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Why Is There This Press Bias On A Matter Of National Importance? By Nigel Jackson
‘The Age’ newspaper in Melbourne seems unwilling to publish any submission (letter or opinion piece) opposed to ‘indigenous’ constitutional recognition and/or the signing of a treaty. Is it afraid that the case against such change is too persuasive?
On 14th July 2018 The Age published an opinion piece by well-known and very successful author Stephanie Dowrick entitled ‘Scandal at our nation’s heart’. It concerned alleged mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by contemporary Australia. I at once submitted the letter below to the Letters Editor.
“Stephanie Dowrick is wrong ('Scandal at our nation's heart', 14/7). It would be a mistake for our nation to legislate a 'constitutionally protected' voice for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders or to sign a treaty with them. The correct and fair approach is to treat all Australians equally. She ignores the obvious dangers of national division inherent in separatist policies. Her romantic claim that our 'indigenous' folk belong to 'the longest surviving culture on earth' can be disputed. As a person of largely British ancestry, I trace my own culture back tens of thousands of years into the mists of prehistory. Secondly, there is no such thing as 'unspeakable suffering'. Such terminology indicates that reason has been overcome by emotion. Thirdly, any 'First Nations treaty' would be an artificial construct, and we are the lucky Commonwealth country that has avoided such a damaging factor. Finally, Dowrick entirely fails to address the main arguments against her proposals, of which unfairness to other Australians is one and the dubious moral status of part-Aboriginals claiming to be Aboriginals is another.”
This letter was not published, nor was any other about Dowrick’s piece. On 16 July I submitted an opinion piece to the Opinion Editor of The Age. Its text now follows.
Idealists threaten us with disaster
We should not legislate a ‘constitutionally protected’ voice for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders or sign a treaty with them
Stephanie Dowrick is wrong in her claim (‘Scandal at our nation’s heart’, 14/7) and in her proposed solution. The correct and fair approach to indigenous issues, constitutionally, is to treat all Australians on an equal footing.
We cannot make laws to effectively right wrongs, real or alleged, that were committed against those no longer living by others in the past. Our concern should be to govern in the best interests of all of today’s Australians and their descendants. Dowrick ignores the obvious dangers of national division inherent in separatist policies. How, for example, would a partitioned Australia deal with the great contemporary threat of Chinese communist expansion? Is it not likely that any new indigenous nation would soon become a pawn of that power?
Every one of her reasons can be shown to be insubstantial. At the same time she fails to address the profound and powerful arguments against her case and cause – arguments that have been advanced by Keith Windschuttle, Frank Salter, Gary Johns, Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt and others.
Her romantic claim that our indigenous folk belong to ‘the longest surviving culture on earth’ can be disputed. As a person of largely British ancestry, I trace my own culture back tens of thousands of years into the mists of prehistory, via ancient Egypt which in turn seems to have derived from a lost culture, worldwide and maritime.
Secondly, there is no such thing as ‘unspeakable suffering.’ Dowrick’s use of that emotional terminology goes hand in hand with exaggeration of the extent and significance of the past misfortunes of indigenous peoples here and neglectful silence about their own part in losing control of their territory. Thirdly, any ‘First Nations treaty’ would be an artificial construct. So-called ‘First Nations’ are not authentic successors of the tribes that were here before European settlement, but modern creations of political activists who, for whatever reasons, wish to fundamentally alter our nation. Yes, we may be the only Commonwealth country that has no ‘First Nations’ treaty, but that is our good luck in having avoided such a damaging factor (as overseas evidence shows them to be).
Contrary to Dowrick’s insinuations, conservatives opposed to foolish and inequitable tampering with our much prized constitution do not ignore the achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the past. On the contrary these are honoured by Australians generally throughout the land and in many ways.
We rightly cherish the unique cultural contribution made to our nation by these peoples and their present day descendants; but we also honour and admire the enormous benefits we have all received from the settlers, at first largely from Britain, and then from many other parts of the world. The constitutional changes Dowrick advocates are deeply offensive to those who know how much all today’s Australians benefit from the infrastructure that exists here now only because Australia was settled from the Eighteenth Century on.
In terms of political rights, we do not distinguish between those citizens born here and those who were born on the other side of the world. In the same way, variation in distance of time does not ethically privilege any particular group of Australians at the expense of others.
Dowrick fails to acknowledge that it is perfectly possible for our governments ‘to consult with indigenous leaders and utilize their experiences on all matters of direct concern to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’ without any change to the constitution. This already happens; it has been happening for many decades; and great sums of taxpayers’ money have been given to such leaders and other indigenous people.
Racial prejudice is apparent in Dowrick’s claim that it is ‘grossly patronizing for white Australia to “decide” for Indigenous Australia.’ Australia today is made up of people of many different ethnicities and skin colour; and it is not only ‘whites’ who want to protect the integrity of our nation from foolish idealists.
It is surprising, too, that so gifted an author should refer to ‘discriminatory assumptions’ about ‘indigenous’ Australians, as though these must all be bad. Discrimination is often a virtue; and wise persons and governments have to make very fine discriminations in all sorts of contexts and rightly do so.
Finally, Dowrick entirely fails to address a main argument against her proposals: the dubious moral aspect of part-Aboriginals claiming to be Aboriginals. Australians with other variations of split ethnic genetic inheritance are quite happy to accept that, constitutionally, they are just Australians. Those with Aboriginal genetic inheritance of whatever degree should do the same and, in 2018, stop demanding unjustified special treatment. After all, they are not the only indigenous Australians. Indeed, they are outnumbered by other Australians born here and having only Australian citizenship.
At the same time as I submitted that opinion piece I sent a special appeal to the Editor of The Age, Alex Lavelle. As instructed by his staff member Caroline Hartnett, I emailed copies of both my letter and opinion piece with this appeal to her to be forwarded to him. The text of this appeal now follows.
Dear Mr Lavelle,
I write concerning the coverage by The Age in recent months of the issue of indigenous constitutional recognition, including a 'voice to Parliament' and a treaty. I feel that this has been very one-sided. In a matter that may lead to a referendum, I suggest that The Age should give publicity to both sides of an issue, including that opposed to its own.
I note in particular the following editorials: 'Closing the Gap can be realised' (Sunday Age), 11 Feb 2018; 'Indigenous "Voice" an idea worth revisiting', 14 Feb 2018; 'Nation ripe for talks on Indigenous Treaty', 15 June 2018.
I also note the following opinion pieces: 'Apology changed the nation' by Kevin Rudd, 10 Feb 2018; 'Such a sorry way to behave' by Waleed Aly, 16 February 2018; 'Turnbull's lost control' by Peter Hartcher, 17 Feb 2018; 'Whitefella dreaming' by Mark McKenna, 17 March 2018.
I think I am correct in saying that during that period The Age did not publish any opinion piece opposed to constitutional recognition, nor even any letter on that line. I myself sent one in vain on all occasions.
In general news reports and a few letters to the Editor have all favoured the campaign for constitutional recognition.
On 14 July The Age published an opinion piece by Stephanie Dowrick, 'Scandal at our nation's heart'. Please find attached copies of the letter in response I submitted to the Letters Editor and the opinion piece I submitted today to the Opinion editor.
I appeal to you to publish my opinion piece, or at least my letter.
As of 19 July I had received no response from Mr Lavelle, so I again emailed Caroline Hartnett as follows.
Can you please confirm that Mr Lavelle has seen the letter for him that I emailed to you on 16 July?
And can you explain to him that I will be most grateful if he can let me know how The Age views the matter I've raised?
No reply has come from Ms Hartnett (as of 24 July), presumably acting on instructions from Mr Lavelle.
Why has The Age become unwilling to give space to those opposed to ‘indigenous’ constitutional recognition and/or the signing of a treaty? One possibility is that it knows in its heart that such changes to our political order are fundamentally against the national interest and will never be passed by a referendum or approved by the federal parliament, if the electorate is properly informed.
And, if that is so, which is what this writer believes, the further question arises: why has the newspaper been doing what it can to prevent that adequacy of information from happening? Perhaps The Age has fallen victim to some kind of neo-Marxist and egalitarian prejudice and honestly believes that its restriction of discussion is ethically justified. In the past foolish idealists helped to bring in tyranny in France after 1789, Russia after 1917, China after 1949 and Zimbabwe after 1978. A more sinister possibility is that the newspaper is consciously in the service of political puppet-masters, those who through financial manipulation wield massive power behind the scenes, internationally as well as nationally, and who, it may be, wish for the fragmentation of our nation to make it the more easily subservient to their hoped for future one world government, for which the UNO is the prototype.
The bias of The Age in this matter seems to be clear beyond doubt. Anyone currently supporting in good faith ‘indigenous’ constitutional recognition and/or the signing of a treaty, should ask himself or herself why this is happening and re-think the situation carefully. There are other ways of bringing aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders genuinely in need without risking constitutional disaster. In particular, honouring the bogus ‘Aboriginal flag” should cease.
By contrast, The Australian, although it, too, is peculiarly fixated on achieving ‘indigenous’ constitutional change and regularly publishes huge opinion pieces for the campaign, allows some dissent in its letter pages and opinion articles. Its senior journalist Greg Sheridan, like Andrew Bolt in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, now firmly opposes such change. Two recent letters made valuable observations, the first being by Kate Ashmor in Caulfield, Victoria, who on 23-24 June wrote: ‘According to the Leader of the Victorian Greens, the Aboriginal clans are the sovereign first peoples of Victoria.
‘Sovereignty involves supreme power and self-government, without any external interference. Such concepts are untenable for diverse indigenous people in modern Australia. We cannot have multiple legal systems in the one land. All Australians must be subject to the same laws and the same government.
‘Accommodation can be made for some level of self-determination for the indigenous population but sovereignty must be off the table.’
Then on 28 June Frank Tully from Tenterfield, New South Wales, had this to add: ‘On Michael Kirby’s support for constitutional change enshrining an advisory body, it is not explained why such a body needs to be constitutionally embedded…
‘Aborigines have described changing the Constitution as a stepping stone to their goal of a separate state or states.
‘Once the Constitution has been changed, parliament can be ignored by separationists as their next move will be to take their case to the High Court where they are likely to get a more enthusiastic reception.
‘If the Australian people really do want separate citizenship based on racial ancestry to be thus enshrined, then they ought to be told that’s what they’ll be supporting when they agree to such changes in
One feels that The Age, too, should allow such warnings to appear in its pages. It would be good if it could explain its position publicly. At present its conduct looks less than admirable, to put it mildly. Whether deliberately or not, the newspaper seems to be facilitating a gigantic confidence trick on the majority of Australians.
Patriots are encouraged to consider showing this essay to people around them who have been misled by foolish idealists (there are notably many in church circles) and/or dangerous propagandists. Ask them why, if ‘indigenous’ constitutional recognition and/or the signing of a treaty is such a good idea, a major newspaper in favour of such is withholding from its readers the arguments against such action. As the time for a new federal election approaches, this has become one of the most burning issues in our national forums.
Red Over Black, Behind the Aboriginal Land Rights, by Geoff McDonald, Veritas, WA, 1982. [The author, a former communist trade union official, documents in authoritative detail ‘the long-range Communist strategy for the establishment of an Aboriginal republic under Communist control.’]
Land Rights and Birth Rights, by Peter B. English, Veritas, WA, 1985. [In his foreword the Honourable Charles Porter writes: ‘The writer hammers home the inexorable fact that today’s demands for Land Rights come largely from those with only a vestigial trace of Aborigine blood…
‘(This book) reveals that under tribal law all inheritance in lands, knowledge of rituals, ceremonies and sacred places was passed on only through a father and could never be handed down through a mother. Peter English… puts beyond question the absolute impossibility of today’s aboriginal activists having any right, or indeed capacity, to speak for Aborigines on the sacred site claims that appear with great facility wherever a mining proposition is nearing fruition.
‘The point is well made that under tribal law the Aborigines rejected the mixed bloods and denied them tribal participation. It is understandable then that placing all the Federal apparatus of control into the hands of mixed (and much diluted) bloods has deeply embittered the long-suffering full-blood Aborigines.’
The Break-up of Australia, The Real Agenda behind Aboriginal Recognition, by Keith Windschuttle, Quadrant Books, Balmain, New South Wales, 2016. [The author, whose research has exposed the falsity of much of the ‘Aboriginal history of suffering’ propounded by radicals, shows that ‘the goal of Aboriginal political activists today is to gain “sovereignty” and create a black state, equivalent to the existing states. Its territory, comprising all land defined as native title, will soon amount to more than 60% of the whole Australian continent.]
Indigenous Recognition’s Misguided Case, by Frank Salter, in Quadrant Magazine, December 2013, February 2014 and March 2014, Balmain, New South Wales. [A comprehensive rebuttal of the whole project]
Melbourne, 24th July 2018