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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Big Aboriginal flag flown at Jabiluka 1998 appears in Marrickville today
Mood:  happy
Topic: indigenous

Dynamo Dave was an enthusiastic supporter of Tradtional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 1998 in the Northern Territory.

Sadly Dave died of cancer in 2006 here in Sydney. Out of his belongings this historic activist flag was rescued and can be flown today to celebrate the national event of sorry day in Federal Parliament.

We noticed all of SBS, ABC2, 7, 9, 10 carried the live feed. How unusual to see the only dedicated community tv channel so badly under resourced on TVS31 being forced to carry nursing home exercise routine - not that there is anything wrong with that.

ABC 702 radio carried the broadcast and unlike the chamber microphones picked up the crowd in the main hall slow hand clap of Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson. Ouch. PM Rudd looked disconcerted, and Nelson himself looked in real pain at the end of his generally sympathetic speech - trapped by dinosaurs in his own ranks. Jon Faine with the narration for the ABC made it clear later what the noise was.

Here's a Big Media sample:

Kevin Rudd says sorry

Prime Minister apologises to stolen generations.

In all this emotion we notice the astute and jealous politics of the ALP to own the reconciliation agenda. Whether this is all virtue or self interest we are still pondering. ABC's Chris Uhlmann in the Canberra press gallery also noted the role of calculating wedge in his comments to Tony Jones on ABC TV. Seven's Mark Riley and Ch9 nightly news coverage note some Rudd staffers played to the crowd reaction against harsh aspects of Nelson's speech, rather than keep a bipartisan neutrality.

Highlights for SAM micro web news included the pride and enjoyment of academic Jackie Huggins, and the softer side of very tough minded Marcia Langton on 7.30 last night. Fred Chaney, ex Coalition MP was beaut too. The dead straight to camera apology of PM Rudd with not a blink or quaver. The reference to St Paul which we wrote only recently in our traverse of Brideshead Revisted about action with love over loud words otherwise it's merely a 'clanging gong'.  And even the nerves of Opposition leader Nelson showed how very serious this matter was.

Tragically the Coalition party were vulnerable to this wedge for a long term history of lost opportunity to embrace an ancient and impressive culture though obviously people like former MP Fred Chaney, and ex PM Malcolm Fraser, from that side of politics are absolute champions for cross cultural understanding. We get the impression these two at least are regularly welcomed in fellowship by their Indigenous compatriots. It just goes to show it doesn't have to be that way.

We got the feeling Nelson's spirit was willing and humbled by the event but ambition for his side of politics as traditional land barons got the better of him.

Many years ago we had an appointment in Canberra but by night we had no where to go and no budget either. We crept into the Aboriginal Tent Embassy ready to grovel but it was otherwise deserted. Our boldness came from having visited there with Winiata, and Paul Ferguson, Aboriginal blokes at the Croobyar forest protest on the NSW South Coast in '94. Steve Lalor was our Aboriginal Liasion colleague at The Wilderness Society back then. And then there is young Jimari in our guidance for about a year later in the 90ies.

The moving conversations with elder Guboo Ted Thomas of the NSW South Coast. Meeting Yvonne Margarula at Jabiru courthouse, and her stalwart defender Jacqui Katona both in Sydney.

The rascally kids out at Mootwingee sharing a kick of the footy. The dignified elders down from Cape York. Monkey Mark local rap artist.

Eddie Mabo in our honours law degree thesis in 1989, who changed our jurisprudence.

This is their day for a fair go in their own country.

Postscript #1 14 February 2008

 We took some time to trawl the active comment threads on crikey.com.au not least the absence from the ritual of John Howard, machine man par excellence whose divisive ways finally exhausted Nov 24 federal election 2007. He still has proxies there in the parliament too.

We came across this major reversal Howard suffered early in his prime ministership which we are proud to have helped in our small way:

While we are in cynical mode another thought about ALP virtue overlap with self interest - the northern and western half of the country needs as many willing workers in the booming resources sector as they can train up and get. And there is good precedent for this in the cotton sector in NSW:

7.30 Report - 08/01/2007: Aboriginal Employment Strategy gives ...

Rudd's wife is a very rich re-employment expert. It all seems to add up economically speaking. It does make us wonder this motive of the Howard 'Intervention' in 2007 ongoing also. That Marcia Langton for one says must remain 'hard edged' (as per 7.30 above).

Only the profound morality of the occasion even managed to overwhelm these grasping realities. As we wrote on crikey.com.au threads paraphrasing the literary giant de Lampedusa in The Leopard  'history is often  lost in the retelling, with all the different perspectives and adaptation to the times'. We feel like this is one of those times so big it's nearly impossible to perceive it all. Maybe like God herself. Very emotional.

Posted by editor at 3:15 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008 7:13 AM EADT

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