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218 responses to “Invasion Day/Australia Day: Unity/Disunity”

  1. G-G

    I just spent the evening discussing with a friend how, in this country you go down the line and somewhere, somehow – if you are not Indigenous – there is convict trauma or a migrant trauma, some sadness at the core of Australian identity. Contrary to the recent upsurge in nationalistic fervour, this white nation was birthed upon the ceaseless renting from other cultures in each generation. Quite apart from Indigenous dispossession being the rock upon which we celebrate white Australia (with its attendant shame expressed over and over in the assertion that there is nothing to be ashamed of), the core part of white Australian identity is also a melancholic one. And I am not sure that that’s a bad thing either. There is something reasonable about not putting your hand to your heart when the anthem plays.

  2. Mike Howlett

    I blame the Romans – or, better yet, the Celts. Those bastards invaded England from the Rhine Valley – and they’re still here!

  3. Roger Jones

    Of course, Howard who knew how to use symbols better than most, decries the symbolism he doesn’t approve of while reinforcing his own. It’s made Australia uglier when it was moving the other way … towards a fuller recognition of what Australia is. The denial of (A)aboriginal Australia (in both the formal and original sense of the word) is the worst part of that.

    The sales are like Thanksgiving in America

  4. paul of albury

    You think back to the Redfern speech and wonder what might have been achieved had a dialogue been opened. Instead the attention has been grabbed by the flag kissers, whose pride in being born here tends to be inversely proportional to how much they’ve done to be proud of since.

  5. John D

    The ABC reported that:

    People who fly Australian flags on their cars have more racist views than the rest of the population, a new study has found.

    Many flag flyers also support the now-defunct White Australia Policy and are afraid the Australian culture is under threat, researchers from the University of Western Australia say.

    Researchers surveyed 513 revellers among the 300,000 gathered to watch the Australia Day fireworks in Perth last year.

    One in five of those surveyed said they had attached Australian flags to their cars.

    WA University anthropologist Farida Fozdar says those flying the flags expressed more racist opinions on a number of issues……..
    “People who had flags on their cars, 43 per cent of them believe the White Australia Policy had saved Australia from problems that other countries had experienced,” she said…..
    “Fifty-six per cent of those with flags on their cars feared their culture and its most important values were in danger compared to 34 per cent of non-flag flyers.”

    (Researchers surveyed 513 revellers among the 300,000 gathered to watch the Australia Day fireworks in Perth last year. One in five of those surveyed said they had attached Australian flags to their cars.)
    I am not the only Australian who feels Australia day and the flag have been taken over by racist yobbos and the right wing.

  6. FDB

    Good post Kim.

    I’m fond of saying that our national day is an occasion to celebrate our differences, and to remember that we were founded on theft.

    But like you I remember [*FX CUE – Tiny Violins*] when this attitude used to annoy some (older) people I knew, while most would agree, particularly young ‘uns. Now it seems like there are loads of young people who seem not to understand how wonderful diversity is, nor to care about the injustice at the core of our nation.

    It’s pretty depressing.

  7. FDB

    I’m assuming there’s auto-mod at work here, cos I didn’t say anything that would normally set off the alarums. Lil’ help?

  8. Michael

    If we must have a national day then it shouldn’t be Invasion of Sydney day but something about the nation. The most appropriate would be whenever the British Parlt passed the legislation to enable the federation to come into being on 1/1/1901. It’s not the sort of event people can get too jingoistic about and it recognises the derived quality of our nationhood. But rather than on the actual date I’d hold it on the closest Monday thus reviving the tradition of the long weekend which I think is a venerable Aussie tradition and would further deflect any patriotic enthusiasms

    As for the January holiday I’d still retain but use it for the lunar/Chinese new year which would make it a Jan-Feb holiday a it’s a lunar set date and thus movable feast making it somewhat unpredictable. Thus it will piss business off – and that’s another venerable cultural tradition, business whingeing about workers getting holidays or inefficiency or some such bullshit

  9. Darin

    Nice poem, Kim.

  10. wilful

    The wife and I were just discussing exactly this (though without the indigenous bit) when we were unlucky enough to catch INXS on the ABC, singing some unity pap. We couldn’t explain it, the only positive we could get from it was that we were going to have a big rant about it tomorrow with our likeminded friends.

  11. Cuppa

    Wow, beautiful piece of writing. Thanks Kim.

  12. akn

    Australia Day is without doubt the most cringe making business these days. I don’t think I attended any sort of public Australia Day event until the 1988 Survival Day counter event in Hyde Park. After that, if I attended anything at all, it was always Survival Day events. Over the years my ‘nothing to celebrate’ attitude has become ever more entrenched as public displays of offensively stupid nationalism have become more acceptable.

    However, in a display of solidarity with oiks everywhere this year I’m planning on wearing the flag on every garment as I drink myself into staggering, spewing insensibility all the while calling for Windschuttle as the next Governor of Straya and denouncing Germaine Greer. Why not? If there were any effniks up here I’d have a go at ’em too but sadly there aren’t.

  13. Helen

    This is not unity. It’s actually disunity wrapping itself in the flag of Nation and unity.

    Yes, THIS.

    I too saw and heard that profoundly stupid INXS song. The sound of Michael Hutchence spinning in his grave was audible above the sound system.

  14. Tyro Rex

    An excellent post.

    I like to remember that on 26 January 1788, then the Eora lost their land around what is now called ‘Sydney Cove’, there was not even the word ‘Australia’, let alone any sort of coherent political unit under that name. Not even what the Governor-designate of the colony of New South Wales thought he and his raggedy bunch were doing anyway, on this eastern half of the continent of New Holland. So why the hell is it “Australia” day — that should be January 1. It assumes a false continuity, or the ever-present undercurrent of racist ‘British’ nativism that accompanies the behaviour of the flag-draped drunks.

  15. Lefty E

    dont forget kids: a country that riots together, stays together.

    S T R
    A Y A


  16. Tyro Rex

    In honor of this non-holiday I am going to work on my PhD. It’s just a day off work (and as I don’t work Fridays, a four day weekend for me, yippeee! … working on my PhD).

  17. Lefty E

    Yes, I make a point of working on “been at Botany bay eight days now, just worked out Port Jackson was better” day.


  18. Lefty E

    I wrote up my thoughts on this last year, if anyone’s interested: http://bitemylatte.blogspot.com/2010/01/ostraya-day-view-from-fort-parapets.html

  19. Jacques de Molay

    I suppose it was fitting SBS 2 screened the very sad doco ‘Dark Science’ the other night as Australia Day (Invasion Day) approaches.


  20. Lefty E

    Thats right folks, the First Fleet arrived on the 18th. Took the the rum-soaked bozos a week to work out Port Jackson was a better place to dump their slave cargo, and start dispossessing the Eora. So pack up yer plastic flags, it was over last week.

    PS There is no Santa.

  21. NEC

    The one thing I hate more than drunken Bogans on Australia day are the self-righteous lefties with their nothing to celebrate attitude, you have a lot to celebrate about but your all too arrogant and ungrateful to see that!

  22. cinova

    Great post. Lest we not become a nation of ‘flag wavers’ like the USA. ‘Unity’ is a fallacy in a country that cannot embrace diversity and pluralism. Best thing about Australia Day 2012? I discovered this blog.

  23. Mercurius

    G-G’s point about the ‘melancholic’ nature of Australian nationalism is a good one. The melancholia suffuses much if not most of the 19th century poetry and the 20th century literature and films.

    Of our two major secular National holidays in the calendar, one commemorates the botched armed invasion of another land, and the other celebrates the successful armed invasion of this land.

    Since most modern egos seem incapable of functioning without some form of imagined community, can’t we at least find a day in the calendar to celebrate a more positive and inclusive event in the nation’s history?? Haven’t we been worshipping the altars of death and disenfranchisement long enough? When does that get constructive?

    January 1? Federation? Really? Celebrating the document that counts Aborigines among the kangaroos?

    We’ve only been Australians, all of us, since the Constitutional amendments that enfranchised Aborigines and included them in the Census.

    That might be a good day to pick, the day our nation was truly born, Australians all…? Yeah….naah. This, you see, is what shits me about nationalism. It’s always myth-making. It’s always millions of people lying to themselves about their history and facts and society. What fucking use is it???

    Yeah, if we can’t stop lying to ourselves, then I don’t see the melancholia to which G-G refers ending any time soon…

  24. Sam

    Until I read this piece, I thought a “rootless cosmopolitan” was the reader of a certain magazine who couldn’t get any sex.

  25. Salient Green

    I think our first people would want to be ignored by the overfed, overpaid posers floating around Sydney Harbour with their designer barbeques and expensive champagne. ‘Patronising fart in the brain’ would be the best you could describe any thought for Aborigines by those ‘celebrating’ Australia day.

    My wife’s off to keep the local hospital running and I’m soon off to cut some more apricots. I get to see some of the women’s tennis during lunch and we’ll look forward to watching Nadal and Federer together this evening, sitting on the lounge with our cuppa’s and holding hands occasionally. That’s how we ‘observe’ Australia day.

  26. Quoll

    The Juice Media take on it

    RAP NEWS 11: Australia Day (feat. Ken Oathcarn)
    Warning: contains Australian language

  27. uniqerhys

    akn: “Australia Day is without doubt the most cringe making business these days.”

    Most? Two words: Anzac Day.

  28. Katz

    Australia Day celebrates people smugglers instituting mandatory detention … in Sydney.

    It is possible to say many true and uplifting things about the significance of Australia Day, but not simultaneously.

  29. David Irving (no relation)

    Well, I for one plan on celebrating Straya Day with lamb (or more accurately hogget). I think a nice Rogan Josh would be appropriate.

  30. Andyc

    How many of those Aussie flags are made in China, anyway?

    Apart from that, I second Michael’s proposals @ 9.

  31. Guy

    What I find a struggle at this time of year is that anyone who dares to question the reason for the existence of modern Austraila Day or indeed whether there are some things about Australia that we shouldn’t be proud of is instantly dismissed as “unAustralian”. Jingoism will always triumph over any kind of more balanced and detached philosophical view on things.

    It’s disconcerting because in many ways I am proud to be Australian – its just that I am not so one-eyed to think that there are not many ways that Australia should be a better, fairer, more advanced place than it is.

  32. Dave Bath

    Yes, the national day shouldn’t be “invasion day” with the landing in NSW. Something to do with Federation would be useful, but not Jan 1 which is already a holiday … so July 9 I reckon, at the time of year when there aren’t enough holidays … when Queen Vic signing the “Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900” after it got through Westminster in 1900, making the Commonwealth of Australia inevitable.

    And btw – a celebration of the 1967 referendum on “Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal People) 1967”, either 27 May (the vote) or 10 Aug (when it became law) would also be good candidates for an extra holiday. (I’m wondering if Howardized Australia would give it the 91% YES it got in 67)

    There’s no real single day for the referenda in Oz colonies – so the Queen Vic signing as the result of the C19 referenda AND the 1967 referendum, are reminders of /real/ unified choices by the population, celebrate the democratic process, and to my thinking, much more relevant to today and our future.

  33. jumpy

    Some people actually enjoy the 26 of January.

    Feel free to scratch your own eyes out, not me, I’d rather go to the footy.

  34. Andyc

    Well said, Guy @ 28 .

    The single most noxious aspect about Straya Day, I find, is the mindless “Love It Or Leave It!” sloganeering. What the heck is wrong with “Love it and work to make it even better”?

  35. blues buffett

    Macduff not Macbeth (the former killing the latter) otherwise a witty observation.
    I like to avoid public events on Australia Day. It reduces my stress levels.

  36. Katz

    Yes, Guy.

    It’s instructive to contrast US and Australian rhetoric on this point.

    Consensually, Americans characterise their nation as an “experiment” wherein Americans progressively seek to realise the core values embodied in America’s founding documents. In other words, America is a work in progress.

    Conversely, the Australian Right pictures the old Australia as perfect. Therefore, any attempt to change it or to challenge its core beliefs and mores is seen as unAustralian. Thus, large groups in this increasingly diverse and heterogeneous nation are stigmatised as permanent outsiders and as treasonous if they attempt to meddle with the core assumptions of the Right.

    Interestingly, few of the founding documents of Australia give succour to this xenophobic, exclusionist view, with the possible exception of the race powers provisions in the Australian Constitution. Therefore, its proponents are forced to redact certain elements of the Australian myth to accord with their ahistorical prejudices. And they are shocked and resentful when they discover that Australia’s founding documents and British common law principles are inimical to their prejudices. That’s when they start blaming “elites”.

    This process of redaction is driven by a sense of rage and denial. The consequences of these motivations are self-infantilisation and violence.

    This is a very unprepossessing set of national characteristics.

  37. Alex

    I’ve just started working in the Emergency Department in a hotspot of bogojingoism, and my Straya Day evening’s going to be spent dealing with the carnage. Any flag-caped, shirtless bogans coming through the door with boxer’s fractures or glasser/glassee injuries are going to get the 18 gauge catheter, even if they don’t need one.

  38. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    [email protected]: I had the best Australia day EVAH when, two years ago, Chinese/Vietnamese New Year actually fell on January 26. So my wife and I invited a few friends over for dinner on the basis that it was T?t, with lots of scrumptious Asian food for the guests. Beats bogans bashing heads on Burleigh Heads beach any day of the century.

    The invitation also mentioned that it was Australia day, but it was in the footnotes or in parenthesis or something. No one cared.

    On the other hand, I think Dave [email protected]’s suggestion of moving Australia Day to 27 May, or even better, 10 August, has more appeal than January 1. I’d rather celebrate the time that 100% of the people got the vote than when 99% got the vote.

    Now, ladies and gentlemen, stand for the real national anthem.

  39. Dave Bath

    [email protected]

    on the anti-elite dog whistling right … Conveniently forgetting that the whole federal push was from the intellectual elite … and that flag-covered xenophobic bogans in Perth, WA not keen on the whole federation thing and constantly rumbling about secession, are a bit of a giggle.

  40. Lefty E

    “self-righteous lefties…you have a lot to celebrate about but your all too arrogant and ungrateful to see that!”

    Tell ya what: when we see a few cenotaphs to the indigenous resistance, to brave warriors who feel in defence of their lands, much like the ANZACS did, Ill celebrate Australia day. Id even chuck in ANZAC day.

    cant ask fairer than that.

    Is it too much to ask that we dont have a “whitefella only” definiton of national sacrifice? Its a mounumental lack of respect to fellow Australians.

    The Kiwis dont – I can guarantee you there are picture Maori resistance leaders in some of their RSLs – right alongside Pakeha WW1 and 2 vets.

    Till then – you can ram it. This is my country too.

  41. Jacques de Molay

    TISM-Australian National Anthem


  42. Keith

    Hey Alex sure 18 gauge is the best you can do ? I would like to draw your attention to the girl with the dragon tattoo’s approach.

  43. Katz

    When the First Fleet arrived, Gov Arthur Phillip established martial law.

    One thing I celebrate about Australia is how dissidents and activists struggled to undermine executive power and martial law to establish a rule of law based on sound civil jurisprudential principles.

    On the other hand, the ghost of Phillip’s status as an autocrat still lives on in the reserve powers of the Governor-General. Absurdly, the GG has more power over the Australian executive than the queen has over the British executive. Indeed the queen has more power over the Australian executive than she does over the British executive.

    This is one of the negative legacies of the First Australia Day. A truly democratic people would not tolerate this state of affairs. But then again, despite all their posturing, the populist right are quite comfortable with authoritarianism.

  44. Ootz

    To every people the land is given on condition. Perceived or not, there is a Covenant, beyond the constitution, beyond sovereign guarantee, beyond the nation’s sweetest dreams of itself.
    Leonard Cohen

    Celebrating 30 years, to the day, since my arrival on these shores, as well as exactly 25 years of these as a fully fledged citizen of this notion Nation, by tending to my veggies and chooks.

    Might rise a glass in the evening, thanking the wisdom of the then Australian Government to allow me to join the tribe, as well as paying respect to the country of the Kuku Muluridji, where upon I am blessed to pitch my camp at present.

  45. Fran Barlow

    I see no need at all for Australia Day. We ought to push for a “Humanity Day” in which all regimes claiming to do right by both their fellow non-nationals and their own dismepowered and were not obviously spitting on this standard could participate. Few countries would qualify of course, but it would be interesting as a starting point for debate.

    I quite like Earth Day, and might be tempted to pair it with the above Humanity Day, if this got support.

    Perhaps, given the high bar the above sets, Australia could settle for a playing nicely with others day — an irregular holiday held in any year where excellent progress towards a more inclusive society was made. Criteria would include reductions in homelessness, improving health stats amongst the bottom three declies of the population, declining inequality, rises in acceptance of people from countries with lower per-cap GDP than us, declining person hours in prison/detention etc.

  46. Fran Barlow

    No complainng, but my link-free safe word post is in the mod/spam bin. Not sure why.

  47. Mark Bahnisch

    Fran, as Kim mentioned above, all comments on this thread are moderated.

  48. John D

    One of the really toxic things in Northern Ireland are the Orange marches that continue to rub in the victory of the English backed protestant faction over the Catholics in the Battle of the Boyne centuries ago. For the same reason, I can understand why many Australians think it equally toxic to deliberately celebrate Aus day on the date of the English invasion of Australia that led to the complete subjugation of the Aborigines of Aus. It has become more so as Australia day has become more important and since this was reinforced by insisting the holiday must fall on the invasion date.
    I’m with Dave @34

    And btw – a celebration of the 1967 referendum on “Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal People) 1967?, either 27 May (the vote) or 10 Aug (when it became law) would also be good candidates for an extra holiday.

    It would be good to link Aus day to the date we finally became a fully democratic country – TIME FOR A CAMPAIGN?

    Dave @34: And btw – a celebration of the 1967 referendum on “Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal People) 1967?, either 27 May (the vote) or 10 Aug (when it became law) would also be good candidates for an extra holiday.

  49. akn

    I looked up the official NSW Australia Day committee to find it is almost entirely comprised of PR, advertising and corporate types. Oh, there’s a sports person or two thrown in. All Straya Day events are sponsored by major corporations. So, for those of us who find the day and its celebrations vapid, meaningless and incapable of reflecting any sort of lived and contested reality it is because any sense of conflict over meaning is bad for sales.

  50. Terangeree

    Why not use 26 January to reclaim Billy Bligh’s reputation from its Hollywood traducement?

    The holiday could be re-named “Rum Day.”

  51. Ootz

    Alex, could you please administer your 18 gauge catheter to that bogojingoist on the far right in this picture!

  52. Terry
  53. jumpy

    I don’t care what day it is or who is PM.
    This is a disgrace, SHAMEFUL!!!

  54. G-G

    Actually, what is disgraceful jumpy is celebrating the birth of the white nation on the anniversary of a land theft. That is shameful.

  55. Fine

    Poor Gillard looks absolutely terrified in that photo and she didn’t even make the nasty remarks.

    I’ve just returned from St. Kilda Botanical Gardens. Absolutely jam-packed and full of flag wearing bogans. What really surprised me is what they seemed to think having picnic meant. There were full spit roasts, marquees, volley ball nets set up. All damaging to the lawn of course. Loud music and gabble blasting our of radios tuned to AM stations. Is this what pleasant pic-nic outdoors means? Who are these people? I certainly didn’t recognise them locals. It’s going to be so much fun when the Council rangers want to close the gates at sunset.

    It’s changed so much. I went to the same park about four years ago for a friend’s citizenship ceremony. It was pleasant, civilised, laid-back. Completely different.

  56. jane

    Thought provoking post, kim. But wasn’t MacDuff ripped untimely from his mother’s womb etc? So we should still get the nod for doing most of the work.

    I too remember when Ostraya Day was just a public holiday of little significance and I think I prefer that to the embarrassing parody of July 4 it has become.

    But perhaps the low key Australia Day was part of the “cultural cringe” we apparently suffered back then.

    Perhaps this Pauline Howard’s Straya Day is an expression of a new confidence we feel at having finally thrown off the collective inferiority complex of our convict past, even though most of us don’t have a first fleet ancestor.

    Or is it that we’re constantly being assured that we’re the best little country in the east?

    I have to confess I dislike Pauline Howard’s jingoistic redneck Straya Day, but at the same time I sense that there is more awareness of the cultural destruction it was built on. I hope so.

    @2, but it was Terra Englandus Nullias, wasn’t it?

    @5, I’ll bet the people who are so terrified that Australian culture is being taken over wouldn’t be able to offer a definition of Australian culture, nor a coherent explanation of how it’s being taken over or by whom.

    @34, I go for 27/5. My eldest son would get a public holiday for his birthday and I’d get one for producing him after a short and painful labour.

    @52, you’ve nailed it! Perhaps it should be rebadged Pauline Howard’s Corporate Straya Day.

  57. G-G

    Emotions would be very heightened at the tent embassy. News coming in about Tony Abbott suggesting the embassy had to go would have not gone down well in that situation. Abbott is completely out of his depth, to say the least.

  58. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Alex: stay safe. I’ve just spent 20 minutes on the phone with the cops. Some asshole in a Toorak Tractor decided to cut in front of an ambulance with flashing lights on. There are some stupid people out there, and they’re being more stupid than usual today.

  59. Link

    . . . .for those of us who find the day and its celebrations vapid, meaningless and incapable of reflecting any sort of lived and contested reality it is because any sense of conflict over meaning is bad for sales. it is.

    Good grief. Pictures of a cowering PM being protected by big blokey cop. The stuff of Hollywood. Can’t help thinking though that a scary moment wake up call, can only help.

  60. Jacques de Molay

    I’m no fan of her but our PM should not be cowering in fear and being protected by some hired goon, this is a terrible photo:


  61. robbo

    Perhaps, but unlikely that Gillard may now understand the feelings of so many mothers as they watched their kids being removed by the whitefellas. Loathsome that we choose this day to celebrate all that was wrong in our treatment of the original inhabitants of this land.

    And now listening to the meejah blowing this situation out of all proportion, the coppers were more a part of the problem rather than a help in their over-reaction to a handfull of citizens of this country who have had a gutfull of the celebratory attitude to an event which for so many ruined their lives.

  62. Link

    Because Kim she is not a big, brave, person. A big brave person would engage with them, if only to schmooze enough so as to be able to walk to their car with dignity.

  63. Chris Grealy

    Why didn’t Gillard engage with the protestors? You must be kidding. She didn’t want to be spat on, probably. Honestly, there wasn’t a brain in evidence there today; they gave Abbott exactly what he hoped for. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

  64. David Allen

    Gillard just had her “John Howard in a bullet proof jacket” moment. How embarrassing. Those heavies that dragged her out obviously watch too much hollywood crap. Way to show a bit of dignity. The news actually used the word “Terror”, FFS. What a bunch of cowards. Oh noess, the nasty black people might touch her imperial majesty!!!!1111!!! You could see Abbott trying to be a bit calmer about the whole thing as least. The heavies didn’t even want to “rescue” him until Gillard suggested it.

  65. jumpy

    I think a transcript of the Abbott interview is needed before anyone can claim what he said was incitement. Wouldn’t you agree Kim?

  66. G-G

    omg the protesters, they made her lose her shoe. No PM should endure such shoe loss!

  67. Sam

    “wake up call, can only help”

    Yeah, right.

    It will help consolidate the boganvillea’s positive opinion of Abbott.

    It will help sink even the idea of holding a referendum to include indigenous recognition in the constitution.

    It will help start a narrative that Gillard is a weak and scared woman; unfairly of course, but wait for that photo to go viral.

    Tomorrow’s tabloid commentary should be exquisite.

  68. Fine

    It’s a very odd affair. What Abbott said was a disgraceful act of incitement. The protesters had every right to behave in the way they did. The news footage indicates it was no more raucous and rambunctious than many another protest. There’s a quote from a protest leader stating that they didn’t even know Gillard was there.

    Yet her face plainly shows that she was extremely frightened. I’d love to see her, and other politicians actually engage with the the protesters. Again, in this case it’s really strange because they explicitly weren’t protesting against her.

    I’d suggest her security people must have really talked up the danger she was in. Two things: Abbott again proves how unsuitable he is to hold public office and Gillard’s security arrangements need a bit of an investigation. But, if that’s the AFP at work, we already know how useless they are.

  69. Terry

    “She got roughed up by the coppers, no one else was nearby.”

    So the Australian Federal Police set upon the Prime Minister in order to discredit an indigenous protest?

    Meanwhile, near the book depository, a second gunman appeared from above the grassy knoll …

  70. Tiny Dancer

    What did he say Kim?

  71. Tiny Dancer

    Abbott’s characteristic hateful provocation

    Don’t go to bed, what did he say?

  72. Tiny Dancer

    Hateful provocation? Really?

  73. Sam

    Kim, how do you know that “no one else was nearby” and “the protestors didn’t have a chance to get near her”?

    Have you seen a wide angled shot of the scene?

    Just wondering.

  74. Jacques de Molay

    I wonder what Usman Khawaja thinks of this:

    FORMER cricketer Rodney Hogg has apologised for an offensive Australia Day tweet aimed at Muslims, saying it was a poor attempt at Aussie humour.

    The ex-Aussie fast bowler wrote on Twitter that he wasn’t sure if his Australian flag would be offensive to Muslims, so he wrote “Allah is a s–t on it to make sure”.

    At about midday today, the tweet by @RMHogg read: “Just put out my Aussie flag for Australia Day but I wasn’t sure if it would offend Muslims… so I wrote ‘Allah is a s—‘ on it to make sure.”

    Cricket Australia said it was a thoughtless tweet no matter what day it was.

    “I almost fell off my chair when I saw it (tweet) come up. It was an extraordinarily offensive tweet. It was inappropriate regardless of whether it Australia Day or not. I do note that he has withdrawn that and apologised,” said Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young.

    Hogg apologised about two hours later, writing: “Bad attempted Australian humour, sorry if I offended you.”

    The original tweet was deleted shortly after.


  75. faustusnotes

    I don’t think Abbott suggested tearing down the embassy. His comments were pretty measured really – the worst you could say is that he suggested it was time for the participants to pack it up and move on (ah, the favourite phrase of our conservatives – “move on.”)

    I think the embassy overreacted. Also, Kim, on this page there is a clear picture of Gillard just a few feet away from a protester, who is struggling with a policeman, and you can see other protesters on the verandah she had just vacated. Overreaction maybe – but it’s not just a bunch of women and children “marching with dignity.” There’s also video of the demonstrators separated from Gillard’s location by a line of police, with some pushing to get through. What are the police supposed to do?

  76. Ambigulous

    I’m not in a position to criticise the PM for taking the advice of her bodyguards. Her personal safety is their responsibility. They had to assess the situation as accurately as they could.

    It appears there were plenty of police officers there to assist.

  77. David Irving (no relation)

    You’re being obtuse, Tiny Dancer.

    Deliberately, I think.

  78. David Irving (no relation)

    The Straya Day lamb Rogan Josh is just about ready, btw.

  79. rossco

    We have a little park in our street. Last year a couple of people in the street organised an early morning barbeque to which everyone in the street was invited. It was in the nature of a neighbourhood get together and was a great success so repeated again this year and will continue in the future. Although held on Australia Day and there were a couple of flags, it was about neighbours and not nationalism or boganism. In fact a number of those present, including one of the organisers were people who didn’t “grow here”. Interestingly 26 Jan is also India’s national day. Last year one Indian couple went to a celebration for India Day but this year came to our street get together.

    Apart from one elderly lady who doesn’t feel comfortable with people without white skins (but she also doesn’t have much time for Poms), people’s origins were irrelevant except as a point of discussion about where we had come from to be living here.

    I too am of a certain age and grew up not celebrating Australia Day and really don’t like the way it has grown into a nasty nationalist, jingoistic event.

  80. Tiny Dancer

    How David?

    hateful provocation seems to be a dishonest assessment or perhaps one made, jumping to a pre-set conclusion, on hearing the name Abbott.

  81. Andyc

    Ootz @ 54 That is the instigator of the riot, who should now be helping police with their enquiries.

    Tiny Dancer @ 83: Suggesting that the Aboriginal Embassy’s day was done and that it was time to move on, on Straya Day, and then attending an event right next door to the Embassy, was indeed a masterpiece of hateful provocation.

  82. Helen

    I was blown away by the scene at my relatives’ place. My husband’s neice’s kid’s birthday is on January 26, so in recent years there has been an element of ‘Straya day mixed in with what are primarily birthday celebrations – It’s kind of a nice “conceit” in the oldfashioned meaning of the word, as the family’s from NZ and they seemed to see it as a way of honouring their new country at the same time as celebrating their daughter’s birthday.

    Not this year. Two flags, one on either side of the front gate: not even Australian flags but a particularly noxious design featuring blue/red/stars with the words “AUSSIE PRIDE” in large letters. Through to the party and there’s a big Strayan flag on the Hills hoist (it’s an old house) and cheap $2 shop flags on sticks EVERYWHERE. The birthday girl had a Strayan flag transfer on each cheek. Other kids were sporting them as well.

    It’s really quite sick making and I’ll be arranging to be elsewhere this time next year.

    On the other hand, flags on cars seemed thin on the ground compared to previous years; I only saw two. That was a small blessing.

  83. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I don’t normally watch the TV, but ABC24 led with the news at 6. It was very odd. Moving videos of Julia Gillard speaking, and then there moving videos of protestors bumping on the glass. But there were only still frames of Gillard being tackled escorted away by the police. Where’s the scary protestors?

  84. mick

    Possum has just posted on Twitter some footage from Channel Nine News taken from inside the restaurant. It really does look as though the police were worried about things getting out of hand and someone getting hurt.


    Massive kudos to Gillard for pointing out to her protection that they should probably get Abbott out of there safely as well. The look on Abbott’s face at 2:33 speaks volumes about him.

  85. Helen

    Faustusnotes, I don’t see quite the threat that you do in those photos. But the one of Tony Abbott in the car is very telling. He’s grinning like a cat that got the cream. Deliberate provocation? You betcha.

    Would the Tent embassy protesters have improved their strategy by not taking his bait? Of course. But marginalised people without professional advisers (like the politicians have) living in uncomfortable circumstances may occasionally fail to behave “appropriately” when deliberately baited. That’s why some people stoop to deliberate baiting.

  86. jumpy

    [email protected]
    It seems Abbotts remarks were in answer to a journalists prompting question, so the timing wasn’t of Abbotts choosing.

    (but I still can’t find the transcript , question and all, to be positive)

  87. billie

    The Channel 9 coverage of the incident is more balanced than the ABC news


  88. Joe

    Well, just to say the few things that come to mind after following the thread and looking at the news, without being able to place it in any kind of order, it seems to me that the real provocation isn’t what Tony Abbott said, but the way in which Australia day in general is being celebrated these days.

    I imagine, that for the tent-embassy protestors that Australia day, is already a low point of the year and then to have to let the kind of unreflected nationalist party atmosphere wash over them, that Australia day has become without causing some response is not realistic.

    Kim’s perspective though, is also not going to help. To recall the social justice movement of the 60s is just sentimental. The only reason why that movement was ultimately successful back then was because there was some unity about reasonable behavior. The debate took a long time, and wasn’t without it’s dramatic and theatrical moments, but in general, a consensus was built on a common agreement about the values of the community. That isn’t possible in the US of today and to try and go down that theatrical path again in Australia 50 years later is just not going to work.

    So, once again we’re inhabiting some kind of media space, effected by the images and commentary which we are seeing online, (and on television for the national audience.) But we’re not really conscious of the media’s self interest– it’s need to overdramatise to make itself important.

    It will be interesting to hear what the prime minister has to say about the matter. Her response is the next act in an increasingly low budget soap opera. For Abbot, I think it’s fairly clear that this event is a win, as for a larger proportion of his supporters this will really only reinforce their opinions about who an aboriginal is.

    Last point is that the “evacuation” seems to be very unprofessional. If this is all the force that can be mustered in the nation’s capital (despite there being a national holiday) to protect the prime minister, we should be thankful that the situation wasn’t really serious. Also expect some ridiculous media commentary from this perspective in the coming days.

  89. jumpy

    mick & Helen

    “The look on Abbott’s face at 2:33 speaks volumes about him.”

    “But the one of Tony Abbott in the car is very telling. He’s grinning like a cat that got the cream. Deliberate provocation? You betcha.”

    Forensic facial diagnostic experts?

  90. Chris

    I had a look at the video and I don’t think the police overreacted given their responsibility for keeping the PM safe. They’re the ones getting the blame if she gets injured.

    Crowd behaviour can be incredibly hard to predict and it doesn’t take much for crowds to turn violent even if the actually trigger is an accident. Say one of the restaurant windows broke as they were banging on them – can anyone predict what would have happened if the crowd surged inside? And banging on a car roof as the occupants are trying to leave in that sort of context is certainly a violent act!

  91. Helen

    To recall the social justice movement of the 60s is just sentimental. The only reason why that movement was ultimately successful back then was because there was some unity about reasonable behavior. The debate took a long time, and wasn’t without it’s dramatic and theatrical moments, but in general, a consensus was built on a common agreement about the values of the community. That isn’t possible in the US of today and to try and go down that theatrical path again in Australia 50 years later is just not going to work.

    Hmmm, I think someone’s fallen victim to increasingly viewing the past through vaseline-enhanced and roseate lenses!

    Your description of politics at the Federal level as an increasingly low-budget soap opera, on the other hand, is pretty well spot on.

  92. Helen

    So, Jumpy, you got a better explanation of why someone would be grinning as they’re bundled away in a car after what everyone has described as a nasty confrontation?

  93. Bernice

    Well I was there on the grassy knoll. I’d just walked down the stairs and round to the front of the building when Gillard and Abbott were bustled out.
    Just about everyone was round the front. Next to the top of the stairs was Isabel Coe in her wheelchair and Michael Anderson and a couple of other people. Hardly the ‘mob’ referred to on most of the evening news, including the ABC.
    Watch the SBS footage – it’s shot starting from the top of the stairs – the biggest obstacle to getting Gillard and Rabbit into the car are the media crews.
    Most of us had no idea Gillard was there. But would you pass up a chance to shout at Tony Abbott, especially after his remarks earlier in the day? Some people were banging on the windows, most were chanting – as Kim has said, it might terrify the nice middle classes but it’s hardly threatening to anyone’s health.
    I think the AFP were pretty inept. Who the f#ck thought it was OK to put the PM and Abbott in a venue like The Lobby, next to a 3 day protest that had been widely advertised for months, a protest movement that has never been backward in its radicalism? They had maybe 4 officers there til reinforcements were called in. The AFP’s response post-event was close to mea culpa.
    And again, Abbott’s judgement proves plain crappy. I strongly suspect he knew exactly what he was risking with his remarks this morning. Presumably he didn’t bother informing security of the remarks or the ramifications either.
    If someone who is likely to be the next leader of a country makes remarks that whistle up the dogs of racism and bigotry, we’ll be more than rooned if they are not challenged.

    Rumours that Warren Mundine was cowering in the toilets are rife but yet unfounded.

  94. Katz

    Back in 2005, Jim Lloyd, a Howard government minister, announced that the Tent Embassy structure should remain.

    Abbott was also a minister at the time. I’m unaware of any dissent from Abbott on this matter.

    I’d be interested to know what Abbott thinks has changed since 2005 to justify the removal of the Tent Embassy.

    As Leader of the Opposition, Abbott is within his rights to state Coalition policy. However, he is not in government at this time. Therefore, his call to abolish the Tent Embassy is not a statement of policy. Rather it was provocation, especially in light of the fact that the last Coalition statement on the Tent Embassy supported its continuation.

    Abbott is an irresponsible bomb thrower.

    Unfortunately, the protesters were rash to rise in the way they did to Abbott’s baiting.

  95. faustusnotes

    That channel 9 footage is actually pretty scary. They were chasing the car, and the police did not look comfortable. Gillard was definitely shaken. And Abbot always has that stupid grin on his face, Helen. He’s like the far side cartoon of the labrador.

  96. Tiny Dancer

    everyone has described as a nasty confrontation

    Not really, only a handful.

  97. paul of albury

    It does look like the police were afraid and it’s hard to second guess the decision – it was an angry crowd. But nobody has been injured and no-one arrested (according to the ABC quoting ACT police). If that’s a violent protest by Australian standards maybe things aren’t too bad here.

  98. Chris

    Helen @ 103 – Nervous smile after feeling threatened? Relief at feeling safer? Plenty of reasonable explanations for people smiling after going through a stressful experience.

  99. jumpy

    You may not understand Helen but an Alpha bloke grins at adversaries, it’s a natural response.

  100. billie

    An eyewitness account of the situation by John Passant “It is right to be angry; it is right to protest – land rights now!” at http://enpassant.com.au/?p=12131

  101. Sam

    Abbott probably planted that question with the journalist knowing the reaction it would provoke and knowing the reaction to the reaction of the federal police, right Helen?

    What an evil genius the man is.

    He wasn’t just grinning. He was saying to himself, “bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha”.

    Anyways, it’s been a fabulous Straya Day. Next on the culture wars calendar: Anzac Day.

  102. Nick

    Some unedited footage.

    Those cops sure did tell those reporters to move back a lot of times.

  103. Megan

    @86 Faustus Notes:
    “I don’t think Abbott suggested tearing down the embassy. His comments were pretty measured really”.
    Yes that’s what you’d expect from a seasoned dog whistler. It was a calculated stab at a historic symbol of unity for Aboriginal people on a day they call ‘Invasion Day’. Why can’t people see him for the maggotty little weasel that he is? And once again, it’s all about Tony Abbott, this time romping home on a wave of redneck cheers about ‘saying what everybody thinks’ – just check out the Tele. I’m really starting to loathe Australia Day.

  104. Fine

    The Channel 9 footage is interesting. Gillard actually has the decency to think of Abbot and his reaction at 2.33m is to look sneeringly away with a raise of the eyebrows. He’s a tosser.

  105. tigtog

    You may not understand Helen but an Alpha bloke grins at adversaries, it’s a natural response.

    @jumpy, do keep up. The whole Alpha/Beta wolf pack thing has been long discredited. Besides, why would we think that canine socialisation had much to do with us primates anyway?

  106. cinova

    @Bernice 104 Thanks for sharing an authentic ‘on the spot’ perspective. Your account confirms what I suspected when I first saw that footage. Typical media manipulation, supporting an incident that was constructed by the security thugs and journalists themselves. Abbott is a dangerous dog-whistler indeed, all the more so because he seems to have duped a significant proportion of the voting public. A high profile media commentator should focus on those images of the eyebrow raise and his smug expression upon being bustled into the car.

  107. Link

    Geebers that unedited footage makes the cops look like right turkeys–frankly. What is it with politicians and shoes?

    Fine, Gillard has the decency mainly because she knows that it’s actually his hide they want.

    I do tend to think though, as leader of the country, she could well have been a little braver and tried negotiating her own release, she could have offered Abbott in a deal. She would certainly have had an audience, and if she was a skilled communicator, which presumably she is, she could have calmed the whole situation. Her security detail will advise her. every time against doing this, indeed they’d probably prefer their charges, stay at home. Period.

    The channel 9 commentary is a total beat up. Dramatic photos but. They’ll certainly remember Australia Day 2012, when they was ‘set upon’ by angry black fellas, but stuck together. Heh Something happened. Something happened to Albo too, or his speech writer. Australian politicians, ya gotta love ’em for their sheer incompetence.

    Helen yes he’s smiling alright. Brought on by a big surge of adrenalin and some real excitement. He got to run, for his life! But it looked a lot more like they both were basically monstered by some panicking cops.

  108. faustusnotes

    A calculated stab, Megan? He was asked a question by a reporter. How is that a calculated stab?

    It’s worth bearing in mind, in terms of the response, that Gillard’s security probably had no idea what the whole thing was about. They likely didn’t know the crowd had come for Abbot, they didn’t know it was in response to something he’d said earlier, and they didn’t necessarily even know they were from the tent embassy. Their response seems pretty measured but their job is to protect the PM, not to negotiate political standoffs. At one point in the linked footage it even looks like the security detail weren’t planning on rescuing Mr. Rabbit.

  109. Tiny Dancer


    that’s about dog training. Alpha male has a meaning, still current today. The comment wasn’t about dogs.

  110. Mr Denmore

    While the police were right in not taking any chances, I’m sure the situation wasn’t as threatening as the TV coverage made out. I’ve watched the footage a couple of times and there are no signs of any protestors anywhere near Gillard on the run to the car. There IS a huge scrum of police and media – who quitebfrankly LOVE stories like this, particularly on a quiet news day. The wobbly camera only makes it look more dramatic. The Nine report mentions violence, yet showed no evidence of such apart from people banging on the window of the restaurant. And the last line was that there NO arrests. That tells you something.

  111. Ootz

    Say isn’t that the ghosts of Bernie Banton and Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney.

  112. jumpy

    Haha, Tigtog, did i mention dogs? No.
    Try reading what’s written.

    Oh, have you heard the journalists question that prompted the very measured response that was relayed to the mob via radio (by a journalist) that upset them so?

    Gotta be, da Murdochracy I spose.

  113. akn

    Both my kids went to the Survival Day ceremony at Victoria Park in Sydney. Both very happy, indeed chirpy, with the atmosphere and the event not the least because Jessica Mauboy performed.

    Nice piece of ultra-leftism from whoever that mod were who ruffled the feathers on Abbott and Gillarfd. So what if some people don’t like it – Malcolm Frazer was once forced to exit a meeting besieged by students and he went out the dunny window due to lack of favour with the crowd. No guns, no violence, just spirited and disruptive behaviour. The behaviour is modest given the disrespect shown in celebrating invasion with nation founding.

    The treatment of Aboriginal people is the watershed issue in Australia. All of our state sponsored racism derives from denial of violent dispossession and ongoing dispossession. So I’m feeling very good about the prospect of challenging the the meaning of Australia Day by supporting Survival Day as a much more meaningful event for Australia’s future than the emptiness and nastiness of pure bred Aussie Pride Pigs.

  114. Nickws

    Yeah, nah, I think I’ll wait a little while before I decide this was nothing but a harmless piece of kabuki theatre.

  115. G-G

    I’ve been thinking. This picture here looks suspiciously like Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard.

  116. Bernice

    I’m beginning to think people’s brains have been stolen in the night. Protesting is not criminal, nor rash, nor lacking in judgement. All the nice chat chat chatting hasn’t provided running water to communities, improved health outcomes, or lessened the number of deaths in custody. Let’s not even get started on the topic of land justice.

    Let’s try scenario shall we? These people move in next door. They rape your partner, they take your kids telling them you abandoned them, turn up with a fake set of title deeds to your house, and move you out onto the street. You end up living in the park at the end of the road, but every year they come down and have a picnic to celebrate the anniversary of their arrival and to complain that you don’t seem delighted too.

    Maybe that’s why people get cranky on Invasion Day. Maybe that’s why protesting is legitimate.

  117. G-G

    Cue music

  118. tigtog

    @Tiny Dancer:


    that’s about dog training. Alpha male has a meaning, still current today. The comment wasn’t about dogs.

    You didn’t read the whole page, did you? Every single theory about “alpha males” is based on those inadequate 1940s studies of captive wolves. None of it has anything to do with how non-captive mammal hierarchies work.

  119. Mercurius

    Well, to Kim’s OP, it’s a good thing Howard trained the nation to think that ‘symbols don’t matter’. So all this business about the PM and LOTO being bailed up on Australia Day by angry blackfellas….*nothing* symbolic about that, folks. Nothing we need to reflect on. Nothing to see here, move along…

  120. G-G

    Bet you never saw it in Spanish!

  121. tigtog


    Haha, Tigtog, did i mention dogs? No.
    Try reading what’s written.

    What I read was discredited tosh. If your “alpha male” theory isn’t based on those famously inadequate 1940’s studies of captive wolves in Swiss zoos, then you shouldn’t have any problem linking to the totally different peer-reviewed literature on which you are relying in your usage of the term?

  122. Tiny Dancer

    So do we need peer-reviewed literature every time we use a commonly used phrase that has a meaning that everyone understands?

  123. tigtog

    Because pointing out that old-husbands tales are not actually true is adding to the common good?

  124. Cuppa

    Their ABC labels Gillard ‘Coward’


  125. tigtog

    Anyway, further discussion of the “alpha male” myth is best continued in the current Salon thread.

  126. akn

    K’noath Bernice.

  127. faustusnotes

    Mercurius, that’s a pretty funny point, and it wasn’t lost on me when I watched the footage either.

    Katz, in his full remarks Abbot made clear why his opinion of the Tent Embassy is different now to 2005 – he mentioned the apology and the referendum. Actually, reading his comments I wonder if his response to Rudd’s apology speech might have been a little more dignified than Nelson (it was Nelson, wasn’t it? Whatever grubby little shit it was, he’s been flushed down the dunny of history, that’s for sure).

    I think it’s possible to disagree with Abbot’s current (<- always gotta remember this qualifier with Mr. Brainfart!) opinion of the tent embassy and accept that it wasn't intended to rile anyone up. He was answering a question off the cuff, and I thought his answer was pretty good considering that.

    Tigtog, thanks for the dog link. It was very interesting!

  128. Link

    A reply button would be really good. Code Captains.

    #135 Cuppa Cowered perhaps, she was certainly doing that.

    #126. G-G It’s been a great day for Hollywood and it’s unexpected influence on Australian politics.

    She should’a walked out there and cracked a few jokes instead.
    Violence, my foot. It was probably Tony panicking in the restaurant and getting excited about OMG the possibility of glass breaking that set the scene for the whole Hollywood, damsel in distress, security incident. Julia should have known better not to go along with it and simply confront her captors, who looked pretty bloody harmless. That’d be brownie points. As it is she looks like a cowering one-shoe-down dill.

  129. John D

    The behavior of the PM’s protector’s is strange. There is the PM almost at the front of the protective pack with no one providing protection in front or the side we are seeing her from. The PM is holding on to the cop next to her because she has lost her shoe and being rushed at a pace that was likely to see her fall over since their wasn’t someone on her left side helping to keep her upright.
    In the mean time there is Abbott behind Julia safely surrounded by a whole pack of protectors. Perhaps some questions should be asked re what the protectors thought they should be doing?

  130. John Passant

    What happened today is the sort of protest that should greet Gillard and Abbott wherever they go. It shows you how divorced from ordinary people Gillard and her Labor Party are that instead of coming out and talking to the protesters, she got her hired goons to attack them. I guess when you don’t have any case to make for having bettered Aboriginal lives then you need to use force rather than reason.


  131. John D

    Further to @51 full voting equality for Aborigines means having the same rights and obligations as the rest of the population. (Specifically, enrollment and voting becoming compulsory. This happened federally in 1984 which implies that the first federal election where these rules applied would have been the election of 1/12/84. So perhaps this date or the date the new rules became law should be the date for Australia day.
    The AEC publication “History of the Indigenous Vote” says that, in 1962:

    Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that Indigenous people should have the right to enrol and vote at federal elections, including Northern Territory elections but enrolment is not compulsory. Indigenous people gain the right to vote in Western Australian elections.

    Queensland finally allowed Aborigines to vote in state elections in 1965.
    The above link provides a timeline for indigenous voting rights and electoral events. Aboriginal men had the right to vote in SA
    (1856), Vic (1857) and NSW (1858) but the new colonies of WA and Qld denied Aborigines the vote until the 1960’s.
    Some Aborigines voted in the first commonwealth elections but in 1902 the federal restricted the vote to those who were already on state rolls.
    Linking Australia day to full electoral equality for Aborigines seems to be a lot better than continuing to use a date that is Australia’s equivalent of the Northern Ireland orange marching season.

  132. tssk

    John D, the police were protecting the PM obviously. It’s just that reality hasn’t caught up with the idea of Abbott as PM yet.

    With some of these photos he’s one step closer. 🙁

  133. faustusnotes

    Now we’re all experts in protective service, too? And I seriously doubt many people here would not be scared in those circumstances. I guess we’ll never know though, from our positions of safety behind our keyboards.

  134. Chris

    I reckon the widespread coverage of the protest has probably killed off any chance of the proposed referendum getting through any time soon.

  135. Alex

    In the end, my shift was a lot quieter than expected. I do feel sorry for the night staff. The spectacular and original trauma was starting to pile up in the resus bay at half to midnight when I skedaddled. Before that all we got were a petrol-is-not-a-suitable-bbq-fuel burns and “Assault–alleged”s. No offenses to decency deserving of the wide-bore Foley.

  136. joseph.carey

    The unfounded police fear of and over reaction to the Aboriginal protesters, many of whom were elderly or infirm, is a clear demonstration of the cops’ racial hatred, imo.

    How apt that this should be showcased on Australia Day 2012.

  137. Malcolm

    Faustusnotes, if my memory serves me correctly, Abbott was initially opposed to the apology but then came around to grudgingly supporting it in the days leading up to when it was given. I seemingly remember watching an interview with him I think the day before where he gave the impression that he was only supporting it because it was the politically expedient thing to do and to shore up Brendan Nelson’s leadership. ‘

    And given how Abbott seemingly uses every speech to make partisan points and engage in government-bashing (witness his speech to Parliament when President Obama was here among other times), I doubt it would have been more dignified than Dr Nelson. It may have even been worse

  138. FaceLift

    It’s astonishing to read so many Australian’s sitting in the comfort of their small world the midst of a prosperous land where people truly are free compared to many nations, including nations many migrants and refugees over the years have come from into better times, a more equitable place, and contributed to the many faceted nation you share today, complaining miserably in unison like some cat’s choir about their lot and moaning about the injustice of many years ago as if it happened yesterday.

    We live in today, and the sun is shining.

    I thought Kevin Rudd had said sorry on behalf of everyone, so what’s Howard got to do with it? He’s not in power. The people are.

    We moved on.

    Indigenous people have had the worse deal, granted, but nothing can be improved by regret, only by moving forward from where we are, not where we were.

    Australia is great nation. Make it greater.

  139. Katz

    Faustusnotes, Abbott said “a lot has changed” since the establishment of the Tent Embassy. He is correct, no thanks to him.

    Yet none of the demands have been completely met.

    Abbott can suggest that these demands be dropped but it is presumptuous of him to imply that he has Aborigines’ best interests at heart.

    Indeed, the fact that “much has changed” suggests that Aborigines’ strategies are working. Why on earth should they stop?

    That said, Aboriginal leaders should work hard to ensure that the Tent Embassy assists rather than hinders their campaign for sovereignty.

  140. Sam

    There’s a photo in todays’ media of Paul Coe holding the Prime Minister’s shoe, like it’s a trophy from a big-game hunt. Paul Coe! Now there’s a blast from the past.

    No sign of Lyall Munroe though.

  141. akn

    Paul Coe’s comment in offering to return Gillard’s shoe is that “we are not a nation of thieves”. Ahahahahahaha. What fun.

  142. Jenny

    All this debate about the real significance of Australia Day seems a bit surreal to me. Thoroughly enjoyed barbeque with friends as I invariably do on Australia Day. No flags. Nobody got pissed. Just another much-appreciated public holiday. Maybe we need another one for Indigenous Day. And maybe another for Migrant Day.

  143. Chris

    John @ 141 – one thing you wrote at your blog:

    Witnesses reported that during one of the speeches a woman interrupted to say that Tony Abbott had said the Tent Embassy should be moved on. He was fifty metres away with his twin in racism, Julia Gillard.

    From the news reports Abbott didn’t actually say that though, and so this appears to have been triggered by someone either mishearing or a willful misintepretation (eg someone who “knows” what Abbott meant even if he said something else). If its the latter in that sort of environment they’re getting close to inciting a riot….

    FWIW I think if the aboriginal community want the tent embassy to stay the government should not try to move them on. I used to ride past it everyday on my way to and from work. Its pretty quiet most of the time.

  144. Phillip

    Even though Australia Day is over now, here is something for all you clever little iconoclasts to laugh at, (hopefully), … …


  145. calyptorhynchus

    I think the one thing we are all forgetting here is is that Australia is girt by sea.

  146. jumpy

    LOL, Thanks for that Bruce @155.

  147. Brian62

    Amusing the Cinderella loss of a slipper media promoted focal point has a fairy tale ring for the leader of the opposition,at very least giving Tony(the Abominable No-man)Abbott the benefit of the doubt in what could only be described as a dubious sense of timing in the context of the “occasion ” it belies his innocence,Tony is always a shoe in when it comes to dog whistling and slippering away with media assistance.

  148. David Irving (no relation)

    I despise Abbott as much as the next bloke, but I think he’s been misrepresented on this occasion.

  149. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Since all Australian flag related condemnatory rhetoric has been moved here, let me add what The Bulletin said 111 years ago:

    … a staled réchauffé of the British flag, with no artistic virtue, no national significance… Minds move slowly: and Australia is still Britain’s little boy. What more natural than that he should accept his father’s cut-down garments, – lacking the power to protest, and only dimly realising his will. That bastard flag is a true symbol of the bastard state of Australian opinion

    If Scotland has a successful independence referendum, I guess they’ll be grabbing the Saltire from the Union Flag as they go. Would Australia have to alter its flag to follow suit, or remain in celebration of an ex-empire?

  150. jumpy

    Hey david, seems the next bloke is me. 🙂

  151. Patrickb

    We are overseas in the US on holiday ATM. I’ve no idea what the background to the shoe incident is but from this distance it leaves me with a deep sense of what a petty and small minded country Australia is. The funny thing is, this happens each time I travel overseas and read the SMH . And every time the sense of dread at returning gets slightly stronger. The tent embassy should have been dismantled years ago because the demands of the protesters should have been met.

  152. jumpy


    “””In February 1972 the Aboriginal Tent Embassy presented a list of demands to Parliament:
    Control of the Northern Territory as a State within the Commonwealth of Australia; the parliament in the Northern Territory to be predominantly Aboriginal with title and mining rights to all land within the Territory.
    Legal title and mining rights to all other presently existing reserve lands and settlements throughout Australia.
    The preservation of all sacred sites throughout Australia.
    Legal title and mining rights to areas in and around all Australian capital cities.
    Compensation money for lands not returnable to take the form of a down-payment of six billion dollars and an annual percentage of the gross national income.”””

    Never ever happen.

  153. Ootz

    David, you got to look at the whole game not just his last stroke. Last week too he got the benefit of doubt by most, including me, re ‘the boat that got stopped’ remark. However, you got to remember, that man has got serious form from way back. Every journalist worth a pinch of salt knows that form and will attempt to chuck a doozie in the hope Tony is going to whack it. After yesterday even more so, such as there are remarks today in the msm about Abbott’s ‘unfortunate timing’. He is a serious accident waiting to happen; every whacker in cricket sooner or later will get caught or stumped spectacularly. Let us all hope with the least amount of collateral damage. I am pretty sure his minders will try again to get him into more diplomatic moves such as cover, duck and weave or even, standing above the fray. He did try The Stare once, very much to the mirth of the punters.

  154. Jacques de Molay

    Supposedly the protesters have now set fire to an Australian flag.

    Whilst I don’t think Abbott intended for all this to happen it’s now playing right into his hands.

  155. Megan

    @119 Faustusnotes:

    A calculated stab, Megan? He was asked a question by a reporter. How is that a calculated stab?

    Oh come on! Mr Abbott has very fine form for brushing aside questions when it suits him and on this occasion he could have just let it pass. His comments, on Indigenous Invasion Day and right in the middle of a march that Indigenous people were doing were insensitive and ill-timed. It was button-pushing of the first order, so reminiscent of a certain smug young school vacation resident bully in the library I work in. Unfortunately with the way the polls are heading, we are going to be seeing a lot more of it.

  156. Link

    Hey Kim, that was fun! Well done. What’s next? [insertssmileyiconhere]

  157. akn

    Change the date of Australia Day. It is offensive to celebrate the invasion this way. No big deal to do it unless you feel that there is no reason to change the date in which case you’ve a problem with genuine reconciliation. Responsibility for making the effort towards reconciliation belongs to non-Aboriginal Australia not the other way around. Not giving Aboriginal people the benefit of a genuine fair go is deeply not Australian. At the same time not giving Aboriginal people a genuine fair go is also very Australian but only if you allow that there is a deep strain of flint hearted, mean-as-cat-shit selfishness at the heart of old white Australia. Howard’s Australia.

  158. Katz


    Never ever happen.

    But while the demands persist, so should the embassy.

    Abbott’s effrontery in telling Aboriginal activists how to go about their business is breathtaking. Do Aborigines tell him how he should run the Parliamentary Liberal Party? If the did they could be accused of giving advice in bad faith, which is probably the offence committed against the Tent Embassy by Abbott.

  159. Sam

    “A CONSERVATIVE online blog site has launched an internet campaign to close down the 40-year-old Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra.

    Menzies House is urging Australians to sign the petition calling on the federal government to shut down the site near Old Parliament House.

    The Menzies House campaign can be found at http://www.closethetentembassy.com.”

    Well, that didn’t take long.

    Isn’t Menzies House the official think tank of the Liberal Party? Or am I confusing it with something similarly named?

  160. faustusnotes

    The SMH is now reporting that Abbot’s presence at that restaurant was revealed by Gillard’s own staffer.

  161. Megan


    Yes and he’s already resigned. Sigh….More crap on top of crap that Julia Gillard has to deal with. Thanx Rabbit.

  162. sdfc

    Just what are they achieving at the Tent Embassy? They should get off their arses and get into their communities.

  163. joseph.carey

    It beggars belief that Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra has never been granted historic heritage protection under federal or state law. It is a precious part of of Australian cultural heritage and should be preserved as such in perpetuity.

  164. jumpy
  165. Jacques de Molay

    Sam, I think Menzies House is a project of Cory Bernardi.

    I believe the IPA has much more influence on the Liberal Party.

    Whether they’re making a difference or not, the IPA is at least getting heard. Under conductor Roskam, the think tank has become the go-to source of conservative commentary for the media. Last year, the IPA and its main spokespeople scored 19,641 press mentions, according to Media Monitors (in contrast their rivals at the Centre for Independent Studies were well under 10,000)

    Thanks in part due to the ABC’s obsession with giving them a platform.

    Switzer says Roskam was integral in helping fuel the fire that led to Malcolm Turnbull’s demise as Liberal leader in 2009 and ultimately the scrapping of the original ETS by both major parties. It was the most visible display yet of the IPA’s role in influencing Coalition policy


  166. PeterTB

    Thanx Rabbit

    A Gillard staffer misquotes TA to some tribal leftists and facilitates a near riot, and somehow this is TA’s fault?

    He really has got inside your head, hasn’t he?

  167. Chris

    Megan @ 172 – how can Abbott be blamed for the poor judgement of one of Gillard’s press secretaries? Its pretty obvious Hodges was trying to create a media event that he thought would be in the government’s favour.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if both Abbott’s and Gillard’s personal ratings improve in the next poll though.

  168. Geoff Honnor

    “Abbott’s effrontery in telling Aboriginal activists how to go about their business is breathtaking”

    He didn’t. He expressed a personal opinion about the Tent Embassy approach 40 years on which, it turns out, is (gasp!) shared by some Aboriginal people as well. Your ‘effrontery’ in suggesting he’s somehow not entitled to make it is rather more predictable.

    But look, next time you’re sojourning up on the Cape doing volunteer teaching with indigenous kids, take it up with him.

  169. Hal9000

    [email protected]

    Menzies House is Cory Bernardi’s little baby, in the Rosemary’s Baby sense of the word. It’s not official, or at least it’s entirely deniable at the LPA level. They’ve published a whole lot of unpleasant material from the lunar right and promote climate delusionism.

  170. Sunny Jim

    Labor staffers have form for this sort of juvenile provocation. You can be willfully blind to this if you like, but the proximate cause for this event was in the PMO and not some scheme hatched by your absurd cartoon super-villain conception of Abbott.

  171. David Irving (no relation)

    Ootz @ 164, yes, he’s an utterly worthless excuse for a human being, not worth pissing on. I thought his boat comment the other day was vile. But. Just this once, I think he has been misrepresented. RN played his whole quote this morning and, while I disagree with him, he didn’t sound particularly inflammatory.

  172. Eagle

    I’m wondering how good the AFP training is. The biggest threat to PMs safety was the AFP officer dragging her along. What was wrong with forming up a group of officers around the people they were evacuating and all walking out together in a dignified way.

    Having some rules about getting the media scrum out of the way would also help.

  173. Joe

    Well, I dunno Sam, it’s certainly a tank full-o-something?

  174. Ambigulous

    A Prime Ministerial staffer has quit after conceding he passed on information about the Opposition Leader’s whereabouts before yesterday’s ugly protest incident in Canberra.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/gillard-left-redfaced-after-abbott-leak-20120127-1qljq.html#ixzz1keMJwWa4

    Megan: this aspect of the affair can’t be blamed on Tone, can it??

  175. akn

    Ah yeah, the Menzies House ‘close the Embassy’ petition reads:

    Sign our petition below, and together we will bring an end to this monstrocity.

    We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks
    We don’t know our arse from a hole in the ground
    We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks
    We’re keepin the n*gg*rs down

    Randy Newman.

    Effin’ unbelievable.

  176. tssk

    Ambigulous. Fantastic. Another nail in the coffin.

    ALP. Stop hitting yourself!

  177. Terangeree

    [email protected] 186:

    Maybe the folk who live in Menzies House don’t like large cities? 😉

  178. John D

    It is condescending to say it is OK from one group of people to deal with others saying something they don’t like by trying to shout them down or intimidate.

  179. Megan

    @185 Ambigulous

    Megan: this aspect of the affair can’t be blamed on Tone, can it??

    No of course not. But the whole affair would never have happened at all without him, would it?

  180. Malcolm

    Jacques de Molay, the ABC had little choice but to give the IPA a platform. Howard stacked the ABC board with quite a few people who were either IPA members or sympathetic to their interests

  181. Andyc

    akn @ 186: Randy telling it like it is! I followed Sam’s link to the Menzies House petition and apparently, the Embassy is not just a “monstrosity” but also an “atrocity”! Precious poppets, these Chateau Ming folks, aren’t they?

    They’re also whining that Google has blocked their petition 🙂

  182. zoot


    But look, next time you’re sojourning up on the Cape doing volunteer teaching with indigenous kids, take it up with him.

    Tony does volunteer teaching up on the Cape?

  183. zoot

    While I’m here, and getting back to the subject of which date best suits Australia Day, I would like to propose the fourth Thursday in November.
    It would be a good fit with all the flag waving/wearing and ostentatious jingoism. As a bonus we could add pumpkin pie to the barbecue menu.

    It would also reflect the reality of our position in the world today.

  184. GregM

    I’ve been involved in civil rights struggles. There is a fantastic notion that one should wear a tie or a dress and parade in front of the White House in an orderly fashion with a sign. It ain’t like that. Gandhi and Martin Luther King knew that. Nelson Mandela, much to the consternation of liberals, supported armed struggle. That’s forgotten now. There’s a big class element and fear of disorder working here too.

    And your point is?

    What civil rights struggles have you been involved in?

    In what way does your involvement, whatever it was, privilege your commentary, as you clearly intend it to?

  185. akn

    Terangeree: they should come out and meet some serious leftie rednecks one day. I just don’t know what’s wrong with private school education these days. All that money and the pimple ridden frat boys and gels still can’t spell. What ever will become of the country.

    Indeed, as it stands, I haven’t enjoyed an Australia/Survival Day quite so much since 1988. Very Australian that the coppers should rough up the PM on Australia Day and the koories should end up with a Cinderella shoe. Maybe next year they could carry the shoe around on a pole.

  186. Brian62

    Relevant point, Tony Abbott’s expression “move on” in itself was a certainty to raise the hackles of the tent embassy mob,given that their people have been getting “moved on ” since 26 January 1788 it’s a wonder they all didn’t end up in the arafura sea,you can’t move on, relocate, annexe, banish and part annihilate a people without profound deep resentment and long fermented hatred of the invasion of their rights,the real question to my mind is, why has it taken 224 yrs to even contemplate a restoration of their inalienable rights , it’s not the tent embassy mob at fault here it’s our mob,Us refugees collectively.

  187. Mercurius

    If we’re going to enshrine “moving on” as a core ‘Australian value’, I trust that there will be no more ANZAC Day commemorations, we will close the national War Memorial, and we will graciously invite thousands of Japanese to come and commemorate their pilots who were shot down during bombing of Darwin, on our soil, every year; the way the Turks graciously put up with tens of thousands of Aussies commemorating the unprovoked armed invastion of their country!

    Hey!! All you mourners who can’t let go of the past?? So your great-great-uncle died on a foreign beach, did he? I just want, as Leader of the Oppositon, to say that I wonder how relevant, really, that is to modern Australia. Maybe it’s time you **MOVE ON**, people!!

    Of course, it’s only the blackfellas who need to “move on”. Whitefella can have all the mourning days and maudlin commemorations they like. Only blackfellas have to “let go” of the past…

  188. John Passant

    Great post Mercurius. Spot on. And isn’t Tony Abbott’s new strategy wonderful? Borrowed from Richard Nixon, plausible deniability is just right for Abbott.

  189. Katz

    Yes Merc. But what day should Australians celebrate Moving On Day?

    I have two suggestions that are already woven into our national mythology and should therefore gain quick acceptance.

    1. April 21. This was the day that Brahe quit the depot at Cooper Creek, leaving Burke and Wills to fend for themselves. Brahe tired of waiting an MOVED ON.

    2. December 20. This was the day that the ANZACs buggered off from Gallipoli. “Sod this for a game of marbles,” they said, and MOVED ON.

    These are fine values to inculcate into our youf. And doubtless the annals of Australian history are full of other examples.

  190. jumpy

    Sorry for ya Mercurius if you think ANZAC Day is a ” white only ” commemoration. Silly thing to say.

  191. Mercurius

    Jumpy, I know it’s a stretch for you, but ***try*** to understand that @198 is ‘silly’ because it is the same form as the ‘silly’ suggestion about “move on”.

    ‘Move on’ is the most vacuous, callous piece of bullshit public rhetoric ever employed to silence dissenters. Why don’t the news media ‘move on’ from days and days of reporting the not-protest? Why don’t Jews ‘move on’ from The Holocaust,? Why can’t bigots ‘move on’ from being called out for their bigotry? Why don’t the Armenians ‘move on’ from their genocide at the hands of the Turks?

    Ask yourself this: Why did Tony Abbott feel it necessary to question whether the Tent Embassy is relevant in the context of Australia Day any longer??? Why didn’t he feel the need to ask whether the Easter Bunny, or Pablo Picasso is relevant?

    Here’s the thing: if something is not relevant **you don’t need to ask whether or not it’s relevant** because it’s fucking obvious. Every second, we *don’t think* of billions of things that *aren’t relevant*. And the fact that the alternative PM of this country is thinking about it, and comments upon the subject of the Tent Embassy, somewhat axiomatically, tells you that it’s still relevant.

    If it wasn’t relevant, how do you explain the protest, the demonstrations, the national media coverage? Has the cricket been too boring to talk about this year?

    I know ontology is not your strong point, but *try* jumpy, just *try*…

  192. Our Nation Australia was Born on January 1st, 1901

    Our nation, Australia was actually born on January 1st, 1901.
    January 1st, 1901 is Australia’s true birthday.

    January 26th is an impostor a counterfiet Australia Day.

    Australian Flag created – 1901.
    Australian Army created – 1901.
    Australian Navy created – 1901.
    First Australian Prime Minister – 1901.
    First Australian Governor General – 1901.
    First Federal election – 1901.
    First Australia parliament – 1901.
    First Australian Government – 1901.
    The forebear of Telstra and Australia Post created -1901..

  193. Chris

    The more that comes out about the protest, the more it looks like the protesters at the tent embassy were just being used by the ALP. Either Gillard’s staffer or Sattler lied about what Abbott said in attempt to create a media event.

  194. Tiny Dancer

    Sattler has now reduced herself to a nuisance given her backflip. I suspect that someone in the ALP had a word in her ear. I suppose now the ALP can simply point at the Tent Embassy and wash their hands.

  195. Adrien

    Our nation, Australia was actually born on January 1st, 1901.

    Doesn’t matter. By tradition the two dates significant to Australian Nationalism are the 26th of January and the 25th of April. It’s quite hard to alter tradition for obvious reasons.

    As a response to the anger witnessed on its most recent celebration shifting Australia Day’s location is a cosmetic and pusillanimous retort that will satisfy no-one.

  196. AT

    Zoot @ 129: “Tony does volunteer teaching up on the Cape?”

    Abbott has done same every year for at least five years and without much media fanfare – he spends a solid week helping in one of the remote schools as a teacher’s assistant. The locals like him.

  197. jumpy

    Well Mercurius, I read your post (multiple times) and wow, we seam to live in different worlds with entirely different inhabitants.

    I’ll try to respond;
    First ” move on”. Of the people that I personaly know, that have been grievously wronged, the ones that don’t “move on ” tear themselves to peaces in a multitude of way. The ones that do, have,( with support), built themselves a beautiful life.

    Ask yourself this: Why did Tony Abbott feel it necessary to question whether the Tent Embassy is relevant in the context of Australia Day any longer???

    He Didn’t listen to the question and reply ( i assume you haven’t yet )

    Anyway, we differ, thats fine i’ll keep being nice to good people* and ignore the rest. You can keep doing, whatever is is you do.

    ( I work with an Afghan, a Chinese-Malaysian, a Chinese-Malaysian-Aboriginal [son of former], a Greek, a Maori-Dutch and 4 whiteys whos racial heritage seems ” irrelevant “)

  198. PeterTB

    Naturally, Green Left Weekly is still running the false Abbott “dismissing the historic Tent Embassy as irrelevant and adding that it should be closed down” despite knowing better by now. However, their photo essay is useful in that it confirms my suspicion that those delightful people from Socialist Alliance were in the midst of things fomenting unrest for their own base purposes.

  199. Patrickb

    Lovely. I sense a wave a flaccidity breaking over our conservative contributors.

  200. Mercurius

    ( I work with an Afghan, a Chinese-Malaysian, a Chinese-Malaysian-Aboriginal [son of former], a Greek, a Maori-Dutch and 4 whiteys whose racial heritage seems ” irrelevant “)

    Filed as item #95813872 under Jumpy. Just. Doesn’t. Get. It.

  201. John Passant

    Oh FFS. I am neither a member of Socialist Alliance or a regular reader of green left Weekly but to see this as some sort of socialist conspiracy is absolute nonsense and totally insulting to Aboriginal people. This is a McCarthyism style reaction from the media, the politicians and the gullible to one or two hundred black people and their supporters calling Gillard and Abbott what they are – racists.

    Referring to previous Aboriginal militancy, Jack Waterford, the editor at large of The Canberra Times, wrote today (Sunday 29 January) says: “Naturally,all right-thinking people deplored the extremism of whatever they (the Aboriginal Ambassadors, the Australian Black Panthers etc] had to say, but it was quite noticeable that, in the course of doing so, the concessions about what Aborigines had legitimate complaint about went further than the concessions when the complaint was polite, or narrow in focus. (‘When going too far is never enough’ The Sunday Canberra Times January 29, page 18). Absolutely brilliant! Well said Jack.

    You don’t challenge, confront and eventually kill systemic racism by sitting at the back of the bus.

  202. G-G

    we seam to live in different worlds with entirely different inhabitants.

    This, Jumpy, is what is know as a freudian cliff jump.

  203. Ambigulous

    The Australian Federal Police says it will not investigate the disclosure of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s location before the Australia Day tent embassy protest, despite an official request by the federal opposition.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/no-evidence-of-criminal-act-afp-will-not-investigate-disclosure-of-abbotts-location-20120130-1qoky.html#ixzz1ktdvHDP3

  204. PeterTB

    I am neither a member of Socialist Alliance or a regular reader of green left Weekly

    Onya John.

    Word of advice though: If you find yourself in a crowd which includes SA, you’re in the wrong crowd.

  205. Adrien

    Naturally, Green Left Weekly is still running the false Abbott “dismissing the historic Tent Embassy as irrelevant and adding that it should be closed down” despite knowing better by now.

    Do they know better? Can anyone? Given the bullshit storm?

  206. Ootz

    G-G @213

    …….. freudian cliff jump.

    I believe there is protective gear available to protect oneself in that kind of extreme sport activity, apparently it is called ignorance is bliss.

  207. John Passant

    Thanks PeterTB. Do you mean that ‘wrong crowd’ that opposes the ongoing dispossession of Aboriginal people, that opposes the war in Afghanistan, that supports the Occupy movement and its demands for democracy and justice, that fights for refugees, that demonstrates for equal love? Doesn’t look like the wrong crowd to me. In fact as a member of Socialist Alternative I am proud to be part of that ‘wrong crowd’ and the fight for a better world in the here and now.

    If anyone is interested here is a link – hope it works – to a 15 minute interview I did with David Oldfield on 2UE on Monday morning in defence of flag burning and the need for a treaty. Not being from Sydney and not being a listener to commercial radio I didn’t know it was him until just as the interview began.