Bess Nobody and Larissa Wannabe

The problem with Aboriginal people is that all want to be boss, and no one wants to do the work. Everyone Aboriginal person who has an opinion is given the status of Aboriginal leader, by the mainstream press.

The commentary following the Larissa Behrendt twitter comment beggar belief. There is something else at work here, something evil is going on with the mainstream press.

The content of what Bess Price said on Q&A lacked any substance, as I noted on this blog before the twitter saga came to light via The Australian. Larissa Behrendt engaged in a bit of bar talk; what’s wrong with that? There is a call for women to be put in the front line as fighting women. Do you honestly think  they are going to be cream puffs?  That they are not going to be at the “bar” having a well earned beer after putting themselves on the front line?  Will they be engaging in conversation about the price of electricity or carbon?  “Hello!” They will be saying “fuck” I nearly got my ass shot off there today I was shit scared man, thanks “spud” you saved my ass mate.

What also comes to mind?  “Sometimes it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to open you mouth and leave no doubt.”

But, some Aboriginal people are so thin-skinned.  If they want to wear the media imposed “mantle of leader” then they need grow some backbone and stop doing the poor-blackfella-me diversion to get sympathy.

As soon as someone says something they cry foul and run to the lawyers. But it’s ok for them to be lauded by a certain section of the mainstream press. It’s inconsistent, its duplicitous, and wrong, and blackfellas need to wake up.

The Australian newspaper has been running a campaign in favor of the Northern Territory Intervention for a long time now. In The Australian of April 15, they ran two un-newsworthy Aboriginal stories on the front page. While on the inside of the newspaper they run a real newsworthy story about redundancies in the car industry.  Other very newsworthy stories are buried deep inside the paper.

What a rag The Australian has turned into, what temerity to call itself The Australian.

Marcia Langton is an academic and one of the Australian’s stable of Intervention supporters. Her comments about the Q&A program featuring Bess Price were pure fantasy. We must have been watching different versions. From what Langton writes, one would be forgiven for thinking that Price is an intellectual giant. Far from it, she could barely string together a sentence, and for The Australian to give her the mantle of leader is akin to anointing her with a Queen plate.

There is a struggle going on in Australia’s Aboriginal organisations, for the hearts and minds of the Aussie punter.

The Aussie punter could not give a toss about the Aboriginal leadership. Nor could the average Aboriginal punter, and that includes community people.

Mainstream Australia cringes when we see and read about the drunks of all races and all ages running amok in our towns and cities and communities. We know that whitefellas, and blackfellas, also get drunk.  We also know that there are thousands of Australians that don’t work, and we wonder why Aboriginal people are singled out for the treatment they receive in the media.

Some of the Blackfella academics sitting on the east coast have worked hard for what they have, and that has to be commended.  Some community people have risen out of the quagmire of community life and gone on to better things in life for their families. People are always going to go “home” to country.  I do that more as I get older. For people on country, that is their home; that is the dreaming they have. Responsibilities to country, it’s in the blood.

Bess Price is from Country, Larissa Behrendt is from Country, and Marcia Langton is from Country.

The only foreign thing is The Australian newspaper with an evil agenda, of corporatism and globalization. Aborigines are being used for their corporate needs, feeding off Black Australia.

Wake up Guys.

Opportunity Missed

The ABC missed a opportunity, to bring to the attention of the Q&A audiences the real story behind the NT intervention.

Bess Price, a Walpiri woman from Central Australia was hardly a good panel choice for Q&A . In relation to people getting firsthand knowledge about the intervention, she failed miserably to articulate the circumstances surrounding the intervention.

Her claim that the United Nations rapporteur  only visited selective people  is an example of her misunderstanding of his role and inability to respond to the question about the rapporteur’s  findings.

Her comment of “at the least the kids are being fed’’ is an example of the monosyllabic extent of her comprehension of the subject.

There are many others from Central Australia who would have provided a far greater insight.  Barbara Shaw,  Pat Turner, David Ross, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Walter Shaw, William Tilmouth, Owen Cole; just to name a few credible people.

If Q&A were trying to be informative about the intervention they failed. It’s a shame because it will be another 12 months before another black person is on such a high profile show.

Two Dogs the old Dingo Trapper

 My old Unc has the million dollar view that most Aussies would envy. It meets all of the Location, Location, Location sales pitch. For old Unc it is the perfect location. He has a shack in a patch of the rain forest on the beach overlooking the Torres Strait Islands. Sitting under the trees, enjoying the view, you can see the Black Cockatoos, their beautiful undercarriage of red wing feathers and the big red crest, the Torres Strait Pigeons big and fat and the Scrub Turkey raking leaves as he builds a huge nesting mound of sticks and leaves.

 The “Old Fella” doesn’t get many visitors these days, except people from the community who come down, look in on him and take him shopping on pension day. He has his radio and TV and two little dogs for company. You know the ones I mean; they jump all over you and lick you to death. They hate “white fellas” he said.  I think it must be the smell he said laughing. They like “blackfellas”, he laughed again giving a toothless grin, and you can see by the way they jump all over you, they know you’re a blackfella he laughed.  

Having a pot of tea with dogs jumping all over you, scratching your legs, licking you and trying to get your attention, is not a pleasant way to have a cupper and a yarn.

“Mate, you need that dog whisperer on TV I said”. Yeah he said. Reminds me of a story, many years ago, I met an old dog trapper from down Cunnamulla way. An Old Blackfella “Tommy one leg” was his name. He lived at Eulo just across the road from the old Eulo Queen pub. He had a reputation as the best dog trapper of all time. Some say it was because he only had one leg. When he was trapping, he would get along on his good leg using a crutch under his arm and he would strap on his wooden leg,  leaving no footprints just imprints from the crutch and the wooden leg.  Yeah!! I said “true”. You’re “bullshitting me”. No more, he said.  I first met him down on the Condamine River when I was droving a mob of cattle down to the Kidman property at Weinteriga station down on the Darling, between Wilcania and Menindee.

 He lost his leg from his knee down, when a horse rolled on him as a young boy. It never stopped him from riding a horse. He said that you ride a horse with your knees not your legs.  The wooden leg balanced him up and made no difference to his long year’s droving out in the long paddock.

The nick name “Tommy One Leg” stuck with him, from a boy and he liked it, as he got older his reputation grew as a stockman, kangaroo and rabbit shooter. But his reputation was as a dingo trapper and tracker, he was know from the Snowy to the Territory. Mention “Tommy One leg” in any pub and people knew him, he was the stuff of legends.  They would all tell you that he could track on a tar road he said. Stations right across the South West of Queensland, the Territory and into NSW would get him if they had a problem dog.

I went trapping with him just to learn the tricks. You know that modern day dog whisperer you tell me about I recon ‘’he said’ he could learn a trick or two from old “Tommy One Leg”. 

He could read the country and the tracks, he would out think the dog, put his mind one step in front of the most intelligent Dingo. Dingoes move through country he told me that a dog will travel a track across country and only stay a day or two in one place, the dog will prop and survey the place, plan his exit, kill sheep or calves then move on.  He said, it’s a pattern mate. In 2-or 3 months he’ll be back, sometimes with a couple of bitches with him. You have to study the pattern and then work out a plan on where to set the traps.

When I met him he had been contracted to trap some dogs that had been causing havoc, killing stock in the district. I don’t usually take anyone with me he said. The old girl used to come with me, but poor old thing; she is all crippled up now with arthritis. It was her he said, with some emotion. She showed me how to track dogs, she knows all about the dogs. She came from up on the Georgina river, her country was close to Kalkadoon and Kaditch country. She learnt how to track as a kid from her father and grandmother. They used to track the dogs and raid the Dingo lairs for the puppies. They were good tucker she said, mind you I have eaten most things on the road, I have even eaten cockatoos, pink and greys, snakes and mountain ducks, but I drew the line eating dingo pups.

Well we went out to where these dogs were killing, Tommy surveyed the country looking for anything that would give him a clue, he was looking for particular traits, how the dogs walked, where they stopped. It wasn’t long before he found evidence of the dogs he began following the tracks on foot.

When he found their droppings he would very carefully put it in a bottle. He had his own receipt for a potion, of scent that the smartest dog found irresistible, causing his instinct to shut down.  It was at this vital moment that the dog forgot about survival he said and would rush forward on the scent, head down his pace quickening as he went from side to side along the track sniffing the breeze, all he had on his mind was that there was a bitch nearby.   

Well the hunt was on; we then travelled 30 miles north and began looking for the tracks. He estimated that the dogs would be in the general area. We found the tracks as we drove along crisscrossing   the country. He was sitting on the bull bar of the old land rover, and when we saw something suspicious he would stop. We finally found what he was looking for. Yep he said, “that’s them” that’s that same dog leading them right there 4 of them he said.

As we drove along, he said, “they are creatures of habit”.  I know where they are going he said. So off we went and we travelled another 60 miles up country, and we set up camp on a bend of the Condemine River at a nice water hole. We then went out and selected a trail to set the traps, they will be here in a day or too “Tommy said”.

We then set off on foot, from the opposite direction to the way the dogs would be coming from. We went a few miles, down a ravine leading towards the river and set the first trap. It was close to a gidgee tree, to anchor the chain securely. These dogs he said will chew their own leg off to get out of a trap. He began by gathering up the leaves twigs and putting them to one side , then he began to dig a hole deep enough for the trap to be laid, just under the ground. He removed the top soil and placed it to one side, putting the rest in a sugar bag.  He dug a ditch and anchored the chain under the ground and around the tree. The chain had a lead of about 6 foot in all and about 4 inches under the ground.

 He then set the trap practically level with the ground, he then got a piece of news paper and spread it across the hole just above the trap securing the paper by pinning it with small pegs that he bought with him, making it firm enough to hold the soil. Then he sprinkled the dirt from the top soil pile of dirt that he had removed .He then put the leaves and sticks back where he had removed them, so when he finished you could not see a thing.  When you looked at it,  you could not tell there was a trap there. But the dogs are smart he wasn’t finished yet.  Don’t come past the trap he said, stay well back. He then put his crutch on and took his magic potion and headed up to where he knew the dogs would come from. That old dog leading them he said. I want him first, because the rest will come easy. He will be out in front by about a half mile or a mile, because that’s his job he is the main dog and only one dog leads the pack. He went about a half mile and began to put the mixture which consisted of the droppings he picked up and urine from his own female dogs that he collected when they were on heat. 

 He worked his way back, being careful and brushing the trial as he came back stopping to spread the mixture on either side of the track. They can smell where a man has been he said, even the sweat from my body. This dog he said, is smart he will stop at the slightest thing that looks suspicious.  They have been trying to get this dog for a long time. So I have to do it very slowly and carefully so I don’t leave any scent of my own my old missus taught me that. As he was coming back he sprinkled drops of water from his can, and also around the trap. It looks like we could get a very small shower tonight only a small one he said and if it’s dry when he gets here we have covered everything.

We picked up the surplus dirt after one final sweep with a tree branch a final sprinkle and as we went sweeping away the prints for about a mile just in case he circled around he said. 

The whole exercise took us a good 5 hours to complete, when you are trying to outsmart a dingo you have to take your time he said.

We repeated the process about every 5 miles -10 miles along the track we set 4 traps and sat back on the river for 2 days and waited.

When we got went back to the last trap we had one, and also the next and the next. I think we got him he said as we approached the last trap the first he laid. We came up on him and he was angry, he got the ringleader un believable.  He had his leg half chewed off.  It was all a bit sad. Tommy said looking at the dog, “well mate” it’s not your fault, you were just doing your job and I was doing mine .With that he just shot him and with a quick cut with his knife he had the scalp off. We collected the gear and went back to camp, pulled in the small drum net he had set in the river and had a feed of Yellow Belly.

Yeah he sure could teach these two dogs of mine how to behave, he said as he lovingly patted them.

Ok Unc I said, see you next time I am up this way.

More of the same

After more that 4 years of the intervention, the best the opposition and their black supporters can offer the Aboriginal peoples of the Northern Territory is more of the same. More punitive special measures, more homelessness, more police, more white and black bureaucracy, more suffering, more confronting big blue signs placed outside Aboriginal communities, demonizing the Aboriginal people to a life of misery and shame.

What bloody hope have the traditional owners got, if they are being demonized and condemned by comments in the media from their own people? The station and camp dogs are treated better , they do this while they themselves live the high life.

There is a gang of Aboriginal people that the mainstream press seeks out to make disparaging remarks about Aborigines. They are able to do this from their own privileged place in society. Playing their dirty black politics, with the lives of a people still connected with the dream time and their country.

The modes’ operandi of politicians and bureaucrats, in their dealing with Aboriginal people has never changed, since the white invasion of Australia. They always seek out an Aboriginal people to hang a King or Queen plate around their neck. Then pronouncing them King or Queen of the Tribe.

Any wild black fellows, or people who speak out against this convention, were hunted down and shot or water holes poisoned, as country was stolen from under them. 

Now the white fellas have developed a more subtle and orchestrated way to assimilate blackfellas into the mainstream. The modern commentators are selected because they are anointed by the press as leaders. Blackfellas such as the former ATSIC commissioners are perniciously hounded out of existence by the newspapers and Government officials.

In Australia there is a newspaper that has the temerity to call itself the Australian, they have this group of Aboriginal commentators, that do regular opinion pieces. Last weekend one of the opinion writers obviously had a  sabbatical moment and was enlightened , no dought on the road to Hopevale. He saw a flash of light and a falling star in the night sky coming out of the east. What was it?

Well he now says that there was a vacuum created in Aboriginal affairs with the shutting down of ATSIC, and that reforms he says, needs the natives and the organizations to work.

Well hello! That is what the roll back the intervention mob has said from the start. They recognized that, communities needed assistance, and that who better than the natives, to assist government and NGO to better work together. That’s all they asked.  To be consulted, to be a part of the human race and to be treated like human beings, not like camp dogs. 

During the intervention, when respected people from communities and NGO’s put their head up. It was mercilessly kicked off by the Australian Government, by the Australian news paper, by the ABC, by the task force and shamefully by the King and Queen plate wearing Aborigines, comfortable in their nice homes away from the communities, basking in their new role as spokespeople for all Aborigines.

What a bloody cheek, to think that Aboriginal people  would take the slightest notice of them, how relevant was some urban blackfella with no language or culture telling  Aboriginal law men and women how to behave, talking to them like kids.

 What took place in the media as a late line report on the ABC, by Tony Jones was the catalyst for the NT Little Children are Sacred report, and from there followed 4 plus years of sheer hell on earth, for Aborigines in the Territory. (Thanks Tony Jones)

Mal Brough rode into town like a gunslinger, hell bent on cleaning up the towns, riding roughshod over a bewildered people, and after being in Government for over 10 years all they could do was take their money off them replace half of it with a plastic basic card and hand the rest to the big supermarkets .

What a debacle of policy, the tragedy was labor continuing the policy of the Howard Government. What a travesty that was, people voting labr were misled into believing that the intervention, was going to be scrapped.

 The good thing was the Australian people booted out the architects of the vote grabbing plan Howard and Brough at the election. How humiliating for both Howard and Brough. Those nice liberals in their own electorates were not impressed by their election ploy, and their failure in Aboriginal affairs after 10 years.

Now we have a new gunslinger on the scene, Tony Abbott. He is also looking to raise his standing with the electorate. But he is a bit more cunning, he has said the intervention needs another intervention. Now he is also like the blackfella chatting classes, in saying use the people in communities and the organizations. They are in effect saying they were wrong. No apology from the coalition or the King and Queen wearing plate brigade, for getting it wrong. Not so much as a whisper about that. So much for sorry.

What is the alternative?, well read my previous blog. Its Crap Tony.

It may be worth considering why the situation is what it is. 

Ask yourselves, why is it that during the biggest ever mining boom in the history of Australia, Aboriginal people have are left with barley the clothes on their backs. How it is, that BHP Billiton can announce a $12 Billion expansion program, where their profits will be off the back of Aboriginal land, and in the process not build a single house or school.

$1.2 Billion of that investment should go into Aboriginal future fund to build infrastructure. That would be a small start. It should be part of all mining and resource industries on Aboriginal land that such a fund is set up and managed with all of the proceeds going into education.  From education the rest is easy. What is needed to work alongside such a scheme, is a Military style college modeled on Duntroon.

It can be established with a clear set of goals of responsibility for the future education of Aboriginal people and maintain all of the cultural traditions.

Its time to forget about the subtle orchestrated assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and settle on a course of action that will have the outcomes that all Australians support.

It is much better to do that rather than some gammon jobs scheme , that promises the world and doesn’t deliver and blows  the money.

Also greater scrutiny of what is happening to the mining royalty that land councils are in control of? In Alice Springs, my sources tell me, there is a Native Title group that is investing in all manner of private enterprises, including licensed hospitality industry. I mean what’s going on?. Aboriginal people did not fight to set up groups that would buy into these industries surely.  When I was marching on the street, we marched against racism; we marched for basic human rights of Aboriginal peoples. Land, Education, Health Clinics, jobs and housing.

The movement was hijacked by the King and Queen Platters back then. They coined the phrase “social and economic development” with their emphasis on economic development. Rather than develop the families and build capacity in individual people we built edifices like land councils, quasi enterprises, masquerading as not for profit enterprises, and pretending to support Aboriginal disadvantage.

They were happy with the demise of ATSIC, it gave them access to the Government directly for funds, every Tom Dick and Harry rushed the Aboriginal bucket vacated by ATSIC.

It’s Crap Tony

It’s not so much a failed state Tony, as a failed Howard Brough election eve policy. To now try and distance yourself from Howard and Brough and call for another Intervention, on the premise that the Territory is a “failed state” is Crap Tony.

The disappointment is that a Labour government without a social conscience won an election, which saw the back of Brough and Howard. Rather than roll back the Intervention and engage with Aboriginal stakeholders. Labor choose to continue to breach international human rights accords, driving people from communities into camps and creeks on the fringes of towns, from Port Augusta to Darwin.

The Intervention resulted in an exodus from communities akin to a refugee crisis. Aboriginal people drifted into secondary towns like Coober Pedy in their hundreds, they came like refugees, with there mere belongings, to Alice Springs, Mt Isa, Tenant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. An additional 3,500 Aboriginal people in Alice Springs is testament to a failed policy.

They are sleeping rough, income-managed, being discriminated against, and racially abused, even by their own television station Imparja. The commercial station was forced to withdraw socially unacceptable advertisements about Aboriginal people running on its station. An action by an Arrente man to the human rights commission was needed to bring Imparja to account.

What has Imparja, the Aboriginal owned Television Station, done in the past 25 years to lift the self esteem, and improve the situation of Aboriginal people? What is its programming doing to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage?. Its high profile Board and employees are comfortable, in there nice homes with their high salaries and LCD TV’s

The failed state, Tony, has its genesis in the CLP governments in the Territory. Their failure, to direct Commonwealth funds targeted to Aboriginal communities over decades created the beginnings of a “failed state”.

Noam Chomsky writing in the Khleej Times “Superpowers and failed States “ wrote,

The definition of “failed states” is hardly scientific. But they share some primary characteristics. They are unable or unwilling to protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. They regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, hence free to carry out aggression and violence. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from a serious “democratic deficit” that deprives their formal democratic institutions of real substance. One of the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and among the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the characteristics of “failed states” right at home.

Yes Tony, the situation in the Northern Territory does have the characteristics of a failed state.

So what do we do?  It is clear that the Intervention has failed. The housing project in town camps is also a failure. It fails to deliver the real jobs to Aboriginal contractors and Aboriginal people. Real jobs for Aboriginal people are Aboriginal people working at all levels.

There is a tendency for Aboriginal corporations to set up building companies. This is a failed practice and should not be supported by government. These practises are largely welfare projects and use much needed welfare money to build so called Aboriginal enterprises. It is a welfare model that has failed; the first thing they do is employ white people in the top jobs and blackfella gets the job of sweeping up, kowtowing to a white boss.

Mr Abbott says special alcohol laws have worked to stop people drinking in remote communities in the Territory and there is no reason they could not work in Alice Springs.

Yes, agree that “special measures” should apply to everyone in the Territory. Grog should be served on licensed premises, ban all takeaway grog in the Territory, and close down animal bars. Do that and maybe we have a way forward. The businesses and concerned tourist  operators that contributed to those advertisements on Imparja may not like that approach.

Tony made this point “I think that as with the Intervention, when you’ve got a serious social crisis you’ve got to take serious measures to address it,” he said. “We have a Commonwealth budget of about $350 billion a year. If this was to cost $10 million or $20 million or even more than that, I think that is the kind of money that a reasonable, decent, prudent government can find.”

The letter also discusses making participation in school compulsory. Couldn’t agree more, but how do we do that, with a curriculum in town that does not support bilingual education? With some communities of reasonable size without a high school?

Tony says there needs to be more police, more teachers and insistence on work-for-the-dole and alcohol-management measures.

On the insistence of work for the dole; well there was a healthy work for the dole scheme running on communities before the Intervention. It was closed down on many communities, and downsized on others to a few participants. Communities need access to the grants commission like any other shire to build their own infrastructure on communities and create real jobs.

Mr Abbott now says a new Intervention would need to be guided by Indigenous leadership.

That is all well and good Tony, how do you take the tribal politics of nepotism and cronyism away from any carve up of jobs and money. How do kids and historical Aboriginal people get a fair go?

“A failed state” Australia has failed Aboriginal people since it settled the land, the failed state is because of the theft of land and assets, government inaction, mining companies, pastoralists, businesses and supermarket grog barons.

What’s the solution?

There’s no one solution to the problems Aboriginal people face, just like there isn’t for most things.  But I would start by challenging white people in the Territory, and in the rest of the country, to ask themselves what they would be prepared to give up to try and make a positive future for the current and next generation of Aboriginal people? 

Because, if a strategy or policy is discriminatory, if it applies to black people but not to white people, it’s never going to work.

I think grog is the biggest factor and the first step is to deal with that. Would you whitefellas  be prepared to let go of your fierce attachment to grog?  Would you support a ban on takeaway grog for all people, not just blackfellas or people in some communities? 

You could go to a pub or a club, or a restaurant and have a drink, but when it’s time to go home its time to go home and do something else.

You could have normal hours for pubs and clubs. The drinking culture has to change, if you have not had enough grog by midnight, then you have a problem.  

Would you support pubs and clubs and restaurants telling anyone that they’ve had enough when they’ve had enough?   Including you?

What would you be prepared to do, to be able to stop pretending you’re not part of the problem?

We don’t need another intervention, we need to halt the one we got, Jenny is looking tired and needs to go, Labour needs new ideas. Give the community back some dignity and stop that apartheid basic card.

Unc goes to Womadelaide

I met an old sister girl in Adelaide for the annual world music festival “womad’; she has been to every womad event. My first thoughts were why? Why would you? Then after spending a few days there myself, I was convinced that I think she just loves the big trees. Just being there the atmosphere, the people, the music, the food. I love the big trees they have a special significance somewhat spiritual.

There is an old river red gum there that has had bark removed from the trunk to make a canoe. Living culture, and proof of prior occupation, that there were traditional Aboriginal people in the park long before “womad”, and obviously long before the good old bunyip  squatter boys called the place Adelaide.

If ever you are in Adelaide take a walk through the park, sit a spell, take in the glorious Bunya Bunya pines. Archie Roach, Niel Murray, and Shane Howard presented their show in the warmth of the afternoon sun. The crowd was patient and respectful, as they listened to their long stories, and journeys through time with Archie. We left the idyllic setting, as the sun slowly disappeared beyond the trees. All of us hoping that brother Arch, would recover from his illness soon and come back and create more beautiful music.

It was simply a magic Womadelaide moment.

Not every moment was magic however. On Friday night a photographer with all of the correct accreditations was man handled kicked and punched by a cockhead guitar tuner working with Angus and Julia Stone. In full view of everyone this dude was out of control, swearing, to all of us he appeared to be off his face. Not the type of guy you would want on a gig. He did not know an E string from a G string. Womadelaide is not the place for that kind of conduct, it’s more akin to a rock concert in the 70’s. The organisers have to stop these deadbeats attending family concerts. His attitude reflected the kind of show, from Angus and Julia. It was not well attended, people drifted away, the songs were boring they sang out of tune, and gave the appearance of not wanting to be there. I would not recommend to anyone, that they waste their money seeing them in future.

My top acts were Yabu Band, Fefe, and Ash Grunwald. The Nungar group Yabu band from Kalgoolie were great. They have been blessed by well written songs. They have the best didge player dancer I have ever seen and I have seen a few. The guitarist on lead broke his 6th string half way through, but continued beat out lead breaks that Jimmy Hendrix would be proud of.

Fefe, well that guy has so much energy, he could run a whole power station on the energy he puts into his act, the former French Hip Hop great has all the right moves, and even jumped down into the crowd, and had everyone doing steps they never had before. Fefe left the stage in a lather of sweat, just like he had a hose on him, I saw him after he had a shower in the cool down area. He would not blow out a candle, he was that fit.

Ash Grunweld, well move over all other would be and wanna be raunchy blues bands in the country, and even the world. Wow what an act, if ever you get a chance to see this guy and his band just do it pay what ever it costs just go and travel to see them.

See you there next year.

Imparja shame

The lodging of a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) highlights the decline in moral obligations to the Aboriginal owners of ‘Imparja Television’. The complaint, by Alice Springs Senior Arrente lawman Warren H Williams, is against advertisements sponsored by a business action group “Action for Alice” on Imparja Television.
What should be of concern to the board of Imparja, and the board of the majority share-holder, the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA,) is the consequences of running such material.

Mr. Williams says the advertisements are racist and vilify Indigenous people. Mr Williams is being represented by human rights lawyer George Newhouse of Surry Partners Lawyers in Sydney. The complaint is requesting that Imparja and ‘Action for Alice’ take the advertisements off air and off the internet immediately.

The advertisements feature footage of Indigenous youth walking on footpaths and other public areas in Alice Springs. A voiceover claims that “gangs of youths from as young as eight years old roam the streets at 3am, damaging property and terrorising residents and tourists”. It also claims that the current generation of Indigenous teenagers are “lawless criminals” and calls for tougher policing and “zero tolerance”.

In the complaint, Mr Williams says:

“I have never encountered anything like the unjust portrayal and vilification demonstrated by these advertisements… Many Aboriginal peoples have seen these advertisements and feel they have been unjustly represented.”A serious repercussion of these advertisements is the effect on self-esteem and self-worth, further fuelling a deterioration in the mental health of Indigenous peoples, particularly our youth. There is enough segregation within our society between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people… these advertisements just wedge that gap open even further.”

The complaint to the AHRC alleges:

“This advertisement not only defames, vilifies and shames the complainant but it is also offensive, insulting and humiliating to Indigenous Australians”.

The complaint could also come under scrutiny from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, (ACMA).

A direct breach of the license codes of practice section 123 of the Broadcasting services Act 1992. empowers the regulator, ACMA to impose a condition on a license requiring it to comply with the code.

1.3.1      A licensee which does not comply with such a condition may be subject to a range of penalties under the broadcasting services act 1992 or,

1.3.2 Determine a standard in relation to the matter if it is satisfied that there is convincing evidence that the code is not operating to provide appropriate community safeguards.

Imparja gets itself into serious breach territory under section 1.9,

Prescribed Material

1.9     A licensee will not broadcast a program, program promotion, station identification or a community service announcement which is likely, in all circumstances, to:

1.9.4  Use or involve or involve any technique which attempts to convey information to the viewer by transmitting messages below or near below the threshold of normal awareness.

1.9.5  Seriously offend the cultural sensitivities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or of ethnic groups or racial groups in the Australian community.

1.9.6 Provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or group of persons on the grounds of age, color, gender, national, ethnic origin, disability, race, religion, or sexual preference.

Imparja is an Aboriginal owned organisation. For it to broadcast material offense to its own people flies in the face of all that Aboriginal people have fought for.

What was the Board of Imparja thinking when these ads began running?  Is there no quality control in the organisation? Are they too blind to see that they are being led by a management team who appear to have hijacked the organization from the members, the Board and the majority share holder CAAMA.

Any Aboriginal Board member who allows this injustice to continue, is no longer a fit and proper group to lead an organization.

It beggers belief; some of the Aboriginal people depicted in the ad, are their own relatives. What kind of relative does this to their own family?

Is the Board so weak that Imparja management can ride roughshod over them?. Or is there something more that is not understood by the average punter and how commercial television works.

Imparja is reliant on advertising for its existence, if there is no advertising to sustain the network then there is little future for imparja. Some in the community say that would be a good thing.

The action group responsible for the advertisement, also advertise individually on the Imparja network. Imparja has been manipulated by a sinister group of individuals, and wealthy good old boys, not about to share the power base with a group of Aborigines.

The “Action for Alice” group must also be called to account for promulgating such an over the top advertisement. Their actions are race-based and designed to protect the interests of business owners of Alice Springs.

Business owners who are happy to take blackfellas money, but don’t want them to be seen or live in the town.  They want them to come to town spend all their money in their stores. Then kick them, kick them out of town, to town camps and communities where there are no services.

It’s the lack of services, and failed government policy are the main causes of the late night street walkers in towns across the Territory.

A good start by those businesses and the concerned Action group, would be to work towards solutions with the organizations and government to bring to the community together.

The question now is, where to, for Imparja?

Is it time the members take back control, in an orderly way, or have the members been so disenfranchised, and the situation deteriorated so much, that it calls for more drastic action.

If Imparja continue to act like radio shock jocks, and run advertising offensive to the very people it is there at the good grace of; then what it’s point?  It may as well not exist.

Mr. Williams needs to be commended in his efforts to make Imparja accountable ,where the Imparja board has failed.

Maybe, one good man standing against all of the odds, in Alice Springs can make a change.

I’m Nothing Special.


I met up with an old mate in Cooktown recently. I first met him in 1961, when I was on a camping and fishing trip with my mates. We used to go camping and shooting a lot in those days. Long before it became fashionable, there were no baby boomers then to clutter up the roads with their Winnebago’s, or expensive SUV’s and tinnie strapped to the roof racks, pulling expensive caravans, and doing their best for the planet by adding their carbon output.  

They have all of the comforts of home these days, satellite dishes, LED Televisions – to watch all of the popular fishing shows – as they travel around like backpackers plundering the coastal fishing grounds, camping together in big numbers, squatting on the places set aside for tired truckies to have a camp.  Like soldier ants, they follow each other around the country, staying in touch via popular websites or social networking, when they reach a town with next G.

Despite popular belief, they don’t spend a lot of money, it’s all invested in their rigs, they eat mainly meagre meals; a few sausages on the barby and on to the next town, road side camp or fishing spot. Anywhere they don’t have to spend money, like in caravan parks.

When we travelled we were on our own, we just had swags, and we did not see another car after we left Mareeba.  We went up for a trip of shooting and fishing. We all had guns, Browning 22 pump actions and Lithgow repeaters, they were the popular makes.  They were great guns, you could buy as much ammo and as many guns as you wanted, you did not need a license. One of our mates loaned us his 16 gauge shotgun and his ex army 303 carbine. We had enough firepower to stop an elephant.

The road after Mareeba was all gravel, with countless creek crossings, corrugations that rattled every bone, and bull dust that was like talcum powder got into everything. We were travelling in an old Chevy 4 Ute and a more modern Zephyr sedan. There was a rush to ride in the Zephyr because it was smoother but the old Chevy was a good old thing. We could shoot out the window going along and it was breezy.

We saw everything on that trip. At one river crossing there was a mob of the biggest wild pigs, they were real razorbacks. One of the mates got out the 303 and bowled over 3 of them. He had not long got back from national service. 3 months he did at Wacoal, outside Brisbane.  “Bang, Bang, Bang”. It was the greatest shooting I ever saw. They sure showed him how to shoot. He bowled them over from a distance of at least 200 yards and an open sight. They hit the ground, and the rest of them took off.

After the first shot, there was a great screech of cockatoos and galahs as they rose out of the trees in fright. The shots got our adrenalin really pumping and left our ears ringing for an hour after. When the shooting stopped we all went down to the creek our own 22’s at the ready in case the pigs were not dead and the others may we still be about.  We all stood around in awe as we looked over the damage. The adrenalin was still pumping; 3 shots from a 303 Carbine does that too you. One wonders what it must have been like in the trenches of war. We just left them for the other pigs to eat.

Next day we reached the Annon River, it’s big and now on the list of wild rivers. It was wild then and is wild now, nothing much as changed except there is a big concrete bridge over it now. We came over a rise and there he was sitting on the single lane wooden bridge fishing.  

I went up to them and introduced myself; I did not say bruz, cuz, bunjie or Unc. I just said “hello how ya goin mate”. He looked up from under his ringers hat and smiled, It was a nice friendly smile.

Old mate has worked around the Cooktown area all his life. He was a stockman worked nearby he was “riding and repairing fences” he said and was on his way back to the station. He had been camped beside the Annon for a few days doing some fishing and resting up. He had a string of horses with him, they were teathered out under the mango trees around his camp. He had his wife with him also. She was so shy, even a little bit scared of us. No wonder; we must have looked like wild men ourselves. It was not uncommon for stockmen riding fences to take they partners with them to cook and help with the fencing jobs.

 We spent time yarning around a camp fire that night, he had a string of horses his missus cooked the fish and made damper for us then we hit the sack. When we got up in the morning he was gone.

The next time I saw him was in Cooktown 50 years later. He recognised me straight off. I walked into the bar of the hotel. He looked at me from a distance, got off his barstool and came over and looked at me again and said. I know you, we met a long time ago out on the Annon. I couldn’t believe it; I only know him as mate. We moved to the bar and started yarning- after 4 hours I know his whole life story and I wish I had a recorder now because I may not see old mate for a long time.

He had a lot of opinions of the local politics from the Wild Rivers, to the income management, and the future. You done a lot in your life I said, raised a family, worked hard all your life, you have paid your dues I said. You deserve a beer mate I said.

The publican had bought us a beer and you could see that they both were old mates, and had shared a few campfires and a few yarns in their day. They had a fondness for each other that you only see in the bush. I have seen it a lot in the bush and in other parts of the country. Blackfella and whitefella good mates having a beer together, color has nothing to do with mateship and if you listen to some of the black establishment, they would have you believe differently.

Blackfellas in positions of power, are more inclined to trot out the race card, at every opportunity as a means of staying in power. They cloud issues and good friendship and mateship with the whole rights movements. Both of these old mates have a different opinion of the world, and that is what makes them good mates, because they respect each other.

The whitefellas, I came to Cooktown with the first time, are still my mates today, we all raised families, sent our kids to school and university. The Whitefella I travelled to Cooktown with this time is an old mate of 25years. I guess you could say I am able to work and live in both worlds.

I am nothing special “old mate said” just an ordinary blackfella with dreams, I used to lay in my swag at night and dream of a good life for me and my family. They were nice happy dreams. I have led a good life. They will not build any monuments to me, I will be forgotten, but in one respect, I have lived a greater life as anyone else .

There is a lot more to this story. But that will have to wait until next time.

CAAMA Shop Closes

I first remember the CAAMA shop, when I used to get the Music Tapes of Central Australian Aboriginal bands. I was presenting an Aboriginal radio program, in the early days of community radio. The station used to get the tapes from CAAMA. I would always look in the pigeon hole at the station for new CAAMA music.

The music would sometimes come via the Aboriginal Tape Exchange in Melbourne and be posted out to Aboriginal broadcasters across the country. They used to be sent to the land councils in those days as well.

A lot of us mob used to wait for the tapes to come in because that was the only Aboriginal music available. The first time I ever heard Aboriginal music and songs was on the CAAMA Tapes. When I first heard the songs in language it was like “wow”. I felt so proud to hear our own mob, and the audience couldn’t get enough of it. There were many Aboriginal communities who had their own bands and they were well supported by their communities.

Artists like Troy Cassar-Daly were inspired by what came out of CAAMA. He recalled what an inspiration it was to know that out in the Centre, there was an Aboriginal owned and operated recording label, giving Aboriginal artists the chance to record and others could hear that music.

The iconic CAAMA Tapes Man spoke up for thousands, encouraging the distribution to blackfellas across the country. There was a poster of the CAAMA Tape Man on the wall of the community radio station where I presented my program. Over the years you could call CAAMA and they would send you a list of over 90 CD’s and Tapes of all the favourite bands.

The community bands used to be able to record music at CAAMA, sell it in the shop and receive a royalty.  No more, the shop is closed.

What a sad day for Australia, and Australian music content. The losers are Aboriginal community radio stations, the broadcasters on community radio and the public who buy the music. There is th the push for more local content, and more Australian Aboriginal content continues to be in demand. But the major Aboriginal organisation and outlet in Alice Springs, the CAAMA Shop has now closed its doors.

I mean “What happened”?   Why do our businesses fail?  Genuine Aboriginal music is a rare commodity these days; there is competition from everywhere now. Whitefella organisations now take up the lead role in recording, mentoring, promoting and selling Aboriginal content.

Why is this so?  We can’t seem to get it right. And why is there always a whitefella involved in Aboriginal business? Why are we so passive , that we let white people appropriate our culture and our businesses, while we sit back and let it happen, sometimes with our hand out complaining. The tourism business in the Northern Territory relies on Aboriginal people and culture for their massive profits.

How is it that a business like CAAMA shop is not profitable? It has a niche market. Is it because of factors in the corporate plan? Is it the technology? Is it their own company bureaucracy? Is it the management, the vision the knowledge? What is it?

What is it with Aboriginal businesses and corporations in general?  Should we even be in business is a question to ask. There are so many white fellas running corporations and businesses these days one even wonders if it is only a gravy train and sheltered workshop for whitefellas, struggling to get a job in the real world.

Most business plans for example, are done by white fellas. The mantra for ‘more Aboriginal businesses’ and that ‘Aboriginal business will increase employment’, is a failure and will continue to fail as long as the managers and corporations are locked into a welfare mindset. We have to learn that social welfare programs projects are just that.  And business is business.  Business is ruthless. We have to learn to separate the business from the family business.

Our mob are too kind, we don’t speak up, we have been held back for so long, that we don’t know how to communicate on how to run a business.  So we take the easy way out and hire a whiefella.    I think it is better to fail in business than to hire a white fella.  We have to manage our own businesses ourselves, and be ruthless at it.

Are we so slack that we let this happen? Or is it because of the government bureaucracy, making it difficult to do anything. Mainstream businesses are always getting some kind of tax break, or are offered cheap finance, in the form of loans. Middle class welfare is rife in Australia, and all governments want to keep the small business on side, as they become a voting power bloc.

But blackfella business or corporations have to go through a process of grants, with guidelines that dismay well-seasoned lawyers and accountants. If the same process was applied to the roof batts scandal, the contractors would be still filling in the grant applications and waiting for the form to be returned. They would then have to account for every cent, in a house-by-house grant acquittal.  The consequence of not filling in the returns properly is to receive an unbelievable response from a bureaucrat. They would find them if they left out a packet of screws; they would be accused of rorting and their future grant suspended.  While you write a letter explaining what happened to the screws.

Well anyway, I am not going to buy any music from Independent white fella labels, exploiting Aboriginal artists. I will buy from the ABC Label where I can support artists like Warren H Williams Troy Cassar-Daly. I also support those bands that make their own CDs. I hope you do the same. Before you buy look at the label, buyer beware.

Butter Boy

Butter Boy

He was there where I met him 3 weeks ago, under the Morton Bay Fig tree studying the race form.  “How are you “old mate” I said, shaking hands. We both don’t do the full on blackfella handshake. Clasping each other hands and making a common fist, thumbs locked together in symbolism. It was something we did not grow up with. It was just a gentle touching of the hands in acknowledgement of each other, fondness and company for each other.

Nor is it the full on hand shake, trying to see who can give the firmest hand shake. You know the “my hand shake is stronger than yours’ one, that the pundits tell you is what makes the man and not the wet fish poncy hand shake. That’s another white fella interpretation of how we should present ourselves in company. Anything less is dismissed as being of low character and even shifty.

Hello “Bunjie” he said, looking up from under his old sweat and dust stained ringer’s hat. I noticed a hole was beginning to wear at the top from years of handling. There was no black red and yellow paraphernalia on this old hat. There was no need for old mate to over-identify with the Aboriginal colors. Everyone knew he was a blackfella.

He loved that old hat, the polished RM Williams boots, and the RM Williams plain blue shirt. He wore the same rig every Saturday when he went for a beer and a bet on the horses. I was thinking as a young man coming to town off the station, dressed up like that; he would have been so proud and would have felt just it. Even after a hard life working the stations of the gulf country he could still hold his own in any company.

What’s happening “old mate”? I said. What are you making favorite today?  Ah he said, they are all donkeys racing these days. The racing game like everything else is just a business. You cant get betting odds like the old days. These days the big punting syndicates back every horse in the race. They do the percentages. When the odds come up on a race everything is between 2 and 6 to one. What hope has the punter got? Mugs we are for supporting the industry. I like me bet of a Saturday and me beer, a lot of old timers have given it away he said.

Mugs like me roll up and have to take multiples to try and win a quid. One time you could bet something each way and get your money back, not today the odds are not there. There are all of these fancy betting formulas now to suite the big punters. Racing has been exploited, the game is not the same.  I haven’t had a decent win since Frank won the cup. You mean Gala Supreme and Frank Reys? I said.

Yeah he said, pausing for a minute to reflect. At that moment a young Murri fella going by said “hello unc” we both nodded. Old mate looked at me and said. I hate that. I know he was being respectful.  I feel like saying. I’m not your “Unc”, or you “Bro”, or your “Cuz” or “Bruz”.  We both laughed. He was just feeling a bit grumpy. You know he said, I like the Koori mob in Victoria. They call each other “Butter Boy”or “jambi.” It has a nice feel and respect to it. Archie Roach sings a song about it ‘Looking for Butter Boy’. Good old Arch.

Well he said, lets go and have a coffee. Now tell me that story of your big win on Frank, I said. Well he said, I worked out on the station with his brother Stevie.  He was head stockman on stations in the Gulf. He could ride too, he could ride a horse, our Stevie, buck jumpers didn’t matter. We would get them after the horse breaker, they would still buck but Stevie would jump on them and settle them down. He rode as an amateur here in Cairns and on the Tablelands. I remember he won the Cairns Amateur Cup. Lot of people would not know that. Yeah Stevie Reys, I remember him like it was yesterday. We had great times when we were droving cattle.

All those Reys boys could ride, they learnt from their mother. But Frank was a better rider, he was a real professional. He started riding here in Cairns, went to Brisbane and Sydney, ended up riding for Gordon Shelly before he went to Melbourne. He rode for a lot of great trainers like Alf Sands, Angus Armanasco and Ray Hutchins in Melbourne. I used to always back him, lot of us up here used to back him. He always gave us a good run and we used to win plenty.

We sat down for our coffee. I remember that day when Frank won the Cup. I remember where I was, just like people remember where they were when Armstrong landed on the moon. I won a lot of money that day, enough to pay off my house and buy a car. He looked down at his watch, mumbled under his breath quickly downed his coffee and said  “see you Butter Boy”.  Catch me next time and I will tell you the story, about an Aboriginal kid from Cairns winning the Melbourne Cup. There is a donkey in the first at Flemington.  It would be a certainty if Frankie was riding. Darby McCarthy was the only other jockey that could hold a candle to Frank. Take it easy “Butter”. We shook hands in the usual gentle way and he left.

Dangerous place for journalists

The news coming out of the Phillipines of yet another journalist being killed on the 24th of January is appalling and tragic. Anti mining crusader Dr. Gerardo Ortega is the  142nd journalist killed killed in the Philippines since 1986 and the 5th mediaman killed under the rule of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines immediately condemned the attack.

“We vehemently condemn, in strongest terms possible, the killing of a colleague in Palawan, Dr. Gerardo Ortega, a commentator of RMN Palawan and staunch critic of the current governor and of mining operations in the island province. May justice be served without fear or favor. We call on government to resolve all media killings and put an end to the culture of impunity in the country,” the NUJP said in its statement.

Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn also condemned the killing of Ortega and said he will meet with mediamen tomorrow.

Atty Harry Roque of the Center for International Law said Ortega’s murder highlights “the continuing failure of government to stem the tide of impunity in the country, one which has targeted journalists in unprecedented numbers.”

In Australia, we can still have our say and walk the streets. I remember Jeff McMullan of 60 Minutes once did a story on the Indigenous people, the Dumagats. They gather rattan and trade it with the lowlander (their description of the large property holders)or they work for the lowlander. In turn, the lowlander gives them rice, tobacco, money, or other items. In many cases, Dumagats are abused, oppressed and are always on the losing end.

Most of them are unable to determine the fair equivalent of goods being exchanged or services rendered. They depend on their relationship for their daily ration of food.   Makes you think how Jeff managed to get out of there alive. I guess the message is don’t go to the Phillipines if you are a journalist. In fact better still just don’t go.

Always was, Always will be, Invasion Day

It really does not matter how we dress the 26th of January up. We can have our concerts, welcome newcomers, feel good about our national achievements, our mateship during crisis, and when the country needs the nation to support the Australian dream. But the 26th of January will forever, in the minds of First Nations people of this country, be Invasion Day. We used to know the day as sorry day, a day of mourning.

January 26, 1788 was the date on which Captain Arthur Phillip came and stole the land, as the traditional owners looked on. He called the place New South Wales. After 102 years of plundering the assets of the Aborigines and the tribes decimated by small pox. They called the day the ‘First Landing’, ‘Anniversary Day’ or ‘Foundation Day‘. I still recall it being called foundation day when I went to school even though in 1946 the Commonwealth and State governments agreed to unify the celebrations on January 26 as ‘Australia Day’. The day became a public holiday in 1818.

To many Indigenous peoples there is little to celebrate and it is a commemoration of a deep loss. Loss of their sovereign rights to their land, loss of family, loss of the right to practice their culture. Aboriginal people call it ‘Invasion Day‘, ‘Day of Mourning‘, ‘Survival Day‘ or, since 2006, ‘Aboriginal Sovereignty Day‘. The latter name reflects that all Aboriginal nations are sovereign and should be united in the continuous fight for their rights.

As a consequence Australia Day is disputed and many Australians call for a new day which all Australians could celebrate. Some suggest renaming Australia Day to ‘Arrival Day’.

Me I prefer a day many Australians don’t even know exists. National Wattle Day is celebrated throughout Australia on the 1st September each year. The day was originally conceived as a day to demonstrate patriotism for the new nation of Australia by wearing a sprig of wattle. National Wattle Day gives us a chance to demonstrate our collective pride in all things Australian, including all things Aboriginal.

For me and many more, we will not even turn the TV on today, we can no longer go down to those sacred grounds, and look at people wrapped in a British Flag. Wake up Australia, don’t tell Aboriginal Australia to move on.

Its about time you, and the nation moved on and thought for itself, where it wants to be and not kowtow to a British flag and not let the media run the country. Parker Bowles is your next Queen, the Barmy Army told you that, hahahahahahahahhahahahaha. Bring it on, we will still be here in another 40.000 years and we still will call it Invasion Day.

Yorta Yorta Man says Goodbye

 Yorta Yorta man Dr Jimmy Little OA said goodbye to his friends  at a tribune concert, in Tamworth today. The concert held in Jimmys honor and arranged by his long time friend Buzz Bistrom, ex drummer from the legendary Australian rock band the Angles.

Jimmy began by thanking his many friends. I love all of you he said “without friends there is nothing at all” he described Australia as living in a garden of Eden of human kind, that made him feel proud of his achievements in a great country.

I was born on the banks of the Murray at a place called Cummeragunga. He said he lived on bush tucker all his life on the mission and when he went on the road performing he began eating truck stop food and blames the years of eating unhealthy food for his diabetes., He blames no one only himself. His “thumbs up” healthy eating program has created a magic moment in his life, as it gives him opportunity to work with his own people.

Jimmy sang all of the old favorites beginning with Royal Telephone. He was joined on stage by Warren H Williams and they sang Baby Blue, it bought back memories as they had recorded the song ten years ago, everyone loved it.

The surprise guests were Graeme Connors, golden guitar winner, who has known Jimmy for a long time when jimmy first recorded Graeme said it was like having “God in the corridor” because jimmy was held in such high esteem. It filled him with pleasure to sing a couple of songs for Jimmy.

Catherine Britt came along and said she loved Jimmy so much, she had grown up listening to Jimmy Rogers songs and Jimmy Little songs and always listened Jimmy.

Alistair Kemp Gold guitar winners also dropped in and sang a couple of songs they were great and they are the next generation of young country singers.

Luke Austin winner of two golden guitars dropped in and sang a couple of songs as well, the crowd was very lucky to see so many good artists in one place.

There was a real special moment when Warren was joined by John Williamson. The two haven’t been together for over two years and the crowd just loved to see them together again check out the www.caama.com.au web site for the video clip to see Warren and John perform Raining on the Rock and A thousand feet it was just such a special moment in country music.

Amber Lawrence was also in the line up, she is so good and also a leading female country singer with such a bright future.

The show went on and jimmy finished with “never ending love” and we all left with a tear in our eye knowing that we may never see the great man ever entertain us again, Goodbye friends he said I love you.

Tamworth Debacle / Off with their Heads

As predicted, Kasey Chambers Little Bird album won 4 awards at Tamworth, but a Little Bird told “Tell Me Unc” that everything is not well in the Tamworth Golden Guitar Camp.

The night was great. Newcomer presenter shock Jock Ray Hadley and well seasoned Beccy Cole presented the awards. Hadley was a flop; he did not mix well with the waiting media as he pranced along the red carpet. Who is he anyway, people were asking. How dare a shock jock invade the redneck heartland of country music. There are enough rednecks, thank you Ray.

Everything was great, the artists were great, until the last Award. What a farce it was. The award artists were all assembled on stage and had just given a great rendition of “Help” the old Beatles song in aid of the flood victims. On completion everyone clapped and hooted and hollered a lot of calls of more more  more etc.

Then the first dishonest and farcical event is played out on an unsuspecting audience. They had been duped. Out comes the event comedian and says.  Folks there has been a problem with the television production and we have to re take the segment again.

Well the crowd loved this and “Help’ was recorded again. The real story was bubbling away underneath as there here people running around in blind panic. Apparently there was a great blunder with the last award which was the Album of the Year award.

Some one had really cocked up. The award was won by the Lee Kernigan album Planet country Lee graciously accepted the award. But the Award was actually won by Graeme Connors. The cover up was on, there was pandemonium out back.  Following the second rendition of “Help” everyone thought that they were going home. The cover up was in full flight by this.

Then out comes the comedian again and announces folks don’t go we have to re do the last Award presentation again for television because there was a problem with the production ha, ha, ha, so every one is really sucked in by this. Wow we get more!

The left hand guitar did not know what the right hand guitar was doing.  The audience were sucked in by the producers of the Awards to believe that they were doing a re take of the last award because of a malfunction (not a wardrobe malfunction) of the last presentation of the Album of the Year award.

What had gone wrong here?  Something went awfully wrong between Ray Hadley receiving the envelope and the music coordinator. Hadley opens the envelope, up starts the Graeme Connor music and the winner of the Album of the year is … ‘Lee Kernigan!’ announces an excited Beccy Cole. Oops.

The press conference after the Kenny Rodgers concert was an exercise in how not to manage a crisis. A press release was issued and Lee Kernigan issued a hand written letter.

Lee Kernighan

I am feeling  fairly philosophical about this.

There is such a thing as human error and this is what occurred on the night.

The most important thing is that the correct winner takes home the Golden Guitar.

I would like to personally congratulate Graeme on his win.

He is a superb country artist and I am truly happy for Graeme and this much deserved recognition.

Graeme Connors Response.

This has truly been a weekend of wonderful surprises for us, and the latest knowledge that we have received a Golden Guitar for the 2011 Album of the year with Still Walking is a great honor. Part of the beauty of humanity is that we occasionally make mistakes – this one has been easily rectified- and in the current situation with so many dire events surrounding us, is a very small hiccup. I’d like to thank Lee for his kind comments and generosity of spirit so typical of Australian Country music fraternity. I’d also like to thank the CMA for resolving this matter so professionally. I’ve asked my Producer Matt Fell to contribute his acceptance as first time in recognition of the great contribution he has made.

CMC have handled this affair very badly. Rather than try to spin their way out and dupe the media like they duped the audience, they should have come clean. The media have been used and abused at this years event. Seasoned Tamworth reporters have been treated badly. There were crammed into a 10 by 10 fenced off area and expected to do interviews of people coming up the red carpet. Reporters left to yell to get the attention of the artists. Journalists being stopped at venues around town by intimidating security. Being text at 5 minute notice of press conferences. Orchestrated press conferences, journos being treated like kids.  It leaves CMA and the organizers in a suspicious  position with journalists. Journalists were left waiting in the hot sun under a tree by the organisers and told to wait,  for Kenny Rodgers. Kenny Turned up and media were ushered inside accross a carpark to meet the great man. After an hour in the hot sun, waiting the media were given a very short 15 minute interview with Kenny, 10 minutes were taken up by Kenny talking about the floods and donating $10,000 to the flood. The CMA has a lot of work to do to claw back the good will of journalists and media companies some may be reluctant to come next year.

Then 20 minutes into the show a press conference is called about the Award farce. Well by this time the journos are really pissed off having to leave the KR concert . At the press conference journos asked if there was a cover up. Would heads roll, who was responsible for the cover up?  There was no cover up, said the stressed organizers. Only a printing error. Bla Bla Bla Bla.

The right thing to do is to give both Lee and Graeme one. They have been both played by the organizers.

Ok see u next year (maybe)



A Real Life legend

A real legend is in Tamworth this year. I was with a privileged group who interviewed Jimmy Little in Tamworth.  Uncle Jimmy told, “Tell Me Unc” that coming to Tamworth to receive his first Tamworth Gold Guitar for a life time achievement, was an honor and thanked the people who have been with him and supported him  over all of these years.

He thanked the organizers who he said decided that it was his time to receive the award. It bought a tear to my eye when they told me he said. He loved the surprise and loved that he was honored in this way. He said music to him was the universal language of love. Jimmy said that from a young age he wanted to achieve whether it was in school or later on in life he wanted to always be doing something positive with his life.

He decided that to achieve his ambitions he had to leave the mission. He always believed he was chosen at a young age to be a leader and an achiever. When he was a child of 3 months, the humpy where he lived caught fire from a burning candle.

The humpy being made of tar paper and bags was soon in flames. Everyone ran out of the humpy and left Jimmy playing in his cot. His Uncle Ernie raced back inside and grabbed him and saved him.  Jimmy says that he was saved for a reason. He has been saved many times in life, he said because he has two angels looking over him. One he calls Destiny and the other Lady Luck.

He listens to them every day, and asks for their guidance.  Life is a story he said. My life is the Jimmy Little story; the script has been written and destiny will decide when the story ends.

The story has not ended it continues for Jimmy.  The standing ovation by the capacity packed fans at the TREEC centre tonight here in Tamworth is testament to the love for this living treasure of Australia, then Jimmy’s story has a way to travel yet.

When Jimmy was presented with his Golden Guitar by country music legend John Williamson, there was a standing ovation that lasted for 4 minutes. The country music audience love their stars and they simply adore him. Jimmy gave a dignified acceptance speech that was packed with pride and emotion.

Warren H Williams, and G Man, both CAAMA Black Jocks, interviewed Jimmy and you can catch the full interview and video clip on www.caama.com.au/radio

Another day in Tamworth

Well another day and what a day it was. We started today with brekky with Sara Storer. Sara is a hoot to talk to, she has been a teacher in remote Aboriginal communities, a singer songwriter and I hope she wins the Heritage award with Kev Carmody.  Another famous man that is coming to Tamworth is Jimmy Little. Jimmy is a favorite at Tamworth, and our spy tells us that he is up for a special award to be presented on award night.

I saw so many acts today all over town, after co hosting the CAAMA radio direct broadcast to Alice Springs, we went to a venue simply known as the pub. Bill Chambers was there performing with his band. Shortly after we arrived Bill saw Warren H Williams standing there enjoying the show and called Warren up on stage. Warren sung a George Jones number that had people stamping their feet for more, Warren sang another number to rapturous applause. He did not sing any more as the occasion bought back memories of singing on the same stage last year with his now kummanjay father. It was sad for Warren and we left soon after.

We went to see John Williamson, his show was fully booked out and it was a great act as we come to expect from John. We then moved over to what I describe as a great night spent with a legend group. The Wolverines. The full moon was up and the Wolverines were howling, they were brilliant. If you ever get the chance to see the Wolverines don’t miss them. They are the best act I have seen for a long time. They have been joined by the great fiddle player Marian Burns, Marian is a KIWI as are 3 of the Wolverines. She has won awards all over the world. She simply killed them with her fine renditions of the Devil went down to Georgia (Tamworth).  She was brilliant so was her version of Deliverance. The Wolverines lead guitarist Darcy is just so good a performer, he played Sweet Home Alabama just like Ed King who wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” with Ronnie Van Zant and played guitar on the album. Darcy sung it just like Ronnie Van Zant, it was fantastic, the crowd lapped it up hooting and a hollering. It was a great night. There was a free concert in the park that attracted a very large crowd of thousands. Lee Kernigan headed a big cast of performers. But for me none of them was a good as the Wolverines , for sheer entertainment they were simply the best. Catch them at a venue near you soon. You will love em.

The Show Stoppers at Tamworth

Dianna Cochrane is fantastic.  There were tickets left at the door for our crew. Dianna is one of those performers who is just too good for country music. She is country through and through but could be a Blues Singer. I would love to hear her sing Ruthie Foster songs.  By being too good I mean her voice control and presentation is too good for country. For this reason I think she will always be known for having just a great voice range. For example she can sing in normal C then go to a mid range C and then to a high C and hold it for what seems an eternity, and oh yeah she can yodel like no other I ever heard.  She was the show stopper for me. Ultimately she will have a following of loyal punters. In country music, if you are mediocre or ex-pop you have more of chance of making it. The next big stars in country music are obviously Luke Dickens and Luke Austin, the two Lukes. We met them both at the Troy Cassar Daley special concert, yeah they are nice guys modeled in the mould of country music nice guy images, they should make it while Dianna Cochran will always have to work her ass off doing gigs for peanuts while having the best female voice in country music.

Troy, well he is simply the best. With his ganger Warren H Williams they were great, it was a great show. We went to a Catherine Britt show, she was good very good and the stars kept coming, Lee was there, Kasey and more. I don’t know what James Blundell was doing there, he is one of the mediocre singers that come along and become stars.  Everyone wants Warren H Williams on their shows. He is doing a show today with legend Bill Chambers, that will be good.

It’s Country Music Stupid.

Howdy you all from the country music heartland of Australia. Being in Tamworth, at this time of the year is the place to be if you like country music. Or is it country music anymore?  Over recent years the argument goes on. The starmaker Luke Dickens  is an ex runner up in Australia idol as a pop singer. Luke is being touted as the next big thing in country music maybe another Keith Urban, bla, bla, bla bal bla. I like Luke, I met him today.  I had a good day caught a Qantas flight from Cairns. Lost  my mobile phone at the check in counter. The ticketing agent had used the first 4 letters of my name only on the booking ticket. Which meant that I had to convince the check in chick that it was me. After convinveing them I was allowed to fly. There was no frequent flyer points added because of the wrong name. which means now I wont progress to gold status because of the agency stuff up. Not Qantas fault, they seem to think I can redeam the points by presenting the boarding passes by post. By the time this happens the gold status would be cut off, ah well I guess no Qantas Gold status  from Febuary I will stay on Silver.  I was taken out of the line and got bomb tested again. Always seems to happen to me. I am sure there are other travellers that it happens to regularly, paticularly if you are middle eastern looking. Arriveing in Sydney I progressed to terminal 2 . To get to terminal 2 at the Sydney airport, you have to go through the car park and up the elevator to the check in. Off I went to Qantas desk in the terminal way dow near gate 57, there were 3 workers none of them could help with the ticket situation and frequent flyer problem. Taking their directions I went back to to near gate 40 to the Qantas Club, where a very nice attendent tried to help. She directed me out side to terminal 2 to the Qantas desk. Well nothing they could do because they only look after bookings done by them and not agencies. That was it, 2 hours later we board for Tamworth from gate 58. but wait, we have to crowd into a bus which takes us to our aircraft behind terminal 2 closer to terminal 1. Get the picture?  Ah well we have a great flight to Tamworth. As we are waiting for the baggage, in the terminal  up starts the band a boot scooter starts to boot scooting, soon after 50 other people join in and there is a real hootananny goin on right there in the airport terminal. Well it was great, it’s a Tamworth welcome I wont forget. I walk over to the baggage counter and guess what. I wait and wait while everyone gets their bags off and my bag is lost. So I had a real good day.

The frustations were all put to one side, I met Warren H Williams, GMan, and Curtis from CAAMA, well what a day and night we had. We went down to the TRAC centre for the Troy Cassar Daley concert. It was great to see Troy again after the recent flood washed away all of his memories and ruined his house. He was just great and put on a great show to the packed house. Warren joined Troy and they sung an old Charlie Pride Song “Kiss an Angel Good Morning “; it bought the house down. Adam Harvey was on, Kasey Chambers, the stars just kept coming. What a great day and night. I can always buy some new shirts, a new pair of William boots and some more jeans. But seeing Troy and Warren G and Curtis my old mates from CAAMA more than made up for the lost bag . At the time of writing, I have not received it, I guess its off to Target tomorrow and 20 calls to Qantas if I can get someone at home.

And The Winner Is

I can see a Walkley Award on the horizon in the aftermath of the Queensland floods.  Walkley’s are for Excellence in Journalism. We are a cynical mob. Australians must rank as one of the most cynical mob of people in the world. After days and weeks of flood reporting one cant help thinking ‘enough now guys’.  Just go back to normal programming. More Home and Away please. More mindless programming that saps the intelligence of a population, conditioned by the media to accept whatever is put up in front of them and the advertising that comes with it.

Old Auntie ABC with its News 24, well they are in first place for the Walkley Awards, for best news coverage, and documentary, simply because they have the taxpayer resources to be everywhere. They even roped in a JJJ trainee. I bet she got a buzz out of that, happy to get a break from playing all of that red-neck tradies music they play on JJJ.

Koshie and Mel will be hard to beat. Both 7 and 9 had their real life dramas. Where Mel was situated there was a guy arrested for alleged sex crime. We saw it all live, the coppers marching him off. On the river bank Nine had the dramatic footage of the yacht breaking its moorings and sinking before our eyes that was great television, and worthy of a Walkley. Nine also trotted out a couple of their camera men to do little cameo roles.  Ten, well they are the dark horse, of all of them they tried to be professional. The ABC was obviously thinking about their next billion taxpayer triennial funding bid.

Lets give a Walkley award to Anna Bligh, for the best performance with a double pike. The sheer raw emotion, when she said Queenslanders get kicked down and get up again. Now was this emotion.  Or was it with an eye to the coming election. Some adviser of Anna’s has been reading the Obama file.  Astute judges in America said that during the oil spill Obama did not deliver the required ‘emotional moment’. Following the shooting of the congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Obama, after a visit to her bedside, gave an oration that tugged at the heart strings of most Americans.  But Anna is no Obama and she just doesn’t have it. She tried her best, but Queenslanders are tough aren’t they don’t cry they get kicked and get up and get on with life.

We are led to believe that they are the toughest people in the country, but what happened to Rocky, Dalby, Condamine, Toowoomba, and the Lockyer valley. As soon as the floods came to Brisbane, the old capital city bias crept in. Rocky was still under water not a word for 2 days.

The big clean began. Everyone with a broom, squeegee , bucket and mop was called on and like Queenslanders they turned up to help their mates and strangers. Only Queenslanders would do that we’re told. I don’t like the flags either, brings back images of one nation. Also some of the spin is straight out of the one nation handbook. The situation is this: the media oligarchy in this country has it sewn up between them they have got what they want from the Digital carve up. They can run News 24 as it happens and also run their other programs.  The media not represented enough was the community media, and where was SBS, there must be many ethnic speaking people who did not know where to go what to do. Come to think of it I did not see any Aboriginal Media, what happened to all the mob in West End. Who was looking after them with information.

 Lets give a Walkley to the Lord Mayor from Rocky, of all the Lords Mayor he was the calmest and most knowledgeable, the Brisbane Mayor is obviously running for parliament. He like Anna was hogging the airwaves. And, oh yes, lets wait for the blame game to start, give it a week. Anna got in first and announced an inquiry, but wait is there an election in the air.

Lets give them all a award they deserve it, well done guys.

Old Mate

I ran into an old mate the other day, he was sitting under a big old Morton Bay fig tree reading the race form.

He was born at on a cattle station near Mount Peter, a gold mining town in the Cape.  His father was a stockman and roustabout on stations in the Gulf and up on the Cape. Old mate followed him into droving and riding fences, he remembered those days droving cattle before roadtrains.

Many Aboriginal people worked on stations in those days. They worked for tucker and a few bob a week not much more than that. Exploitation is too nice a word, slavery is a better term. The station owner would give the stockmen his “quarantined wages”.  The term quarantining, used as part of the Northern Territory Intervention, was in use long before Brough and Howard and others  resumed the squatter oligarchy policy of treatment of Aboriginal people. Nothing is new he said, everything has been tried before, just given a new name .

The stockmen would get the megre handout, and head to town for the annual rodeo. That was the only time the station boss would let them off the land. When equal wages came in they could not get rid of them quicly enough and soon kicked them off their country.

I can remember, he said, one time when the rodeo was on in Mount Isa. There were stockmen and ringers from all over the Territory and the Gulf, they were camped in the Leichardt River all along the highway to the Kalkadoon Park Rodeo ground. The old Isa pubs were full of country men and women. They were rough times.  The white fellas gave them a wide berth, they were fit and hard and they could fight like Dave Sands.

When he got married he came to Cairns to have a better life for his family. He got a house and for years he still worked on the stations. Old mate was one of the lucky ones and got full pay as a head stockman and worked a few years at it and then got a job job working in the CTL sawmill. There were lots of jobs for Aborigines in those days.

We headed down to have a coffee, there was a time when it would have been a beer. We sat down, ordered our coffee, and we began to reminisce about old times. I asked him what he thought about the current situation with politics.

As he finished his coffee he said, I’ll leave that for another time, I could write a book, I will tell you next time I see you bunji. I gotta catch the first at Eagle Farm.

Dean Jones Makes Sense

The Jones boy is one of the greats of Australian cricket. He has played the game and been Captain of Victoria, he knows what he is talking about. If anyone know the game it’s Dino. I heard him on Melbourne radio when Iwas on the way the Footascray markets.

Halfway there I decided not to go to the cricket. I could not bear to hear the Abba style singing, and have to look at those sunburnt pasty skinned, overweight, and over here barmy army bodies, waving their flag being borish, blowing their horn and looking foolish. They abviously got lost on their way to olympic park. I guess it had been a rather slack horn for 27 years, and it was on the rise now, even though it may be a short blow.

I am also disappointed in the administrators, they are very quick to ban the wave but allow some clown to blow out of tune notes on a horn for days on end. Well what have us aussies got going for us, no wave, no shoes, no shirt, no problem. We are left with “aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi”, time we put that to bed. Lets get a few didges, clap sticks and boomerangs, a few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags and feel proudly Australian.

Dean Jones made the point on radio that there has not been enough work and money put into the development of Aboriginal cricketers. Dean asks why, and makes a further point that there must be Aboriginal players capable of being groomed to play for Australia.  Jason Gillepsie was a fine example of a great player, retired out of the Australian team before his time.

The only Aboriginal development is the sponsored CAAMA and Impaja Cup, held every year in Alice Springs, Central Australia. It is mildly successful, with teams coming from all states to play a knock out series. But like all things that have a focus on Aboriginal development, there is politics involved. There has been a move to undermine this successful event and move it to Brisbane, with another name and another sponsor. It is far better to support the event in Alice Springs, improve it and get behind it. Sources close to the movers and shakers say that the local cricket establishment are not really supportive of the all – black focus. Even though this is the only substantial money going into black cricket development, the Alice Springs establishment wants to have more control over the competition and access funds for their clubs.

There are other well known former players of  the Australian team who support Aboriginal cricketers. Matthew Hayden, Ian Chappell and Len Pascoe have been good supporters and there has been others. Chapelli at times has really served it up to the administrators. In the end it is up to Cricket Australia to lead the way.


I have spent Xmas following the great dreaming track of Ponde. You might know it as the Murray River, but you may not know that Ponde made it. Ponde began his great journey in the mountains made famous by Banjo Patterson. Ponde was there before Banjo and before the mountain cattlemen claimed the mountains as their own. And long before the man from Snowy River made his famous ride, or the colt from old regret had got away and run with the wild bush horses.

Clancy was there as they gathered at the station, along with all the fray, but they never knew of the deeds of “Ponde” who began his great ride 40,000 years before. After all they were mere mortals, Ponde was the creator being of the Murray River.

Starting near Kancoban down past old Talangata, the river is looking really good these days with thanks to heavy rain. Ponde’s dreaming track is once again flowing out to sea in SA ,down where his journey ends. You can see Ponde if you know where to look .