The first blow against the outback Aborigines

Marx said that history runs the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Actually I am not a fan of  Marx and I prefer Edmund Burke “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”  The piece of history that needs to be recalled is the case of the NT stockworkers who were granted “equal pay” in 1966 by the very distant Arbitration Commission. This was written up in a paper by Sir John Kerr at the first conference of the HR Nicholls Society.

Gerard Henderson has attacked the decision in his article ‘How to create unemployment: The Arbitration Commission and the Aborigines’ (published in Wages Wasteland, edited by Hyde and Nurick, 1985) saying it was ‘staggeringly irresponsible” (page 106). I would not myself use those actual words. I would use different words. I would simply say that it was in my opinion wrong. The Commission in weighing the difficulties involved made a serious mistake. The pastoralists’ case was in my view not only unanswerable but no attempt was made to answer it. I summed it up in our final submission towards the end of my address when I said:

    ‘It seems to the pastoralists to be nonsense to say that men are better off, unemployed in thousands, but maintained in settlements in growing degrees of comfort when they could work in the real world with growing degrees of efficiency and growing economic reward.’

Henderson examined material arising following the judgment which showed that ‘almost from the date of the Commission’s decision there was a dramatic decline in Aboriginal employment on cattle stations in the Northern Territory and Western Australia—with devastating social consequences for the former employees and their dependants’. (pages 108-109)

Many aborigines, having been disemployed, moved into government settlements. Skilled aboriginal workers often wished to stay with those in their tribal group who became unemployed as a result of the decision. They decided to leave the cattle properties with the disemployed members of the tribe and go to settlements. This was predicted in evidence.

The second part of the paper described the trade union challenge to the Rule of Law in the 1960s. We need to learn a lesson from that as well!

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23 Responses to The first blow against the outback Aborigines

  1. TerjeP

    Prices should only ever be regulated when the government is the supplier. Any other time it causes tragedy and farce.

  2. Louis Hissink

    The role Frank Hardy and the Australian Communists played in this should not be forgotten either, (and Whitlam’s role as well).

  3. I agree with both of the previous responses. Governments are hopeless at regulating prices. History does repeat itself and those who don’t remember the adage, live to regret it.
    Frank Hardy was a complete and dangerous idiot. He was given plenty of time on our ABC to sprout his philosophies that ultimately caused so much destruction to aborigines self regard. He had such hatred for the world at large. He was the last person on earth who could give a balanced opinion about anything. The end for aboriginal stockmen in the Northern Territory in particular, was a disgrace.
    There is nothing worse than to be told you are worthless and should just retire to a reserve. They had good jobs and were highly regarded in what they could do. I had first hand knowledge of this, but more so from the sheep shearing end of that labour. Many were gradually led away from that work by the ‘do-gooders’ from Sydney and elsewhere.

  4. Frank Hardy was a complete and dangerous idiot.

    Maybe so, but he was a hell of a writer.

  5. Rafe

    I guess that makes it ok to wreck the livelihood of the stockworkers.

  6. Abu Chowdah

    Maybe so, but he was a hell of a writer.

    Did he have the same je ne sais quoi as his grandaughter? A certain, I don’t know, joie de vivre? So witty, and very cute the way she dresses for that niche Sapphic reading market that fixates on goat herders called Heidi.

  7. THR

    Hegel said that history runs the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

    The quote is actually from Marx.

  8. Gabrielle

    “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” – Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

  9. Abu Chowdah

    Hegel. Right, thanks.

  10. Peter Patton

    Nah, that’s not a quote from Marx. THIS is a quote from Marx.

    Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism – huckstering and its preconditions – the Jew will have become impossible, because his consciousness no longer has an object, because the subjective basis of Judaism, practical need, has been humanized, and because the conflict between man’s individual-sensuous existence and his species-existence has been abolished.

    The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.

  11. .

    Mathematically bunk, rabidly anti semitic, nutso conspiracy theory. Anyone nice communist who finds this incredulous is a useful idiot.

  12. THR

    THIS is a quote from Marx

    Yes, it’s a quote ironising the actual anti-Semitism of Bruno Bauer, as you’ve been told. Repeating a lie won’t make it true, Patsy.

  13. Peter Patton

    People, enjoy the irony!

    Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew, as is every pope by a Jesuit. In truth, the cravings of oppressors would be hopeless, and the practicability of war out of the question, if there were not an army of Jesuits to smother thought and a handful of Jews to ransack pockets.

    Here and there and everywhere that a little capital courts investment, there is ever one of these little Jews ready to make a little suggestion or place a little bit of a loan…these loans, which are a curse to the people, a ruin to the holders, and a danger to the governments, become a blessing to the houses of the children of Judah. This Jew organization of loan-mongers is as dangerous to the people as the aristocratic organization of landowner.

    1855 years ago Christ drove the Jewish moneychangers out of the temple, and that the moneychangers of our age enlisted on the side of tyranny happen again chiefly to be Jews, is perhaps no more than a historical coincidence. The loan-mongering Jews of Europe do only on a larger and more obnoxious scale what many others do on one smaller and less significant. But it is only because the Jews are so strong that it is timely and expedient to expose and stigmatize their organization.

  14. Peter Patton

    Gentlepeople, that charming oration from Herr Marx was his contribution to New York Daily Tribune in 1856.

  15. THR

    You’re still wallowing in pathetic ad hom in lieu of actual argument. And you still haven’t demonstrated one iota of doctrinal anti-semitism (or ‘narratology’, as you claimed, channelling Bahnisch).

  16. Peter Patton

    THR to the Aborigines?

    The question, therefore, is not whether the English had a right to conquer India, but whether we are to prefer India conquered by the Turk, by the Persian, by the Russian, to India conquered by the Briton.

    England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.

    Arabs, Turks, Tartars, Moguls, who had successively overrun India, soon became Hindooized, the barbarian conquerors being, by an eternal law of history, conquered themselves by the superior civilization of their subjects. The British were the first conquerors superior, and therefore, inaccessible to Hindoo civilization. They destroyed it by breaking up the native communities, by uprooting the native industry, and by levelling all that was great and elevated in the native society. The historic pages of their rule in India report hardly anything beyond that destruction. The work of regeneration hardly transpires through a heap of ruins. Nevertheless it has begun.

    The native army, organized and trained by the British drill-sergeant, was the sine qua non of Indian self-emancipation, and of India ceasing to be the prey of the first foreign intruder. The free press, introduced for the first time into Asiatic society, and managed principally by the common offspring of Hindoos and Europeans, is a new and powerful agent of reconstruction.

    Nah, just Marx on the curry-munchers.

  17. Peter Patton


    But as THR and the likes of Heidi show, they will not face reality.

  18. Gabrielle

    ’twas just a bit of fun, Peter.

  19. Peter Patton

    Oh, fear not me old lovely, I is havin’ a blast!

  20. Gabrielle

    Humpf! Less of the “old” there my good man.

  21. Rafe

    Thanks for the irrelevant correction THR. Burke’s statement was more to the point. If you had only spent more time becoming expert on relevant thinkers instead of Marx you would not be such a pathetic loser.

    That applies to all the intellectuals in the “dead forest” of the left.

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