The invaders hide behind their own lies and greed

Peter FitzSimons Opinion Sydney Morning herald July 3rd, 2011

Just say that next week, a flotilla came into Sydney Harbour with people and weaponry so powerful that we were powerless to resist their intent to occupy our land, and they did not even begin to recognise our ownership of it. Just say that within a few years we had been all but wiped out, with the survivors pushed to the outer regions. Here is the question, requiring an intellectually honest answer. Would that be characterised as "an invasion", or not? We, surely, all know the answer, however uncomfortably that answer might sit.

So what was all the recent outcry over Sydney City Council deciding to rename the landing of Captain Phillip and his men in Sydney Cove in 1788 for what it was? If the word "invasion" is to have any meaning, then of course it has to apply to what happened. It does not mean, as all the predictable attackers have it, that all those who believe this should head to Sydney Airport so as to "uninvade" this land. It means that by simply acknowledging the truth of the past, we've some chance of healing the wounds and ensuring a harmonious future. And of course "invasion" is a very ugly and emotional word, likely to offend many. I dare say it was pretty ugly and emotional for the Aborigines at the time, too. But bravo to Councillor Marcelle Hoff, who said: "It's intellectually dishonest to not use words that offend some people."

Invasion or arrival?

Nick Bryant BBC News 23rd August 2011

Were the first white settlers to Australia new "arrivals" or "invaders"? How should white settlement be characterised in the wording of the Australian constitution? The question has been raised after Sydney City Council decided to change the preamble in its corporate plan to describe the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 as an "invasion" and "illegal colonization". It replaced the phrase "European arrival".

For many of the councillors, the issue was clear-cut. They thought it was simply historically dishonest to go on describing white settlement as anything other than an invasion, given that Australia was already home to the world's longest continuous living culture and that Aborigines were conquered and slaughtered by the British. After all, the first settlers routinely used words like "invasion," "warfare" and "enemies" when they spoke of the indigenous population.

Peter Fitzsimons, one of Australia's most read popular historians, has applauded the move. "Just say that next week, a flotilla came into Sydney Harbour with people and weaponry so powerful that we were powerless to resist their intent to occupy our land, and they did not even begin to recognise our ownership of it," he wrote recently. "Just say that within a few years we had been all but wiped out, with the survivors pushed to the outer regions. Here is the question, requiring an intellectually honest answer. Would that be characterised as 'an invasion', or not? We, surely, all know the answer, however uncomfortably that answer might sit."

Writing in The Guardian, the Australian journalist John Pilger also expressed his full support. He said the move "counters a cowardly movement of historical revision in which a collection of far-right politicians, journalists and minor academics claimed there was no invasion, no genocide, no stolen generations, no racism."
Others have condemned the move by Sydney Council. The Sydney councillor Phillip Black, noted: "Healing the past will not be achieved by alienating others." The New South Wales Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello said the term invasion was divisive and thus unhelpful. "Reconciliation and progress can only be built on language that unifies us, not language that divides us," he said. The historian Keith Windschuttle, who has long claimed that the violence of white settlement has been exaggerated and who has also railed against what's called "the black armband view of history" said the council's decision "fans hostility and hatred".

The Sydney Council decision, which has echoes of the row over whether Australia Day should commemorate British colonization, has opened up a new front in the ongoing culture wars in Australia. The arguments over history have always been some of the most angry and intense, especially when they touch upon the moment when what at that time was the world's most modern culture clashed with the most ancient.

The invasion of Australia - words uttered at last


Rihab Charida, Press TV, Sydney
includes comments by Paul Coe
Aboriginal Land Rights Activist

Australia's forbidden word has been uttered at last. And with it is comes a new Aboriginal articulacy

John Pilger guardian.co.uk 1st July 2011

The City of Sydney council has voted to replace the words "European arrival" in the official record with "invasion". The deputy lord mayor, Marcelle Hoff, says it is intellectually dishonest to use any other word to describe how Aboriginal Australia was dispossessed by the British. "We were invaded," said Paul Morris, an Aboriginal adviser to the council. "It is the truth and shouldn't be watered down. We wouldn't expect Jewish people to accept a watered-down version of the Holocaust, so why should we?

In 2008, the then prime minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised to Aborigines wrenched from their families as children under a policy inspired by the crypto-fascist theories of eugenics. White Australia was said to be coming to terms with its rapacious past, and present. Was it? The Rudd government, noted a Sydney Morning Herald editorial at the time, "has moved quickly to clear away this piece of political wreckage in a way that responds to some of its supporters' emotional needs, yet it changes nothing. It is a shrewd manoeuvre."

The City of Sydney ruling is a very different gesture – different, and admirable; for it reflects not a liberal and limited "sorry campaign", seeking feel-good "reconciliation" rather than justice, but counters a cowardly movement of historical revision in which a collection of far-right politicians, journalists and minor academics claimed there was no invasion, no genocide, no stolen generations, no racism.

The platform for these holocaust deniers is the Murdoch press, which has long run its own insidious campaign against the indigenous population, presenting them as victims of each other or as noble savages requiring firm direction: the eugenicists' view. Favoured black "leaders" who tell the white elite what it wants to hear while blaming their own people for their poverty provide a PC cover for a racism that often shocks foreign visitors. Today the first Australians have one of the shortest life expectancies in the world and are incarcerated at five times the rate of black people in apartheid South Africa. Go to the outback and see the children blinded by trachoma, a biblical disease, entirely preventable. The Aboriginal people are both Australia's secret and this otherwise derivative society's most amazing distinction.

In its landmark rejection of historical propaganda, Sydney recognises black Australia's "cultural endurance" and, without saying so directly, a growing resistance to an outrage known as "the intervention". In 2007, John Howard sent the army into Aboriginal Australia to "protect the children" who, said his minister, were being abused in "unthinkable numbers". It is striking how Australia's incestuous political and media elite so often rounds on the tiny black minority with all the fervour of the guilty, unaware perhaps that the national mythology remains culpably damaged while a nationhood, once stolen, is not returned to the original inhabitants.

Journalists accepted the Howard government's reason for "intervening" and went hunting for the lurid. One national TV programme used an "anonymous youth worker" to allege "sex slavery" rings among the Mutitjulu people. He was later exposed as a federal government official. Of 7,433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, just four were identified as possible cases of abuse. There were no "unthinkable numbers". The rate was around that of white child abuse. The difference was that no soldiers invaded the beachside suburbs; no white parents were swept aside, their wages diminished and welfare "quarantined". It was all a mighty charade, but with serious purpose.

The Labor governments that followed Howard have reinforced the new controlling powers over black homelands, the strict Julia Gillard especially – she who lectures her compatriots on the virtues of colonial wars that "make us who we are today" and imprisons refugees from those wars indefinitely, including children, on an offshore island not deemed to be Australia, which it is.

In the Northern Territory, the Gillard government is in effect driving Aboriginal communities into apartheid areas where they will be "economically viable". The unspoken reason is that the Northern Territory is the only part of Australia where Aborigines have comprehensive land rights; and here lie some of the world's biggest deposits of uranium, and other minerals.

The most powerful political force in Australia is the multibillion-dollar mining industry. Canberra wants to mine and sell, and those bloody blackfellas are in the way again. But this time they are organised, articulate, militant. They know it is a second invasion. Having finally uttered the forbidden word, white Australians should stand with them.