This is a tremendously interesting article but I have a …

Comment on Kids from The Alice: When Malcolm met Menzies by Alex Nelson.

This is a tremendously interesting article but I have a couple of quibbles.
First, W C (Bill) Wentworth is regarded as the first Commonwealth minister for Aboriginal (or Indigenous) Affairs, appointed by PM John Gorton in early 1968.
The official title was “Minister for Aboriginal Affairs under the Prime Minister” whereas Gordon Bryant was appointed as “Minister for Aboriginal Affairs” in 1972, so maybe that’s just hair-splitting on my part.
The second point relates to the meeting with PM Bob Menzies in 1963 where Malcolm Cooper “was enjoying a glass of whisky with the Prime Minister yet he wasn’t recognised as a citizen in his own land. Neither could he express his personal view, to either vote for the Menzies Government or against it.”
I don’t know about the situation in South Australia at the time but certainly it was the case that all “full-blood” Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory had the non-compulsory right to vote from 1962 onwards.
The first election in which they could vote was for the NT Legislative Council in December 1962 (people of mixed race descent could vote in the NT from 1953 onwards).
Ironically, there was no vote in the NT for the 1963 Federal election campaign as Labor member Jock Nelson was re-elected unopposed – the last occasion this occurred in a national election campaign.
In 1966 Aboriginal people in the NT got to vote in a Federal election for the first time and were the cause of a major political upset, as they were crucial for the election of Country Party candidate Sam Calder against the Labor favourite, Dick Ward.
While it was the case that Aboriginal people weren’t included in the national census, it needs to be kept in mind that people of mixed race descent were counted in the official figures – it was “full-blood” Aboriginal people who were excluded.
Notwithstanding that, bureaucracy can’t help itself – even “full-blood” Aboriginal people were recorded in statistics.
For example, in December 1962 there were 18,270 “full-blood” Aboriginal people recorded in the NT, and this figure was broken down into the following: 5,219 on government settlements; 5,956 on church mission stations; 6,139 on pastoral properties; 656 in towns and institutions; 300 are nomadic (The Inlander, No. 21, September 1963).
Smaller numbers were recorded for the other states.
Very much looking forward to more articles in this series.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.


Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!


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