To my critics: I welcome your comments and accept them as …

Comment on Make September 8 Australia Day, anthem in Pitjantjatjara by Ted Egan.

To my critics:

I welcome your comments and accept them as being relevant to necessary, reasonable discussion on many and various topics on our minds at the moment.
Yes, I am old and yes, I once worked for Native Affairs Branch, the government body that implemented the policies established by the old Aboriginals Ordinance.
Like a few of my contemporaries I was always out to take the side of our Aboriginal clients, often questioning our superiors in the process.
I was never involved in the removal of a mixed race child, but I could have been.
I wept with Ted Evans when he refused to be involved again in such removals, specifically after he had been involved in the forcible removal of Maurie Jabada Ryan.
I could not sign the Sorry Books quickly enough and am now fiercely determined that this country never again has laws based on race.

My granddaughter Jessica is a First Australian. Her parents are my daughter and her First Australian father.
I am her grandfather: Jess and I share great pride in her First Australian inheritance and that of her children, no matter how “pale-skinned” they are. A First Australian is a person who can establish genetic links to Australia in 1787. No ifs or buts, no counting drops of blood, no percentages. I am classified as an Australian and that is fine by me: I was lucky enough to be born here. I respect and acknowledge ALL First Australians.

What I object to, in the debate about Australia Day and the references to Invasion Day, is the stance taken by many undoubted First Australians and their supporters, that they are the owners of Australia and the rest of the occupants of the nation are the ones who stole the land.
Yes, of course there was a settlement that could be called an invasion – so let’s discard 26 January – but the vast majority of First Australians have inherited the genes of the invaders, as well as those of their Aboriginal ancestors.

The sad outcome is that there will probably be internal conflict on this issue. Cronulla could happen again, for there are many ugly polemicists out there, anxious to take on anyone who is not 100% and aggressively Caucasian. They (and they don’t include me) are out to count drops of blood.

Most Australians of all backgrounds simply want a public holiday to enjoy: a day that Jessica and I can share together – and enjoy. Let’s take on Matthew Flinders as the man who first recognised this country as “a nation”.

To Rosalie Schultz:

Despite rejecting Kriol and Yumplatok as being languages and also suggesting that the lingua franca of Arnhem Land is Gupapuyngu rather than Djamparrpuyngu, I take your Census figures as being accurate. However I stick to my guns. Pitjantjara (as its speakers invariably pronounce the word) is the language that is most widely recognised in Australia.
And, crucially, its orthography is sound. In the absence of an Aboriginal alphabet, they have adopted the standard 26 word alphabet that is on everybody’s word processor. No accents, no tailed Ns, no humbug.

Let me recount a short story. I was in Arnhem Land in the late 60s, when we won the battle to use the proper Aboriginal place name for the new town. The mining company wanted to call it Gove. I suggested that it be Noolanboy (spelt thus) – the name bestowed by Wuyal. In came the orthographers. They insisted on the spelling being Nhulunbuy. Nobody could work out the pronunciation. Today, it’s generally called Gove.

Thanks Erwin for inviting this debate. Bring it on.

Ted Egan Also Commented

Make September 8 Australia Day, anthem in Pitjantjatjara
To Hal: I agree that it would be common courtesy to approach the relatives of Matthew Flinders first and I think a good case could be put by, say, the Prime Minister of Australia, to indicate the high level of esteem we have for him and seek their permission to have him re-interred in the land that he founded.
If not his actual remains, a worthy monument could be erected at Circular Quay. I simply raise these ideas in the interests of true Australian harmony, suggesting a day to be CELEBRATED by all Australians and particularly First Australians. If the idea does not take off, at least I “had a go”.
To Jan Martin: Thanks for your complimentary remarks Jan. Bungaree did not go into unanimity, or even anonymity. He was a highly respected citizen of the Broken Bay region until his death. He, too, deserves to be associated with the declaration of Australia’s Foundation Day. A joint memorial?

Recent Comments by Ted Egan

Make Oz Day a celebration of the future, not the past
1 January 1901 was the day the new Australian Federation legislated that “Aboriginal natives of Australia shall not be counted” in the Census: They were deemed to be a sub-species. An inauspicious start?

Alice Springs singer in immigration neverland
Erwin, the Territory has a good track record in things like this.
There have many cases, going back to dear old Jim Bowditch, where the locals have got on side with cases like this.
I am currently in Adelaide getting medical treatment, but as soon as I get home I will contact you in the hope that I can contribute to a determined local campaign to enable Nyapal Lul’s family to join her. Best wishes to all. Good to hear of the overdue rain.

Desert Song’s fire burns bright
Fantastic! Congratulations Erwin and Kieran for your coverage. Nerys and I are in Adelaide. I have had some surgery and doing radiotherapy until end October.
Nerys is a wonderful carer for me and this edition has made our day, while at the same time bringing on homesickness.
Keep singing, all you choirs. Special greetings to Morris and Barb.

Cops nab alleged grog runners
We’ve come a long way since Yuendumu Flagon Wagon. Or have we?

Alice town camps need not be places of misery
What were the land rights demos of the 1960s all about?
Recognition of the traditional ownership, use and occupancy of their respective land areas of First Australians, in order that they could rehabilitate themselves and their culture on their own country, on their terms.
Alice Springs is Arranta country. Housing programs for Warlpiri, Pitjantjara, Anmatjere and other groups should take place on the land areas of those people.
They have worthless pieces of paper that say they are the “traditional owners” but they don’t have the rights normally available to people who own land.
Town camps are an essential component of the dispossession process. Turn them into fringe dwellers who will acquire all the habits that enable the conquerors to say: “And we do so much for them …” Occupants of town camps have no future other than the present, where they are in the grip of Centrelink, with minimal money, where they and their children easily become prone to all forms of addiction, criminal activity and anti-social behaviour.
Bulldoze the Alice Springs town camps. Build the Bob Beadman towns where First Australians can lead normal lives.
Enable First Australians themselves to be in charge of the planning and building of those towns.

Be Sociable, Share!