Poetry Sunday 30 June 2013

A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
English 19th Century poet, Jesuit, and parish  priest to Felix, the blacksmith.

Felix Randall the farrier, O he is dead then?  My duty all ended,
Who have watched his mould of man, big boned and hardy handsome
Pining, pining, til time when reason rambled in it and some fatal four disorders
Fleshed there, all contended?

Sickness broke him, impatient he cursed at first, but mended [tolerated]
Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some
Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom [Confession, Communion, etc]
Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended.

This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears
My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears
Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randall;

How far from forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers,
Did fettle for the great grey drayhorse, his bright and battering sandal!


What a splendid, valedictory poem,  what a glorious send off. 

I have included in brackets [ ] a couple of notes which might make  comprehension easier. Hopkins is Randall’s  confessor and notes how the dying blacksmith appears greatly comforted by both his presence and the fact that he has confessed and received the sacraments.  And Hopkins obviously loves him.

‘Thy tears that touched my heart…’  How can you not be moved by Hopkin’s care, both as a man and as a priest?

MDFF 29 June 2013 Justica Part 1

(This is the first part of the Dispatch on the vagaries of Justice of 15 Sep 2011)

¿Que tal amigos?

When I was attending primary school in Argentina, ‘Justicialismo’ was a compulsory subject.  It had very little to do with ‘Justicia’ and everything to do with ‘Dogma’, Peronist Dogma that is.

I’m quite happy to have lived without being subjected to Peronist Dogma.  I’m eternally grateful to Señor Isasmendi , my teacher, for having given me the opportunity to do so, by refusing to teach it.

To fill the void left by the dismantling of bilingual education, Yuendumu School holds a ‘culture day’ once a fortnight.  Older Warlpiri people come to the school to tell Jukurrpa stories and to teach children how to make artefacts.  Whilst the idea to subject these Warlpiri teachers to compulsory police checks required for anyone ‘working with children’ was quietly dropped, a form none the less has to be filled in for these people to get paid.  Napaljarri was asked her birth-date: “ No birthday, lawa, no birthday” she replied.  There is no Warlpiri word for ‘birthday’.

Older Warlpiri people can take you to the tree they were born under, if it’s still there, not to mention the place where they first ‘quickened’ in their mother’s womb.

During the last decade a trend has emerged whereby young Warlpiri parents hold lavish birthday parties for their babies and toddlers.


Thus societies change, without the need for anyone to force change.  Self appointed arrogant enforcers of change don’t realise how superfluous and counter-productive their efforts are.  Warlpiri people are too polite to tell them how obnoxious they are. White people are much more inclined to tell them to f*ck off.

Once a month Court is held in Yuendumu.  One or two days.  Overworked lawyers (defence and prosecution) descend on Yuendumu.  The court list for 16th. August listed 57 matters involving 48 defendants (28 male, 20 female) and 134 charges.  Fight/violence related charges numbered 50 (20 male, 30 female), the most common being: “Armed with an offensive weapon”, “Going armed in public”.

Before you start envisioning Baghdad or Tripoli street scenes, I should point out that the Yuendumu weapon of choice (especially for women) is a kuturu (“nulla-nulla”) or mulga wood stick.

Whilst over the last few decades some serious injuries have been sustained from contact with a kuturu it is fair to say that usually a kuturu is used for symbolic/ritualistic effect, a bit like the Maori Haka.


I can’t think of a single dispute in which a rifle or pistol was used, even if in the past many rifles were held in Yuendumu.  In this regard Yuendumu is safer than the streets of Melbourne.

I don’t believe that there has ever been an RPG at Yuendumu, neither one of those oddly named IEDs.

There were also 50 motor vehicle related charges (60% male) plus 11 involving alcohol (55% male).  By far the most common charges:  Drive Motor Vehicle while unlicenced and Drive Motor Vehicle while Disqualified.

Only 15% of defendants (5 men, 2 women) were charged with alcohol related offences. All of the alcohol related charges were for motor vehicle offences (none for violence related charges)

Not a pretty picture I grant you.  Yuendumu is a nest of criminals.

But are we a dysfunctional community of perverts and violent men bashing their wives and abusing their children under the influence of rivers of grog?  Look at the numbers and draw your own conclusions.

Cockburn on Paris Metro

Le Transportation Publique Francais…… Une observation…

Dear Readers, it may cause some interest to know that Quentin Cockburn has recently been commissioned by the State Government of Victoria, (Better Cities 2020) to  investigate the public transport system in Paris.  His account is as follows.

In Saint Germain, amidst the Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Aston Martins and Ferraris, a mixture of Parisian plutocracy and outsiders establish the highly visible “street-life”.  We amused ourselves in identifying who amongst them may be; Russian oligarchs, Chinese nouveaux riches, crisply dressed, (but daggy) Americans, and the service retinue, of waiters, porters, and top hatted concierges.

Amidst it all, recumbent in a beautifully designed glass and aluminium phone booth lived a gypsy family.  She may have been twenty five, (or sixty?), her sleeping son, (barely visible) was enclosed within a swirl of dirty sleeping bags, plastic sheeting and odd clothes.  A debris trail of plastic bags spilled out from the concrete base to define a territory of sorts.  People walked by, designer boots and handbags, manicured hands, the twinkling of Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Longines.

At the station, we watched as another gypsy, (could’ve been thirty or ninety), approached the automatic door, a cross between a sheep race and a cattle crush and expertly squeezed herself between the steel louvres.  She emerged, and with practised hands leaned over and pulled bags, child and dog out.  Along the subway others, sitting, a paper cup in hand, more rags and blankets implore donations.  In Rue St Michel, the same bloke as yesterday, a tired Alsatian his constant companion sat right in the middle of the street.  He was there every day, fixed as street furniture.  No one seemed to notice, nor care.  It’s the inconsequential universality of poverty, and perhaps like “back home” the special niche occupied by our homeless, the mentally unstable, the outcasts, the misfits.

But there was something else, (and this fascinates me), an acceptance of, or resignation to “humanity”.  There was no sense of these people being ‘pushed on’, being ‘re-located’ to an outer suburb where they could ‘normalise’.  No requirement to ‘lift’ them to another place.  Perhaps they were ‘non-citizens’, like us, just passing through?  Each one seemed to be more or less permanent, in a niche of sorts.

Perhaps it has something to do with the transport system.  You see, you can get on at any station, and buy a full fare ticket to anywhere within their zone one, (it’s a really big zone) and it’ll cost you about $2.30.  The trains are fast and very regular.  On board, you will be entertained by another sub culture, the musicians, the pen sellers, the poets the orators.  The trains are moving performance spaces devoted to the impromptu and the moment.  They may be crowded, intensely functional and claustrophobic but they enshrine one basic principle, the dignity of humans, and the unprescribed “manners” that allow people of disparate backgrounds to get along.  I wondered about this cast of thousands, the performers, the outcasts and the public, and reflected upon two things.  I think, this (like London) is a city ‘in touch’ with itself.  It is urbane.  It lacks a basic suburban insecurity.  Difference is just another backdrop, and within it all dignity is enshrined with, (even amongst the most destitute) a measure of respect.

In Melbourne, on trams and trains the loudspeakers enforce an Orwellian reality of the black clad, public transport, ‘Gestapo’.  The grimly named, PSO’s.  The insane, destitute and misfits, do not belong.  The PSO are angry and loud.

It’s a system designed to punish the user, and establish that users are lesser beings.  And just to ensure that public manners engage fear rather than dignity, we have a ticketing system which is largely obtuse, onerous, and designed by bureaucrats, for politicians who don’t use public transport.

What is the social cost?  It may not be $2.30.  More likely $1.5 billion and counting.

6 Years of Intervention Part 2.

We passively complicit Australians are now into the 7th year of the shameful Intervention, or “Stronger Futures” as the racist program is now called.  We reprint the second part of a ‘concerned Australians’ report here.   Access their site here   (Their moto: withut Justice there can be no reconciliation.) 

The sudden and brutal upheaval of the Intervention and the manner in which it was perpetrated left people in a state of helplessness.  It was the unpredictability of their environment which left them bereft of any natural coping skills.  They had lost all ability to predict what might happen next.  Anxiety levels were high and distress dominated.  The demands were so relentless that any chance of adapting behaviours to deal with new circumstances was overtaken by new waves of oppressive change.yoonda 2 068-1

Those elements central to Aboriginal culture were all under attack – language, law and land.  Federal and Territory governments joined in their assault.  Bilingual learning programmes were banned from schools.  The exclusion of any consideration of Aboriginal customary law by judges and magistrates when deliberating on bail and sentencing, was clearly discriminatory.  It degraded and devalued Aboriginal culture, and again there seemed to be a determined disrespect for the culture itself.  A fear of dispossession was reinforced by the 2006 amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act whereby control over community township lands were transferred from Aboriginal Land Councils to a Government statutory body.  Without discussion, it opened up the possibility for sub-leases on community owned land.  Further reinforced was the declared intention of emptying the homeland areas through a Memorandum of Agreement between Federal and Territory governments that no new housing would appear on homelands or outstations (September 2007).  The changes added to the sense of overwhelming fear and uncertainty.  As Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Elder from Utopia, said, “take away from me my language, take away from me my responsibilities for the land, take away from me my land, and I am nothing”.  This then was the impact of the Intervention.

During a visit to Melbourne last year, Rosalie spoke about the trauma her people live with.  She talked about their loss of security.  It is inevitable that a large percentage of Aboriginal people who have lived through the extraordinary turmoil of the last six years in the Territory have been traumatised by their experiences.  That loss of security results from long periods of being overwhelmed by a sense of fear, a sense of being constantly in danger and always on the alert.  This denies a person any real sense of relaxation.  Being constantly agitated impacts on relationships and ability to trust.  Stress levels are high.  Others suffer by the constant intrusions of feelings of panic and anxiety over which they have no control.  A general loss of self-esteem easily deteriorates into depression and despair.

It is known that the emotional development of children who have been exposed to constant stress and trauma is often affected.  Adolescents may have difficulty expressing their emotion and have difficulty relating to others.  For the reasons already discussed, it can affect their concentration, their retention of information and their ability to learn.  Children are ever aware of the impact of trauma on those closest to them that threaten the fragile framework of care upon which they rely.

The deterioration of the psychological health of Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory has been screaming from the pages of every Closing the Gap report since their inception in 2009.  The reports have consistently shown rising rates of self-harm, domestic violence and incarceration.  The recorded incidence of attempted self-harm since the introduction of the Intervention has more than tripled.  According to the Australian Human Rights Commission the actual rate of youth suicide in the NT has increased by 160%.  Incidents of recorded domestic violence have doubled and Aboriginal incarceration under the Intervention has also virtually doubled, from 688 people in March 2007 to 1311 in 2013.

As Rosalie Kunoth-Monks pointed out in 2009, “Health is about being emotionally sound, mentally sound, knowing who you are as well as being physically fit”.  The notion of total despair was well described during the 2012 Senate Inquiry by Dr Djiniyini Gondarra who stated, “When our lives are being threatened and taken away, we just sit and do nothing.  I have already emphasised that people are dying, not just dying spiritually and emotionally but dying physically.  They cannot live for the day because their lives are controlled by somebody else.  They have given up hope: what is the use?”

Punitive measures designed in Canberra, ignore the cultural realities upon the ground.  As far as is possible, they simply ignore culture altogether and hope that by appealing to youth, the attractions of Western culture will overcome the call of repressed and ageing Elders. vAboriginal culture is simply a hindrance. It is dispensable.

So where is the reality?  Closing the Gap is based on the belief that if Aboriginal people live longer they will be better off?  Surely, the question has to be asked, if they live longer will they be happier? vAnd conversely can they live longer if they are not happy?  As we have seen from the above, there is little evidence of improvements to happiness.  In fact, the evidence shows the reverse.  We are, in fact, drowning in a constant collection of data in the hope of measuring increased well-being, but we are seemingly oblivious to the operational framework on the ground that increasingly removes control and reduces the chance of the very improvements we seek.

Over many years there have been numerous reports and enquiries that have focused on Aboriginal health improvements and recommendations have all but mirrored each other.  For instance, we know that for health to improve, people must have increased control over their life.  Why then has the Intervention been designed specifically to remove control from the people?  We know that stress causes incredible harm to a person’s physical and psychological health.  Why then has the Intervention been introduced without community consultation and in a manner which has been aimed at confusing, disorienting and undermining Aboriginal self-worth?  Why have Aboriginal lives been targeted by cruel and vicious innuendo?  Why has culture been all but ignored since it represents the meaning and value of Aboriginal existence?  By disempowerment and the very creation of trauma incredible harm has been done.

Yes, it should be clear to everyone that the Intervention was never designed with even the slightest consideration of improvement to Aboriginal health.  Nor was it designed around any aspect of Aboriginal advancement.  The stark reality is that its focus was to regain ultimate control over Northern Territory land and development.  What we have been watching since June 2007, with the support of both major parties, has been the imposition of coercive tactics aimed at removing peoples from their homelands and that is still the case.  Aboriginal people have lost their rights to consent and control over the very factors which directly affect their lives.  Their rights have been whittled away by changes to legislation and dishonest notions of consultation.  The right to self-determination has been high-jacked. vForced assimilation is currently seen by Government as the only way forward.

While many good people struggle to address the broad and negative impacts of the Northern Territory legislation by focusing on the need to improve the basic social determinants that surround the Intervention measures, there remains a certain reluctance to address the central issue of the right to Indigenous integrity.  This is the right of Indigenous peoples to determine a future for themselves, the right to their culture and the right to live on their land.  Integrity has to be the beginning point because without it there is nothing sustainable upon which to build.  Gough Whitlam knew this, and we do too.  It is important that we are not drawn into the illusion that there are intended links between the oppressive intentions of the Intervention and the genuine concerns for the future of Aboriginal peoples.

For Australia, the Intervention has simply been one more step backwards into the mire of dispossession and dishonesty.  So captivated have our leaders become by the lure of development and gain that delusion has convinced them that the benefits to Aboriginal people of such plunder will far outweigh the loss of control over their lives.  This perhaps is one of the fault lines to which Olga Havnen made reference in her oration as being in need of attention.  What would it take for a new government to find the courage to re-align itself with Aboriginal integrity, justice and equality?  Nelson Mandela advised of the need for a collective voice – that would include you and me.

Michele Harris ‘Concerned Australians’ http://www.concernedaustralians.com.au

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

6 Years of Intervention, Part 1.

We passively complicit Australians are now into the 7th year of the shameful Intervention, or “Stronger Futures” as the racist program is now called.  We reprint the first part of a ‘concerned Australians’ report here.  We publish the second part tomorrow.  Access their site here   (Their moto: withut Justice there can be no reconciliation.) 

Sixth Anniversary of the Northern Territory Intervention
‘concerned Australians’

Striking the Wrong Note

Aboriginal advocate Olga Havnen, in her Lowitja O’Donoghue oration, has asked a critical question. (For a report on this speech see here). She asks what has been the psychological impact of the Intervention on Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory.  It is surprising that so little attention has been given to this critical, yet in some ways tenuous, link before now.

Even before the Intervention began in June 2007, government had long planned a new approach to the ‘management’ of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.  It was no longer part of government thinking that self-determination and Aboriginal control over land could be allowed to continue.  These were the Whitlam notions of 1975 and they were no longer acceptable.

Early inklings of change occurred in 2004 with the management of grants being transferred from communities to Government’s newly established Indigenous Co-ordination Centres.  More ominous were the Amendments of 2006 to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the memoranda of agreements that followed.  Government had made it clear that it wished to re-engage itself more directly in the control of community land through leasing options as well as to open up Aboriginal land for development and mining purposes.

The plan was to empty the homelands, and this has not changed.  However, it was recognised that achieving this would be politically fraught – it would need to be accomplished in a manner that would not off-side mainstream Australia.  Removing Aboriginal people from their land and taking control over their communities would need to be presented in a way that Australians would believe it to be to Aboriginal advantage, whatever the tactics.yoonda 013

So began the campaign to discredit the people and to publicly stigmatise Aboriginal men of the Northern Territory.  It would be the Minister himself who would take centre stage.  It seemed that all Aboriginal men were engaged in paedophilia.  The Minister readily gave television and radio interviews and declared that he knew there were paedophile rings in every Aboriginal community.  Viewers were asked during their evening news broadcasts how they felt about Aboriginal children going to bed at night knowing that they were not safe.  This was a government Minister engaging in a sensationalist campaign aimed at demoralising Aboriginal men and was probably the lowest point in any Government behaviour ever seen in Australia’s political history.  When challenged by the NT Chief Minister to name the people involved the situation deteriorated further.  With the collusion of the ABC, a senior executive service bureaucrat from the Minister’s own office posed as a youth worker from Mutitjulu, a place he had never visited, and collaborated with the Minister’s story.  There could have been nothing more sordid.  And even in 2009 when the CEO of the Australian Crime Commission, John Lawler, reported that his investigation had shown there were no organised paedophile rings operating in the NT, no formal apology was ever made to the Aboriginal men and their families who were brutally shamed by the false claims.  Beyond this the Australian system appeared to have no way by which it could confront the former Minister for the incredible harm done by his persistent inflammatory public statements which had given rise to negative stereotyping of an ethnic group.  The Minister had done his job.  The Australian people had been suitably shocked and the Intervention was seen as a necessary consequence.  Furthermore, Labor, that had seemingly feigned horror at the 2006 amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, would now eagerly provide bipartisan support.

What was the psychological impact of publicly shaming Aboriginal men for repulsive and unacceptable behaviours that they hadn’t engaged in?  It undermined their feelings of self-worth and marginalised them.  It was a direct attack on their identity.  The fact that they had no way of defending themselves simply led to a state of despair.  One’s sense of safety is bound uncompromisingly with a belief in justice.  When that belief collapses fear of the unknown takes over.

In many ways the Intervention in all its forms has been an attack on Aboriginal identity, and continues to be. Just as the focus on paedophile rings collectively impaled all Aboriginal men to gross and disgusting acts with innocent children who needed to be protected, so did the Intervention target all communities with tales of alcohol dependence, gambling, pornography use, inefficient management, money waste, poorly maintained homes, overcrowding and poor health.

Once again, negative stigmatising of the people was as one, promoting aspects of dysfunction without providing background or explanation of situations and ensuring the most sensationalised elements of disadvantage were promoted.  Measures imposed were not targeted at areas of need but were simply imposed on all as blanket measures.  The oppressive restrictions were imposed on communities irrespective of whether they were perceived to be well managed and achieving their goals or whether they were struggling and in need of help.  They were punished without distinction.  Their individual worth was of no consequence.  The intention of such measures had never been designed to assist in specific circumstances involving particular individuals or communities but as a means of taking back control from all.

People struggled to understand why they were being targeted, why they were being punished.  They were fearful for many reasons but most especially because of the manner in which the Army had been engaged in a display to ‘shock and awe’.  How could the so-called ‘Emergency Response’ be explained?  We know from stories at the time that many grabbed their children and ran to hide in the bush in the belief that once again their children would be removed from them.  Why was this cruel re-traumatising of so many allowed to happen?

Government claimed the ‘emergency’ was required to protect children from sexual abuse.  While very serious concerns regarding child sexual abuse had been raised through the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Report, the statistics showed its rate was far, far lower than in the state of New South Wales.  The complex legislation that had been prepared to implement the Northern Territory Emergency Response had commenced long before the release of the report and none of it was directly aimed at the protection of young children.

Re-traumatisation has done plenty of damage.  If ever there had been a growing sense of trust between Aboriginal people and the dominant race, it was blown away in 2007.  The trust was gone and the fear returned.  The very manner in which the Intervention was rolled out ensured greater confusion and disorientation, more like an act of counter-insurgence.  Normal channels of engagement and communication were ignored.  Elders became invisible; they were neither consulted nor invited to comment.  Government Business Managers were installed to take decisions in communities.  Responsibilities of Elders were removed from them.  Controls set up to keep many communities ‘dry’ were dismantled and responsibility for alcohol control transferred to Government.

Whether a person was in debt or held a weighty savings account, they were forced to receive half their welfare payment through a plastic card which could be used only at certain shops.  Capacity to financially manage money was irrelevant.  Card-holders were shamed by having to stand in a separate supermarket queue.

With the demise of CDEP, the Community Development Employment Projects, those who had been employed, often for many years, found themselves on unemployment benefits.  They watched on as Shire offices sent in contract workers to take over many of the tasks previously managed by the local workforce.  Community council offices were closed down and stripped of all equipment.  Bank accounts were frozen and responsibilities transferred from local community staff to those in Shire offices often many hundreds of kilometres away.  Community programmes, often designed and developed by local people, gradually ground to a halt.  Small communities were devastated.  The disempowerment was unimaginable and only served to exacerbate the aimless and bewildered movements away from the security of community land towards the urban centres that offered no guarantees of shelter or protection from the social dysfunction of those who were already lost.

And the question asked, what was the psychological impact on Aboriginal people?  Though little or no research has been conducted on the current situation, we do know enough from earlier studies to recognise that great psychological harm has resulted from the imposition of such targeted social oppression.

By Michele Harris for concerned Australians http://www.concernedaustralians.com.au
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.


Weekly Wrap 24 June 2013

This past week PCBYCP have touched on sexism, discrimination, racism, the tribulations of an aspiring writer, reports of our AGM and much more!
But first a word from Errol: “I crave the indulgence of my senses but this is countered by an interior desire that is even keener than my senses to know the meaning of things.” From My Wicked Wicked Ways, by Errol Flynn 1959.

BoltIt’s Julia Season!  Yes, finally we realised how passively complicit we have been in remaining silent when so many resort to sexist comment and lies.  We started the week with a satirical poem exploring the vitriol poured on our Prime Minister – here.  Then followed this up with a piece on discrimination in the schoolyard in the sixties – here.  
Our third piece was made up almost entirely of the Judge’s comments in a racial discrimination case that News Limited commentator Andrew Bolt lost.  That Bolt still regularly appears on our Public Broadcaster the ABC is strange.  Oh, I wont say more – read the piece here and glance at our image.

We changed tack completely on Thursday with another lucid piece from Ira Maine, modestly titled “The Great Work”.  Get to know Ira better by reading it here.

Jimmy WatsonFriday brought the piece we’ve been waiting for – a full and uncensored account of the Passive Complicity AGM.  Reading this piece (here) may bring you to the notice of ASIO or some other body that takes our security and privacy.    Seriously.  

This week’s Musical Dispatch From the Front illustrated more duplicity, stupidity and repression. “Several Dispatches ago I told you about the plane load of bureaucrats that landed on Yuendumu airstrip. The bureaucrats attended an unattended meeting….”  Read more here

“The Country Anywhere Race on Races”, a  poem by Lionel Fogarty wrapped up the week.  Here

Quentin has fled to France.  Perchance we will receive a missive from him in the very near future.


Cecil Poole



6 Years of Intervention!

Cockburn and Poole reprint with anger, sadness and embarrassment Barbara Shaw’s letter of protest at the impacts of the ongoing Intervention (NTER) now called (don’t laugh) “Stronger Futures”.   We have been requested to circulate this letter widely, so please help by sending it on.

The NT Intervention – Six Years On

By Barbara Shaw
Six years ago my family watched the TV in my living room as John Howard announced he would be sending in the military and taking control of our communities.  I have never been more frightened in my life.  I locked the gate of my town camp and kept the kids inside for two weeks for fear of them being taken.  I worried constantly about my family out bush who didn’t understand what was coming.  They said the Intervention was about stopping children from being abused, that it was going to stop the drinking and domestic violence. But all I have seen is racism and disempowerment of our people.  It’s the old assimilation policy back again, to control how we live.  The government and many non-Aboriginal NGOs have taken over the assets and responsibilities of our organisations, both in the major town centres and remote communities forcing us to comply with their policies that take no account of Aboriginal culture and our obligations.Take income management, which I have been on for five and a half years.  I ran for parliament in 2010 and outpolled both Labor and Liberal candidates in Central Australian communities.  I have represented my people at the United Nations.  But the Government says I can’t manage my money.  On their own estimations of $6000 to 8000 per person per year administrative cost for income management, the government has spent more than $30,000 dollars just to control my small income.This system has made it much harder for us to share and care for each other.  I used to run an unofficial safe house here at Mt Nancy town camp.  I’d get money off all the parents every week.  If there was drinking and fighting and the kids needed somewhere to be, they knew they were safe here at “Big Mamma’s” house and that I could buy meals for them. No one has the cash to chuck in any more.  The Government has refused to fund a community centre here on our town camp. The town camps of Alice Springs have seen a massive influx of people coming in from remote communities.  Taking away Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and Aboriginal Community Government Councils out bush means people have nothing to do there.  At the moment I have five families and four generations staying in my house, my little family and others from the bush, many trying to access services like respite care which should be available back in their home community.   We are one family in each room and another in the lounge room.   As always, I have given up my bed out of respect for older relatives. Many who come into town to access the services just stay here, or others come in just to drink.  I am witness on a daily basis to the increase in drinking and fighting on our camps that has come from this. MT CoffinIt makes me sick in my stomach when I hear Aboriginal MLA Bess Price attack me in Parliament as an anti-Intervention activist who does not care about the suffering of women and children.  I have to deal with these issues every day and I see them getting worse because of the policies she has supported.  The massive influx of her own constituents from bush communities that have been robbed of jobs and assets is a major driving factor. Bess Price promised on ABC radio after being elected to the Northern Territory Parliament last year that she would put back the Yuendumu community council.  Where is that promise now?   Her Country Liberal Government has made it clear they will not be bringing back the Councils.  Her Government has cut funding for our youth programs, has cut funding for domestic violence workers in NT Hospitals.   These are all things we have been campaigning for.   The $1 billion that has been budgeted since the Intervention for the income management system Bess Price supports — but has never had to live under — could fund the support and services that we actually need to deal with these issues. Many more police are employed now in Alice Springs, supposedly to deal with the social problems.  But the relationship with Aboriginal people has seriously broken down.   We live in fear of the police, always hearing stories about them bashing our relatives, or taking them 20km out of town so they have to walk back.  We are scared what happened to Kwementyaye Briscoe, who died last year after being taken into “protective custody” by the police. The Intervention gave police the power to enter our homes without a warrant to search for alcohol, along with “star-chamber” powers that treat us as terrorists.  I have heard that this week in a case brought by Palm Island residents, the High Court ruled that alcohol laws which target Aboriginal people are “special measures” under the Racial Discrimination Act because they are for our own good. Let me explain what this means for my life. Earlier this year there was a massive police raid here on my camp which they said was a “routine operation” to search for alcohol.  There were paddy wagons, squad cars, four wheel drives, a surveillance van and police officers on dirt bikes circling every yard, going in to search every house. I was shaking in my shoes.  I had many children in the house who are already scared of police and I didn’t want them coming through.  I was breaking the law that day.  I had three cans left over from a six pack of beer in the house.  I was worried I was going to be arrested and taken away with all these children in my house.  I gave it to the police and asked them not to come through because of the children.  But they said they had to.  They walked through making comments like they were a landlord doing an inspection, “this is a nice house, not like those other ones”. So many more of our people are going to prison.  There are twice as many people locked up now than before the Intervention and three times as many woman.  Close relatives of mine — men, women and teenagers are all currently in prison.  I’m giving support to my brother in law looking after a baby and young child while his wife is in prison. The house I live in is just one year younger than me.  My father fought for funding to build houses on our town camps.  We used to manage them ourselves before we were forced to sign over our leases to the Commonwealth government.  Now I am paying next to market rent to the NT Housing agency on a house I have lived in for much of my life. We have so many problems with NT Housing.  We used to get repairs and maintenance done through our Aboriginal council Tangentyere, but now we have to wait and wait for shoddy work from NT Housing.  We used to be able to have people making trouble on our town camp dealt with straight away through Tangentyere.  now we don’t have that power and can’t do anything about problem visitors. I sit at my front door and see Public Housing Officers, toy coppers who just cruise around our camps watching for trouble and calling the police.  It used to be our Night Patrol — our own people who would actually get out of the car, engage with us, try and solve problems where they could without police.  Our Night Patrol is still active, but are being pushed aside out of their role. Living under Territory Housing rules and regulations is not culturally appropriate.  For example, in Aboriginal society when somebody passes away, the family moves out of that house and another moves in.  We swap houses.  Or if a young fella comes out of ceremony camp, he has to stay in a house with other young men.  We can’t take our own initiatives to make these changes any more.  There is a real ignorance and a hostile mentality towards Aboriginal people within the NT Housing department. I have fought the Intervention from day one.  We built a massive amount of support from people and organisations right across Australia to try and stop the government from continuing the Intervention for another 10 years through the “Stronger Futures” laws.  But they refused to listen to us. I will keep fighting.  Self determination is the key to getting us out of the social problems that we face today.  It is the only way to do this.  It is just disgusting how much money has been wasted on bureaucrats to control us, or on ineffective non-Aboriginal services that can not engage with our people. Whether it’s in a remote community or here in a town camp — services must be delivered by our people.  We must be given the power and resources to take control.  We have the language, we have the communication, we can relate to one another.  And there must be proper funding to our organisations, on a scale that can actually help lift us out of shocking living conditions.  Not just peppercorn short term grants that set us up to fail. I want to appeal to all the supporters I know are out there to keep fighting alongside me. Income management is not just in my backyard, now it’s coming to yours.  Today, 21 June, there will be a press conference in Playford South Australia of a new coalition that has formed there to fight the expansion of income management into their community.  Tomorrow on 22 June there will be a rally in Bankstown in Sydney which is also facing income management. We are all staring down the barrel of a Tony Abbott government.  The Opposition Leader has said that income management should apply to all people on Centrelink across Australia.  I truly believe he will be even worse for Aboriginal people than John Howard.   I encourage everyone to vote for progressive parties other than the two major parties which have kept us under this Intervention. But most importantly we must continue to stand together and to struggle, to fight for Aboriginal self determination and to fight for jobs and services for all struggling communities — not the punishment of the Intervention. Black and White unite!
C & P would like to thank Paddy Gibson and  stoptheintervention.org for bringing this letter to our attention.


Poetry Sunday 23 July 2013


Racist are not children’s
Racist are not Mothers
Racist are not Fathers
Give unity peace a chance
Racism is a sick disease
As a place for Non humanity
Racism as no race in Australians
For the first race is the only race.
Racist are instil by cheaper cap chaps
And those that joke on slip mouth are drops of sin bad food bad bodies of all ages.
Racism owned up changes the pace off no space
As the ship code to learn.
The ray of the sun shines for all under on solar.
The earth equally birth human
Yet the world’s laws class those poor minds backwards,
When a racist sit with a first Australians proud
Of one race made a lace to lust we all comes from women’s
Lionel Fogarty

29 May 2013 Merton Vic time – in the morning,
by Lionel Fogarty


MDFF 22 June 2013 Men

This Musical Dispatch From the Front is edited from one first published 30 June 2012

Several Dispatches ago I told you about the plane load of bureaucrats that landed on Yuendumu airstrip. The bureaucrats attended an unattended meeting.
There’s a meetin’ here tonight…. http://youtu.be/-fECUAJ5H5M

 Last week I happened to be at Yuendumu airstrip when a charter plane landed which disgorged three passengers. I offered them a lift ‘into town’ that they gratefully accepted as ‘they’d made no arrangements’.

castlemaine gaol 101They had come to Yuendumu to inspect the Men’s Safe House.

At the beginning of the Intervention a contractor installed a converted shipping container as a ‘Men’s cooling-off place’. At the time I came to the conclusion that the ‘cooling-off place’ had been designed by the same architect that had designed Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay. The several strands of barbed-wire at the top of the chain-wire mesh fence, the padlocked chain on the gate and the spotlights surrounding the Spartan building are reminiscent of TV images I had seen during the time that David Hicks was receiving similar consular assistance from the Australian Government as Julian Assange is currently receiving.

I also found it hard to envisage Warlpiri men embracing the facility as a ‘cooling-off’ place.

The intervention had tens of these so called ‘cooling-off’ places installed throughout the NT. The contractor made a killing.

The perceived and implied need for these “cooling-off’ places is yet another way remote Aboriginal communities have been stigmatized.

No discussion or consultation with locals preceded the decision to install these facilities.


I drove the two men and the lady that had emerged from the plane to the padlocked ‘cooling-off’ place. I found out it had been renamed the ‘Men’s Safe House’.

The lady exclaimed: “It looks like it has never been used!” Well spotted! It never has.

One word: SUPERFLUOUS           http://youtu.be/IKsTyGxrjGU

An hour later the charter plane took off on its way to another community made safer by the erection of an Intervention Safe House.

To pay a local organisation or individual to inspect the unused Safe House, take a few photos and knock a few walls to check for muluru (termites) would require a paradigm shift the Intervention is incapable of.

A much more likely scenario is that a plane load of experts, consultants, mentors and trainers lands at Yuendumu airstrip to run a course leading to a Safe House Inspector’s Certificate.



Early yesterday morning the Australian Parliament passed the Stolen Futures Legislation. One word: VISIONARY

In Brazil meanwhile they have introduced a scheme that allows prisoners to reduce their sentences by reading books.


“A person can leave prison more enlightened and with an enlarged vision of the world,” said Sao Paulo lawyer Andre Kehdi, who heads a book donation project for prisons. “Without doubt, they will leave a better person,”

Now that is what I call visionary!

So which is the Banana Republic ?

Mr. tallyman tally me-banana  


Obrigado por ler esta expedição


 As long as I can see the light…..



Passive Complicity First Annual Meeting

After extensive consultations with our lawyers we at last feel able to bring you a report on our first Annual Meeting 
(Please sign the Confidentiality Agreement before reading on.)

Jimmy WatsonConfidential Notes taken at the First Annual Meeting of Passive Complicity at the premises of Mr J.C Watson esq.


The august offerings and sagacious wit evident in Passive Complicity have led many amongst our avid readership to speculate on the form of our meetings – general, annual and editorial.  I can assure you (through what could aptly be described as ‘the fog of war’), one can only remember the incidental and the accidental.  As a postscript, fragments come to mind and the conversation, both during the official and unofficial is varied and (according to eminent phrenologist Dr Waldemar Schtenkentopf, late of Utrecht) ‘describes in perfect detail the topographic peaks and defiles of the human condition’.

I make one keen observation, the standard format for a meeting is to draft an agenda, elect a chairperson, and proceed till all items are dispensed with, accounted for, played-out.  Then once canvassed, forget all about it, walk away and determine not to do it again for some time unless of course you belong to a public department or a corrotted private organisation.  Guaranteed there’ll always be some sub species of humanity whose sole existence depends upon creating agendas for myriad dull and self serving meetings.  Perhaps it’s all about relevance deprivation and the ‘something’ that may have happened to them as a child.  It instills in them a desire to talk and talk about nothing other than to draw a pallid half light upon their pathetic little egos.  I can assure you (dear reader) that C&P meetings are quite different, bereft of ego, and enshrine irrelevance as an art form.

Notes first annual meeting held at J.C Watson’s. May 19th 2013

An interesting man, wearing a country road type shirt, and perhaps a vest, and sat to one side reading a book.  We read the large bold type adorning the cover, ‘Mussolini and Fascism’. This was too delicious to let pass.  We enquired as to the book, and in a shot he joined us at table.  He was once in the army, had an amusing anecdote about our former GG Sir William, Slim, assisted us with an enquiry into the correct pronunciation of Poilou, (french soldier,) and in the ensuing fifteen minutes described emphatically his loathing of fascism, croneyism, and Naplan.  (Will the un-named secretary of the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation, ( ASIO) please contact us at the above address, and we shall return his neck brace, calipers, and truss.)  The conversation was detailed, discursive and distracting, shared between the other patrons, Mr Watson, and passers by.  We displayed inordinate decorum, drinking only in moderation, speaking in hushed tones, always through the chair, and keeping to topic.  Quantum Still LifeClearly our table was peopled with gentlemen of class, yet occasionally, we were cautioned against speaking too loudly.  The hours went by and that afternoon, as we made our departure, the proprietor, the kindly and revered Mr Alan Watson suggested it would look poorly for his business should we depart by the front door.  He conducted us towards the rear of the premises, to a private room where we enjoyed some of Mr Watson’s especial fortified wine.  We pirouetted out into the late autumn sunshine, awash with a ‘winey’ afterglow.

Note; nomination of Alan Watson as honorary member of P& C passed unanimously.

The Rose HotelDetermining on a course of action, Mr Cockburn, and brother Paddio, made their way to the Rose Hotel in Napier Street Fitzroy and awaited Messrs Poole, Maine and Dumpster.  A further hour or two ensued in good company.  Once again, the patrons, the passerby’s and the bar staff were engaged for lucid opinion, substantive anecdotes, and witty aphorisms.  Bidding farewell to Quantam and Paddio, we boarded the Smith Street Tram. Ira regaled the passengers with ditties, quaint and profound, and walking the short distance to Cockburn and Pool Melbourne office we retired for a light meal. Herewith is a formal acquittal of the substance of the meeting.

Item I   Do not engage the waitresses in conversation solely to admire their beauty, it’s a sham and they can see through it.

Item 2   Do not separate the committee in transit to a pub, you may never reconvene

Item 3  Do not sing lusty ballads and share witty observations with the public, (some grim faced) on the Smith Street Tram

Item 4   Remember to retrieve you hat

Item 5   Write down anything of relevance….

Item 6   Appoint a “ scribe’ to undertake  Item 5

Item 7   Determine next meeting*

* we invite our valued readership to the next meeting at J.C Watson’s in the private dining room, the Trocadero Room. Thursday 32nd August 2013