The COVID pandemic was responsible for health problems including numerous deaths. In addition, it caused an enormous amount of damage to the economy and people’s lives.
So what did we learn and what would we do if we were faced with a similar pandemic? Borders, medical strategies? Reducing the damage AND??
My future wife and I became actively interested in Aborigines and Aboriginal policy when we were members of ABSCOL. At that time, ABSCOL was a University based society that raised money for Aboriginal university scholarships. (It also provided Aboriginal policy advice to the National University Students Association. – I chaired the committee that drafted the NUSA policy in 1964.)
Since then my wife and I spent about 20 yrs in places with substantial Aboriginal populations. In these places we spent more time than most mining town residents interacting with Aborigines.
This post looks at some of the things we thought we learned from our interactions with Aborigines and some alternatives for the future.
A few key dates:
1965: Charlie Perkins led a “freedom ride” that shocked a lot of Australians. Australians were not comfortable confronting things like Aboriginal kids not being allowed to use the Kempsey swimming pool.
1965: In the early 1960’s BHP negotiated a mining agreement that allowed BHP to mine some of the manganese ore deposits on Groote Eylandt. At the end of this process BHP agreed to a number of things including equal pay for Aboriginal workers and the payment of royalties. Radical stuff at the time.
1970’s: Davidson’s lived most of this decade on the Groote Eylandt Aboriginal reserve. (I worked for Groote Eylandt mining. My responsibilities included Aboriginal training at one stage.)
1976: Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALRA) is Australian federal government legislation that provides the basis upon which Aboriginal Australian people in the Northern Territory can claim rights to land based on traditional occupation.
1980’s to early 1990’s: Davidson’s lived most of this time at the Pilbara town of Newman. During this time a large fringe dwellers camp grew at Newman.
Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Is: Home of the Warndilyagwa people. This group consisted of a number of clans who all use Enindilyagwa as their primary language. (They could also speak a number of mainland languages as well as English.)
Makassan trepang gatherers had been visiting Groote for hundreds of years. The Groote people were used to dealing with strange outsiders and not given to being pushed around.
Traditional culture and laws have a significant influence on the decisions that the Warndilyagwa make. Some features of the culture can cause difficulty for strangers. For example, Aborigines think it is bad manners to say “no.” They deal with unwanted requests by saying “yes” and then not doing what was wanted.
We both learned a bit of Enindilyagwa. The language provides a good example of how languages develop to satisfy needs. (There were about 100 prepositions – It was important not to make mistakes about who was being talked about.)
My wife commented that: “After 8 yrs I would think I had things worked out. Then something would happen and they would do something completely different to what I expected.”
We were impressed with how the Warndilyagwa could make decisions and then make things happen.
Newman Fringe Dwellers Camp: During our stay in Newman a fringe dwellers camp grew next to Newman. My wife had some dealings with these Aborigines as a result of working for the Dept of community services and being editor of the local newspaper.
At that time the camp was used by Aborigines passing through, those who were there because of the booze and people trying to avoid tribal law punishments. (Since we left some improvements have been made but the fringe township is apparently being shut down and the people being moved into state housing.)
Newman was unusual because there were no living traditional owners because they were wiped out by the Hamersley mob. Since we left the Martu desert people have taken some responsibility for this land.
The Davidson’s have had not much to do with Aborigines since leaving Newman.
Conclusions: At the end of our time with Aborigines I concluded that:
1. It is the Aborigines and often only the Aborigines that can fix many Aboriginal problems.
2. My wish was that both individuals and communities have the freedom to choose what they want to do.
3. A lot of progress had been made since 1964. In 1964 I believe I knew all the Aborigines with university degrees – Both of them.
1. In 1964 Australia was following an assimilation policy which was similar to our migrant assimilation policy. The idea was that Aborigines/migrants should be helped to become part of the broader population. ABSCOL scholarships were about helping this process by demonstrating to both Aborigines and other Australians that Aborigines could do well in the broader society. Stan Grant suggested recently that Aborigines may be better of if they looked at how immigrants had succeeded in becoming a successful part of broader Australia.
2. Later on we talked about using an integration policy which aimed at bringing the Aboriginal community into the broader community. At first this was about getting the support of older Aborigines for the movement of younger Aborigines into the broader community. Over time both Aboriginal and immigration policies became more about encouraging multiculturalism rather than assimilation. (Benefits both societies.)
3. At the moment some Aborigines are talking more and more about Aborigines becoming a nation that deals through its leaders with the government and is recognised in the constitution. This may go further to the next logical step where the constitution and the Australian government are ignored.
4. Jailing, treatment in jails, defacto differences in how the justice system treats Aborigines and other Australians are topics that also need discussion.
Conversation Starter: Stan Grant wrote this interesting article on future relationships with China: “Despite what Joe Biden says, we’re not approaching a Cold War. China is not the Soviet Union, for one thing” The guts of his message is that: “China learnt well from Western powers. It has embraced multilateralism and global norms. The international order has underwritten China’s rise. Xi Jinping himself has presented China as a champion of globalization and multilateralism at the very time when America under Donald Trump was withdrawing from it.
The Rand Corporation think tank pointed out in a study in 2018 that there is nothing straightforward about China’s role in the world. China’s engagement with the global order, it says, is a “complex and contradictory work in progress. China sees “multilateral institutions as important, if not essential, for the achievement of its interests”.
This post provides a starting point for a conversation about dealing with China.
In the past I have been a player of both chess and Go. So I was interested when Stan said: “If the West sees global politics as a chess game, the Chinese see it as Wei-Qi, or Go. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger summed it up: “If chess is about the decisive battle, Wei-Qi is about the protracted campaign.
China wants to wear us down. As the rules of Wei-Qi point out, it is about “breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”. This concept is known as shi — creating a strategic advantage. Why would China overthrow an order when it can successfully work within it?”
Key points about chess: Chess uses a variety of pieces that are allowed to make different moves. The game starts with all the pieces on the board in the position prescribed by the rules. The players take turns at moving one piece with enemy pieces being “killed” when an opponent moves a piece to the place where an enemy piece is sitting. The game is won when the winner “kills” the opposing king.
WWI was something like a game of chess with the opponents in contact grinding each other down. The aim was to crush the enemy or convince them that they would be destroyed if they did not surrender.
Key points about Go: One of the players starts with black pebbles, the other white. At the start of the game there are no pebbles on the board. The players take turns to place pebbles on the board. Pebbles are not moved once placed. Pebbles/groups of pebbles are lost and removed from the board when they are surrounded in a particular way by enemy pebbles. The game is won by controlling most of the board. In many cases the final killing off of a group of pebbles is deferred while other groups of pebbles are attacked.
At the start of games it is common for players to start by spreading their pebbles over the board instead of getting into direct conflict. Once these direct conflicts start players may increase their chance of winning direct conflicts by linking with pebbles located somewhere else on the board.
Signs of Go influencing Chinese strategies? Think Chinese:
• Investment and loans to Pacific Islands and other countries that increase Chinese influence?
• China’s belt and road initiative?
• Buying or setting up business in other countries that depend on sales to China and/or parts etc. produced in China.
Trying to get back to climate +
Brian and I have agreed to try running some posts as short conversation starters instead of the much longer posts we have both produced in the past.
This conversation post was prompted by “The climate change panic button is coming” by Allan Kohler. It looks at climate change from a financial risk perspective, in particular how the rising number and size of climate change disasters is making is making it harder and harder for the insurance industry to the point where more and more insurance will become unaffordable. Banks will not lend money to projects that cannot be insured.
This post asks you to discuss what might be done to avoid or survive a future of shrinking insurance, shrinking loans and a deteriorating environment.
It is suggested that you read the Kohler article before commenting. Continue reading TIME TO PANIC ON CLIMATE ACTION →
Too many Australians are struggling to find secure, affordable accommodation in places where they need/want to live. This can be true for those seeking to own a house of their own as well as those seeking rental accommodation.
This post focuses on affordable home ownership. (It does not include apartments. I have negligible experience with apartments.) Continue reading Affordable Home Ownership →
In 2016 56% of Greater Brisbane travel to work was in a driver only vehicle. This suggests that short, narrow track (SNT) vehicles designed to carry only one or two people have the potential to reduce commute parking space requirements, congestion and transport energy consumption. (Short means short enough to angle park in a road that requires parallel parking for normal cars. Narrow means one passenger wide vehicles narrow enough to safely travel two abreast in a normal traffic lane.)
This post looks at what the maximum size of an SNT vehicle could be while still satisfying the above requirements. It also attempts to quantify some of the potential benefits. It was concluded that:
- The maximum size would be about 1.1×2.4m. This should be long enough to carry at least two adults with the passenger(s) behind the driver.
- 1.1m width is more than the width required to fit one person. This suggests that minimum width would be determined by stability considerations. (Electric SNT’s should have low centres of gravity because the batteries would be under the floor and motors at wheel level. Some SNT proposals have also had tilting cabins.
- In the short term, when only a few SNT’s would be on the road, SNT vehicles will deliver dramatic reductions in parking space and garaging requirements and small increases in road capacity. In the longer term, road capacity would be increased as more and more SNT’s actually travel two abreast in a single lane. (More than doubled if all wide cars were replaced by SNT’s.)
Continue reading Short, Narrow Track Vehicle Calcs →
Tim Colebatch wrote an interesting article “There is an Alternative to Lockdowns” for Inside Story. The article compares the performance of various countries in their handling of the corona virus pandemic. Tim’s assessment is that the outstanding performer has been Taiwan. It has been the world’s most successful country in fighting the virus. In a land with almost as many people as Australia, only six people have died, and 426 have been infected. This has been achieved without the economic and social collateral damage that has been a feature of the Australian approach.
This post looks at what Tim has reported and asks whether Australia should change the way it is dealing with the epidemic. Continue reading WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TAIWAN COV19 →
Australia has had a history of bushfires stretching back long before the English invasion. There seems to be little doubt that the fire related activities of Aborigines have had a substantial effect on local ecologies and the species that have survived and gone extinct.
This post consists of a number of fire related statements written as a prod to discussion. Continue reading SOME STATEMENTS ON 2019 AUSTRALIAN FIRES →
WHERE HAS THE MONEY GONE?
Productivity has grown enormously since I started work. In addition, participation of women in the workforce has also risen dramatically. In theory, these changes should have resulted in families being much better off financially assuming a reasonable share of the benefits of both these changes were shared with families.
Problem is that too many families with both parents working claim to be struggling financially as well as being stressed by the pressures associated from having both parents working long hours. Which begs the question: What has happened to all the extra money generated by the increases in productivity and working hours per family?
This post asks “where has all the money gone?” with particular reference to affordable accommodation.
Continue reading WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE? →
Don Watson’s article in The Monthly poses a powerful message to all of us seeking the radical changes needed to give the world a future. The target was Labor supporters but the message is equally important to the Greens and other progressive parties. In a sense the article supplements Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN with its memorable bottom line of: “We are in the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” (Given that the human plague has grown by over 22% (1.5 billion) since she was born and 3 times since 1950 perhaps she should have added eternal population growth to the fairy tales that require urgent action.)
The future desperately needs leadership that can inspire us to support the action required to minimize the damage being done by the human plague in a way that doesn’t make the people at the bottom of the pile even worse off than they are now.
Don Watson’s article was about the importance of speech writers like Labor’s Graham Freudenberg who have a clear vision on policy and ideas combined with the skills to turn these things into memorable, stirring speeches like Gough’s “It’s Time” speech.
Earth Overshoot Day occurred on Monday 29 July this year. It is the calculated illustrative calendar date on which humanity’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year.
We went to a local church to ring the church bell in alarm and sorrow that this day had occurred so early this year.
The ringing of the bell made me wonder how long it will take before there is no sickness or sorrow because there is no-one left to be sick or sorrowful.
The ringing made me wonder how long it will take before there is no joy because there is no-one left who can feel joy.
In my darkest moment I wondered whether the last human to die has already been born.