Stan Grant on Uluru and reconciliation

This week is Reconciliation Week and to mark the occasion Stan Grant has written two essays talking about the Uluru Statement from the Heart – one that appeared at the ABC and the other at The Conversation.

I think Stan Grant is trying to reconcile indigenous reconciliation with liberalism, and argues that the threats to liberalism from populism and authoritarianism is crowding out the possibility of such a reconciliation. I agree that rising populism and authoritarianism is a problem in the world – but I’m not convinced by the second leg of his story.

In his ABC piece, he writes:

If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?

But what is happening here is not a case of Australian politics not meeting Indigenous “demands for justice”. Australian politics is saying “No” to a very specific proposal. Stan Grant knows this – it is in his The Conversation piece:

What should have been a high watermark of Australian liberalism became instead a victim of Australian liberalism.

It poses an existential question: can liberal democracy meet the demands of First Nations people?

For classical liberals the answer is no, if it means privileging group rights over the individual.

The answer is “No”. Liberalism by its very definition cannot privilege the group over the individual.

Australia’s most small-L liberal prime minister said so at the time, and discusses the issue in his recent autobiography.

The ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ left me deeply conflicted. It was a beautiful piece of poetry, a cry for a say, for agency, for respect. But it contained no detail at all about how such a Voice would be designed.

And how could there be any real limits on what it advised on? After all, every piece of legislation affects Indigenous people. It was unrealistic to say that parliament could, or would, simply ignore the Voice’s advice, or decline to give it time to consider that advice.

In practical terms, such a Voice would effectively evolve into a third chamber.

It is not populist or authoritarian to say no to a deeply illiberal idea. Group rights over individual rights is an idea that has a long history and almost uniform bad outcomes.

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53 Responses to Stan Grant on Uluru and reconciliation

  1. theleftfootkick

    So what has the tan booth done for him this week?

  2. Dasher

    The trouble is this entity would become a haven for activists and mischief makers….indigenous people would hardly get a look in…I can see all the blue eyed white 3/5 of “F” all indigenous people. Of course once this is set up there is no way it would not become an anchor in the system……only indigenous issues? yeah sure. Imagine a conservative government not conforming to the will of the voice. We are supposed to be all equal and free under one flag…well, three flags. See what I mean!!

  3. stackja

    Rename all the places in Australia?

  4. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Stan Grant – still preaching the tried old bullshit about poisoned water holes, and Aborigines not being counted in the census until the 1967 referendum?

  5. thefrollickingmole

    Would it be fair to say it would almost mimic a “House of lords” arrangement, with every piece of legislation being voted up or down as acceptable based on a racial prism?

    If thats the case then welcome to Apartheid Australia, and if anyone imagines the “purely advisory” nature of this is the last demand then I have a bridge to sell you.

    Non Aboriginal Australians have been sold a pig in a poke for 50+ years now, with each demand (starting with the justified) ramping up and onward as nothing more than a springboard for the next demand.

  6. John Comnenus

    Well said Sinclair. No to group rights, not now, not ever in Australia.

  7. Kneel

    They claim to want equality.
    So give it to them, by removing any and all reference to Aboriginal people – you are a citizen, or you are not, all citizens treated the same. No ATSIC, no AbStudy, no RCs into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody – just citizens, that’s it.
    Give ’em that equality – hard!

  8. Roger

    No to group rights, not now, not ever in Australia.

    Alas, identity politics has been in the ascendancy for decades.

    And we’ve subsidised it handsomely all the while.

  9. liliana

    If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?

    What does this even mean?

    To me our democracy is working. According to Stan we would need to need defer to Indigenous demands. Are we to become another South Africa?

  10. H B Bear

    The High Court has already given us 2 laws on the basis of metaphysics.

    Just the latest shift of the goalposts by the Aboriginal Industry.

  11. Professor Fred Lenin

    We will not be able to afford this divisive crap after the virus recedes ,we will not have the money to waste we had before ,the national credit card will be maxed and we will battle to pay the interest. Only rich countries can afford all this SJW crap,. Trade with China will shrink and we will battle to re establish our home industry . They might even defund SBS and ABC and Stan the Tan might have to go back to the traditional land and live in a vandalised house like the rest of his mob .

  12. Crossie

    Group rights over individual rights is an idea that has a long history and almost uniform bad outcomes.

    Its name is Communism and its outcomes only privilege a few self-styled leaders, like Stan Grant, while always pushing everyone else further into the mire, or the desert in this case.

    The problem with indigenous leadership is that they don’t understand the concept at all.

  13. Roger

    Are we to become another South Africa?

    In which he’d gladly accept the presidency.

  14. Ed Case

    Would it be fair to say it would almost mimic a “House of lords” arrangement, with every piece of legislation being voted up or down as acceptable based on a racial prism?

    No, because the House Of Lords was comprised of the large landowners and they understood that their responsibility was to their tenant farmers and their families, the people who generated the real wealth of Britain.

  15. Mitch M.

    Stan Grant’s article highlights the ambiguity of their demands. He quotes many different people but at no point does he precisely articulate what he thinks are the best means to achieve at the coal face improvements for indigenous people. It is all about ideas and symbols but ideas and symbols that can’t be translated to the coal face don’t change anything. It is as if he has only half thought through the problem and has failed to address the real challenge of how improve the life of indigenous individual. Rather his focus is on ideas and symbols that activists enjoy articulating.

    If and when I encounter activists nailing it down in concrete terms, what practical measures will be undertaken to improve indigenous people, by addressing proximate causes of their challenges rather than these ethereal pronouncements that preoccupy activists, then I’ll think about what they have to say but if Stan Grants thinks quoting so many different intellectuals and appearing erudite is the way forward he doesn’t have a clue.

  16. Leo G

    Liberalism by its very definition cannot privilege the group over the individual

    … unless the individual is persuaded that they consented.

  17. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    In which he’d gladly accept the presidency.

    He’d have to push Bruce Pascoe out of the way.

  18. Professor Fred Lenin

    Liberate aboriginals of all colours from socialist opression . Give them exactly the same rights and responsibilities as all other Australian Citizens . Turn them into lawabiding working taxpayers with huge mortgages like everyone else ,that will solve inequality wont it ?
    TRUTH BEATS FACTS .

  19. Rex Anger

    To me our democracy is working. According to Stan we would need to need defer to Indigenous demands. Are we to become another South Africa?

    I thought leftists despised the concept of minority rule based on race? 😛

  20. jupes

    Australia’s most small-L liberal prime minister said so at the time, and discusses the issue in his recent autobiography.

    Oh dear. You didn’t buy Turnbull’s book did you Sinc? Surely not.

  21. Squirrel

    “If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?”

    Yes, the tragedy of the commons truly is tragic.

  22. H B Bear

    In which he’d gladly accept the presidency.

    He’d have to push Bruce Pascoe out of the way.

    Noel Pearson might have something to say about that. Professional aboriginals are a dime a dozen.

  23. liliana

    I thought leftists despised the concept of minority rule based on race?

    Seems to me it depends on the race. So long as it is not ol’ whitey then it’s OK.

  24. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Noel Pearson might have something to say about that. Professional aboriginals are a dime a dozen.

    As would the Dodson brothers, Marcia Langton, Michael Mansell, Adam Goodes…

  25. jupes

    “If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?”

    If Australian politicians cannot work out that the indigenous demands for justice are nothing but a scam, what does it say about their ability to make decisions in the national interest?

  26. liliana

    “If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?”

    Replace justice with endless compensation. I think that sums up the situation.

  27. Herodotus

    I wish them all joy of their rock, but from me it’s Hooroo to Ularoo.

  28. LOL

    The problem is that Stan Grant is a real jerk.

    *FRONTLINE* could have been basically written about him.

  29. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    Mitch M. pretty much sums this piece up at 7:04 pm:

    “… if Stan Grants thinks quoting so many different intellectuals and appearing erudite is the way forward he doesn’t have a clue.”

    Stan The Tan Grant, a proud Seven Network man – [edited Sinc] – glided effortlessly into eldership as a Proud CNN warrior, then a Proud SBS warrior and now he is, simultaneously, a Proud ABC / Ali Baba Jazza / Griffith Uni professor (!) warrior.

    This track record, and the fact that he got a lot darker in recent years after he discovered the gravy train, tells one all one needs to know about STan’s substance.

    Which takes me seamlessly onto the other carpetbagger mentioned in Sinclair’s piece, the Member for Goldman Sachs, with all his “Potential Greatness”. He has said recently, evidently, that some statement about Ayers Rock had “left me deeply conflicted.”

    That’d be a characteristic lie right off the bat. Stumbull was never “conflicted” (a stupid term). He had but one measure to guide him through his quite little (he’s only about 5’7”) but materially prosperous life … What’s in it for me? How much money will I make?

    The three paragraphs quoted from his recent widely ignored paperback make no literal sense.

  30. Bruce of Newcastle

    Stan is a guy of the Left, although a decent one. Unfortunately the Left loves balkanization. But balkanization by race, culture, religion, wealth and privilege just leads to what the Balkans have been know for, notoriously. Endless destructive infighting, misery, poverty and horror.

    The nations which work do so by subsuming all these squabbling cats into one identity. That is the famous American melting pot – which the Left is ferociously degrading.

    So for his people the real answer is not First Nations privilege, it is Australian citizenship. One person, one vote. No person better or worse than any other by their bloodline or social rank. And one rule of law for everyone without fear or favour.

    Unfortunately I think the Left has been too successful in destroying the aboriginal people. I weep because of that. Mal Brough tried and was himself destroyed.

  31. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Replace justice with endless compensation. I think that sums up the situation.

    One percent of Australia’s gross national product in perpetuity, in addition all current welfare payments and benefits to continue.

  32. Suburban Boy

    One percent of Australia’s gross national product in perpetuity, in addition all current welfare payments and benefits to continue.

    That misses the point: the professional indigenous class need constantly to be upping their demands, so a set formula will never be enough for them.

  33. That misses the point: the professional indigenous class need constantly to be upping their demands, so a set formula will never be enough for them.

    Just like doctors and bureaucrats right now…

  34. Hay Stockard

    Fauxborigenes Sir. Fousands of ‘em.

  35. W Hogg

    I think you meant “small-L loser.”

  36. Tel

    If Australian politicians cannot work out that the indigenous demands for justice are nothing but a scam, what does it say about their ability to make decisions in the national interest?

    To me it says, “Business as usual.”

    That lot never make decisions in the national interest … they have a laser focus on short term thinking, looting other people’s money, and winning the next election at all costs.

  37. sfw

    How about we give all of them go away money. Say 1 million each and they give up all native title and any past and future claims. Be cheaper in the long run.

  38. Robbo

    Stan Grant = empty suit.

  39. theleftfootkick

    I see Turnbull’s diatribe on the discount shelf with other odds stuff in BigW

  40. Bob

    Firstly, “justice” was right there in 26/1/1788, when the Aboriginal people had the opportunity to repel the new arrivals, as was their responsibility, given the importance of the land to them and their culture. It was their sacred obligation. They failed. If any contemporary Aborigines have issues about this, then they can take that up with their ancestors who failed to do their duty.

    Secondly – Stan – nobody is buying this “First nations” nonsense outside of the Lefty bubble. The concept of “nation” belongs to Europeans, who created it. Nationhood required certain criteria of evolution, none of which applied to the Aboriginal people. Infrastructure, industries, defence, international trade and policy, recognised systems of government etc. A scattering of paleolithic hunter-gatherers doesn’t cut it. Stop using words that do not apply.

  41. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    A scattering of paleolithic hunter-gatherers doesn’t cut it. Stop using words that do not apply.

    Without even a written language?

  42. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Hay Stockard at 10:40 pm:

    “Fauxborigenes Sir. Fousands of ‘em.”

    Heh, heh, heh.

  43. Struth

    Stan “the white man” Grant’s only thing he has in common with aboriginal Australia is his last name.

  44. Mitch M.

    Struth
    #3464409, posted on May 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm
    Stan “the white man” Grant’s only thing he has in common with aboriginal Australia is his last name.

    He made his career in international journalism. Good on him, had a go and was very successful. Strange how he now doesn’t use himself as an example to other indigenous people on how to improve their lot.

  45. Struth

    Strange how he now doesn’t use himself as an example to other indigenous people

    Because like me, indigenous people that are failing under welfare state socialism in remote areas, can also see that he is not a blackfella.

  46. Richard JH

    The fun is really going to start when they, the aboriginal industry leaders, get around to having to explain/decide who does & who doesn’t have the right to vote in any of the “voice elections”. How will they determine who is and who isn’t an aboriginal, or will they revert to past definitions of aboriginality by leaving it to whoever the clan leaders decide – surely a much more authoritarian than democratic outcome?

  47. Another Old Bloke

    Tan Rant has rarely had an original thought. Nor does he deal in specifics, just generalised whinges.
    As for the “voice”, while I think the quality of politicians has cratered in the past several decades, what politician would be stupid enough to expose any government to the claims of racism which would inevitably follow if it were to reject the advice of the third chamber?

  48. John A

    liliana
    #3463768, posted on May 25, 2020, at 6:35 pm

    If Australian politics cannot meet Indigenous demands for justice, what does it say about the strength and legitimacy of our own democracy?

    What does this even mean?

    To me, our democracy is working. According to Stan, we would need to defer to Indigenous demands. Are we to become another South Africa?

    It means yet another Humpty-Dumpty re-definition of the word democracy, with the aim of installing another leadership group. Of course, a leadership group is clearly a minority ordering the rest about, but let that pass.

    The main problem is that Australia is not a democracy. It is a constitutional monarchy with representative government.
    That means we elect a minority of our populace to represent us in advising the Crown on the governance of the nation.

    So this is merely another attempt to displace the presently elected representative minority with a different minority, aiming to implement a different agenda.

  49. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    The fun is really going to start when they, the aboriginal industry leaders, get around to having to explain/decide who does & who doesn’t have the right to vote in any of the “voice elections”. How will they determine who is and who isn’t an aboriginal, or will they revert to past definitions of aboriginality by leaving it to whoever the clan leaders decide – surely a much more authoritarian than democratic outcome?

    The fun will also really start in the event of any “treaty.” How will they decide who is eligible for for the massive sums to be paid in “compensation” and “reparations?”

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, the consideration for being accepted as “Aboriginal” , by the clan leaders, in certain parts of Australia, was three cartons of VB.

  50. duncanm

    The fun is really going to start when they, the aboriginal industry leaders, get around to having to explain/decide who does & who doesn’t have the right to vote in any of the “voice elections”.

    I know Michael Mansell was banging on about this some time ago.

    I don’t want to derail this Stan pile-on, but I just found a very juicy, probably not well know, tidbit about our mate Michael.

    The TAC (Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation), which was previously responsible for legal aid to Tas Aboriginies (by whatever definition), lost its contract back in 2015 because they were picking and choosing customers to a different tune than that of the Commonwealth.

    Ok, all well and good. The Legal Services contract was worth about $2M/ann., and was given to one “Beeton and Mansell” solicitors in Hobart.

    .. that name sounds familiar. I wonder who Beeton and Mansell are ?

    the graft and corruption in government Aboriginal Services is appalling.

  51. PB

    What is this “justice” they keep wanting, and how much of it would ever be enough if they got it?

  52. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Reconciliation Week
    Ex-Wildcats captain and Reconciliation WA chief executive Andrew Vlahov says issue must ‘go mainstream’

    Headshot of Annabel Hennessy
    Annabel Hennessy
    PerthNow
    May 27, 2020 11:26AM

    Ex-Wildcats captain and newly appointed Reconciliation WA chief executive Andrew Vlahov has called for the issue to “go mainstream” — declaring every West Australian has a duty to learn about the State’s tough past.

    Mr Vlahov and the organisation’s Aboriginal co-chair Carol Innes have also thrown their support behind constitutional recognition for Aboriginal people and a “voice” to government enshrined in the Constitution, arguing it is fundamental for reconciliation.

    Speaking to The West Australian yesterday in honour of Reconciliation Week, Mr Vlahov said his key message was “it’s OK for non-Aboriginal people to not know, but it’s not OK to ignore”.

    “Your obligation as a West Australian is to learn a little more, take one step in your own reconciliation journey and make progress. That will have a domino effect,” Mr Vlahov, who became chief executive of the organisation six weeks ago, said.

    Learning “tough facts” including about former massacres of indigenous people was crucial to understanding intergenerational trauma that is still with us.

    “There are some tough facts that some people might find confronting,” he said.

    “It’s not a nice thing to think about, when you think about the Stolen Generation, when you think about colonisation in general, these aren’t nice things.

    “We’re not going to change history, but we do need to understand that these things happened. And we need to respect and understand more deeply the impact of these things.

    “Because they are still with us today. The impact of intergenerational trauma is still with us.

    The reconciliation conversation needs to become mainstream. It needs to be talked about at the highest levels of government, highest standards corporately, right down to sharing with your partner or your family.

    Ms Innes — a Noongar woman — said it was crucial to understand many of these wrongdoings had been in living memory.

    This includes the fact that Perth was a prohibited area for indigenous people between 1927 and 1954 for Aboriginal people under the Aborigines Act 1905 (WA).

    The only exemption was for holders of a “native pass” that could prove “lawful employment”.

    First I’ve ever heard of Perth being a “prohibited area for indigenous people.”

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