CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Real Help for Aboriginals

Jun 30, 2007

If someone supports John Howard, then surely he is a racist, right-wing redneck who is completely biased and should be absolutely rejected. Or so argues much of the liberal/left and the mainstream media. So what do you do when a self-confessed Howard-hater and Labour Party supporter, who also happens to be Aboriginal, comes out strongly defending the Prime Minister?

The lefties and the media would probably just ignore such a person, or say no such creature exists. Certainly the Melbourne Age or the Sydney Morning Herald would stay miles away from such a person. But at least the Melbourne Herald Sun was willing to give such a person a go. Thus yesterday (June 29, 2007) this opinion piece appeared, entitled: “I hate Howard, but he’s right”.

Warren Mundine, an indigenous leader and former president of the Australian Labor Party, began his piece this way: “I am a staunch and loyal Labor Party member, a former national president of the Labor Party and a proud and strong Aboriginal man. Yes, I hate Prime Minister John Howard and want to see him voted out at the next federal election and a Kevin Rudd-led Federal Labor Government formed in 2007. Bewdy!”

The perfect start for an article in the Age or the SMH. But it takes a sharp turn to common sense thereafter: “Now that I got that off my chest I want to focus on the real issues of the Little Children are Sacred report of the Northern Territory, the Gordon report of Western Australia, the Breaking the Silence report of New South Wales, the Bonnie Robinson report of Queensland and many other reports over the years. With apologies to former US President Bill Clinton, it’s the children and the women stupid! The Little Children Are Sacred report is a tough read. I had to stop and have several cups of tea to get through it. And that’s from a fella who has witnessed much violence, and read many reports.”

It seems the Prime Minister was right to be alarmed and to demand action. “The Little Children Are Sacred report makes it quite clear that ‘child sexual abuse is serious, widespread and often unreported’ and ‘that Aboriginal child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory be designated as an issue of urgent national significance.’ The report also makes it quite clear this is nothing new. It has been going on for years and ‘the Aboriginal people are not the only victims and not the only perpetrators of sexual abuse’.”

Yet amazingly some lefties and some Aboriginal people have been shooting the messenger, and slamming Howard for his attempts to clean up the mess. “These words [about abuse] have echoed through all the reports. Aboriginal people have been crying out for action on this front for many years. They have been calling on bi-partisan support and action across the political spectrum. Finally, we have a Federal Government with the principled support of the Federal Opposition giving the issue the ‘designated, urgent national significance’ it deserves. Quite frankly I’m flabbergasted by the response of some sectors of the Aboriginal and wider Australian community.”

He continues: “And then there are the statements that it’s a political stunt to get re-elected, that Howard’s not to be trusted, that it’s a Trojan horse to steal Aboriginal land, mate. Aboriginal women and children have been and continue to be abused both sexually and violently in numbers that are grossly unacceptable. If ever there was a number that’s been acceptable. Of course, there is not.”

Mundine rightly argues that we need to go beyond partisan politics here and get serious about this tragic issue. “An opportunity has arisen for the first time in the history of this nation for us, that is all Australians, be they Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, to make a real breakthrough in this area of abuse. It has been a festering sore on our nation for over 200 years. This is above our own personal bias, hatreds, politics, ideology and any other wheelbarrow pushing. Do I have concerns? Yes, I do, but I’m prepared to work with the Federal Government to make the hard yards we have to make to break the abuse of our children and women.”

He concludes: “It’s no surprise the vast majority of Aborigines in juvenile detention centres and male and female prisons have been sexually abused as children. If we could stop this sexual abuse, then this can and will have a positive effect on this incarceration rate and the problems of law and order in the communities and the wider Australian community. These correlations go across to mental health, education, health generally and so many other areas of Aboriginal disadvantage. So, let’s stop nitpicking and get behind the push to end sexual and violent abuse of children and women.”

Hear, hear. Mundine, along with a handful of other Aboriginal leaders, have been willing to stop the point scoring and get real about the very entrenched problems vexing Aboriginal communities. The Prime Minister has acted decisively, and deserves our support. While his plan may not be a panacea, he is not competing with any other panaceas either. Suffering children and women need our help, not leftwing whinging and more media bias.

www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21986091-5000117,00.html

[869 words]

3 Responses to Real Help for Aboriginals

  • A little off topic, but you said “Certainly the Melbourne Age or the Sydney Morning Herald would stay miles away from such a person”. The Age’s biases are plainly evident, but do you think the SMH is in that league? I probably don’t pay as close attention as you, but my general feel is that the SMH is no more opposed to general Christian conservative positions than The Australian. One issue that springs to mind is that of Suman Sood – the Sydney doctor who was on trial for abortion. The SMH gave it a lot of coverage, while The Australian barely touched it (granted, it happened in Sydney, but I did find it bizarre that The Australian stayed so quiet). And my feeling was that during the RU486 and embryonic stem cell debates the SMH was no worse than The Australian.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

    Tim Baker

  • Thanks Tim

    Both the Age and SMH are Fairfax papers, so both have similar lefty editorial lines. The Age at the moment might be just a bit worse. The Australian is a mixed bag. It is conservative in some areas, but as you mention, quite weak in other areas, such as the pro-life areas. So all papers can be problematic, but the Murdoch press tends to have a more conservative editorial policy, at least in economic and political areas.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Bill, I was delighted to read your article, and that of Warren Mundein in the “Herald Sun”. I would like to say how it gladdened my heart to read an article of a man who is so opposed to John Howard, and yet is willing to put all of that to one side. Obviously Warren Mundine is a selfless man who takes the time and the trouble to listen to his heart, rather than endeavour to push his own agenda. If you are in contact with him at any time please give him my best wishes, a big thank you and well done.
    Pat White

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