Separation, not integration, will result from recognition

Separation, not integration, will result from recognition, by Keith Windschuttle. (If not there, try here. Has The Australian taken it down?)

The issue of constitutional recognition of indigenous people is not what it seems to be.

On the one hand, our political leaders want Australians to believe they are ­engaged in a process of national reconciliation, of belatedly bringing indigenous people into the political fold and finally acknow­ledging their place as the first Australians. …

But on the other hand, a quite different view is held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves, especially those active in politics, law, education, media and the arts, who now firmly control the agendas for debate and policy on indigenous matters. … Their aim is not to make the Constitution complete or the ­nation whole.

Indeed, buoyed by their success in gaining native title over the past two decades, they want to go one big step further and not only get their land back but their country back too. As the title of a recent book by Aboriginal academics Megan Davis and Marcia Langton says, It’s Our Country.

Aborigines and Torres Strait ­Islanders see themselves as “first peoples” whose ancestral status gives them ownership and jurisdiction over Aboriginal land. They do not regard the existing Australian nation as their true country. They describe the Australian ­nation as no more than a recently arrived “settler state” whose rule they grudgingly endure.

To these activists, the recognition of Aborigines in the Constitution would simply be one more step towards their real objectives: political autonomy, traditional law and values, and sovereignty over their own separate state or nation. …

They argue that because Aborigines never ceded sovereignty in the colonial era, because they signed no treaties and were never actually conquered, as the first landowners they remain the continent’s sovereign people.

Notice how the media never mention this. They only mention the  “making nation whole” bit: how nice!

Where would their sovereign state be located? The more optimistic members of the Aboriginal political class like Michael Mansell believe it might be possible to unite all the land now held under native title into one almost continuous state stretching from Gippsland all the way to the Pilbara and the Kimberley.

Other activists, such as Pearson, talk in terms of a number of Aboriginal states, based mostly on the territories now controlled by the existing land councils.

Warren Mundine agrees. He advances a strategy to recognise all existing Aboriginal clan associations and language groups as “first nations”, with the commonwealth making separate agreements with each one.

So what now? Politically correct is preventing the Australian first nation from resisting. Seriousness has absconded.

According to the 2011 census, people who identify as Aborigines now total 690,000 people, or about 3 per cent of the population. However, 79 per cent of them live in the major capital cities (Sydney has the largest number) or major regional centres like Cairns, Townsville and Dubbo. In other words, most indigenous people inhabit the suburbs of the big cities and country centres, beyond the scope of native title, enjoying lives not dissimilar to their white neighbours. Only 21 per cent live in remote communities as unassim­ilated people.

To most of the world’s countries, the idea of giving title to 60 per cent of a continent to so small a population must appear a gross moral overindulgence, a sign our country has too much wealth to throw around or has not taken proper stock of what it is doing.

There is no leader within our political sphere today who is game to call a halt to this process. Yet we are now on the verge of presenting Aborigines with another change to the Australian Constitution that will not bring closure to their list of claims but extend them even further. …

Not so nice.

When Mansell visited Libya in the late 1980s to seek aid for his Aboriginal Provisional Government from Muslim dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the Australian media treated him as a joke. But if Mansell had been an officer of a sovereign Aboriginal state, and if he had gone there at any time in the past decade and a half, it would not have been so amusing.

hat-tip Barry Corke