Australia's answer to David Irving.pr.
Australia is the only developed country whose government has been condemned
as racist by the United Nations
13 Oct 2000 - According to the folksy writer Matthew Engel, the glories of
the Olympic Games have a cathartic effect on nations. The 1984 Olympics in
Los Angeles “helped the US regain the confidence it lost in Vietnam”. He
omitted to explain the benefits of this renewed confidence for the millions
of bereaved, maimed and poisoned Vietnamese. As for the Sydney Olympics, he
described a “glorious self-confidence” that will “sustain Australia for
There is no doubting the efficiency of the Sydney Olympics, the
friendliness of the people, the beauty of the setting; but there was a
political façade. Soon after the Aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman won her
gold medal, the cabinet of John Howard’s government met in Canberra to
mount yet another attack on her people by planning to change the Land
In 1998, the Howard government enacted legislation that effectively took
away the common-law rights that the High Court said belonged to Aborigines.
Nothing like it has been passed by a modern parliament. It is just one of
the disgraces that has given Australia the distinction of being the only
developed country whose government has been condemned as racist by the
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The UN has also called racist the mandatory sentencing laws in the Northern
Territory and Western Australia, which have given black Australians an
imprisonment rate at least as high as that of apartheid South Africa, and
have been a primary cause of one of the highest suicide rates in the world,
among young Aborigines.
The Howard government’s response, on the eve of the Olympics, was to bar UN
human rights officials from entering Australia and investigating
further.Howard’s racist administration is a beneficiary of an Olympic Games
that successfully co-opted Aboriginal motifs, culture and talent, leaving
the question begging: if “glorious self-confidence” can produce such
brilliant organisation, why can’t the same energy and political will be
applied to ending the shameful treatment of the first Australians?
Take sport, a passion of all races. Why are the annual Aboriginal Games in
the Northern Territory, an event of great significance to black
Australians, played in a dust bowl without the most basic facilities? There
are no athletics tracks, no swimming-pools, no basketball court, often not
even a set of goalposts. Professor Colin Tatz, author of Obstacle Race, a
study of Aboriginal sport, told me: “I think most white Australians would
weep if they were taken on a tour of black sporting Australia."
There is a great push to have more and more Aboriginal athletes, more and
more scholarships for an elite group, because it’s wonderful to say in the
year 2000: ‘Look, we have half a dozen Aborigines in our briefcases, which
shows that Australia makes no racial distinctions.’ But the Aborigines who
represented Australia in the Olympics had to show three times as much
talent in order to rate an equal place with whites.
Cathy Freeman is the greatest thing that ever happened to white Australia,
because this happy, delightful, fun-loving young lady looks as though she
is the representative of all black womanhood. But she is not; "she is an
Professor Tatz is also the author of a monograph called Genocide in
Australia, which concludes that, under international convention, Australia
is guilty of at least two types of genocide: massacre (“nigger hunts”
continued into the 1960s) and the theft of mixed-race children from the
families: the “Stolen Generation”. Compared with the death of a third of
world Jewry in the Holocaust, a majority of Aborigines are believed
authoritatively to have died in the initial white invasion and appropriation.
Partly to win over the million Australians who voted for Pauline Hanson’s
overtly racist right One Nation Party, Howard has aggressively campaigned
against the teaching of the rapacious past, deriding it as the “black
armband view of history”. Last year, he abolished Abstudy, a programme
designed to help Aboriginal people reach secondary and tertiary education.
He holds the unique position of being the only leader of a white settler
nation to refuse to apologise for the decimation of the original inhabitants.
He and his ministers have caused widespread hurt among the survivors of the
Stolen Generation by doubting their stories. Last year, his Aboriginal
affairs minister, John Herron, was guest of honour at a conference in a
Sydney hotel attended by a group of revisionist commentators and academics
whose reactionary views are reflected in Quadrant magazine. They discussed
the “hoax” of many of the Stolen Generation. The Australian equivalent of
David Irving denialists, they are supported by the prime minister.
On the eve of the Olympics, clearly timed to interest the foreign media,
Quadrant mounted another conference, at which a little-known academic,
Keith Windshuttle, set out to demolish the reputation of Professor Henry
Reynolds, a pre-eminent historian, whose 1981 book The Other Side of the
Frontier effectively broke the popular silence over the 19th-century
assault on Aboriginal Australia. Reynolds estimated that 20,000 Aborigines
were killed by settlers: a figure Windshuttle accused him of inventing.
Four historians came to Reynolds’s defence, describing the 20,000 as a
conservative estimate of “massive violence and pitiless dispossession”.
However, in a small elite not renowned for its bravehearts, the failure of
others to speak out is striking. Olympic hype will not give Australia
glorious self-confidence. Justice for its indigenous people might.
Cruelty begins at home
Sep 1, 1999 - The Guardian (UK) - Does anyone like John Pilger? Dictators
certainly don't. There they are, happily torturing opponents, oppressing
their own people when Pilger turns up to expose their crimes. Democracies
fare no better.
21 August, 1999 - John Pilger - Australia is gearing up to host the 2000
Olympics, yet its own sporting history is far removed from the spirit of
the Games. Some of its greatest sportspeople were denied the chance to make
their mark. Why? Because of the colour of their skin. And even today, to be
aborigine, is to be a second-class citizen.
John Pilger's website