OPINION | Equality is fickle topic

WHAT'S EQUAL?: Wollondilly’s Taylor Clarke, main photo, has been left (almost) speechless by Pauline Hanson's comments, as local people prepare to take part in the Appin Massacre memorial ceremony on Sunday, April 15.
WHAT'S EQUAL?: Wollondilly’s Taylor Clarke, main photo, has been left (almost) speechless by Pauline Hanson's comments, as local people prepare to take part in the Appin Massacre memorial ceremony on Sunday, April 15.

Taylor Clarke is Wollondilly’s 2017 young citizen of the year and a proud Gundungurra woman – descended from the Indigenous people of the Burragorang Valley.

She is also very eloquent.

That’s why I was intrigued when Taylor only managed to grunt a simple “Are You Kidding?” on Facebook – in reply to Pauline Hanson.

The One Nation leader had just called the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games “absolutely disgusting” because it featured too much indigenous culture. “I'm sick and tired of being made to feel as if I'm a second-class citizen in my own country,” she added.

I didn’t see the opening myself, but I could understand the despair in Taylor’s grunt. Nonetheless…

Given that 1-in-10 Aussies think One Nation is worth voting for, the journo part of me seriously pondered her words. And look, to be fair, I can actually understand the well of emotion she is attempting to draw from.

Most Anglo-Celtic Aussies are of convict stock – immigrants who arrived in chains and didn’t actually have a say about being part of an invasion, but went on to make the best of a bad deal.

As a seventh-generation Aussie, I’m very proud of my pioneer ancestors – from bush nurses and mountain horsemen to blade shearers and farming wives – and I feel as native as gumtrees. Like most of you, I’m sure.

But that doesn't mean we can’t acknowledge the historic fact that Immigrant Australia was built on the ruins of Aboriginal Australia.

In other words, 230 short years of passion, horror and great achievement stands on a base of 40,000 years of indigenous knowledge. That last word is important.

The Aboriginal people of 1788 were not savages; they were a skilled people deeply connected to the land and the seasons, who lived for countless generations in good health in the same sort of countryside that killed white explorers.

Award-winning books such as Dark Emu, Black Seeds by Bruce Pascoe and The Biggest Estate on Earth by Bill Gammage have explained in detail how Aboriginal people managed the land in a far more systematic and scientific fashion than white colonists ever realised.

What happened to Aboriginal people after 1788 is of course a tale of disrespect, rape, murder, dispossession and discrimination.

Just one minor example is the Aboriginal soldiers who bravely served Australia in World War I, only to return home to be banned from entering the pub with their comrades on Anzac Day.

I would call that “absolutely disgusting” – not a well-paid Senator being offended because she heard too much didgeridoo music at a sporting opening ceremony.

And, as for it making Senator Hanson feel like a second-class citizen...maybe she can speak to an Aboriginal person alive before 1967 and get some perspective. Aboriginal people weren’t even considered citizens!

I guess what I’m trying to say is...get a grip.

Hanson supporters often tell me that the bloodshed and suffering of the colonial era happened in the past and should be left in the past. We should all be treated equally.

None of us were alive back then or involved in the events, so let's just forget it.

Fair enough. But…

Later this month, millions of Aussies will (rightfully) remember the landing at Gallipoli. None of us were alive back then or involved in the events, but...Lest We Forget.

Call me fickle, but I think the same rules should apply to all. And equality is what One Nation says it wants.

That means many of us will be at solemn Anzac Day ceremonies on April 25.

It also means many of us who believe in equality will be at Cataract Dam this Sunday, from 11am, when we remember the Appin Massacre of 1816.

Organiser Sister Kerry MacDermott says everyone is welcome. “Walking side by side on the journey of healing and reconcilitation can bring us closer together as a nation and enable us to be friends.”

Lest we Forget. The whole story of our nation.

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