Last night at work I listened to a couple of telling interviews on ABC local radio. First up on Inside Profile was John Howard who gave an insight into what he considers a good interview,
I think the good interviewers of political figures anyway, are those that recognise that on occasions you are entitled to give the person you are interviewing a hard time, because that's your job. But there are other occasions when really you owe an obligation to your listeners to let him or her have something to say because the public's interested in what they've got to say. Now the interviewers who strike the right balance between those two things are both the best interviewers, and also the interviewers I like talking to.
Balance, what a novel concept. In a wide ranging interview, what did presenter Monica Attard really grill the PM on ? Two sick puppies, Mandouh Habib and Cornelia Rau. Yet in my cab of late, I've heard no unsolicitored views on either...
Which issue more than anything else has blotted Australia’s reputation from generation to generation ? Indigenous affairs and how our original settlers are travelling. I’m sick of interstate visitors hopping in my cab and without prompting regaling me with tales of local indigenous hopelessness.
And I don’t believe these tales are motivated by malice or racism. Indeed, Australians response to the Asian tsunami surely put an end to the furphy we're all racists.
It’s more the case egalitarian Aussies are in despair at the ongoing plight of our indigenous. When all other sectors of our society have prospered in recent history, the indigenous sector has floundered. And I truly believe all Aussies want to see the aboriginal population take an proactive and equal place in our society.
Last night it was a visiting businessman off the red-eye from Perth. On passing Redfern, he told me of his embarrassment in hosting overseas clients. Whether it be at outdoor cafes in Perth where young Koori kids blatantly grab items and run, or up in Broome where one is assailed by the sight of inebriated Kooris shitfaced in the noonday sun.
Another Airport passenger last night was a Navy serviceman returning from Far North Queensland. He related tales of his schooling in Charters Towers with a multitude of cross-bred aborigines from Chinese to Malay to some other breed I don’t recall. His father was an ex Patrol Officer in New Guinea made redundant by that country’s independence. Consequently this bloke’s experience saw him posted to Mt. Isa to work with indigenous tribes of Central Queensland.
My passenger lamented how all the indices measuring aboriginal well-being were in decline. Worst of all he revealed aboriginal life expectancy was decreasing. I knew things were bad for Kooris but I’d always assumed in this day and age modern medicine worked to increase life expectancy. If this is true then it’s a national friggin’ disgrace.
Last week it was once again a visitor from Perth, over here for the military tattoo, who surprised me. She marvelled at the sight of relaxed City crowds around midnight Saturday, un-accosted by wandering groups of drunken aborigines. Apparently, due to this factor the centre of Perth after hours is a no-go zone for many people. I suspect the same phenomenon applies to many Australian cities and towns.
Another interview last night was by ABC’s Speaking Out presenter Karin Dorante with the Aboriginal Housing Company’s Mick Mundine. Whilst explaining the status of the AHC plan for The Block at Redfern, Mundine made a telling remark,
There's no culture here at all, at the present moment, right. If they believe that culture is selling drugs, sitting around drinking, that's not our culture...
Which got me thinking...where is there true aboriginal culture in this country, devoid of welfarism. Furthermore, what is true aboriginal culture, aside from notions of symbolism.
I dunno much but I do know that a line on the past has to be drawn somewhere. A line which negates the politics of guilt and padded cells, i.e. welfare. Surely the survival of the race rests with the next generation.
Using role models and education someone with the combination of power, influence and genuine concern must take the initiative to get this mob back on their feet. For me their best chance is with our current Government, led by John Howard. Not only do I believe he's concerned, but he must be hammered on it.
The abolition of the impotent and corrupt ASTIC is a start in the right direction. Now Howard must consolidate by ensuring future generations of aborigines take a position in Australia of mutual respect all round. The greatest legacy he could leave us would be healthy indigenous affairs. He now has full power - he should use it.