Re Hal Duell (Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm): …

Comment on Home at last? by Bob Durnan.

Re Hal Duell (Posted August 19, 2012 at 4:08 pm):
I beg to differ with both the always civil and reasonable Hal Duell and Russell Guy, and the increasingly apoplectic Mrs Brown on this.
I say, thank goodness for the gumption of the local artists and others who took on this statue’s supporters and objected to it being placed, without artistic advice or public consultation, on the Council lawns in 2010.
I don’t believe that it necessarily should have a place in a public location in Alice. Despite the good intentions and generous spirit of its creator and the Loyal Buffalo Order people, it has little to recommend it as a piece of public civic art.
As a purely historic tribute to the efforts of this explorer, I don’t think it measures up either. Unfortunately the statue’s imagery and presentation will primarily send several problematic messages to many viewers, and obscure Stuart’s more admirable achievements.
Its main effect will be to reinforce the doctrine held by some of our society’s more privileged individuals about “exploration” as being a legitimating, sacramental triumph, in itself a kind of transcendent ritual that rationalises and somehow justifies colonisation of Aboriginal lands by the Crown, and “settlement” by the Crown’s subjects. These people will view it as being an heroic and celebratory symbol in support of the manner of the occupation and annexation of most of the continent. It also serves to reinforce a more general, uncritical sentimentality about Europeans’ exploration and colonisation of the Australian inland. Another consideration is that it inadvertently celebrates the patriarchal clubs that helped entrench white male dominance of Australian society. Last, but not least, it seems to laud the absolute centrality of the gun in the European conquest of most of the planet over the last several centuries, even though this may not have been the intent of its producer.
Stuart quite possibly deserves better than this. If the Town Council wants another memorial to this historically important person, it should commission an appropriate one.
Nor does this statue deserve to get a home in the Stuart Park, just for the sake of “giving it a home”. Stuart Park is a beautiful area where the lack of grace and character in this statue would be pretty obvious to most viewers, and where its presence would act as a continuing cue for divisiveness.
The most appropriate repository for this creation would probably be in one of the private “big thing” theme parks along Stuart’s route, where curiosities of interest to some travelers are displayed, such as Greg Dick provides at Aileron. It would also fit well with the ambience of Les Pilton’s Barrow Creek Roadhouse site.

Bob Durnan Also Commented

Home at last?
Erwin, your Editor’s note on Russell Guy’s post (Russell Guy, Posted August 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm) states “It’s land rights, not native title, which created inalienable Aboriginal freehold”. You make reference to “inalienable Aboriginal freehold”, but this is not what Guy was writing about. I think you may be misinterpreting what Guy was saying, as it appears to me that he was referring to the distinction between claiming whatever residual Native Title rights you might continue to hold in relation to any land (whether it be leasehold, freehold, alienated Crown land or vacant Crown land), and claiming actual full legal title to unalienated land. (The NTA does not permit Native Title claimants to claim full legal title over alienated land).
Although the Native Title Act enables claimants to claim some rights over alienated land, it is not capable of interfering with the freehold or leasehold title to land – i.e. a successful Native Title claim cannot cause it to be “alienated”, although it may gain recognition of the Native Title holders’ residual rights to enter onto, camp, hunt and gather, and conduct ceremonies on it. These are not rights to ownership of the land, but simply rights to make use of the land in certain ways and under certain circumstances.
[ED – Thanks, Bob. Further to this Russell has provided the following explanation: I spoke to Noel Pearson about this and read his book in which he details his involvement in, and the outcome of the post-Mabo, Native Title legislation.
The point that I wish to make is this: In the present wash-up to the 1976 NT Land Rights law, the Mabo-inspired dismantling of the Terra Nullius doctrine and the subsequent Native Title
legislation, Indigenous claimants still have to prove that they have maintained an attachment to the land under claim and in many cases, e.g., where freehold has been granted to non-Indigenous interests, that land is no longer able to be claimed.
Our recent story “Native Title to become national path to indigenous land acquisition?” deals with these issues.]


Home at last?
Hal (Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:30 am), I fully realise that the rifle is historically accurate, and that it has a stabilising role in the statue’s construction. However, in the local context, it also makes a very big contemporary social and political statement, echoing not just the events and style of old colonial and settler history, but also the general aura surrounding guns and easy killing and intimidating in our society (celebrated and normalised in much gaming culture, as well as in much of the international film culture, war culture, law enforcement ideology, military culture, the strong hunting sub-culture, not to mention television epics such as Underbelly, The Straits and Breaking Bad, and a multitude of web sites).
In local terms, we have had a lengthy series of murders, homicides, suicides, rapes and other assaults and robberies involving guns in recent decades (including the deaths of a number of my acquaintances, one of them a close friend who was shot at the Barrow Creek roadhouse), and it is this which I believe makes the presence of the rifle entirely inappropriate. Whilst I also accept that this resonance was completely unintended, there is the issue of ideation as a strong component in triggering violent outbursts by immature and/or fragile minds. I believe the statue’s endorsement will prove to be highly regretted over time if the town permits it to stand in an honoured position in a Council park. Let’s just quietly put the guns away. There are enough of them out there on other memorials already.


Home at last?
Russell, On this, as on a great many other things, I strongly disagree with Betty.
I am not saying that Stuart didn’t need or shouldn’t have carried a gun. I’m just saying that I don’t believe that, under all the circumstances, it would be appropriate to have it featured so prominently, if at all, in any commemorative feature about explorers in public parks in Alice Springs.
Despite John Howard’s brave and far-sighted moves to reduce the power of gun culture within Australian society it is still a powerful force and there are still far too many kids being raised to regard possession of guns as normal and even the mark of manhood.
We don’t feel compelled to include Stuart’s horse, compass, or many other essential items that helped him, so why have a gun out front? It’s not a matter of whether he personally ever used the weapon inappropriately. It’s just that he is emblematic of that epoch’s international caste known as “the explorers”, and many of them did. To my way of thinking, the imagery is wrong in our times and in this place.


Recent Comments by Bob Durnan

Booze report: What the government is likely to do.
In response to R Henry on Oct 20th, on who gets the extra markup money?
There is very little brand loyalty to the cheap brands of Chardonnay amongst our dedicated alcohol-drinking punters: They are after the cheapest hit of alcohol for their buck, regardless of its host liquid, not for their next taste of the rank Calabrian / Bortoli products.
Since the vast majority of shoppers generally shift their choice to better value for money when confronted with higher prices (and this happened when Clare Martin knocked the cheapest wines and sherries off the shelves in October 2006: there was a massive shift to beer), there is unlikely to be very much windfall profits via extra markup.
To the extent that there are any windfalls, they are unlikely to be anywhere near commensurate with the decrease in profits that are likely to occur because of the overall impacts of a number of the proposed reforms.
To see if I am correct, keep your ears open for the sounds of the interstate alcohol industry cartels – manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and their paid public relations reps squealing about the alleged injustice, unfairness and unworkability of these visionary evidence-based reforms.
It is going to be an interesting war, and the outcome will decide whether the NT has any future worth speaking about.


Elferink and Gooda clash over underage marriage
Peter, Posted June 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm: some young girls may resist promised marriage more strongly these days, but I doubt whether some are in a position to do so.
It has been authoritatively reported by youth workers in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek in the last few years that rape of young women is rife in these towns.


I’m not kungka, I’m arelhe
Does anybody know if the hours when the Arrernte words teaching program is held at the Apmere angkentye-kenhe are available somewhere on the net, or anywhere else?
I thought I had seen it advertised for every Wednesday night at 6pm, but this doesn’t appear to be the case?
I have gone there at this time, found it closed, and no notice or info on the door.
Anybody wanna clarify here?


Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Alex, of course one part-time worker with CAALAS is not able to, in your words, “work closely with EVERY SINGLE young person going throughout Central Australian court system, their family, community, lawyer, school and other service-providers to provide the young person with the support they need to get back on track and stay out of trouble”.
That is exactly my point, and why it is wrong for you to lay the blame on that worker, as you did when you wrote “if your PART-TIME advocacy programme co-ordinator did her job after this child’s court appearance in March, then he wouldn’t have appeared in court again in May.”
As I said earlier: That advocacy programme co-ordinator performed her job with great diligence and dedication, and cannot be held to blame for any alleged failure of duty of care, as the case load of such cases far exceeds the ability of one worker to cover even a small proportion of them. She was doing her job very well, covering as many of the cases as she could, but she wasn’t a magician. So your cheap jibe at her reputation is wrongly placed, and you should withdraw it.


Judge Borchers’ position should be assessed: CAALAS
Evelyne Roullet, Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:42 pm: Ralph was not talking about where or how the kid should be housed. He was referring to the bigger issue of the huge trauma in his life, caused by the alleged killing of his mother by his father. Kids who experience this level of trauma need intensive help and support, and we need to make sure that they get it, from wherever it may be best available.


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