[csaa-forum] Peter Botsman on indigenous issues

Stephen Muecke Stephen.Muecke at uts.edu.au
Mon Jul 9 09:37:18 CST 2007

Another opinion


Go Left Failure, Go Right Destruction: The Price of the National 
Indigenous Leadership Group’s Unwillingness to Lead
Peter Botsman
9 July 2007 (keywords: Noel Pearson; Marcia Langton; John Howard; Paul 
Keating; Child Abuse; Conservative politics; Labor Politics;)

John Howard is dividing and ruling the leadership of Indigenous 
Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton are correct to say that the left have 
failed Aboriginal Australia in our era. The point of their criticism is 
salient. No Indigenous person can afford to wait for Labor to come into 
office thinking that suddenly solutions will all fall into place.
There are a number of major points in the Left’s failure that we can 
The first failure was the failure of nerve of the Hawke Labor 
government in 1983. The Labor platform at the time was “to grant land 
rights and compensation to Aboriginal and Islander communities using 
the principles and recommendations of the Aboriginal Land Rights 
Commission (Woodward Report)” as the basis for legislation, subject to 
continuing review”. As Tim Rowse and Murray Goot have recently shown in 
their book Divided Nation the climb down from this principled position 
was dramatic and premised upon a fallacious concept of what “middle 
Australia” thought. Whereas opinion polls were contradictory and seemed 
to point to an unresolved, uninterested state of mind, in quick time 
ideologists began to talk about a “middle Australian” backlash against 
land rights. Bob Hawke and Clyde Holding did battle with an imaginary 
foe created by Australian Nationwide Opinion Polls (ANOP) that left any 
firm land rights agenda all at sea. Ultimately it was a legal struggle 
fuelled by saltwater (Eddie Mabo) and silk (Ron Castan) , rather than a 
political struggle, that forced land rights back on to the agenda and 
allowed Paul J. Keating to show some spine and backbone.
A similar failure of nerve meant that one of the better Indigenous 
Affairs Ministers’ Gerry Hand was forced by his colleagues, in their 
unwillingness to face down the Liberal and National Party, to adopt a 
bastardized version of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 
Commission representative structure he had devised after traveling the 
country in the most thorough consultation of Indigenous Australians 
ever undertaken.
For more click on this link: 
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