Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Identifying as "aboriginal"

is apparently sufficient to apply for an aboriginal only position with the national broadcaster.

I listened with not a little bewilderment to an exchange between "One Nation" politician Pauline Hanson and a member of the ABC board. I would never even consider voting for One Nation and I don't think I have ever agreed with her but I have to confess I thought she was making an interesting point. There was the job vacancy for an aboriginal person. What did applicants have to do to show they were aboriginal? 

It's a fair question isn't it? Hanson persisted until she finally managed to get the ABC person to say that all an applicant had to do was say they identified as aboriginal. Here was a job where being aboriginal was apparently important enough to say so in the advertisement for the position but all you had to do was state that you were aboriginal. What it then meant was that anyone could apply for the position because it is very difficult to say someone is not aboriginal if they are claiming to be one. This opens up all sorts of issues for the proposed "Voice to Parliament". 

One of the people on the committee which has drafted the words we will likely vote on is a man called Bruce Pascoe. He claims to be aboriginal. He has written a book called "Dark Emu" in which he makes some claims about aboriginal lifestyles at the time of white settlement. Those claims include the growing of crops, living in houses, herding animals and more. He teaches all this at a university.  The problem with all this is that his family tree has been researched by skilled people who can find no evidence for his claims to aboriginal heritage or the tribes he claims to belong to. Historians can find no evidence for the claims he makes concerning agriculture or animal husbandry. These issues have been raised. The university which employs him has been made aware. He still retains his status as an "aboriginal" person and his position at the university. The present Prime Minister has stated "Dark Emu" is a wonderful book.

Here in this state we have just had a state based "Voice" passed with great acclaim by the state parliament. The representatives on that have been chosen rather than elected. One of the elders of a tribal group which extends over a large area has stated, "These are white fellas and we don't recognise them."  My friend M.... is deeply concerned by all this. His view is, "We shouldn't be going down that path. It leads to racial division not unity." He is almost certainly right. 

It is a problem we will need to address, indeed should address now. I have looked at the other people on the advisory committee too. One of them was recently barred from Twitter because of the language she used towards someone else. Yes, it was hate speech. She has used it in other places too but she retains a powerful position on the advisory committee. She is also making it very clear she wants the Voice to be a very powerful body indeed.  In this she has the support of other members of the committee. There are no moderate M...s on this committee.

Talking to someone at the event on Sunday I was asked, "Does it really matter though as long as they get this Voice up and aboriginal people get heard?" Of course it matters. If these are middle class academics from urban areas (and at least some of them have little or no aboriginal heritage) then how can they speak for those living in remote communities?  How long have they spent in such places? Will they listen to representatives from there? I doubt it. It means aboriginal people won't be heard and perhaps have even less hope of being heard.

We need to halt "self-identification" and start asking questions. 

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