As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from …

Comment on Sit-down money: Pointless jobs for the dole by John Bell.

As a fresh-faced young lad newly-arrived in the Alice from the city down south in 1967, my first job in the NTA District Office was to implement the Training Allowances Scheme in the remote communities of Central Australia, as far up as Hooker Creek.
With my Darwin colleague Brian Chin, who implemented the scheme in the Top End, over the next five years I saw the development of the scheme’s job-creation attempts in all of its spectacular futility.
The politics of it all was fascinating. Liberal Minister William Wentworth introduced the Training Allowances Scheme to keep union influence and agitation out of a challenging and fragile work environment.
In the form of below-award training allowances, a bonanza of cash money began to flow into communities like never seen before. To paint rocks white on the roadside.
Then the Whitlam Labor government came to power, and the creek-flow of cash become a flooding river of gold. Still painting rocks white in the brave new era of outlying home camps and Toyota Dreaming.
I saw the mind-boggling scams, the cover-ups, the hare-brained community projects dreamed up in Canberra, the practical difficulties facing community staff, the sheer lack of worthwhile “jobs”, the challenge to stay honest and optimistic, the rampant political correctness attitude that demanded good people keep their mouths firmly shut or lose their jobs.
For a naïve young white city boy who came to Alice fired up to work with Aboriginal people after meeting the incomparable pastor Doug Nicholls, it was a culture shock to beat all culture shocks.
I can say now, with the benefit of a lot of years that have flowed under the Causeway Bridge since then, that I feel for all Aboriginal people in those communities, together with their community staff and the fair dinkum community-based job creating agencies who face the reality every day.
I take my hat off to them all. I am so thankful that I had the privilege to be there at a unique time, to see the reality.
Back down here in the Big Smoke, I can see that the city mob generally, including the majority of politicians, would not have a clue about what makes remote communities tick. Not even the foggiest.

Recent Comments by John Bell

No gaol for Peace Pilgrims: sentence
@ Kieran Finnane. Cold War circumstances change with the times.
Once it was Russia. Now it is North Korea backed by China.
What’s the difference between a KGB-ruled Soviet Union and a despotic ally of the soulless atheistic materialistic Tiananmen China superpower that has vowed to take control of the Western democratic world by whatever means possible?
Australia is a bunny blinded by the China spotlight. Anti-American protestors a la the Peace Pilgrims are yesterday’s men (and women), way behind the times in their inability to see today’s reality.


No gaol for Peace Pilgrims: sentence
@ Horton: Agreed. A good and sensible outcome. From the outset, the right to public protest by the Peace Pilgrims has never been questioned. The real issue here is the concept of civil disobedience and its reasonable limits in a society that is ruled by a stable democratic government under the rule of law.
Justice Reeves got it right. The Pilgrims challenged the limits and received much public praise on their journey. Acquittal would have implied that civil disobedience has no limits, no matter what the cause and where and when the civil disobedience occurs. The sentences did not bring down the hammer of a jail term, but emphasised that the Pilgrims had exceeded the limit.

@ Fred the Phillistine: Your emphasis on the cost to the public purse is interesting. You say that the Pilgrims should have been allowed to do their thing, presumably whenever they feel like returning.
Down here in Mexico, the CBD at Flinders and Swanston has been seriously disrupted in peak hour every Friday arvo during the month of November by the Manus Island protest marchers. Ongoing and escalating loss of income, serious stress and inconvenience is being caused to countless city workers.
With increasing numbers of civil disobedience protest marches in this critical part of the CBD almost weekly for every cause under the sun, we are looking at untold loss of income for ordinary punters and their families going about their lawful daily business affairs.
My question to you is – where would you draw the line and set the limit, on the causes that justify civil disobedience and the number of times protesters of any given cause should be able to cause social disruption and financial damage?

[ED – It was up to the jury, as always in a jury trial, not the judge to find the defendants guilty or not guilty.]


Strange encounters: the Peace Pilgrim and the Police Sergeant
@Jackie Hu. You criticise Justice Reeves for instructing the ordinary punters of the jury on points of law.

However, in instructing the jury (and during the conduct of the hearing) in this symbolic, divisive and very public case, Justice Reeves would have been very conscious indeed of the standard of equality of treatment demanded of judges and opposing counsel towards unrepresented litigants, laid down in the decision in Tomasevic v Travaglini in the Victorian Supreme Court by Justice Virginia Bell.

No doubt he was mindful that appeal judges would jump on him like a ton of bricks if there was even the merest hint of apprehended bias, especially in instructing a jury of ordinary punters in this touchy Pine Gap case.

Judges have a long established habit of instructing juries in public interest cases, as in the Chamberlain case.

I always believed a dingo took Azaria and the jury got it horribly wrong; and I cheered when appeal judges without a jury gave Lindy justice.

Of course, the Green latte sippers in Lygon Street saw us as anti-dingo etc. We were most unpopular.

You no doubt will cheer if the jury sees it your preferred Pilgrim way. If not, there is always the avenue of appeal without jury.


No extraordinary emergency at Pine Gap: judge rules
Ms Finnane. Are you sure that Michael McHugh SC was raising the example of the Suffragettes to support his argument that the Pine Gap Peace Pilgrims exceeded the limit of civil disobedience?

Could it have been that he was saying the opposite when he said “the Suffragettes notwithstanding” ie saying that the Suffragette civil disobedience was a different situation to this Pine Gap prayerful singalong?

After all, Emily Pankhurst got skittled by a horse and died for her beliefs. No disrespect to Emily whatsoever. She was truly gutsy. Your take on McHugh SC’s argument perhaps needs a bit of clarification in the words you used in your article?


Did Peace Pilgrims answer an extraordinary emergency?
@Greg. 60% of the Aussie population is secular, not Christian, as the SSM survey showed. At least 60% of the entire Western world is now secular and becoming more secular by the day. So. Blaming Christians for modern day wars is the trendy self-loathing mantra of the Left. As the majority of warmongers are secular, your argument falls flat, and flatter, by the day.
@Rebecca. It is confected courage to do a symbolic trek to the Red Centre in a safe democratic jurisdiction where PSOs like Sergeant Gadsby are on a hiding to nothing and face disciplinary action if they put a toe out of line while trying to do their lawful job, dealing with the Peace Pilgrim crew. Soft courage, shouting the generic anti-war war cry of the Left in a soft environment, ignoring their Christian obligation to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. I suggest it is humbug to paint this as “courage”. It would take real courage to conduct this protest in say, North Korea. Unless of course they think that if the Western world lays down its arms, everyone else will too.


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