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

Council: fob off, rejection, and secret moves
I find this hard to believe. The council is housed in the only buildings of “heritage consequence” erected in post war Alice Springs and now it is proposed to pull those buildings down and create something that will probably have the same aesthetic quality as the monstrous Supreme Court. Bring back Andrew McPhee and let’s talk sense again in this town.
And let’s for a change listen to the First Australians, whose acknowledged leaders say yes to either an Aboriginal Art Gallery or (better in my opinion) a Cultural Centre, BUT for traditional reasons, build it south of The Gap.

Cattlemen face land tenure, gas, live export and Native Title
This is eminent good sense. Although the words “land rights” would many years ago have induced incredible vocal and occasionally physical confrontation, it is pleasing for an 86 year old to observe that the most sensible all round suggestions I hear today emanate from the NT Cattlemen’s Association. Government needs to capitalise on this, by bringing together the real thinkers and supporting the many positive ideas being proposed.

‘Lost’ man survived on bushfood banquet
What a story! Aren’t we lucky to be among people of such knowledge? And greetings to the family for their perseverance.
Police leaders, please note: The Falconio and Chamberlain deaths and the recent loss of the German couple would have all been quickly resolved if the immediate call was: TRACKER.

Centre of attention: Glory days of Anzac Oval in the 1950s
Congratulations Alex, this is wonderful stuff.
I was a member of the Darwin footy team that was soundly beaten by Alice in April 1952.
Wow, a grass oval! Darwin Oval was still a gravel pit.
I was playing full back, opposed to Terry Clements at full forward.
Protecting TC in all clashes were two thugs, Jack “Kadaitja” Higgins and Reg “Mophead” Harris, who took great delight in flattening me.
Fond memories, too of the first Bangtail Muster (1969?) led by Wallaby Bill and a group of Yuendumu athletes and elders. We had a band from Papua New Guinea on that occasion, if I recall correctly.
Correct, too Alex regarding the short memories.
Neil Hargrave deserves much greater recognition in this town.
But there are so many other names mentioned – Bob Rumball, Dave Baldock, Pat Davis, John Ryan, Agnes East and Joan Higgins to name just a few – all with specific links to Anzac Oval and the Youth Centre.
There should be, perhaps, a museum building erected to the honour of those forbears who did it so well for us.

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?

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