I wasn’t making fun of your name Paddy, I was …

Comment on An open LETTER to young Paddy Gibson, Sydney academic and saviour of blackfellas. by Dave Price.

I wasn’t making fun of your name Paddy, I was using it to point out that we whitefellas also have a culture, at least one, we have our heritages and we draw our inspiration from them as I do from yours and mine. I am often laughed at because I sometimes insist on using the Celtic varieties of my own name. I still do it anyway. And at the risk of sounding patronising I would have been standing beside you waving placards and shouting through megaphones if you’d been doing what you do when I first came here in the 70’s, bright eyed, bushy tailed and as arrogant as yourself. But this country has a way of making you grow up. But then some like Frank and Ralph never get past your stage. When I was an officer of the APS I found it pretty hard to get past Ralph to communicate directly to my clients in the community he worked in. He knew best. I wanted to hear from them.

And Trisha, I also completely and respectfully agree with you. You have a right to be heard in the way you choose. Aboriginal people in the NT are beginning to use the mainstream political process to get their voices heard and not everybody wants to do that. In the last election we had three Aboriginal candidates standing for three different parties in the one electorate, no whitefellas to be seen. At last Australia sees that like all other humans everywhere don’t all think the same. Paddy’s mob want us to think they do. The last election here was an incredible historical first nationally yet it was unacknowledged. Those candidates on Paddy’s side of the fence, who rely on young southern whitefellas and white gate keepers to back them up didn’t do too well in that election. In some of those electorates Aboriginal people make up around 80% of the voters. Don’t you think that means something?

I was deeply disturbed when I heard at an anti-Intervention rally in 2008 a prominent NT Aboriginal politician publicly thank the rag tag crowd of middle class white kids from Melbourne, I like to call them the “dread locked red guards” gathered at his feet. They had flocked to our town to tell us that the Intervention was all about grabbing land for uranium mining. He told them that he and his group relied on them and couldn’t do what they were doing without them. We have been told over and over again about the wisdom of Aboriginal elders, about the strength of Aboriginal law by people like him. Yet he showed no faith in his own elders and culture. All of his faith and hope for the future lay with a bunch of spoilt city kids who campaigned against the intervention in between saving the whales and keeping uranium in the ground. Good solid research now shows us that something like 77% of people in remote communities and town camps believe that some aspect of the Intervention have been beneficial for them, that number includes many of my own loved ones who regularly express these views to me. No wonder his own people didn’t elect this bloke to parliament when they had the chance.

When Mantitjara Wilson told us in tears back in 2006 of the abuse of children in her own community and begged for help, one of the most moving things I’ve seen on my TV screen, there was no outcry from the likes of young Paddy, no pledges of support from human rights activists. In fact there were those community big men and their radical friends who worked hard to undermine her authority. When the NPY Women’s Council regularly tells us of the appalling plight of women and kids on their communities still they are studiously ignored by lefty radicals because this particular issue doesn’t fit their agenda. When a teenage girl from Arnhem Land was threatened with a shotgun and raped by her promised husband to be told by a white male magistrate that “she knew what to expect as a promised wife” and that the rapist “didn’t understand that what he did was against the law,” again deafening silence from the human and indigenous rights lobby. When a woman was mauled to death by dogs on town camps controlled by an Aboriginal organisation – again silence. When my own granddaughter bled to death on another town camp after being stabbed by her ex husband because the ambulance has to wait for a police escort since every time they go into that camp to save a life they are attacked by drunks, again no interest at all from the southern radicals or the local gate keepers. I could go on all day. We are almost constantly grieving, but I think that you understand.

The Freedom Rides were a long time ago, I can remember, I was around in NSW at the time. I came to the NT as an arrogant, young, southern radical. Now I know that only Aboriginal people will solve their own problems but they have to be given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives to do that. The Aboriginal members of this government share that view. Paddy and his allies go out of their way to deny a voice to those who dissent from their views. I have personally seen this happen over and over again. I wish you and your family well. We have suffered tragedy over and over again. I understand your grief and your right to run your campaign the way you think is best. We want to do it differently, we want the old people to be heard, we want to the women and the kids to be heard, yes even the kids, those who are being denied a decent education, life style and freedom to express themselves by those who tell us that their “culture” and “language” are more important than their right to life itself. I now have no faith in young radicals like Paddy or crusty old gate keepers like Frank and Ralph or even the likes of crusty old ex-radicals like me, to solve the problems of my wife’s people. I have faith in them to do it themselves.

“Jurru Marntarla,” this is the Warlpiri name given to me by my wife’s deceased aunt many years ago. I’m very proud of it, I earned it. It translates best as ‘Wooden Head’. You can make as much fun as you like of it Paddy, most people do.

Dave Price Also Commented

An open LETTER to young Paddy Gibson, Sydney academic and saviour of blackfellas.
It’s pretty simple really. Jenny Macklin is a member of a government elected by the people of Australia through a process we call democracy. She takes part in a process of law making that is transparent and subject to the direct scrutiny of the media and the voters. She sat with the most disenfranchised in remote communities and asked for their views and took them into consideration when she made her decisions. If we, including the 30+% of voters in the NT who are Aboriginal, don’t like those decisions we can vote her and her party out of office. I don’t recall young Paddy nor any of his arrogant young radical mates asking the rest of us what we thought of their views. They like to avoid scrutiny and abuse those who disagree with them. I have been the butt of such abuse.

Recent Comments by Dave Price

Jimmy Cocking: Council not an ideological pedestal
I agree completely with you Jimmy on almost everything you’ve said.
But drawing attention to past politically inspired actions and their consequences and asking questions relating to significant issues is not smearing, it is asking for honest responses.
The divisions are already there and the campaigning for allies make those divisions worse.
A supporter [of a party] abused a young woman today bringing her to the point of tears. Now that’s divisive.

Politely passionate: council candidates front invited guests
You are right Evelyne I don’t know for certain who is behind this disgraceful action but my experience of the behaviour of Labor supporters in the last NT election makes me pretty confident that I’m on the right track. I have been told by another candidate that she has had the same happen to her posters but doesn’t want to talk about it. I condemn whoever is doing it to anybody’s posters.

Politely passionate: council candidates front invited guests
Somebody has started stealing or vandalising Damien Ryan’s, Jamie de Brenni’s and Jacinta Price’s posters around town.
Worse was done out bush during Jacinta Price’s mother’s campaign last year. Her property was also vandalised, vicious graffiti appeared, her life was directly threatened.
She was advised not to do anything about it by the stalwarts on her side of politics and so the perpetrators got away with it.
We are urging our supporters not to react by vandalising and stealing the posters of the opposition. We condemn criminal behaviour and we are almost as tired of seeing our loved ones locked up as we are of burying them.
Respect for the rule of law is the only way we can heal our community and allow it to thrive.

Politely passionate: council candidates front invited guests
Two Greens dominated local councils in Melbourne have abolished Australia Day at the request of a tiny minority of radicals who want to tear us apart and destroy our culture.
Jimmy Cocking is not a member of the Greens but his list of preferences will show you how close he is to them.
The Greens have put up Barb Shaw, our resident loud, cranky protestor, as a candidate in the past.
She and her friends have gone out of their way to close down those with views different from their own.
It is totally reasonable for the voters in this town to know the views of each of the candidates on whether we should celebrate Australia Day or not.
As one commentator has already said it would make sense to sort this issue out in the NT rather than in inner urban Melbourne.
We are already hearing protests from Aboriginal leaders in Melbourne and Sydney that they haven’t been consulted and are happy to celebrate Australia Day.
If it comes up in a meeting of an Alice Springs council dominated by the Greens and their close friends I would like to know how the candidates would vote.

Surprising conservative on council: Jacinta Price
All of this kerfuffle over a few words. You are spot on John. The terms left and right, usually interpreted by the lazy media as really nice and very nasty came from the beginning of the French Revolution.
We could probably come up with some better terms all these years later. I would have called myself progressive for most of my life, now I am happy to call myself conservative because I want to preserve the planet but I don’t want to destroy our economy in the process. I want Aboriginal people’s lives to vastly improve but I don’t think they are going to do that without changing some of their worldview to make it work better. I am keen to preserve the bits of my own culture, and theirs, that still work well. And I don’t think that getting rid of Australia Day is going to help.
When I was a ratbag, overconfident youngfella, I called Noel Fullerton a racist in public and had a stand up argument with him because I was a newly arrived ignorant idealist.
If he were still around I’d apologise to him and tell him that I now agree with what he was saying at the time. I was wrong.
My conservatism, like that of my mate Jamie de Brenni and his wonderful hard working wife Alice, is of the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind.
And I believe that if you’re going to make big changes do it carefully so that you don’t cause more problems than you fix – like the 1968 equal pay law.
You can’t argue against the principle of equal pay but did they have to do it in such a way that it took away the jobs of around a third of the Aboriginal workforce across Northern Australia?
I think they should have been more careful.
To me conservatism is about common sense, which, as my Mum used to say, ain’t all that common.
People very quickly forget that it was conservative coalition governments that gave Aboriginal Australians the right to vote in 1962, repealed the Aboriginal Ordinance in 1964, that made my parents in law and their family, including my wife, citizens for the first time.
It also gave them the legal right to destroy themselves with alcohol, the world’s most damaging drug – put the much lauded, constitution changing referendum to the people in 1967, gave Aboriginal people equal pay in 1968 and passed the NT Land Rights Act in 1976.
And during that period they thoroughly dismantled the White Australia policy. Not a bad record for a bunch of predominantly middle aged, white, male conservatives that Labor would rather we forgot.
The ALP was the last political party in Australia to formally give up the White Australia Party.
When I was a young Lefty I underwent union training as the Teacher’s Federation Rep at Yuendumu. One of the old union stalwarts told a group of us assembled faithful that we should have shot all the blackfellas when we had the chance.
At the Worker’s Club in Darwin I was told by another old union stalwart that they sent Bob Collins off to the Senate because the NT wasn’t ready for a Chief Minister with a gin for a wife.
That was in the seventies and that’s when I started to think about changing my political loyalties; it took a while after that though.
I would see Martin Luther King as a Christian conservative.
He insisted on ridding the US of the hideous perversion of racism and wanted to bring back the essentially conservative Christian value of the equality of all of our species despite the fact that many Christians ignored that value at the time.
My proudly multicultural family take him very seriously when he taught that we should judge people by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin.
Some of my best friends are white males and my daughter actually lives with one – a left inclined Margaret Thatcher hating Scotsman who puts his family first in everything.
We don’t mind conservatives of any colour and agree passionately with many progressives in relation to some issues.
What we don’t like is being called names and threatened by those who call themselves progressives but who would deny us the right to disagree with them.
I have disagreed with many things that Steve Brown has said and agreed with others.
We have managed to have conversations without resorting to name calling and threats, I can’t say that about many who position themselves on the extreme left who act as if they speak for all Aboriginal people and any don’t hesitate to call anybody who disagree with them racist.
My wife’s and daughter’s lives have been directly threatened many times. Those doing that think of themselves as indigenous activists, and anti-racism warriors. They have never been threatened by genuine racists, who tend to be a mentally ill and cowardly lot rather than a real threat to anyone.
Oh, and another thing. Considering that two Greens dominated local councils in Melbourne have now decided to abolish Australia Day maybe it’s about time that journalists here asked the local Greens if that is what they intend to do here if elected. Just a thought.

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