the best speakers in the country regardless of movement, demographic or issue.

If you check audio archive on LeftCast you'll see what I mean. You are also raising red herrings to justify why you prefer to stick with Bartlett as you want to infer that any 'white' group will Jacky Jacky its indigenous members.

You also run with the theme that this "white left' is an obstacle to Indigenous political activism as though this "white left' has hamstrung any number of opportunities for aboriginal self organisation, ignored or warped its political agenda.

Quite frankly I think that's utter rubbish. At stake is the sort of ongoing partnership that can be fostered.AND that partnership cannot and will never be fostered inside the Democrats nor will it prosper politically as an adjunct to religious moralism. It can only be engineered in shared struggle and solidarity.

Thats' the core task we face and it is a collective challenge of which the Alliance exercise is a new project we are engaged with -- not Just Sam Watson, but other SA Indigenous members and supporters. So this is a route that WE ARE negotiating...

Thats' what's at stake here in terms of pushing the envelope.

John Tracey | August 26, 2007

Hello again Dave,
Firstly thank you for taking the time responding to my comments. I will try to be less confrontationist in discussing the issues you raise about the challenge of figuring out how best to deal with Aboriginal issues.

secondly, I didn't accuse SA of putting words in Sam's mouth. I think you would agree that Dr.Oodgeroo was also adequately articulate, as the most famous Aboriginal writer ever. The issue for Oodgeroo was not that she was not capable of articulating an opinion but rather what she wanted to say was different from the CPA. She had a different perspective.

You ask me what I thought the recent protest movement was about.
1/There was a slim chance Hurley would be convicted and it was worth a go.
2/Most important of all - It showed Aboriginal people and the government alike that Aboriginal perspective was not isolated and without support.

I was on Palm Island a couple of times between the death and the aquittal and was curious about what the mob there thought of the protests. Those I spoke to certainly claimed ownership of the demonstrations, the protests were about them and they greatly appreciated it. Except the christians, there was no expectation of success but it was a morale boost to know somebody was on their side and was getting up the government. The people I spoke to were looking for ongoing political strategies and were curious (but non-committal) about both the Democrats and the Greens - mainly because BArtlett and Hutton are both regular visitors to the Island. Until last year the Greens had a branch on Palm Island and Erykah Kyle ran for mayor as a Green, on a Green ticket. I know Erykah was hoping this connection to the Greens would gather support and momentum for her (and others) specific agendas on Palm Island. This manifested in Hutton and myself advising her on housing issues before she burnt out.

I note that the Palm Is. Green branch was totally ignored by the state Greens although Saint Bob took an active interest.

The strategy that Hutton, Bartlett and myself all took to Palm Island was "What do we have, within our own capacities, to offer the agendas of the Palm Island political leadership?" I note that despite his best intentions Bartlett has been the one with the least to offer in real, nuts and bolts terms.

It is important to understand that Aboriginal Australia allready has a political structure, a political leadership and clearly articulated political demands. The "Left" or the churches or the unions or any other white structure can assist by providing resources and labour to this pre-existing leadership and political agenda (of which Sam is obviously a part).

However if us migrant folk create a movement that tries to incorporate Aboriginal agendas into the canon of "Left" agendas then illusions will be generated about Aboriginality in order to make it fit into the other sacred cows. "One struggle, one fight, women, workers, blacks unite" is a myth of the women and the workers about the blacks. When Kev Carmody released his first album "Pillars of Society" it was boycotted by the Brisbane feminist movement because of the song "White Bougoise Woman", claiming it was mysogenist.

The highpoint of left support for Landrights was the Gurindji struggle where the CPA ran a successfull union campaign for equal wages for Aboriginal stockworkers. This resulted in the mass sacking of Aboriginal stockworkers resulting in their dispossession from their tribal lands - many ending up populating the Alice Springs town camps. Because the CPA missed the essential point of Land Rights - that the Gurindji own their land, and found a common denominator "Left" demand - equal wages, they created a lethal distraction from the main issue causing much suffering.

The "Left" defined the Gurindji as "workers" - they created Aborigines in their own image. This notion of "worker" is behind my comments on the other thread about capitalism and Aboriginal economy.

The answer to my question on that thread is the traditional economy is indeed socialist because EVERYBODY is related, so the sharing law applies to everyone. However this notion of tribal communism has nothing to do with being workers.

Have you seen this yet?

Dave Riley | August 27, 2007

I'm not an Indigenous activist -- nor am I especially focused on the indigenous struggle as my menu is as broad as you off handly dismiss as the standard canon of left agendas. But you see, I do have a particular focus and thats' politics and political activity.

If I can lay claim to anything, that's my skill -- limited as it may be.

And I'm saying that politics moves by certain parameters which are in play right across the political universe. You may not agree with that -- but in THIS society tactics and constraints are formatted within those rules of engagement (which includes aspects such as class, power, race, gender,the state, etc)

You are correct to say that that Aboriginal Australia already has a political structure, a political leadership.."

But in all areas of political engagement there are differences as there obviously is between your view of what needs to be done politically and , say, Sam Watson's -- or Noel Pearson's and Sam Watson's, or mine and John Howard's... But John Howard "leads" me doesn't he? Australia too has its own all in 'political structure'.

But I don't think much of it, you see...just because it's there. One of the major problem with Aboriginal Australia at the moment is that Howard and the ALP are selecting the indigenous leadership they'd prefer.

As for the CPA take on land rights and the 1968(?) equal rights case.. Yes the tragedy was that the indigenous owners were dispossessed and it seems pretty clear that both the CPA and the trade union movement was totally blind to the impending consequences at the time.(Ref: Bull Bunbury & Bernie Brian)

It was , in effect, a brutal restructuring of the cattle industry shepherded in under guise of 'workers rights'....

I think you are correct in marking down the CPA et al on the land rights issue. They didn't get it and they did suffer from a crude workerist schematism. It required the mobilisations that followed & enacted by the Aboriginal community -- organizing themselves independently -- to advance the land rights agenda as well as other issues. Very clearly the major shift in the seventies was the assertion of Aboriginal people that they were masters of their own political agenda.

This parallels similar upheavals elsewhere -- among other indigenous peoples -- and in play was always the attempt to buy this movement off and placate it.

Well from where I'm sitting those days are history. Now we face a major attempt to roll back anything and everything that was gained over the last forty years--and this NT invasion is the latest foray in an ongoing project that is quickening.

John Tracey | August 28, 2007

Can you please clarify your above comments.

You said....

"Well from where I'm sitting those days are history."

Have I read it correctly that this refers to

"Very clearly the major shift in the seventies was the assertion of Aboriginal people that they were masters of their own political agenda."

in the context of

"But I don't think much of it, you see...just because it's there. One of the major problem with Aboriginal Australia at the moment is that Howard and the ALP are selecting the indigenous leadership they'd prefer."

Are you really saying the time for grass roots and customary law Aboriginal leadership has finished?

Please clarify if I have misunderstood. If this is indeed what you mean, what is the difference between that and Mal Brough's attacks on customary law?

And are you not cherry picking the leadership that is prepared to allign itself with you in the same way that Howard etc. has done in chosing their "Aboriginal leaders".

Howards "leaders" and people like Sam, though poles apart politically -in terms of the white political spectrum - are also elements of a parralel political structure - Aboriginal Australia. They are related as family and have an inherent power because of this infrastructure. It is this infrastructure - customary law - that sustained the 150 year guerilla war, the 80 years of imprisonment under protection acts and the Aboriginal self determination movement of the 70s and 80s.

It is this customary law and its political power that will provide a "schemata" for change this century too. The white left can get on board this structure but they have to respect it on its own terms. To dismiss it is to dismiss Aboriginal power and culture.

John Tracey | August 30, 2007

I would encourage supporters of Aboriginal struggles to read Gary Foley's essay "Whiteness and Blackness in the Koori Struggle for Self-Determination"

an excerpt -

"It is important therefore that the first thing a supporter of the Koori struggle must do is to shake off the myths of both the Right and the Left and to hear the alternative versions of history and memory that the Koori community offers. In putting yourself through such a process of self-education you should come to understand the tenuous nature of what is called history anyway. It is a question of understanding that Koori perceptions of space, time and meaning, necessarily conflict with the linear approach to history by the west. So too do our understandings of your political structures and institutions conflict with your perceptions, but you must understand our historical experience with those entities is what shapes our attitude toward them. In other words, if you are a member of a mainstream political party in Australia, then don't come to me pretending that your party can, or will, be of any real help to Aboriginal peoples quest for Land Rights and economic independence. If anything, this essay should have shown why Koori people distrust all political parties."

Note - I do not think SA's campaign with Sam or the Left's support for the Mulrunji campaign are the same as the flawed campaigns mentioned by Foley in his essay. They are indeed a new phenomenon. However the issues raised by Foley (and many others) has not been properly considered by the movement in Brisbane. This contrasts with the protests in Melbourne at Camp Sovereignty where the role of non-Aboriginal people became a central internal debate.

Dave Riley | August 30, 2007

(Q) Are you really saying the time for grass roots and customary law Aboriginal leadership has finished?

(A) Of course not. And thats' a totally muddle headed reading of what I wrote.

As for your take on Foley's position I just gotta say one thing, John: despite the fact that you regret it, the SA partnership exists.It's obvious you don't like it and would prefer to roll it back -- but thats' what is happening in this 'new phenomenon' .

No one said boo about Sam's or some other Murri's past membership of the ALP did they? Or the establishment of the Palm Island branch of the ALP back in the seventies. I gather there was no major angst about Ridgeway's affiliation to the Dems? But John Tracy is keen to warn the world against the dangers of the far left.

Thats' your protest isn't it?

And this exercise here is one of entrapment to prove how dangerous I am or could be to the Aboriginal cause.

So let's let things unfold in the real world, shall we -- off the web. And let the indigenous community decide themselves if or how they will relate to Sam Watson's campaign.

John Tracey | August 30, 2007

No entrapment, only a dialogue. No need to feel threatened.

Yes Dave, we should indeed let Aboriginal people make up their own mind about Sam's campaign.

However my comments, in particular my refering to the Foley article about whiteness is an attempt to explore and analyse non-Aboriginal attitudes and actions - like the discussions that occured in the movement around Camp Sovereignty in Melbourne.

I would have hoped you might have something a bit more substantial to say about Foley's article. I did not offer "my take" on it as you suggest, I just shared the article with your readership. I even said his critique could not be applied to the SA campaign. Yet you still dismiss it absolutely because it is not the correct party line.

You should not dismiss Foley simply because it was me who refered to it.

You have somewhat defensively interpreted discussion as "protest" or ridiculous statements like "John Tracy is keen to warn the world against the dangers of the far left".

If you are going to be so closed-minded to reject the wisdom of people like Foley or those non-Aboriginal people who have been supporting Aboriginal Australia for decades, such as myself, hysterically dismissing our positions with an ever changing array of petty name calling masquerading as critique, then your experiment with Aboriginal Australia is doomed to fail, your leadership will lack the substance to tackle the real issues of Aboriginal Australia beyond propaganda dot points - the standard left responses to all issues.

Come out of your box Dave, the real world that you speak of is bigger and more complex than you think. I dont ask you and your readers to agree, just to consider.

Stimmer | August 30, 2007

If we want to go around quoting Gary Foley, check out the third last line in this piece:

"Any political party that is prisoner to 'electoralism' cannot and will not be able to confront the historical challenges of Aboriginal Affairs."

And note that the quote from Gary that John provided above is about "mainstream political parties".

There is a false debate being created here that "gubba" lefties don't acknowledge existing indigenous structures, laws, or governance, that we're only fighting for indigenous rights for some our own nefarious reasons. That's just plain offensive. And wrong.

I would have thought it more obvious that that is exactly what the major parties are doing, not the activists who volunteer most of their waking lives fighting for social justice causes, including indigenous justice. REAl justice, not a parliamentary figleaf or a stab in the back like the NTA.

Yet funnily enough, it's ok for the Dems or anyone else to jump onto the bandwagon. Just not the socialists.

Dave's already outlined a lot of Socialist Alliance's position, and there is a Charter for Indigenous Justice rapidly on it's way, but go back to that quote from Gary and tell me who's taking the struggle seriously, and who's taking us for a ride?

And I know the Dems do some good work. But the question is, what kind of society is going to be able to (and willing to) truly bring about lasting justice in this country, and which political parties are truly dedicated to that goal? Half-solutions end up being non-solutions.

Now, you might say that Sam has made a "tragic error of judgment", but maybe your priorities are a bit askew. If Sam's goal was to sit in the senate with Bartlett and co, then sure, mistake made.

But if his goal was to get black and white organised to fight for the kind of society where justice is more than a pretty word mouthed by suits, then I must disagree.

And it's true, our vote is pretty small. Maybe that will change. But regardless of electoral success, we are still going to fight and organise, and talk, and listen. That's where the real solutions come from.

John Tracey | August 31, 2007

Dave, are you going to let my last post through or have I been censored?

Stimmer, how can you accuse me of being locked into electoral politics when I am saying the Aboriginal struggle operates within Aboriginal modes that we must learn? Electoralism is clearly a white thing, globally, and I fully endorse Foley's comment.

SA seems to be much more committed to electoralism than I, and I have criticised Sam for going this path with the SA, so I dont see how your criticism of electorlism applies to what I have said.

I admit Foley may be talking about major parties when he says "mainstream parties" but I suspect he is talking about parties from mainstream culture.

I dont know why you and Dave have decided I am a democrat but you should read what I have written before you criticise what I have written.

Or are you trying to create a fiction about me because you have no answers to what I have really said?

Dave Riley | September 03, 2007

To John Tracey -- There has been no censorship (although I have posting approval rights as I decide). I have been ill this week and mainly off the web and located prostrate.Thats' why there has been an approval delay.

John Tracey | September 03, 2007


That excuse may be the case of my most recent post (though I doubt it). However my post responding to the accusation of entrapment was posted before you let through Stimmer's response and your own - you blocked my comment but allowed criticism of me to go through.

Your and Stimmers comments were uploaded at the same time and mine wasn't until today, yet my comment sits in the middle of these two.

Your last comment before I was blocked said "So let's let things unfold in the real world, shall we -- off the web."

Do not tell lies, you only let my comments through because I have highlighted your censorship on my own and other blogs.

Dave Riley | September 03, 2007

I think this report pushes a lot of what John Tracy is trying to foster in way of straw arguments aside....It is an important and thoroughly significant initiative.

A decade under Howard has been a living nightmare, says new black leadership group
Thursday, 23 August 2007

By Chris Graham

NATIONAL, August 31, 2007: A new coalition of Aboriginal leaders from around the nation has released its first public statement since forming a fortnight ago.

And the group, which has yet to adopt a formal name, has come out swinging, issuing a release that is written in the vein that the group intends to continue fighting… with plenty of aggression.

Describing the past decade under the Howard government as “a nightmare” for Aboriginal people, the group attacks both the Liberal and Labor parties for creating policies which “blame the victims”.

The group includes former senior public servant Pat Turner, Olga Havnen (ACOSS and ANTaR), Naomi Mayers (CEO, Redfern Aboriginal Medical Service), Dennis Eggington (WA Aboriginal Legal Service), Sam Watson (Murri academic and activist), Bob Weatherall (FAIRA), Michael Mansell (Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre), Michael Williams , Gracelyn Smallwood (North Queensland), Nicole Watson and Larissa Behrendt (both Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University Technology Sydney) and Bradley Foster (community leader from North Queensland).

It formed a fortnight ago in response to the federal government's 'emergency intervention' into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

“A decade under John Howard has seen native title made harder to get with his 'bucket loads of extinguishment' legislation,” the statement reads.

“The elected body ATSIC was sacked; the Reconciliation Council dumped; paternalistic funding conditions imposed, such as being asked to wash hands and attend school to get Commonwealth monies.

“The Northern Territory Land Rights Act has been amended to increase access for mining and now vulnerable Aboriginal communities in the NT are invaded by troops.

“It has been a nightmare decade for Aboriginal people.

“We have been reduced to beggars in our own country.”

The group accused the Howard government of selective listening when it came to hearing Indigenous people.

“Any dissenting voice is ignored by a Government that selects "yes" people to promote its own agenda, and the select few are tragically held out as the voice of Aborigines,” the statement read.

The group accused both the Coalition and the ALP of 'blaming the victims' and launched a scathing attack on the NT intervention plans, which are endorsed by both major parties.

“The Howard and Rudd response to policies that have kept families and whole communities destitute is to blame the victim.

“Those victims, long denied a real chance to make a go of it, will now have their income stolen and must go to the local store with food vouchers: those vouchers will have a list of purchasable items on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

“The balance of family incomes will never be seen by the "beneficiaries" because the bureaucracy keeps it to pay "other" costs.

“This demeaning approach will create greater dependency and strip the last form of human dignity from those subjected to a destructive policy.

“The increased police presence in community areas with "dob-in desks" is designed to humiliate, not rehabilitate.

“Portraying all Aborigines as paedophiles and drunks, and taking land away, undermines the remaining virtue we have: our dignity.

“We cannot watch developments in silence any longer. Our people deserve better.”

The group says the new coalition will seek to “represent the unrepresented Aboriginal communities” from around the nation and it promises to never align with any political party.

“We believe we bring experience and sincerity to the national political landscape.

“In our quest, we will not favour any political party as we see Aboriginal issues as being above party politics. Our single aim is to improve the lot of our people.

“We see our culture and people as an asset, not a liability.

“If we cannot persuade governments, then we will take our case to the court of public opinion - to the Australian people, to give us a chance to create a better future.”

John Tracey | September 03, 2007

Dave, even if you have a straw argument, I can't see what it is. I wonder if you have read the statement?

It says....
"The group says the new coalition will seek to “represent the unrepresented Aboriginal communities” from around the nation and it promises to never align with any political party."

This statement is from a broad Aboriginal leadership that has the potential to attract broad support from the general community as well as articulate the concerns of grass roots Aboriginal communities.

The 1967 referendum achieved a vote of over 90% mainstream support for Aboriginal rights, this coalition could also gain such support and momentum in these times.

Compare this potential to the track record of Sam's senate candidacy over the past 6 years.

2001 - Sam Watson and Karen Fletcher (no party status on ballot paper) .4% (that's point four percent)

2004 - Sam Watson and Niclole Clevins (S.A. on ballot paper) .1%

Despite the growth of Sam's profile in the media over this time, an indigenous candidate in number 1 & 2 spot and the consolidation of the infrastructure of S.A., you lost 3/4 of your minimal vote over this time.

The electoral history raises serious tactical questions, but these are different issues to ideological colonialism which is the real issue that "the left" has to come to terms with.

John Tracey | September 03, 2007

And Dave,

The order and dates of the posts betray your excuse for censoring me, as does the dissapearence of this thread today.

Dave Riley | September 04, 2007

Yes John I can read and I know what the statement says -- only to point out that it was circulated by and throughout the Socialist Alliance networks with much excitement and enthusiasm.

You seem to think that this is a exercise in ownership and that all whitey wants is to own a piece of the indigenous movement and claim it for its copyrighted version of radicalism.-

Thats' you core argument isn't it? Your core objection?

You also reprise your other argument that Sam being aligned to the Socialist Alliance is a political liability as he can never hope to receive the electoral support he deserves while standing for the SA.

I'm not going to repeat myself on these matters inasmuch as I have pointed out before that this isn't just a question of vote getting -- that the electoral politics of the SA is an extension of what it does the other 364 days each year.

You for one, it seems, from what we've read during this discourse here, won't be working for or voting for Sam Watson because of this -- preferring instead to commit your energies to Andrew Bartlett.

John Tracey | September 04, 2007

When I have said I dont support Sam's campaign this does indeed mean that I wont be working or voting for his campaign. - you have correctly read between the lines and caught me out there.

A question - if you are not looking for votes in this election, why are you running in the election? Why dont you just put the money and energy into selling more papers?

And another question, I put this on the comments of Sam's New Vision of Australia.

Perhaps you can answer it.

What are the indigenous policies that S.A. are taking to the election?

Sam's statement is a fine statement of principle, but where are the details, the "concrete policies" he talks about?

The only specific seems to be a call for a bill of rights, hardly a comprehensive response to Aboriginal oppression.

I have been looking around your site for policy and there is very little except the charter of indigenous rights which, amongst other things, calls for a repeal of the Native Title Act and abolishing CDEP - both of which are policies of Mal Brough!

Are you taking these policies into the debate about the NT intervention?

Have I missed your policy? If so please provide a link to it, or is it just Sam's statement and your 2004 charter?

John Tracey | September 05, 2007

I misread the charter, you do not call for the abolition of CDEP - sorry.

Do you call for increased CDEP wages to achieve a just wage?

CDEP is just a work for the dole scheme - why is one better than the other?

If you want the native title act abolished, what will you replace it with?

Where do you stand on a democratically elected national indigenous representative body?

What will be in the treaty and who will it be between?

John Tracey | September 08, 2007

Does S.A. have any indigenous policies? Has the indigenous charter been updated since 2004?

I have asked questions here, on the new vision for australia page and on the indigenous charter page - but no answer.

Your policies seem to be

1/ A bill of rights - with no explaination what will be in it

2/ A treaty - with no explaination what will be in it or who it will be between.

3/Increased wages for CDEP workers - an apparent support for the Aboriginal work for the dole scheme and the welfare mode.

It appears to me that the basis of SA's electoral campaign is simply "Look at us, we have an indigenous candidate".

Please correct me if I am wrong and give a link to a recent and more comprehensive policy. I have been looking around and haven't been able to find anything. If I cant find it then potential voters will also not be able to find it.

Dave Riley | September 08, 2007

The problem you have to deal with John is that IF the SA has "no indigenous policies' to speak of why does the situation exist that it has a measure of indigenous traction and partnering among a layer of Aboriginal activists?

I haven't seen you confront that question anywhere here.

Are you also saying that because the SA's indigenous policy offering is light on then it behoves the 'white left'(against which you have polemicized here) to write a better and bigger one?

Is that is what you are asking of the Alliance?

I also point out that the SA is open to anyone to join and contribute to -- including you and including you EVEN if you were a member of the Democrats or a member of the Greens or ALP.

John Tracey | September 08, 2007

I take it that you do not have any indigenous policies then?

The reason for the "traction" which as far as I know is limited to Brisbane, is because SA and others played a support role to the Brisbane Murris throughout the Mulrunji campaign - no doubt about that.

It was the organising skills and willling labour applied to grass roots Aboriginal agendas that was relevant and needed - nothing to do with policy.

If you had looked around you to see the other white supporters doing the same thing you will have noticed there was a broad spectrum of political and philosophical opinions.

The focal point was Murris on their own terms with their own agenda.

However SA's electoralism is not such a thing. This is Sam joining your ranks and supporting you.

You cannot leave all the work to Sam, nor can you claim any policy credit for your labour in the Mulrunji campaign.

You, the non-Aboriginal activists, have to consider the issues and develop policy just as energetically as you do for Venesuala, Cuba, Indonesia, West Papua, Aceh, Columbia, Palastine, Philipines, East Timor not to mention gender oppression and of course unions.

It is not good enough to have a policy vaccuum on the longest resistance struggle in Australia's history.

I ask the question, why is the left so blind and inarticulate on Aboriginal issues? It is because it is never discussed in depth.

There is just a pooling of ignorance represented by concensus around meaningless slogans such as "Treaty" or a "Bill of rights".

ANTAR and the reconciliation movement is the same.

This Terra Nullius consciousness of the left - thinking and behaving as if Aboriginality does not exist except in as much as it conforms to our own preconceptions - is no different to the reasons that the ALP and the Coalition are totally devoid of any policy credibility on indigenous issues. They use the slogans of justice but their understandings, let alone strategies are so shallow that it does not ever connect to the real needs of Aboriginal people.

I refer you again to Foley's article and urge you not to be so defensive and dismissive, but tackle the issues.

Pauline Hansonist responses such as "I dont like it" are not how you build understanding.

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