Bob Durnan@August 24. Bob, you raise many issues, but let’s just …

Comment on Home at last? by Russell Guy.

Bob Durnan@August 24.
Bob, you raise many issues, but let’s just take the issue of Stuart carrying a gun, which Betty Pearce has dealt with above by saying “let it die.’
Are you saying that Stuart shouldn’t have undertaken this journey or that he shouldn’t have carried a gun? Both are defensible, the latter, for shooting food and for protection, the former was inevitable.
Leichardt, a botanist, naturalist, explorer, wanderer, who named nothing for himself, carried a gun from Moreton Bay to Port Essington and the only time he had to use it, apart from shooting game, was when attacked because one of the two Indigenous guides allegedly sought relations with a woman on more than once occasion.
Instances of the Black Native Police, led by a white police officer, where Snider rifles proved more effective than sorcery, decimated their own mob around NW Qld, indicating that it’s not always the weapon in whose hands it is, although, gun control, like alcohol as you well know, is a useful addition to a peaceful community.
I don’t see Stuart’s rifle as an issue. Historicity presents us with a veil in many instances of contact between Indigenous and whitefellers, appalling as some travelers through Terra Incognita were and Terra Nullius has been disproved with mixed results as we attempt to harmonise the post-colonial, postmodern rent.
Incidentally, it was the Freemasons, of whom Stuart was a member, not the Loyal Buff Order who are involved in this interesting public art scuffle. I’ve often thought how interesting it would be if certain statues could come to life and give us a bit of their own.

Russell Guy Also Commented

Home at last?
There have been some interesting comments posted over this statue of Stuart, including the use of land, which at the time of British Settlement became Crown Land.
Since then, Government Reserves have become Christian Missions and they in turn have become Aboriginal communities and various forms of Land Rights have ceded title to what were once, and are today, Traditional Owners, according to Dreaming apportioned parcels of land, contributing to a cultural schema which enriches our country beyond measure.
Stuart’s journey of exploration brought pastoralists, miners and others into central Australia, including the Overland Telegraph Line, linking to the rest of the world, the railway and transport.
It has been so in the history of colonisation of Indigenous peoples and the post-colonial process is on-going, but in the postmodern deconstruction, we need to understand how the past has contributed to the present intergenerational inheritance of Indigenous people. Stuart’s story, as told by John Bailey, gives some insight into the man and his, sometimes dubious supporters who set the modern period in train.
There is a debate about further division of land titles, well-reported by the AS News Online, allowing Aboriginal interests to trade in lease and freehold title and this will require a change of legislation, but if it helps us to achieve productivity, hopefully, learning by the example of other states where the mining industry is monolithic in its take-over of land that is and can be used for other purposes, e.g., tourism, agriculture and living without mining, then bring it on.
The Freemasons did not anticipate the public art scuffle when they commissioned Mark Egan, nor did the sculptor imagine that his statue of Stuart would incur such debate and I wonder what went through Stuart’s mind as he lay dying, penniless, in England.
I hope that all heads will cooperate and, even in losing face if that be the case, that Stuart will be given the respect he deserves. It seems to me that an historical reserve would be best, given the controversy over a public place and that in the future, those who view this statue can be reminded of Stuart’s towering place in the history of central Australia and how the present owes his trail-blazing, notwithstanding those Indigenous cultures who observed the movement through their lands, including the events at Attack Creek, where he recoiled.
I find historicity to be a fascinating thing and one of the reasons why Australian history is more than just a personal hobby. Wisdom in hindsight owes its existence to it.


Home at last?
In the interests of keeping the record straight, I would like to clarify my comment below where I noted that “historically, the gun wasn’t an issue.” This was intended to directly refer to Stuart, lest his reputation be besmirched by those who used the gun to slaughter Aboriginal people in the multiple instances of massacre recorded in history and folklore, e.g, the Kalkadoons of Mt Isa.
I have given another example in the case of Ludwig Leichhardt where I believe there was goodwill existing between the inevitable incursion by Europeans into Indigenous lands, something which Native Title has, belatedly, but importantly, sought to redress with established freehold remaining inalienable.
In his recently published book about Leichhardt, John Bailey wrote “Leichhardt believed that a hundred miles beyond white settlement the Aboriginals were more likely to be curious or frightened than aggressive. It was only through contact with settlers who took their land, abused the women and ran drays through their sacred sites that hostilities arose” (2011: 152).
[ED – It’s land rights, not native title, which created inalienable Aboriginal freehold.]


Home at last?
Bob@August 25. Thanks for clarifying your position on the Stuart statue in terms of the appropriateness of its public display in contemporary Alice Springs.
Recent, illegal gun culture activity in Western Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin is certainly of major concern. Lawlessness is increasing in the USA and Australia in relation to guns. Howard’s move against automatic weapons was notable. I commented that at the time of the Port Arthur tragedy which, from memory, occurred after Howard’s move, one person with a weapon may have shortened that rampage and that’s the essence of the American defence. It helps explains the level of violence coming out of Hollywood, which seems to enthrall our own film industry at times.
In reply to your concern about the Stuart statue’s presence in Alice Springs, I haven’t taken a position on where or if it should be displayed. I noted that historically, the gun wasn’t an issue, but since your clarification, I agree that it sets a militarist example as opposed to a pacifist.
At a time in our society when I believe we should be sending better messages to youth in alcohol supply and promotion, gun control is right up there with pornography and other drugs.
It’s the height of hypocrisy for society to sanction alcohol and allow it to be sold seven days a week, while trying to uphold a value structure that holds water.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who would disagree on manhood and guns, but the detail is in the State empowerment of weaponry for armed enforcement and appropriate licensing.
What defines a man is a debate which is sorely needed as are role models willing to stand up and engage with it. Thanks for expressing your truly noble sentiments.


Recent Comments by Russell Guy

NT-SA agreement hardly historic
Paul Keating, in his 1992 Redfern Speech, framed by speechwriter Don Watson, author of the somewhat dryly punitive opus, The Bush, also claimed a historic mandate, announcing success for Reconciliation “within the next decade.”
It’s in the nature of politics to claim credit for doing something, mostly spending tax revenue and living in hope that it won’t run out.
In my opinion, the “historic” issue is just a beat up or a sop.
Pass me another piece of Bicenttennial birthday cake, please.


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The Greens, once declared an “alternative” political party, inherited the structural social and cultural goalposts, but they keep trying to kick goals through them.
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They must be joking!
@ Charlie Carter. Sense is subjective. Some people laugh when others don’t and vice versa. Cheers.


They must be joking!
From reading these comments over a number of years, there are a lot of disgruntled people who have moved to Alice Springs in recent times, who appear to want the place to conform to their aspirations.
They talk about “remote” and “communities” in the abstract.
They have no idea of Mbantua.
They want what they think life should offer, according to what they read in the glossy inserts or la dolce vita on television.
When the lights go out and it’s time to cook dinner on an open fire, what then, ye dreaming?


What the open letter didn’t say
End-of-day performances by the many local musicians, occurring in the Mall is a great idea for so many obvious reasons.
I did this numerous times in the 1980s with musos and it’s not that difficult with a small PA system.
It creates paid work and gives a sense of cultural belonging that cannot really be created by other art forms.
Music speaks all languages. We had occasional problems with intoxicated persons, but violence was extremely rare.
I urge the council to look at this again, especially where inner-city gentrification is forcing musicians out and replacing “live” entertainment with grog shanties. Goodness, people might start dancing again.


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