Australians: Bogus Identity and Constitutional Change

Australians: Bogus Identity and Constitutional Change. By Keith Windschuttle.

In July 2000, Allen Appo of Bundaberg, Queensland, was charged in the Townsville Magis­trates Court with a breach of the Fisheries Act by illegally catching undersized and female mud crabs. He was represented by Townsville Aboriginal Legal Aid who argued that, because Appo was Aboriginal, fishing restrictions did not apply to him. However, a cousin of his, who was the daughter of an Aboriginal man, told Fisheries officers that Appo was not of Aboriginal descent and that his family heritage was purely Sri Lankan.

She complained that the 66-year-old Appo and more than 100 mem­bers of his extended family had been practising the deception for more than thirty years. In that time, they had received millions of dollars worth of benefits, including housing loans, business loans, study grants, employment preferences and legal assistance.

Some operated indigenous cultural schools for tourists and sold their artworks commercially. Other family members had taken advantage of indigenous preference for government jobs and university appointments. No one in authority had ever questioned their rights to these benefits. The colour of their skin was all it took to confirm them.

Queensland Department of Primary Industries legal officers finally made a genealogical study of the family and presented to the court generations of birth, death and marriage certificates showing Appo’s heritage was entirely Sinhalese. Appo was fined on the illegal fishing charge but appealed the magistrate’s deci­sion. …

The left ate up the Dark Emu fraud too:

In other words, the much publicised recent scandal of Bruce Pascoe’s fraudulent claim to be an Aboriginal man, is nothing new or unique.

Pascoe’s forbears are all English, mainly from Cornwall, and his genealogy contains no Aboriginal ancestry at all. However, this has not concerned the judges of state Premiers’ lucrative literary prizes supposedly reserved for indigenous writers, or the academic committee at the University of Melbourne who disregarded Pascoe’s lack of any postgraduate qualifications or contributions to academic journals and appointed him Enterprise Professor in Indigenous Agriculture….

So let’s institutionalize this into our Federal Government:

Given the success that bogus Aborigines like Pascoe and Appo have long enjoyed there should be little doubt they will continue to do so, especially if the Australian populace is foolish enough to support the new Labor government’s proposed referendum to give Aboriginal people their own platform in our Constitution.

Aboriginal identity has well-known finan­cial benefits, provided directly from government or from various government-funded institutions. Hence governments have a palpable interest in being able to clearly distinguish genuine from bogus claimants. If constitutional change will give Aboriginal people even more rights for which other Australians do not qualify, there needs to be some means of distinguishing between those applicants who are genuine and those who are not. Otherwise, special constitutional rights will open up vast opportunities for people to make fraudulent claims.

By diverting power to make policy to Aboriginal communities under the guise of self-determination, the Voice would inevitably attract hordes of imposters, carpetbaggers and shysters to this new honeypot. In other words, Labor’s planned constitutional change cannot avoid the vexed question of how Aboriginal identity is defined and managed.

Need those racial identity cards soon.

No guessing allowed:

Claims of Aboriginality are now widely taken at face value and the onus of responsibility is on those who are suspicious of such claims to challenge them, obviously at considerable risk to them­selves from potential defamation suits or, like journalist Andrew Bolt in 2011, found by the Federal Court to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act. Hence, unless sceptics have strong evidence to prove their suspicions, they are well-advised to keep them to themselves. In short, a bogus applicant finds it easy to get away with it.

Well that can only encourage fraud.

Larissa Behrendt:

One of the plaintiffs who succeeded in prosecuting Andrew Bolt for racial discrimination in 2011 was Larissa Behrendt, who grew up in the white middle class suburb of Gymea, near the Port Hacking water­front in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney. …

Neither Larissa nor her parents came from an Aboriginal community, so they couldn’t honestly fulfil all three parts of the Commonwealth’s test for Aboriginality. Larissa’s father, Paul Behrendt, when I knew him in the 1980s, was the head of the Aboriginal Research and Resource Centre at the University of New South Wales. Her white mother, Raema, was an accountant. The parents separated when Larissa was young and she had very little contact with Paul when she was growing up. Paul himself had no contact at all with Aboriginal people or culture when he was growing up. In fact, until he was 40, Paul did not know that his mother, Lavena (Lavinia) Behrendt who died when he was three years old, was part-Aboriginal. Paul’s father, Henry Behrendt, a white man of English and German descent, was a journalist in Lithgow in the 1930s and 1940s.

After Lavena died during childbirth in 1942, Henry did not raise their nine children himself but put them in the Presbyterian Church’s Burnside Homes at Parramatta. Paul remained there until he was fifteen when he left to join the Navy. He did not adopt an Aboriginal identity and pursue Aboriginal politics until the 1980s. Nonetheless, he quickly became one of the most radical activists of the time. In one book he co-authored, he declared British colonisation of Australia illegitimate and said Aborigines should be given a separate country, self-governing with its own laws: a revival of a demand first made by the Communist Party of Australia in the 1930s. …

Larissa has long portrayed her ancestry as predominantly Aboriginal. In her evidence to the trial of Andrew Bolt, she said when Paul did research on his family background, “the only non-Aboriginal ancestry he discovered was that my paternal grandfather was born in England.” Her witness statement also said that Paul’s mother, Lavena, “had an Aboriginal mother and was brought up by her Aboriginal father”. However, in articles in Quadrant on the Bolt trial and Larissa’s testimony, Michael Connor has pointed out that Lavena actually had a white father, an Englishman named Arthur Dawson. Hence, when her mother’s German antecedents are also counted, only one of Larissa’s eight great grandparents was a full-blood Aborigine, the rest were European.

However, Larissa had few qualms about using her minority biological connection with Aboriginality to make the most of the positive discrimination offered by the education system. She successfully applied for enrolment at the highly selective law school at the University of New South Wales but admitted, “I hadn’t got particularly high marks.” When she applied for a scholar­ship to take a postgraduate degree at Harvard University, she was preferred ahead of the university medalist, and the decision generated a complaint. …

Soon after she returned with her degree from the USA, at the age of 31, Larissa was appointed by the Uni­versity of Technology Sydney as Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies in 2001. She subsequently moved into a high-rise apartment overlooking Hyde Park in the Sydney CBD. There was no Aboriginal community at that locale, let alone “elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority”, who could identify her as one of their own. Yet these days this girl from Gymea calls herself a “Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman.”

Racial privilege abounds in Australia, elevating skin color over merit.

There is, however, a rational and civilised way to resolve the issue. This would be to deprive bogus Aborigines of any inducement to make their claims in the first place. That would mean treating Aborigines as equals with other Australians. It would mean abandoning special laws, benefits and employment targeted at Aboriginal people, or any other group based only on race or ethnicity. It would mean that welfare payments should be based on need rather than skin colour; literary awards be based on talent rather than identity; education be based on scholarly accomplishment rather than racial privilege, and employment be based on merit rather than racial quotas. Above all, it would make completely redundant any reason to confer a special status on Aboriginal people in the Constitution.

Read it all.

Pauline Hanson was dis-endorsed from the Liberal Party in 1996 for suggesting welfare payments be based on need rather than skin color.

hat-tip Stephen Neil