Aboriginal women have come out. They have admitted their terrible secret. We must respond. But how? Janice Judd at the University of California wrote to me last night: “I would like to make a contribution to the legal costs that the women who claim they have been raped by G. Clark incur. Please let me know where and when to send it.”
There is no fund for a civil action by the women against Clark, and since the disdain shown for their allegations by Geoff Clark and Pat O’Shane in her first incarnation, they have gone to ground.
It’s been a long and upsetting week, but next week we should really think about what can be done.
ATSIC must pull a plan together. At the very least there needs to be a safe house in every community.
The government and the opposition must commit to addressing the national emergency. Maybe the government should call an urgent summit or commission detailed options from the experts.
As citizens, maybe we could set up a fund.
Maybe our young Aboriginal leaders could tell us what needs to be done. Maybe the Aboriginal community needs to retire its current crop of leaders, and bring in fresh, young leaders with fresh ideas.
David Davis wrote last night, after reading yesterday’s diary: “I’m now lost for words. This is really heavy stuff – I can’t remember the last time I read something as disturbing as today’s Web Diary. It wasn’t just one contribution or just your comments – it was the whole thing. It’s painful but perhaps it engenders a greater sense of urgency and a greater level of honesty.”
I begin today’s diary with an edited speech by Danna Vale, the woman who went to the brink for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory subject to mandatory sentencing for theft and has persistently urged John Howard to apologise to the stolen generations. She was a juvenile justice lawyer before winning the middle class Sydney seat of Hughes in 1996 for the Liberal Party. Last year, she told Parliament about the Queensland report on the violence which is only now making headlines. Her speech was unreported. ATSIC was silent on the report.
Thank you to contributors this week for sticking with the issues arising from this story. Nothing in it is black and white.
Speech to Parliament, June 7, 2000
Today, regretfully, I rise to speak of the unspeakable. I will speak not just of matters which are politically incorrect but of matters against which many of us turn our faces and block our ears because we just do not want to know.
There is a war zone in Australia today that is more dangerous than any battlefield. It exists in many of our indigenous communities, particularly in the remote and rural regions of Australia, but of course it is not exclusive to those communities.
I was shocked to read details of this war zone in the recent report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Task Force on Violence, which reported to the Queensland parliament last December…
What impressed me was that the task force constantly asked themselves three questions: can we possibly do justice to the great human suffering and tragedy in the stories we were given? Can we reasonably write of the courage and resilience we have observed and found? Do we have the skills to make sense of this senselessness so that others will understand what we are trying to say? They struggled for words until the decision was made to let people tell their own stories with as little interpretation as possible. I have adopted the same principle in speaking to the report.
It is relatively unknown in mainstream Australia that in some of our indigenous communities violence and sexual abuse have reached a crisis point. While the source of this violence can be traced to the impact of colonial history – with the consequences of dispossession and marginalisation, the introduction of alcohol, unemployment and poor education – it matters little to the innocent women and children who are being bashed, raped, mutilated and murdered on an appallingly large scale.
It is not an exaggeration to describe the lives of many women, children and elderly people as lives of unpredictable and frequent mayhem. Many women and children in these communities are being deliberately ignored by those who have a moral duty to protect them. There is only minimum intervention, which may or may not occur.
In my opinion, such neglect is worse than the policies that led to the Bringing Them Home report because the policies of the past were at least initially motivated by good intentions. The motivation today is silence. As the report itself points out, Silence is the language of complicity.
I wish to take the time to record my respect and regard for the personal courage, strength of character and scholarship of Boni Robertson, the chairperson of the task force, and for her fellow members, who ‘shared the agony, grief and at times the triumphs of the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have survived incredible ordeals of violence’. These fine Australian women dared to bring such ordeals into the light so that we all may face the truth together and share in the eradication of atrocity and indifference, which affect the most powerless amongst us.
It seems to me that the time has come to put aside fears of being politically and culturally intrusive and to do what is necessary to protect and support the women and children in these communities. It can no longer be dismissed as the Aboriginal way. Both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians must work together to help eradicate the violence.
There are few services available in isolated communities to deal with these problems, and the lack of appropriate services exacerbates stress and the likelihood of continued violence. Due to isolation and lack of skills, the innocent cannot escape. They must endure the suffering.
In some communities, at least one member of each family is likely to become a victim of violence. Many of the victims believe that the services intended for their protection are in reality increasing their violation.
There is no doubt that the impact of history and forced acculturation has been a key factor that has led to the present tragedy. It is crystal clear that the decades spent focusing on the problems of the past have not been productive in protecting any of the women and children who live out their lives in these communities.
These are fellow Australians whose lifestyle reality is a continuum of bashings, rapes, mutilation and violent death, and our silence and indifference convicts the rest of us as accomplices. Appalling acts of physical brutality and sexual violence are being perpetrated within some families and across the communities to a degree previously unknown in indigenous life. There are women, children and other older people living in a constant state of despair and desperation…
The report of the ATSI Women’s Task Force reveals that not only has there been a significant increase in the number of offences recorded in indigenous communities but the level of severity in such crimes has increased.
Violence is now overt. Murders, bashings and rapes, including sexual violence against children, have reached epidemic proportions, with both indigenous and non-indigenous people being perpetrators.
It is alarming to note that almost half of the female hospital admissions for intentional injury are indigenous women. We should be alarmed to learn that indigenous children are five to eight times more likely than other children to be the subject of abuse or neglect.
One of the reasons I sat up and took notice of this report was that it contained the views of ordinary indigenous people, whom you never hear on radio or television. It was coming from their present, real life experiences, undistorted by ideology or political correctness.
Misused authority, like the sly grog trade, assists violence in these communities. There is reluctance on the part of authorities to enforce regulations and to carry out their duties. The result is the abuse and violence perpetrated upon innocent indigenous women, children and older members of the community.
The extent of this unspeakable violence is being hidden. The task force reports that the number of violent offences is much higher than the officially recorded data. In all the consultations, there was an obvious reluctance to talk about sexual assaults. The task force estimates that 88 per cent of rapes go unreported.
One of the informants to the task force said: “I got a call out on the weekend to see a seventeen-year-old mother who had been tied to the bed and repeatedly raped by three men. She was raped within reach of her three-year-old child, and still did not press charges. What do you do? Fear has immobilised many people from taking action while others have accepted it as normal behaviour because they have not been able to get help when they have tried.”
This reluctance is driven by fear of reprisals or shame, because of the nature of the attacks. As well, it appears that the sexual abuse of young males is increasing and, because of the hidden nature of male to male sexual attacks, it goes unreported. Despite this, violent and sexual offences and breaches of domestic orders for ATSI offenders in Queensland increased from 664 in 1994 to 1075 in 1998.
The rate of sexual abuse among young girls who ultimately became involved with the criminal justice system is between 70 per cent and 80 per cent. In one state, it is claimed by the Aboriginal and Islander child-care agency that 50 per cent of children within the court system in the region were victims of incest. It is time to end the taboo on discussing this form of sexual atrocity. If we do not face it, it will never be eradicated.
Alarmingly, this report states: “… sexual abuse is an inadequate term for the incidence of horrific sexual offences committed against young boys and girls in a number of community locations in Queensland over the last few years.”
You can hear the women and children weeping in the trauma chronicled in this report. One informant poignantly explained: “Because of the social isolation and emotional deprivation many Indigenous families experience, the youth and the children are vulnerable to ongoing abuse and violence from both inside and outside the Communities. Many Indigenous young people are searching for love, emotional security, a sense of belonging, a parental figure, and escape from the dysfunctional home or Community. They want to enjoy the things that a limited income cannot buy, or to gain warmth and acceptance from others. Their deprived situation puts them in a position where they may attract the attention of sinister elements. Many Indigenous children are growing up in a disabling environment where they are vulnerable to great harm. This is a matter that warrants urgent attention and investigation if there is to be a positive future for the next generation.”
It is recorded that that type of sexual assault has become worse because of the recent widespread availability of pornographic videos. Together with alcohol and illicit drugs, the task force identified that the pornographic videos are creating deformed male socialisation. It was explicitly reported to the task force: “The incidence of sexual violence is rising and is in a direct relationship to negative and deformed male socialisation associated with alcohol and other drug misuse, and the prevalence of pornographic videos in some communities.”
The link between pornographic videos and indigenous child sexual abuse has been known for some time. The Aboriginal Coordinating Council brought it to the attention of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991. Since then, access to pornographic videos no longer trickles into indigenous communities. It is now a veritable tsunami.
It seems that access to pornographic videos has become a common factor in a new wave of sexual crimes, including child sexual assault on other children. While there are many factors that together fuel sexual crime, the recent widespread availability of pornographic videos is being seen more and more to be the trigger for those crimes across Australia.
This is the case whether it is in Far North Queensland or in the white communities in the respectable outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. According to the task force report, cash-on-delivery orders of $4,000 to $5,000 worth of pornographic videos have been sent into Cape communities. It is no wonder that one community, with a history of pornographic video usage, has the highest rate of men in prison for sexual offences.
A lot has been written and said about the violence of the past but, frankly, it is the violence of the present that should rightly concern us here in the parliament of the nation. … Since 1990, indigenous deaths from domestic violence have been almost 30 per cent higher nationally than indigenous deaths in custody for the same period.
The National Committee on Violence reported to the Australian government that in Queensland Aboriginal reserves the homicide rate for the 17 communities under review was 39.6 per 100,000, which is more than 10 times the Australian national homicide rate. Over a three-year period in South Australia, Aborigines-who constitute approximately one per cent of the population-constituted 10 per cent of that state’s homicide victims. The Northern Territory police advise that, in 1987, Aboriginal females were victims of 70 per cent of total deaths involving chargeable offences.
Members of the task force were advised that, while some indigenous people in these remote communities do not experience violence, there are others whose daily lives are marked by its constant presence. The harsh reality is that many families in remote communities are now trapped in environments where deviance and atrocities have become accepted as normal behaviour. As a result, deviance and atrocities form an integral part of the children’s socialisation.
This is a hopeless state of affairs. It must be fully and effectively addressed, and it is up to us here in this House to help address the violence. It seems to me to be pointless to speak of reconciliation unless we can bring the people of these isolated communities into the same Australia that the majority of us share. Otherwise, reconciliation will do nothing for these Australian families. It will be but a hollow word and an empty promise.
I applaud the fact that the government is taking positive steps to address this spiralling and appalling violence amongst indigenous families. The Howard coalition government has provided $6 million over four years for an Indigenous Family Violence Grants program under the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence initiative.
These grants will provide practical and flexible support for grassroots projects and will test new approaches to addressing violence in indigenous communities. This funding will support community based organisations to develop innovative ways of reducing and preventing family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. It will also support projects with a holistic approach so that the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community will be addressed to increase the long-term capacity of communities to respond to family violence.
As difficult and as complex as this problem is, there is much to be done in developing community strategies that focus on healing the whole community. In particular, indigenous men need to help to restore to themselves a value system that protects the vulnerable in their family and community rather than abuses and exploits them. Special programs are needed to help treat sexually traumatised children in order to break the cycle of the abused becoming the abuser.
The most pressing problem advanced by the report was the influence of alcohol. Alcohol misuse has a devastating effect on family life by precipitating domestic violence and sexual abuse amongst members of the community.
Whilst there are many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who remain responsible social drinkers, there are many others who have a serious problem with alcohol which has been identified as a major trigger for violence.
The introduction to alcohol is a legacy from the earliest colonial days. It has become a curse in these remote communities. There is a desperate, urgent need for culturally relevant programs to address the destruction of alcoholic abuse.
We cannot ignore this human tragedy any longer. For too long there has been a lack of violence targeted services, especially perpetrator education programs, and it must be recognised that this need also must be addressed. It will take a long time for conditions to begin to improve – probably generations. There is also a desperate need for safe haven accommodation for the vulnerable women and children.
The report is as traumatic as it is comprehensive of the pain of daily existence experienced by these neglected Australians. Somehow we must help. But first of all we must understand their pain.
The poignant words of one contributor from Central Queensland attempt to inform us. I quote: “If they want to help us heal and to stop the violence that we are seeing, then we must all go back to the beginning and help some of our people start again for it is those people who are stuck in a vacuum where they are now adults, but there is a small and vulnerable child, confused and abused in all manners, that is lurking deep within.”
“The trouble is that this situation may describe too many of us. Everyone I have spoken to has been affected by the process of being taken away, being brought up on a mission or having suffered some form of discrimination or abuse at the hands of authoritative figures either in the schools, when you go to get a job or just by watching what has happened to your family.”
“You can’t experience these sorts of pain and not expect some of it to be retained in the young mind. I think that is where much of this violence is coming from, unresolved conflict which has been allowed to fester within and with no counselling available for many years, the individual has often resorted to other means for release, ie., alcohol which encourages other difficulties to surface which in some cases is abusive and aggressive behaviour which can act as an agent for unresolved and pent-up feelings that have no other form of release.”
I think there is a lot of truth in those words. But it is now time for us as a nation to help these Australian communities to overcome the violence. They have suffered enough and they cannot help themselves on their own.
During Corroboree 2000 we saw a real warmth in the goodwill expressed by the vast majority of ordinary Australians across the nation. This real warmth expressed extended towards the personal pain endured by our fellow indigenous families. Many truly wish for reconciliation.
By working together to help these remote Australian communities, we can provide an important step in the healing journey because we have no right to enjoy the legacy of being an Australian unless each and every Australian shares in the bounty together.
Congratulations on diving head first into one of our largest taboos – criticising the Aboriginal community – and the meatiest debate in years. I’m already blown away by the quality of your and your contributors material on the Clark/O’Shane/Rape and Violence issue. It’s truly exciting watching this unfold. When did that last happen in politics?
I’ll confess I’m no expert on reconciliation, I know little about the Aboriginal nation and its issues, but I’m interested, as a “logical reconciliationist”, to see the perspective from some pundits and scribes that this episode will set the cause of reconciliation back.
I’m not sure I agree. Surely the open public airing, debate and analysis of what appears to be a long hidden problem in the Aboriginal community can only serve to broaden our understanding of the real plight this section of our community faces, and boost our collective empathy towards this community?
As this issue takes its course its hard to believe some major action will not eventuate, and it’s even conceivable to me that it may become an election issue.We sure need one in today’s political vacuum.
I’m sure something good will come of this, eventually.
In response to Ken McAlpine and your response to him, I agree that the gulf between Aboriginal and white experiences is so great that it makes almost anything one might say trite and patronising.
I don’t like the term reconciliation, but I do think that the most urgent task facing Australia is understanding our history, exploring the meaning of our silence and forgetting, and working out how we have damaged ourselves as a culture because of our spiritual and imaginative failures. The key one is our failure to respond to the challenge of the Aboriginal experience. Only when that happens will reconciliation become possible.
But any talk of reconciliation is patronising unless there is a genuine dialogue, with all the risk this implies. Australia is not a long term prospect unless we take this risk and try to create a new sort of society. Why should we matter in the bigger world if we are too timid to try and understand ourselves and create something new?
I also don’t see how racism and sexism can be separated. Hierarchies always diminish and humiliate and someone is always at the bottom. How can anyone argue against racism and implicitly condone sexism? Both represent a diminishment of one’s own and another person’s humanity. Both take you to the same place – degradation and humiliation, and you can’t leave either behind without rejecting both.
Andrew Cave in Kuraby
What a dilemma for the company of columnists singlehandedly battling the forces of PC from their swivel chairs.
Do they gleefully leap upon the opportunity to kick all Aborigines for being of the same race as Geoff Clark. Do they fall upon that class chatterer of the chattering classes Margo Kingston for supporting the publishing of the allegations? Will they try a contortion of McGuinness-esque complexity and blame the Labor Left as well?
For my money, I agree that there is considerable misogyny among Aboriginal men. Unfortunately, I have seen much the same from white males of a similar background. Against that there is a considerable body of Aboriginal and white men who are not misogynists.
From your statements one could easily gain the impression that to be Aboriginal is to be violent, alcoholic and unemployed. But of course, most Aboriginal people work for a living and most are not reliant on welfare. Just like most other Australians, most Aborigines are also not particularly interested in the political process and are not involved in the organisations. If an Aboriginal family lives in the suburbs and dad has held the same job for the past 20 years (and there are many who do and have), their story is not going to be raised in the media. (“SHOCK: Aboriginal family entirely normal” is not a headline to move many papers or hearts).
In the responses in Web Diary and in your chat with P Adams on Tuesday there has seemed to be a slight note of hysteria creeping in. Things are not as bad as all that, nor does “the Aboriginal problem” have to be solved before the year is out. You don’t change many important things in 2 years or 10. You don’t turn around 100 years of active spite and benign neglect in 20 years. Keep pushing the point and ignore the doomsayers.
To quote our favourite economist – GIT (Give it Time.)
The actions of Geoff Clark and ATSIC brings out the patronising (but no less pressing) question of whether the Aborigines can run their own affairs. From the latest eruption we see fully exposed one of the vulnerabilities in our national life.
The old certainty of powerful whites over powerless Aborigines is our default option. When Hanson and others claim that Aborigines were “happy” to accept what little they were given by White Australia, they don’t mean “happy” in the sense of true inner joy and satisfaction; they mean that they support the only clearly understandable and practicable relationship in existence.
Many of us want a truly clear and practical progressive ethos that enables Aborigines to have both the social and economic opportunities open to other Australians, while enabling them to live as a community shaped by their choices.
There is no firm evidence of such an ethos in race relations today; there is much earnest mental groping toward the realisation of such an ethos, much spirited discussion an amount of taxpayer funds devoted toward the realisation of a progressive ethos in race relations.
What certainties have arisen over the last few weeks? That all accusers in rape cases are untrustworthy, or none are? That Pat O’Shane is an Aboriginal leader, or she isn’t? That Geoff Clark is a beneficiary of our politico-legal system, or a victim of it? The old certainties can look better and better in the face of this maelstrom, even before you start the full-scale romanticising of the past.
In the absence of a clear progressive way of working we take an open, liberal approach that may allow a progressive ethos to take shape, the work of many hands (and not just plastic ones stuck in a lawn). The current absence of a satisfactory, practical model of race relations gives Hanson and other reactionaries satisfaction that is not due to them; they sneer at “talk shops” (like this one!) and believe that the old order can be reimposed by sheer force of will.
The oldest conceit of the reactionaries is that democracy and compromise is weakness. Having denigrated open discussion, they can shut it down further by demonising individuals within the debate. They knock down “straw men” in the absence of a clear alternative paradigm, which discourages the committed striving toward an unrealised ideal.
When the media focuses on the bloodsport rather than the issues behind any given conflict, they accept the assumptions of the reactionaries. If we had more light than heat cast on reportage and analysis of Aboriginal issues we would have a better chance at achieving a true, deep reconciliation.
We should be less shy in demanding such stories. We should defend the slow process of consideration and deliberation. We should give more credit than we have to the small successes that light up this vast expanse of failure. We identify the straw men before reactionaries can take a decent swing at them.
The weaknesses of liberalism lie in its preference for compromise, its fawning and cringing in the face of confrontation. Reactionaries know this, and believe that glossing over the old certainties is better than taking a chance with uncertainty.
In this debate as in so many others, progressives need to show that deep thought and wide-ranging debate provides a foundation for our future that is far stronger than the crumbling, glossed over “certainties” of old. Stand up for the aims, stand up for the process, and know that the reactionaries can only play their poor hand if you don’t call their bluff.
Never mind the heat, it’s the endurance that counts. So much is possible if we insist upon good and wide-ranging discussion: a republic, ameliorating the digital divide, all these and so much is possible if only we defend the slow, earnest deliberation and the small steps taken toward reconciliation.
Having moved here from the US in 1992 – and now a citizen – I’m quite amazed at the problem of libel law and the media in Australia – as if anyone who says anything critical of powerful figures will be sued. Perhaps this is an opening wedge to reforming these laws and the legal pattern around it.
On the “race” vs. “gender” issue, I’m reminded of what happened in the U.S. during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings by the U.S. Senate. Thomas was up for the Supreme Court, and Anita Hill was brought forward as a witness that he had sexually harassed her on the job. Thomas was no ordinary bureaucrat – he had responsibility for overseeing the most important agency in the U.S. – the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which handled complaints of racial and sexual discrimination in employment. Hill was his personal legal assistant.
Americans were glued to the TV, and the hearings ran live for a number of days. At the time I worked at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Washington D.C. and everyone stopped work to hear Hill testify. The straw poll among all of us – “progressive” educators who were a fair mix of men, women, black and white? All the women all believed her and the men were split
I (being of white/Anglo background – not really an “identity” for me) believed Hill – it seemed obvious. In the larger black community, a majority supported Thomas and considered Hill was betraying her people. But a minority of African Americans, including most black leaders (Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus among them), supported her and opposed Thomas.
At that time people just didn’t want to talk about sexual harassment and abuse if it was in the black community – although many community activists did of course. Now the whole situation has changed – and there’s considerable awareness of the need to address black women’s issues and issues of harassment regardless of where they are.
Unfortunately you’d have no idea of this if you listened to the gansta rap from the US now hugely popular among young teenage Australia males. But back in 1990, when this issue was something you just couldn’t bring up in some circles people brought it up anyway.
One comparison with Clark and Thomas that intrigues me (keeping in mind they are very different people – with very different political viewpoints – one to the left, the other to the far right): both claimed they were “tried” and “convicted” in public, though not in a court of law.
A newspaper, however, is not a court of law – nor is a U.S. Senate committee that is conducting a confirmation hearing. The public, however, is misled into thinking that these men have in fact been “tried”. In part this demonstrates not only the ignorance of the public regarding the nature of the courts – it also shows that public figures encourage this misconception.
Just as background – my criticisms do not come from someone who is not sympathetic to the cause of Aboriginal people. I recently published a feature article in the Overland journal, entitled “Injustice in Black and White,” addressing in part the problem of backward government policies toward Aboriginal people.
This piece targetted the “human rights crisis” in Australia, as we’ve seen recently in mandatory sentencing, badly run and ill-conceived detention centres for illegal immigrants, and the Howard government’s non-cooperation with the U.N. human rights committee.
At the same time made the point that Australia’s “human rights crisis” does not necessarily divide along typical “left/right” or “Labor/Liberal” lines – it is complex and cuts across all previous stereotypes. The same can be said about the current controversy with ATSIC and Mr Clark’s credibility as its leader.
One last thought. The issue of sexual abuse and sexual harassment is not just one confined to Aboriginal communities and families – it is Australia-wide and affects every community regardless of ethnic background. Perhaps the discussion needs to be broadened – including the media-led reporting at the moment. Such a discussion can only be beneficial in the long run, and maybe neglecting it is part of the crime.
I did not want to enter the lists again (Brian debuted in The sound of values clashing) but it is hard to stay out.
Four decades ago Abraham Maslow identified safety, sustenance and shelter as basic needs for all humans. In a civilised social democracy these needs translate easily into rights. And basic means basic and irreducible. No one should have to trade one for the other, even as an interim strategy.
Rape is a horrible crime from which every-one should be safe. On this topic Marea Donnelly’s article in Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald was truly shocking. Quoting official figures she wrote that only 15 per cent of cases were reported to the police. Of these, charges were only laid in 22 per cent of cases. Of these, 30 per cent were convicted of sexual assault and 12 per cent convicted of a lesser charge. That means a rapist is convicted a little more than one per cent of the time. Marea Donnelly concludes that sexual assault has been effectively decriminalised.
In a civilised social democracy where freedom is valued, the State should see that every-one within it’s borders is safe. Further, the State should not only see that the basic needs of its inhabitants are met, it should nurture and support them at least to the extent that all have reasonable opportunities to pursue higher needs. (Here it is worth noting that the economic theories underlying economic rationalism deem that the second helping of caviar for a rich man has the same status in the market system as the basic meal for the starving).
In the case of the basic needs, many Aborigines and others in our community, the marginalised and the powerless, there has been a clear case of market failure. The market society has no use for the poor. This properly is a concern for all of us, especially our government.
Initially I thought it appalling that Pat O’Shane feels that concern for sexual abuse and violence needs to be suppressed or given a lower priority while the greater evil of racism is addressed. Then I thought it is appalling that she and others should feel the need to make such a choice.
We have had enough cheap shots at feminism and feminists for a while. Where misogyny exists and is manifested in cruel acts we are all diminished. Similarly, many of us think the male role in modern (postmodern?) society is in trouble. This harms women also, and needs to be addressed by the concern, understanding and action of both sexes.
Overall I agree with David Davis (in The sound of values clashing) that this controversy could be a marker. In the end even Pat O’Shane’s anger may serve a useful purpose, as it certainly gave the whole thing legs. It all depends on what we all do from here on.
Ken McAlpine (Webdiary yesterday) has thrown an amazing hand grenade into the works. I can’t go all the way with him. To broaden the debate further, we are all standing in it as late capitalism sucks meaning out of our lives. It is becoming ever more difficult to construct a life, given this lack of meaning and growing uncertainty. Some of us are up to our ankles in it, some up to our knees and some up to our necks.
By and large the Aborigines are in so deep they have lost their footing. I repeat, capitalism has no use for the poor in this country. The reserve labour supply is now elsewhere in developing countries. We tell big business it sucks, so increasingly they are leaving. CSR is the latest to say they’re off to where the action is. We can’t, we’re stuck.
But on this website we are trying to construct a bit of meaning so we can understand the nature and the extent of the problems that face us. It is what we do now that counts, and history shows that it is not possible to say when turning points are reached.