Archives For Theological Reflection

The LNP’s battle against the Coronavirus is also a battle for the hearts and minds of Australians. If the Prime Minister fails in winning the latter, his ability to fight and win the former will be significantly compromised. It’s evident to most that Scott Morrison is doing everything a good leader can to win this war, but as goes the law of unintended consequences, Morrison is on the cusp of losing the battle for Australia’s hearts and minds, because of the absence of reassuring battle cries.

There’s no doubt that Sunday’s late press conference revealed a Prime Minister working hard on our behalf. He worked on a Sunday, negotiated with some hard-line Labor premiers, took questions from journalists and fronted the nation. The obvious wear and tear of his schedule was more than enough reason to reject myopic claims that Morrison “bullied” the ABC’s Andrew Probyn, when Probyn attempted to dominate (and therefore bully other reporters of) the press galley. By forcing Probyn to social distance himself, so that other reporters could have a chance to do jobs. Morrison answered a bully, he wasn’t being one. It was late. Morrison was short. Probyn copped a time out, it’s time to move on.

War-time crises require war-time speeches, as much as it requires determined, and resolute, war time leaders. If the Prime Minister wants Australians to unite behind him in this war, he’ll have to do a whole lot better in communicating to Australians about why they should fight, why they need to fight, and how his plan is more than up to the fight, than he has.

Scott Morrison has the logistics right and an effective battle plan, but he needs to improve his monologues. Standard public relations speeches, based on information and procedural text-types won’t work; neither will polished, over written approval ratings twaddle. We can get all that from Government websites. What we need is more of ‘fight on the beaches’, and less of ‘stop going to the beaches’. If Morrison doesn’t do this, as was witnessed late Sunday night, he’ll come across as fighting against, rather than for Australians, and as a result he will lose the proverbial war at home.

Scott Morrison’s big mistake on Sunday, was failing to mention how the war cabinet would be going about to protect freedom. If we are indeed fighting a war, imported from Communist China, the Prime Minister’s approach in this latest news conference won’t inspire people to unite and fight against it with him. I get that the Prime Minister was probably tired. Anyone who’s been in board room meetings can sympathize, they can be mentally, morally and emotionally taxing. This is just for the meetings that succeed. Multiply this by 10 for meetings that don’t.

For all the Prime Minister has been doing, and doing very well, last night saw an unintentional emptying of more air from the already deflating national morale. The absence of any reassurance to Australians that the government will be doing everything it can, in order to protect freedoms under threat by the necessities he has already outlined, and those he said may yet need to be implemented, wasn’t a shot in the arm to the Australian public. For many, it was a right hook to the head.

To be fair, Morrison’s job isn’t easy. As has been made evident by the actions of Victorian Labor Premier, Daniel Andrews, who appears to have pulled a Benedict Arnold, agreeing to keep schools open, only today, to contradict himself and close them, in a direct rejection of the Prime Minister’s plan, including rejecting the advice from Australia’s Chief Medical officer, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy who has said that ‘the consensus view of all of the chief health officers is schools should stay open because the risk to schoolchildren from the virus was very low.’

Making the Prime Minister’s battle for Australia’s hearts and minds more difficult, are all the social media show ponies lecturing us and the Government on why keeping schools open is wrong. Some rants, I know for a fact, come from folks who don’t really care about the issues, or the kids. This is another quick opportunity to attack the P.M.

Let’s be honest, if a Labor Prime Minister had done the same as Morrison in regard to schools, the wolves howling at Morrison, would all singing his or her praises. Few on the left blinked an eyelid when Kevin07 splashed cash from tax-payers coffers on empty halls and fancy balls. It seems that as long as the situation provides an opportunity to drool for, and spill LNP blood, who cares about national unity in a time of crisis?

For the rest of us, the Prime Minister’s school plan was solid. First, it’s an optional extra for parents. Kids need stability in a time of crisis. Routine helps. Keeping the schools open – as an optional extra – when the current health advice (around the world) says it’s reasonable to do so, provides this necessary framework. Closing schools will mean that a child’s routine is disrupted, resulting in an instability in the child’s life that will need to be countered-balanced.

Arguing otherwise, without sufficient reasons to do so, only fosters more fear, more anxiety, more hysteria and harms, rather than helps Australians. Show dissent. Question the new normal, but don’t be obnoxious in doing so.

I say this as an advocate for homeschooling. Something I think Australians can do, and do well. Even without government support. Even with direct hostility from political activist groups on the left, and with having to always look down the barrel of public misconceptions about socialization. Although I support the idea of homeschooling where you can, when you can, if you can, the fact is not all parents are able to homeschool and provide the necessary stability to do so.

The idea scares the hell out of some parents. Many of whom have succumbed to arguments from anti-homeschooling teachers, who regard parents as being intellectually incapable of educating their kids at home. Never mind the fact that many of those allegedly “intellectually incapable” parents were, or may have been, schooled by those very same teachers.

The Prime Minister has a mandate from the Australian people to fight on their behalf. This includes bringing Premier’s, who may be a little too friendly with the Communist Chinese Regime, into line with the Constitution. Not letting this crisis become a means for slimy political manoeuvring.

While the war against the Coronavirus is of the highest importance, Scott Morrison must also recognize that the fight for national morale, for the hearts and minds of the Australian people, is as equally important.

Now that the Prime Minister needs Australians to step up, he must adjust his approach. He can’t just tell hundreds of thousands of Australians that they’re going to be out of work for six months, but here’s some compensation.

War-time crises require war-time speeches.

Morrison needs to rally Australians to the cause, recalling some of the adages that inspired the Anzacs to push back against the dark shroud of totalitarianism that embraced the 20th Century.

I am confident in the Prime Minister’s ability. I am confident in Australia’s ability to unite, and fight; overcome and adapt. We’ve kept calm and carried on before, we can do so again.


First published on Caldron Pool, 24th March, 2020.

Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

I’m not one of the beautiful people
(Front row seats are for people without broken feet);
The charmers, greasy grinners, snake-oil cliques.

I know my place, it’s in the shadows
The darkened corners of polished sanctuaries
I’m the too-hard-basket-case;
Reluctantly delegated space.

Thus, my light-less sanatorium,
My assigned placed in the Saint’s auditorium.
Distanced like a plague survivor
Because the horror of my past existence
Pierces these pews;
Turns up the noses of the middle-class,
As though I’m as putrid as a witch’s brew.

Exiled to an asylum,
High society’s life sentence for uninvited suffering.
I’m the brother of Quasimodo, and Monte Cristo,
Of priest and ashes, both betrayed and abandoned.
But as long as we stay in the dark,
We’re sure to be quietly welcomed.

My story too deep!
It’s to be quickly dismissed,
Even though I know what it feels like to
Be held by grace over the abyss.

I understand this too.

I’m not one of the beautiful people.
Sometimes the past still bleeds:
Pebbles of blood, drop from inwardly formed,
Grotesque scars which sometimes unexpectedly seep,
These old wounds make others uncomfortable,
Emotional vomit from them unavoidable.

And so the steeple chimes,
As the mechanism claps in time
The production begins,
The show. The politics. The pretence and cheers.

But in this dark corner there are no celebrities,
The broken, are not broken in.
The bruised, broke, and bent
All kneel, instead with cries of lament
All seem to be more aware of their own sin.
Cohen’s hymn of cracked glass, and ‘how the light gets in.’

Just like Lazarus we’re all carefully seated,
Assigned to rows without names,
Easily overlooked, seldom greeted.
We who don this imposed darkened gown,
Are met with suspicion, and sometimes with frowns.

I’m not one of the beautiful people.
but my name is written down by Christ through His blood.
Where I’ve been healed beyond measure,
By God’s undying Fatherly love.
Though meant to distance them from us,
My darkened corner
Appears to have saved us from them.
Which is why I’m not all that surprised when I hear people say,
“I’m thankful that Jesus is bigger than Sunday.”


Photo by Adam Bixby on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020

This is my response to a Facebook share and tag invite. Instead of posting one beloved book each day, for seven days, here’s the complete list all in one read.

I don’t normally do these, but the premise is worth supporting: “No exception, no reviews, just covers. The idea is to promote literacy and a love of great books.

The list is harder to compile than it looks. By no means is the list definitive. The list does, however, reflect some of the texts I consider to be essential reading. The wooden bookcase they live on, would be the poorer for not having them in it.

Day one:

Day Two:

Day three:

Day four:

Day five:

Day six:

Day seven:

 

Inciting people to rage against their neighbour in the name of the environment, or because of concerns about the climate, has been a constant part of human society’s obsession with who’s to blame for acts of God, or natural disasters.

In the pagan tribal cultures of the Americas, a bad crop meant another child sacrifice. Described by Cortez as ‘the most horrid and abominable custom; where many girls and boys and even adults, and in the presence of these idols they open their chests while they are still alive and take out their hearts and entrails and burn them before the idols, offering the smoke as sacrifice.’

In the 2nd Century, the formidable, North African theologian, Tertullian, noted that the causes of public evils were maliciously blamed on Christians:

“…If Tiber overflows, and Nile does not; if heaven stands still and withholds its rain, and the earth quakes ; if famine or pestilence take their marches through the country, the word is, Away with these Christians to the lion!” (Apology, Chapter XL)

To which Tertullian asks where were the Christians when Pompeii was consumed by Vesuvius, or when Hannibal threatened Rome?:

“Plato tells of a tract of land bigger than Asia and Africa
together, devoured by the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, an earthquake drank up the Corinthian Sea, and an impetuous force of water tore off Lucania from Italy, and banished it into an island, which goes now by the name of Sicily. Now these devastations of whole countries I hardly believe you will deny to be public calamities…
We have not a word of complaint against the Christians from Tuscany or Campania, when Heaven shot his flames upon Volsinium, and Vesuvius discharged his upon Pompeium. Was there any worshipper of the true God at Rome when Hannibal made such havoc of the Romans at Cannae, and computed the numbers of the slaughtered gentry by bushels of rings picked up after the battle?” (Apology, Chapter XL)

Today, the darker corners of the internet bubble and hiss with the hideous use of the term “deniers”, an emotionally charged term nefariously employed as newspeak, in order to lay blame for the alleged “climate change holocaust” on anyone critical of the prevailing apocalyptic climate change hypothesis.

Add on to this the equally grotesque blame game which claims that Jews are in control of the weather.

Then there are extreme anti-Chemtrail advocates who, according to the BBC, view chemical trails in the sky as evidence of ‘a massive, secret government conspiracy to control the weather; that secret powerful groups are spraying us with chemicals to make us pliant and easy to control.’

Connected to this group are those who propose a much more plausible theory about how Governmental use of cloud seeding is affecting natural weather patterns. They’re openly questioning how much of what we’re told about anthropogenic global warming (unnatural levels greenhouse gases in the atmosphere) and man-made climate change (the suspected result of those unnatural levels), is in fact, humans trying to manipulate the climate? Or the side effects of said manipulation?

The evidence to justify such questioning isn’t hard to find. In a 2015 article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Scott Hannaford wrote about the dubious practice of cloud seeding, stating that:

“While little evidence exists to support the conspiracy theories of the Americans investing in the practice during the Cold War, the US did use cloud seeding for military purposes during the Vietnam War, according to The New York Times. In July 1972 legendary journalist Seymour Hersh reported that the US had been conducting a highly classified cloud-seeding program known as Operation Popeye on a massive scale over North Vietnam, Laos and South Vietnam to increase and control rainfall. By dumping silver iodide and lead iodide into clouds, the Americans were reportedly able to extend the monsoon season by more than a month over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, softening roads to cause disruption to military trucks using the area.”

In 2016 Business Insider reported on the much talked about Chinese Government’s use of cloud seeding to manipulate the weather in order for the Beijing Olympics to take place free of rain. Worth noting, the Communist Government has a growing Weather Modification Office, whose department, according to The Independent, ‘employs nearly 40,000 people, 3,000 of whom work with an arsenal of 7,000 cannon, 4,687 rocket launchers, and have a budget of around £50m…’

Cloud seeding involves the use of ‘rockets full of chemicals (such as silver iodide), which are launched into clouds accelerating the creation of ice crystals that eventually become rain.’ QZ.com also described the process as a ‘meteorological enema’ that can make it rain, “clearout” pollution, as well as stop rain from falling.

The ability to control where and when it rains, and when and where it doesn’t rain, raises a lot questions about climate modification’s relationship to alleged man-made climate change.

Any possible connection between chemical manipulation of rainfall via cloud seeding, and the prevailing apocalyptic climate change hypothesis seem to be dismissed by most activists. NSW Greens senator, M.P. Dr. Mehreen Faruqi typifies the general blasé response from Climate Change activists. In her appraisal of Australia’s use of cloud seeding over the Snowy Mountains, Faruqi’s main concern was for the animal food chain and how those chemicals may impact endangered species. This is despite Faruqi acknowledging that the possible dangers of cloud seeding could be catastrophic, stating ‘we don’t know the long term impacts, but we do have the lessons learnt from DDT, asbestos, CFCs and their impact.’

One would think that the launching, or adding of more chemicals into the atmosphere, when there are raging concerns about unnatural levels of chemicals in the atmosphere, is counter-intuitive.

More so when the impact of making it rain in once place, is likely to mean it won’t rain in another. Thus, any unnatural disruption of natural rainfall patterns, would have a dire impact on the environment, and forge an anthropogenic adjustment of the climate.

Ignoring the possible contribution of cloud seeding to “climate change”, and conflating climate change with global warming (by calling it a climate change emergency) is irresponsible, and dishonest. It leaves out questions about the negative impact chemical modification of the weather has on the overall climate.

It also means that political opportunists are deliberately scaring children and the vulnerable in order to impose change via the reigning hypothesis. This criticism is further buttressed by an historical pattern of blaming humans for acts of God or natural disasters, and the questionable practice of cloud seeding; to be more precise, deliberate chemical modification of the weather.

If the “doomers” are correct and apocalyptic climate change is as bad as they have prophesied, than perhaps man-made climate change is a direct result of man’s attempt to control the climate?

I agree that there’s a socio-political, geo-political, economic and environmental need to address our dependency on fossil fuels, and unnatural levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, the answer rests in a calm response, which looks to horticulture – planting trees; water storage/management, new technology and improving our understanding and use of nuclear, which, as books on climate science admit, is far more powerful (and much more cleaner) than coal.

The way forward would also include a thorough critique of the practice of cloud seeding, and its negative impact on rainfall patterns and the climate.


First published on Caldron Pool, 7th Decemeber, 2019.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019.

Scottish Pastor, Richard Cameron, was suspended by church officials this week, until further notice, after “heckling” openly socialist, U.K. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn, who has the potential of becoming the U.K’s next Prime Minister in the December election, was day two into his campaign trail in Glasgow, when according to The Scottish Sun, Cameron, a 60 year old Church of Scotland minister, approached the Labour leader.

Referring to Corbyn’s tartan scarf and his criticism of the United States actions against the late ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Cameron stated,

“I thought you’d be wearing an Islamic jihad scarf. Do you think the man that’s going to be prime minister of this country should be a terrorist sympathiser? Who’s going to be the first terrorist to be invited to the House of Commons when you’re prime minister?” (The Times)

Short video footage of the incident shows Corbyn surrounded by staffers, with Richard Cameron calmly approaching the Labour leader. After hearing the nature of Cameron’s questions, a clearly indifferent Corbyn and his entourage dismissed the Pastor. Turned their backs on him and walked in the opposite direction. In response, as reported by The Scottish Sun, Cameron then allegedly tells the now shuffling huddle of retreating Labour members, “Aye, you’re running away.’

Not long after the event, screenshots from Cameron’s Twitter account were spammed over the social media platform, quickly denouncing the minister as a troll, homophobic, Islamophobic, and bigoted.

Some of the tweets in question show Cameron voicing support for Israel Folau, promoting the Bible’s view on marriage, homosexuality and idolatry.

The BBC, joining the chorus of hate and manufactured rage against the pastor, falsely accused Cameron of “shouting at Corbyn.” They also appear to have scoured the minister’s posts, and replies on Twitter for alleged abuses. Digging as far back as 2016 in an attempt to further the claim that Cameron’s views were both “homophobic and Islamophobic.”

Cameron has also been relieved of duties at a local primary school, with one facilitator stating that, “Cameron doesn’t belong in the pulpit and that he’s glad Cameron will no longer be providing moral guidance to kids.”

Cameron’s questioning of Corbyn triggered a soft-doxxing of the Pastor by outraged Leftists, effectively forcing his suspension and a Church of Scotland internal investigation. Church officials have stated that Cameron’s suspension will ‘allow them to carry out an enquiry in relation to the incident which took place earlier this week and the subsequent complaints about his social media use.’

Leftists love a firebrand, as long as that firebrand is singing the Leftist’s tune. For evidence of this simply compare the open arms celebrity treatment of Leftist, activist, and Anglican Minister Rod Bower, who remains in his lofty position even after publically falsely labeling LNP M.P, Peter Dutton,  “a sodomite”  (et.al)

Cameron’s suspension and the justifications for it make a mockery of freedom, and the Scottish people.

If Cameron’s Twitter feed is any indication, Cameron seems to epitomize the fiery, blunt, straight-talking Scotsman. To punish him for doing his job as a Pastor; for being true to his vocation, isn’t just to place a gag order on the Bible, it bogs down freedom of speech, and squashes part of a cultural attribute long associated with what it means to be Scottish.

The suspension is a farce. It was led by a lynch mob on social media, and triggered by Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent inability to face uncomfortable questions from a member of the discerning public.

Cameron should be reinstated on the grounds that the actions taken against him unfairly give advantage to manipulators. It gives power to dishonest critics who turn the term “hate speech” into a weapon, and abuse others from behind a wall of anonymity, and pompous self-righteousness.

As Franklin Littell warned in 1962, anti-Christian ‘movements are the product of persecuting or corrupt, self-indulgent establishments. Soft religiosity is more of a threat to the Gospel than hard opposition.’ [i]

Cameron may need to tweak his approach to others on social media, but his example raises questions about what happens when those who are led into all truth, by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), are by consequence, entering into direct opposition to those being led by the spirit of the age.


References:

[i] From State Church to Pluralism, p.32

First published on Caldron Pool 28th November, 2019.

Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2019

 

Examine some older texts on philosophy, some Freudian psychology, even some theology, and you’ll come across the term proton-pseudos.

Proton-pseudos is described by the International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis as ‘the link between false premises and false conclusions.’ Sigmund Freud borrowed the term from Aristotle and applied to it to the category of hysteria.

In short, the Proton-pseudos is the ‘original error’. The proton-pseudos sits behind and within the lies we tell ourselves, or the lies we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves, society, politics, theology and a whole range of other areas. The proton-pseudos is the outworking of a negative self-belief caused by exposure to trauma, abuse, and agitation, manipulative or sociological propaganda.

The proton-pseudos is a false idea or belief based on limited or distorted knowledge. It’s an assumption lived out as fact, even though it’s a conclusion derived from a broken reality, one re-pieced together, without a relevant tangible factual basis. In other words, the proton-pseudos is a broken lens. It imagines oppression where no oppression exists, created by a negative self-belief long ago triggered by a genuine traumatic event.

The Freudian understanding of the proton-pseudos is exemplified by ‘Emma, who at the age of thirteen fled the laughter of the sales staff in a shop, consciously believing that they were laughing at her clothes. However, Emma’s reaction in the shop was triggered by a repressed first event from years before, a grocer who had sexually touched her when she was eight.’

French intellectual Jacques Ellul’s aggressive critique of helpful and harmful propaganda, from 1965, assists in providing a framework to explain how propaganda relates to the proton-pseudos as an ‘inner control over the individual by a social force.’ Manipulative, agitation and sociological propaganda preys on the collective social consciousness of a society in an ‘age of anxiety’. Fear is used to control, mobilize and permit.

The manipulative use of fear engineers a desensitizing of sensitivities and objections to an idea, in order to implement it.

As Ellul explains, ‘propaganda will permit what so far was prohibited, such as hatred…propaganda offers him an object of hatred for all propaganda is aimed at an enemy. This hatred is not shameful, evil hatred that must be hidden, but justified because propaganda has pointed out enemies that must be slain, transforming crime into a praiseworthy act.’

Propaganda utilizes proton-pseudos to create conformity. According to Ellul this conformity is the consequence of integration propaganda – political reeducation. This means that any ‘statement whatever, no matter how stupid, any “tall tale” will be believed once it enters into the current of hatred’ perpetuated by the prevailing proton-pseudos; the false doctrine, half-truth, outright harmful or blasphemous lie or deception. The collective social consciousness of society can then be controlled through ‘key words of magical import, which are believed without question.’

The proton-pseudos becomes authoritative through an ongoing maintenance of propaganda. Questioning of the proton-pseudos is viewed as irrational. Even though the proton-pseudos is, itself an irrational conclusion held captive by the ‘original error’.

To borrow further from Jacques Ellul, propaganda instills in the person held captive to the proton-pseudos ‘a system of opinions and tendencies which may not be subjected to criticism…the individual has received irrational certainties from propaganda and feels personally attacked when these certainties are attacked’.

Agitation, manipulative and sociological propaganda reinforces the proton-pseudos by way of affirming its grip on the person held captive by it.

Consequently, ‘ironically, the man or woman who has been successfully subjected to a vigorous propaganda will declare that all new ideas are propaganda.’

This comes back to Freud’s story of Emma.  The proton-pseudos sees oppression where there is none. It confuses a past event with current circumstances, magnifying fear and stopping Emma from distinguishing fiction from real thing. Emma’s negative self-belief affects her interpretation of the intentions of the people who surrounded her in the shop. There may have been good reasons for her to be suspicious and feel uncomfortable, but Emma’s consciousness was governed by a lie based on past abuse; the proton-pseudos which she believes and projects onto others, despite her current context clearly saying otherwise.

Ellul and Freud don’t just give us legitimate reasons for a constructive self-critique, they provide a diagnosis for the current malady affecting the socio-political make-up of Western Civilization.

One example is the proton-pseudos which dominates the Left. The proton-pseudos at work here imagines Nazis in every opponent, or behind every politician or journalist not Left of centre.

There’s no doubt that Nazism is evil, but like Freud’s story of Emma, context matters.

As Dennis Prager recently said, “fighting Nazis in World War two makes you a hero. Fighting Nazis today, in the United States, doesn’t”. Why? Because today’s Nazis are largely phantoms created by the Left. Imagined into existence, but based on an historical event, in order to promote fear, take control and justify an inability (or worse, lack of desire) to engage in reasoned debate. The proton-pseudos provoked by propagandist slogans permits all sorts of viciousness and violence against their political opponents.

Take as examples the propagandists perpetuating the proton-pseudos. They create an oppressor, where one doesn’t exist, with terms such as, toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, cultural appropriation, white privilege, islamophobia, Jesus was a socialist, homophobia and mansplaining, unborn babies are a bunch of cells/a parasite, all men are dogs, and all white people are racist, et.al.

All of these and others, as asinine as “love is love”, are designed to incite ‘conditioned reflexes’ (Elull). To ensnare, trap and control the argument through an appeal of the social consciousness of the West which has long embraced the truth of love your neighbor as you love yourself, and long since rejected the evils of racism/fascism.

Anyone who questions the slogan, questions the propaganda, threatening the power of the propagandist and their ability to use the proton-pseudos to feed their own self-interest.

Ellul and Freud share a strong relevance to the current practice in psychology called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The practice of identifying the proton-pseudos, of replacing lies with truth.

They join with Paul of Tarsus in challenging us to discern between the lies we’re told, the lies we tell ourselves and the truth.

For the Christian, and those who heed Paul’s instruction, this will mean wholeheartedly owning the theological truth that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds; destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, ESV)

Beware the auctioneers: outsmart the propagandists. Challenge the proton-pseudos both without and from within. Be a factivist, a liberator, one who see the lies for what they are and where they originate, and then replaces them with the truth.

As Paul teaches: ‘don’t be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind’ , not the emptying of it. (Romans 12:2)


References:

Ellul, J. 1965 Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Vintage Press (pp.87 & 152)

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th September, 2019

©Rod Lampard, 2019

Activists trying to rally Australians around the idea of Indigenous Australian representation in Parliament have tied their argument in knots. Their message is vague, and their reliance on the simplistic slogan, “Indigenous voice” provides little clarity about what direction they’re advocating Australians take.

As a result the push for an “Indigenous voice” has been interpreted as a one of two things: a) call for another advisory group, or b) a call for an entirely new governing body. [i]

The latter can only be interpreted as a push for a ‘third branch of Government’, and the former, as a push to return to a system like the failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) advisory committee established in 1989. If the former, why isn’t the new advisory group, National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) good enough?

If you’re not familiar with the history, ATSIC replaced NAC, which was established in 1980. NAC replaced the NACC which was established in 1973; all had the express purpose of ‘advising the government on Indigenous affairs policy.’ [ii]

The aim was to have a committee made up of Indigenous Australians who were democratically elected by Indigenous Australians, to provide a platform for specific Indigenous Australian representation.

Why? Perception drives demand. General elections aren’t seen as doing enough. It’s assumed that the collective vote of Indigenous Australians is so small, that an Indigenous Australian “voice” in how Australia is governed is rarely, if ever, heard. The inclusive constitutional democratic vote made by ALL Australians of voting age, is seen to only serve the non-Indigenous Australian majority, thus the assumed necessity for a specific ethnic advisory committee such as NACC, NAC and ATSIC.

In 2005, ATSIC was discontinued by both the LNP and Labor because of corruption. ATSIC was no longer functional or practical when it came to providing Indigenous Australians with the most effective help.

Criticisms of ATSIC, not connected to corruption, suggest that activist calls for an “Indigenous voice” are in fact more than just calls for another advisory group.

Before ATSIC’s demise, it was attacked  from within the Indigenous community, for not having enough authority. The perception was that ‘advice fell on deaf ears’; that ATSIC ‘produced a white bureaucracy because it couldn’t employ its own staff’, it was over-regulated, ‘not properly representative’, and didn’t have enough women on the board. [iii]

This rebounds against some criticisms from now ex-Liberal M.P. Christopher Pyne, who in 2003, called ATSIC a ‘gravy train’.

Pyne argued that ‘a lack of accountability has turned ATSIC into a bureaucratic, inefficient organization that squanders taxpayer funds…By failing to confront ATSIC’s problems, advocates of indigenous interests have reinforced the talkback-radio caricature of Aborigines as rorters of the system. If Aboriginal interests are to be advanced, ATSIC cannot continue to escape scrutiny. While the ATSIC gravy train rolls on, ordinary Aborigines continue to suffer.’ [iv]

The problems with ATSIC, the vague message and reliance simplistic slogans from advocates for an “Indigenous voice”, should intensify concern about what advocates want an “Indigenous voice” to look like. We can add to these concerns any proposal to enshrine ethnicity into Australia’s constitution under the term “Indigenous voice”; as is proposed by Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt and the Referendum Council.

Daniel Wild of the IPA rightly red flagged the notion, stating:

“…91% of Australians voted in 1967 to change the Constitution to remove references to race. This was an important step towards achieving equality for indigenous Australians. It is disappointing that now, 52 years later, both major political parties want to put race back into the Constitution. Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians are all first and foremost Australians who share a common country, legal system, and destiny. A ‘voice’ is not able to represent only one segment of the Australian population, because all policy decisions apply to all Australians regardless of their race.” [v]

Indigenous Australians already have a higher representation in the official Australian calendar, than any other ethnicity. Eleven events enshrined in the national calendar, including a satisfactory level of Indigenous history taught as part of the Australian Curriculum proves that Indigenous Australians have a voice.

For example:

3 February – Anniversary of the Apology (2008)
21 March – National Close the Gap Day
26 May – National Sorry Day
27 May – Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum
27 May – 3 June – Reconciliation Week
3 June – Mabo Day
7-14 July  – NAIDOC Week
4 August – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
9 August – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
4 September – Indigenous Literacy Day
13 September – Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

This list doesn’t include Ken Wyatt’s Ministry position, which gives indigenous Australians representation, or welcome to country ceremonies. Nor does this list include Indigenous Australian flags flown next to Australian flags on, or near, every Government building. In addition, this list doesn’t include the specialized Government programs only accessible to Indigenous Australians such as Abstudy, nor does it include privatised ethno-centric schemes which specialize in only serving Indigenous Australians by providing further assistance when buying a home.

It’s an enormous credit to every Australian that our Indigenous neighbours already have a voice like this in our community.

We as a nation already share the responsibility of giving above and beyond to those vulnerable in our community. This includes giving Indigenous Australians the tools needed for them to liberate and launch themselves from Government dependency into self-sufficiency.

So why are there calls for an ‘Indigenous voice’ when it’s obvious Indigenous Australians have one?

The naysayers who spread the toxin of white guilt and white privilege want more. They prefer we sign on to a Marx-esk revision of history, redefining history with terms like “first nations” instead of tribes, all in order to bolster their attacks on Australia Day, in support of the dubious term “invasion day”.

To the naysayers, we as a nation aren’t carrying our fair share of responsibility for our Indigenous neighbours. To them Indigenous recognition doesn’t go far enough, even though Indigenous Australians have the highest (and only ethnic) representation on the national calendar, and as an ethnic group now have their own ministerial department.

The naysayers forget that individual responsibility trumps government programs. It’s true that we may need to reform these programs, but we don’t need more of them.

We certainly don’t need a new third tier of the federal government; one where membership is solely based on ethnicity, tribe, dialect, melanin, blood and soil, and not on merit or election via the constitutional democracy process that gives a voice to all Australians.

As said the great ANZAC, General John Monash, who went to India, in a clear refusal to not entertain those trying to get him to head a Communist-inspired coup in Australia during the 1930’s:

”…Depend upon it, the only hope for Australia is the ballot box, and an educated electorate.” (Roland Perry, Monash. 2004:509.)

Indigenous Australians have recognition. They are already an integral part of the Australian voice and cultural identity.

Beware of those who say otherwise.


References:

[i] Bennett, S. & Pratt, A. Current Issues Brief no. 4 2004-2005: The End of ATSIC and the future administration of Indigenous affairs, Parliament of Australia.

[ii] Anthony, T. 2010. Learning from ATSIC, The ABC.

[iii] This seems to have been confirmed by The ABC, in an article from Thalia Anthony called “Learning from ATSIC” (2010).

Thalia pointed out that since the disbanding of ATSIC, ‘lobbyists for Indigenous representation at a national level have been drawing up blue prints for a national Indigenous body. At the fore has been the proposal by the Australian Human Rights Commission for a National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples in Our future in our hands. The Commission’s proposal consists of a National Congress, which constitutes 128 delegates from across Australia. Some delegates will be appointed based on merit and other will be elected from Indigenous organizations. The Congress will then elect a National Executive of six part-time members and two full-time Chairs, with a requirement of 50 per cent female representation. In addition, an Ethics Council of senior Indigenous peoples to oversee the work of the National Congress.’

[iv] Pyne, C. 2003. Why the ATSIC gravy train must be derailed, The Age.

[v] Wild. D. & Begg. M, 2019. Race has no place in the Constitution

©Rod Lampard, 2019