Recognise is not a Treaty

Tell Me Unc is “black by popular demand”.  Following time spent in the tribal lands of the Kulin Nations, Unc has taken up the writing stick we now know as blogging.

Sitting on the side line as a spectator can be awfully boring after a while, especially when issues of world importance to Australia’s Aboriginal populations are being trampled over and ignored like never before.

Two recent issues have raised my interest not because they are controversial but because they are just wrong-headed from a moral standpoint.

The first is the continuing jingoistic razzmatazz surrounding the 26th of January. The second is the Recognise campaign.

Lets be clear about both of these issues. Aboriginal people and an ever-increasing population of mainstream Australians, are moving to the same position as Aboriginal people have held since it was first proposed by the New South Wales State Government in 1808 – that a remembrance day marking the arrival of the first fleet.

Not to be confused with Cook, who was sussin the place out in 1770 and went on to plant a flag on “Possession Island”. We don’t even know if this event is true.

Unc has been to Possession Island and it would take an effort to get out of the Endeavour pitching in a heavy sea. Then get a flag pole into a smaller boat and make the effort to row to the island against a strong current in a naturally difficult passage of water in the Torres Strait. Then plant a flag. It’s questionable.

All of this after repairing the endeavour in Cooktown. Cook would have wanted to get outa there and back home ASAP. The phrase “I did but see her passing by” comes to mind.

The 26th of January has gone through a few different titles,  Foundation day, Anniversary day ANA Day.  Following Federation in 1901 the States and Territories could not agree on a day, until 1935. At that point they agreed that the 26th January would be known as Australia Day.

But it was not until 1994 that it was a public holiday in all states and territories.  And that was the beginning of the marketing campaign by the Australia Day Council. Millions of dollars of taxpayers money has been spent on a what is now an ugly nationalistic campaign.  Where people wrap themselves in flags, get flag tats on their faces, get the esky full of grog go down to the beach, drive around in cars with flags out the windows, in some kind of nationalist fever.

This nationalism is dangerous in any society. It has taken 20 years to get to where it is now, what will the next 20 years bring?

Aboriginal people will still call the day Invasion Day, Survival Day, a day of mourning. They are never ever going to agree to celebrating it. The problem for Australia Day Council is that, as the population of Aboriginal people is rapidly increasing and there is no change, more generations of Aboriginal people will be on the streets every 26th January until it changes. How will the diplomats, quaffing Australian wine and Australian crayfish explain to their guests?  When they ask  the obvious question about Australia’s first nation people

Imagine how Aboriginal people and supporters of Aboriginal people felt, when they saw vision on TV of the convoy of trucks sporting flags outside the cabins of their trucks as they delivered hay to the farmers, who lost properties and feed stock in the recent bush fires. Watching a convoy of trucks brandishing flags honking horns with all the fanfare and nationalism of a Nazi parade, with full television coverage on the 26th of January. It would have made them all reach for the sick bag.

The morning television shows were no better, full as it was with their jingoism take on the day. Those two guys with their washing machine van for the homeless and their corporate T shirts and all their branding. Unc couldn’t help wondering about the people who have been working most of their lives to to try and solve the problems of homelessness who are rarely recognised.  Lets see if they do what Les Twentyman has done in his life in a few years time.  Those dudes will end up in the corporate world, you just know it.

To me we dont need a day that celebrates the dispossession of Aboriginal people’s land. Full stop. If we need to celebrate a national day then pick a day that symbolises something like the sprig of wattle. The first of September would be good.

It reminds me of Willian Barak a Kulin man, who said “when the wattle blooms will be my time to pass on.”


The second of my gripes, is the Recognise campaign. Australia is the only Commonwealth country that does not have a treaty with its Indigenous people. Not many people in the country know this. Not many people in the world know this.

The Recognise people running the campaign will poo poo what Unc writes. They will marginalise a view anti to the view they have. It is well know strategy used countless times by Government where they select a group of people to lead a debate to an outcome they want.

Recognise is no different to what has happened in the past; like native title not being land rights. People are fed up with this approach.

Recognise is not a treaty. Aboriginal people want a treaty that gives them rights to land and everything that goes with that land. They want education rights, to have a decent education in language if they want in schools, they want a better health system like all Australians, they want housing rights.

Recognise will not give that. Recognise is yet another diversion in the life of Aboriginal Australia.

The Recognise campaign is a lot like the 26 Jan marketing campaign. The Government will delay the campaign until they have enough of the population agreeing to it. 

The government want Recognise because they don’t want a treaty. Big business dosen’t want it so the government doesn’t want it. 

The people inducted into the campaign will have people believe that this is a first step to a treaty and that recognition in the Constitution will lead to better recognition of indigenous rights. Well that just does not make sense.

The anti-recognise campaign is gaining momentum, like the anti-26 January campaigns its just that we have to be prepared for a long struggle.

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