Episode 229 – Dark Emu and Labor Party Meetings


Does Dark Emu misrepresent early explorers and what is it like at local Labor Party branch meetings?

Today we will expand upon our Indigenous episode #213 from 30 July 2019 but before we do …

Qantas Hostie and Racism

Will.i.am accuses a Qantas hostie of racism. The Veronicas had an altercation on a Qantas flight and say it was the same hostie.

Jessica and Lisa Origliasso, 34, told Confidential that they had flown with the airline for 15 years without incident prior to their stoush in September and they urged will.i.am not to retract his claims of racism after Qantas demanded the rapper do so following a separate incident.

The twin sisters claimed the flight attendant who clashed with will.i.am is the same woman who they previously clashed with before they were escorted off a flight by police.

Qantas has dismissed all claims as “utterly untrue” and asked will.i.am to retract his claim, however, Jess and Lisa say that he shouldn’t have to do that.

“No. Why would he?” said Jess.

Lisa added: “We weren’t there but we support him.”

They continued to speak highly of the rapper.


The Veronicas are of Italian descent on their father’s side. They look pretty white. So that would indicate the hostie is not racist.

Langton attacks Flannery for holding ‘racist’ belief

From the SMH December 2012

In her fourth Boyer lecture, an extract of which is published in today’s Saturday Age, Professor Langton attacked Professor Flannery – a distinguished scientist, explorer and conservationist – for comments in his recent Quarterly Essay, After the Future: Australia’s New Extinction Crisis, which she said suggested he believed land was not ”safe” if it was owned by Aboriginal people.

”Even under Labor governments with a strong green bent, national parks are not always safe. In 2010, the Queensland Bligh government began the process of degazetting a large part of Mungkan Kaanju National Park on Cape York Peninsula with a view to giving the land back to its traditional Aboriginal owners,” Professor Flannery wrote in the essay.

Professor Langton, the foundation chair of Australian indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne, suggested Professor Flannery had succumbed to the ”environmental campaign ideology that Australia’s first people are the enemies of nature”.

But Professor Flannery said Professor Langton had misunderstood his essay.

Bronwyn’s Indigenous Episode Feedback

I like Bronwyn, she pushes back and disagrees but continues to listen.

She is the only one who gave feedback.

Bronwyn Said

Point One.

You have said before, and repeated in this episode, that you believe that people should receive special assistance or consideration due to disadvantage, not the colour of their skin … I put it to you that Indigenous people in Australia suffer disadvantage BECAUSE OF the colour of their skin. Even Indigenous people from urbanised and/or middle class backgrounds will suffer some level of discrimination or mistreatment because they look Aboriginal to white people, or because they assert their Indigenous status in some other way.

What does Marcia Langton say?

Who is Marcia Langton?

Marcia Langton is a leading academic and Indigenous spokesperson who has held the foundation chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne since February 2000. An anthropologist with a BA from the Australian National University and a PhD in human geography from Macquarie University, who began her academic career in 1995 at the Northern Territory University in Darwin, Langton has made a significant contribution to Indigenous studies as a discipline and to government and non-government policy and administration throughout her career. She has published widely on a range of Aboriginal affairs issues including land rights, the mining industry and indigenous communities, resource management and the social impacts of development.

Prominent indigenous academic Marcia Langton says Aboriginal people in big cities are not disadvantaged, and handing out taxpayer funds to help them is hurting those in desperate need.

Professor Langton, from the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Studies department, said she was “prepared to stand up and say: yes I am indigenous but I am not disadvantaged”.

“We have to get a bit tough and up to 50 per cent of the indigenous population could stand with me and say I am indigenous but I am not disadvantaged like people in the Northern Territory,” she said at the Garma Aboriginal festival in Arnhem Land.

Prof Langton also criticised the Territory Government, accusing it of spending vast amounts of Commonwealth money meant to tackle Aboriginal disadvantage but instead used for “white towns” in the 40 years since self-government was granted.

I say, yes, they will but for many it is inconsequential. Short people, obese people, non-indigenous coloured people, Asian people, tattooed people, white people in Alice Springs – they are all discriminated against at some stage in their lives but they get on with it.

Everyday racism

(in the USA)… consider George Yance, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” … Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican … The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

How can we measure it? How can we get beyond the anecdotal? I don’t think we can, but …

Truly oppressed minority groups hide their identity. As I pointed out, the census figures show indigenous identity booming above the birth rate.

Now we get to the ugly part. Many activists who claim discrimination because of their skin colour, don’t look indigenous to me. They could be white or part middle eastern or European.

If Christians can falsely claim or overstate that they are persecuted, why can’t other minority groups?

That’s why we should ignore skin colour and hurt feelings and concentrate on real disadvantage.

Point Two

Since the 1970s, public policy and program development in Australia has incorporated the principle that there are a number of minority groups in society which require special assistance, because they are disadvantaged by social and cultural attitudes and for other reasons. These programs have focused on providing assistance with access to education, health and other essential services. Australians have, by and large, accepted this as a necessary part of living in a civilised society. An example of such a program is the National Disability Insurance Scheme … In responding to the question of whether Indigenous programs result in unfair advantage, I would ask you to try substituting the names of other so-called minorities for the Indigenous minority. Does special assistance unfairly advantage non-English speaking people? The disabled? Women? (I’d be careful about that last one, guys.)

I say that with those groups, we test them. Can you read? No? Ok, here is some help. Are you disabled? Ok, how much and in what way. Ok, here is some help. We actually assess individuals. Women. I’m not sure what programs Bronwyn is referring to but we might say “have you given birth, Ok here is some maternity leave”. Have you raised children, ok here is some return to work assistance program. Are you a single mother? We don’t just give it to the group. We ask about the disadvantage.

Casual racism

Bronwyn says empathising with the constant everyday casual racism would not be easy and maybe not possible.

You may be right. But casual racism will not be solved by implementing the Uluru statement. It will excacerbate the problem. Dividing people encourages racism.

The Uluru Statement

Bronwyn referred to the special nature of the advisory body but with respect didn’t add much beyond what professor Twomey said and I dealt with that. I can’t add anymore.

It should also be remembered that, regardless of the model adopted, the proposer of the legislation would not be obliged to alter their proposal to suit the Indigenous body. They would only be required to consult. So let’s all calm down a bit.

I don’t need to calm down about it. I’m ok.

My refugee analogy

Bronwyn doesn’t get it. I’m pretty happy with it.

Make laws as if you will be subject to them yourself. If I was magically turned into an indigenous person I would prefer my Trevor Bell white person approach.

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe debunked

Play audio from Ted Talk

Most of this commentary comes from an interesting article from Dark Emu Exposed . Org

The explorer Thomas Livingstone Mitchell

Journal of an Expedition in the Interior of Tropical Australia in PDF

Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia in PDF

A video showing aborigines gathering seeds. The flies, the teeth, the 3 brides one of which is very young.

In his 2014 Dark Emu book, Mr Pascoe writes :

“As he [Mitchell] crosses the Australian frontier, he describes what he sees: ‘[T]he grass is pulled…and piled in hayricks, so that the aspect of the desert was softened into the agreeable semblance of a hay-field…we found the ricks or hay-cocks extended for miles.’“ – (Dark Emu, 2018 reprint, p15)

Mr Pascoe appears to incorrectly cite this as being from page 90 of Mitchell’s 1848 (1969 edition), “Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia”, when in fact we found it in Mitchell’s other cited journal, “Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, 1839”. A word search for the word “stooked” or even “stooped” only gives “…Robert Muirhead accidentally stooped to lift the animal…”.  It appears that there is no mention in Mitchell’s journals of any “stooked grain”, let alone nine miles of it.

By the time of Mr Pascoe’s 2018 lecture below, Mitchell’s “facts” had been stretched further to include :

“In 2014 I [Pascoe] wrote a book, Dark Emu, which exploded the myth that Aboriginal people were mere hunters and gatherers and did nothing with the land. I wrote the book because I found it hard to convince Australians that Aboriginal people were farming. Using colonial journals, the sources Australians hold to be true, I was able to form a radically different view of Australian history. Aboriginal people were farming. There’s no other conclusion to draw. Colonial explorer, Sir Thomas Mitchell, rode through nine miles of stooked grain. “ [our emphasis]

What Mitchell actually said in his 1848 Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, on page 90 (1969 reprint), was :

“The Narran was full of water every where, and with this abundance of water there was also plenty of most excellent grass. The Panicum loevinode of Dr. Lindley seemed to predominate, a grass whereof the seed (“Cooly”) is made by the natives into a kind of paste or bread.  Dry heaps of this grass, that had been pulled expressly for the purpose of gathering the seed, lay along our path for many miles. I counted nine miles along the river, in which we rode through this grass only, reaching to our saddle-girths, and the same grass seemed to grow back from the river, at least as far as the eye could reach through a very open forest. I had never seen such rich natural pasturage in any other part of New South Wales.”

So, Mitchell records that he rode through nine miles of rich, natural pasturage (grass) standing up to his horse’s saddle-girth (that is, not fields of human cultivation, but just tall, wild grass fields), with some dry, pulled grass laying in heaps along the way; he did NOT appear to ride through a continuous “nine miles of stooked grain”.

If Mitchell had seen any sign of Aboriginal agriculture such as tilling the land, sowing seeds, cultivating, weeding or irrigating, it is most likely he would have recorded it. Instead, he just recorded that he saw grass pulled out and piled in heaps to dry. This is a classic hunter-gatherer seed collecting technique.

To harvest and stook 14 km fields of grain is a massive task, which would require hundreds of Aborigines either, pulling the grass by hand as the two women are doing in the image below or, at best, they would use an inefficient stone-knife to cut the stalks. Compare that to the teams of colonial harvesters using scythes and other equipment in the images below, who still would not have been able to “stook grain” for 14 kms.

As a final piece of real evidence, rather than just relying on Mr Pascoe’s interpretation of a few, Eurocentric farming words in an explorer’s journal, we have located a film clip of a family group of Aboriginal women, gathering wild grass-seeds in the central Australian region of Mr Pascoe’s “Aboriginal Grain Belt.” It shows the seed-grasses growing to a height of ‘saddle-girths… along a river‘ in a typical scene as described by Mitchell. We invite the reader to watch this wonderful film clip and immerse themselves in this 50,000 year-old scene of Aboriginal hunter-gatherers at work. We believe it is highly disrespectful of Mr Pascoe towards these women to portray them as soil-tilling farmers, which is clearly something that they are not.

Mr Pascoe claims he used as sources for Dark Emu, “…the journals and diaries of the explorers and colonists. These journals revealed a much more complicated Aboriginal economy than the primitive hunter-gatherer lifestyle we had been told was the simple lot of Australia’s First People.” – (Dark Emu 2018 reprint, p2).

It appears from our research of Mr Pascoe’s sources, that he is being very selective in what he quotes from the explorer’s journals. For example, as above when the explorer Mitchell uses words like, “ricks or hay-cocks“ , Mr Pascoe seizes on this as evidence of a scene of ‘Aboriginal agriculture’ that Mitchell was describing to his readers. However, Mr Pascoe does not attempt to address the contradictory evidence from many other explorers who describe the Aboriginal economy from areas similar to where Mitchell travelled. For example, the explorer Alfred Giles, while travelling through Mr Pascoe’s, “Aboriginal Grain Belt’ area of South Australia and the Northern Territory, recorded his observations thus:

“Just as we had passed through the gorge and were travelling over splendid grass flats we suddenly came upon an old and decrepit black lubra and several piccaninnies of various ages digging yams. The youngsters set up a terrible howling, but the old dame stood still and undecided what to do. She took care, however, to put the youngest child on her back, and made a few steps in the direction of the scrub, but again stopped, muttering, wringing her hands, and calling out to a younger lubra, who appeared from behind some trees. Mr. Ross got off his horse and walked towards them, making friendly signs, but this was too much, and they dashed off at once into the scrub. We picked up some of the roots, or yams, which were about nine inches long and as thick as a radish. We followed the creek three miles, and saw another lubra and three piccaninnies; but like the others, they vanished immediately. We kept on following the river for about 10 miles, and found plenty of water, …. and entered splendidly grassed country with flats…” – Giles, A., Exploring in the Seventies, Pub. Friends of the State Library of Sth Australia, 1995, p58.

So, despite the fact that this was, “splendidly grassed country” with “plenty of water”, the only Aboriginal activity seen here was the collecting of wild yams by a few women and children. Giles makes no record of any grass grain harvesting with ‘ricks or hay-cocks’ , irrigation or intensive soil cultivation. In fact, the scenes he describes are of a classic, Aboriginal “hunter-gatherer” economy, as actual film-footage of mulga seed collecting in 1965 shows.

You must check out a video showing aborigines gathering seeds. The flies, the teeth, the 3 brides one of which is very young.

Cultural Identity is just another ideology which is open to criticism

Some people treat Indigenous identity with a misplaced respect  or veneration not unlike a religion and criticism is discouraged.

The UNSW  is guilty of this

The Australian recently reported that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is advising its staff to avoid teaching students about the arrival of Australian Indigenous people onto the Australian continent.

As part of the development of materials used to guide teaching, the university has produced a diversity toolkit in regard to culturally diverse students. One of these, entitled Appropriate Terminology, Indigenous Australian People, provides guidelines about how staff should refer to Aboriginal people, their culture and events connected with the arrival of Europeans. For instance, it advises staff not to describe Australia as having been “discovered’ in 1788 (when the first fleet of British ships arrived at Sydney), since this implicitly denies the fact that Australia already was occupied by Aboriginal peoples. Such information already is standard for anyone in Australia who has familiarised themselves with the approved form of navigating discussion of Indigenous issues.

While the vast majority of the advice contained in the document is cultural in its orientation (albeit with a decidedly political flavour at some points), the guidelines occasionally wander into the domain of science. In particular, university staff are explicitly advised to avoid making reference to the fact that “Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years” (a figure that corresponds to the latest widely accepted date of the first arrival of humans to Australia from Africa and Asia). Instead, they are advised to date the Aboriginal presence in Australia to “the beginning of the Dreaming/s,” because such language “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land.”

The document warns that “forty thousand years puts a limit on the occupation of Australia, and thus tends to lend support to migration theories and anthropological assumptions. Many Indigenous Australians see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate.” Such guidelines—approved by the UNSW Dean of Science—are in direct conflict with the scientific consensus about the origins of Aboriginal Australians.

Communal Ownership

From an article in Quillette which looks at the Canadian Experience

Communal Ownership creates a welfare state

I will not dwell too much in this space on the cruel, cynical, and utterly disastrous government decisions that have led to the current state of affairs in Indigenous communities. But perhaps the single largest enduring difficulty originates in the fact that land on Indigenous reserves is not owned by residents in their capacity as individuals. Rather, it is controlled collectively, so that no person or family can buy, sell, lease, or mortgage their property in the normal manner that the rest of us take for granted.

This has had a crushing effect on business formation and land improvement. And it is one of the reasons why the housing stock on reserves degrades so quickly: Since no one owns their house in the normal way, there is little financial incentive to invest in any even basic upkeep activities such as mould eradication. And since residents can’t mortgage their homes, no one has any basis for secured lending. Indigenous people are no less industrious and ambitious than anyone else in Canada, but they often must leave their reserve communities to find their fortune. To remain on reserve is, in many ways, to exist as a serf within a welfare state.

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