MUNGO MACCALLUM. Real Malcolm stands up and tells First Australians to piss off

After a week of incompetence, chaos and downright embarrassment Malcolm Turnbull may have been looking for a silver lining.

At least the dual citizen debacle, along with Michaelia Cash’s novel interpretation of parliamentary standards, would cover his most egregious capitulation. Surely the avalanche of bad news would roll over his peremptory, even contemptuous, rejection of the Uluru declaration seeking an indigenous voice  in which concerns could be passed on to the Australian Aboriginals’ political masters.

And it almost worked; after all the maxim that there are no votes in Aboriginals all too often means that there is no news for them either. But some of the outrage trickled through, enough to make it clear that our Prime Minister’s legacy will now be irrevocably tarnished.

It is not clear who, if anyone, was consulted before cabinet summarily dismissed ideas that had been germinating for more than a century and had been painstakingly refined over the last ten years. Obviously they did not include most of the participants from the Uluru meeting, or from the referendum Council itself: most of the stakeholders were shocked, deeply depressed and in many cases insulted when they heard the news (through a media leak) that Turnbull had told them, effectively, to go and get stuffed.

Of course he did not put it quite like that: in a short statement he described their proposals as “undesirable,”  that they would inevitably be seen as a third house of parliament, and, perhaps most importantly, that they could not pass in a referendum. And to be fair, our Prime Minister is something of an expert in leading failed referenda.

But look at the facts: the last polling showed that 60 percent of voters favoured the establishment of a voice. Obviously the reactionary right, and especially Tony Abbott and the Nationals, hate the idea, and would campaign against it, although Labor and of course the Greens would be vigorously onside. Turnbull could have relied on at least a measure of bipartisanship,  but in the coalition party room that is out of the question.

So a referendum would be difficult: but surely that is not a sufficient reason not to even try.  As for Turnbull’s worry about the perception of a third house of parliament—this has never been envisaged, and perhaps a smart, agile lawyer could reassure the voters – again, if he was willing to try.

Which leaves us back to “undesirable:” but undesirable to whom? Initially Turnbull thought it wasn’t such a bad idea initially, before he was monstered by the mad right. And it is clearly thoroughly desirable to the people who most matter: the indigenous Australians who were invited to devise it. Now they are told to piss off and go back to some of the suggestions (almost entirely urged by white politicians) which they have long ago rejected as inadequate.

The delegates from Uluru have been declassed not only as second class Australians, but as mere black pawns, to be used and discarded as the political mood dictates. Of all Turnbull’s betrayals this is the worst: cynical, craven and cruel. As Noel Pearson said, referencing Turnbull’s memorable line after the defeat of the Republican referendum, it is truly heart breaking.

Many optimists have been waiting patiently for the real Malcolm Turnbull to finally emerge. Now he has. And now there is no valid reason not to throw him out with as little respect as he accorded the first Australians.

Mungo MacCallum is Mungo MacCallum


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5 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. Real Malcolm stands up and tells First Australians to piss off

  1. To brush aside our indigenous people as Turnbull does is an insult to all Australians, black or white. To accept them into our parliamentary system would not only lift our pride, but in time we would learn more from them about this country and how to make it better. Lets show the world that native peoples are people with a far deeper knowledge and understanding than other invaders, like the USA, that original owners can contribute to our white society to our own advantage.

  2. Geoff Edwards says:

    Mungo MacCallum, I think it is no secret that Senator James Paterson, formerly of the Institute of Public Affairs, has been outspoken against the Uluru Statement and that he spoke with / lobbied the Prime Minister before the PM announced his rejection. The arguments that the PM put forth reflect very closely the position of the Institute. It seems remarkable that he seems to demonstrate so little capacity for independent judgement. It is also remarkable that the IPA has so much influence over public policy, especially considering the trial of wreckage that it has left behind – privatisation of VET, for example.

  3. David Maxwell Gray says:

    Why do I raise the Uluru Statement from the Heart in the context of indigenous health?

    Because physical health, psychological health and spiritual health are interconnected. Not until we non-indigenous Australians recognise the deep social importance of recognition, in the terms so eloquently expressed by the Statement, will we assist indigenous health in the deepest way we can. By conferring dignity upon our indigenous brothers and sisters, through giving them a meaningful voice which recognises their amazing history as an ancient and successful branch of all of us as humans, do we non-indigenous also confer dignity upon ourselves. Without this, we non-indigenous have a dark shameful past, which cannot be assuaged by pretending it does not exist. Neither indigenous nor non-indigenous can truly be healthy.

    Without being party political, which I am not, I call on the leaders within the Liberal Party to reconsider the decision to take the recommendations of the Uluru Statement off the political agenda. Rather, even though it may not be easy to persuade many non-indigenous Australians to consider and understand the necessity for the change and movement in institutional arrangements called for by the Statement, the Liberal Party should be bold enough to instigate a process of reflection and discernment about how to shift community perceptions in the direction of these changes. We owe it to the future of this country, to the spiritual health of all of us, to find a way, consistent with the Statement, of giving indigenous Australians a clear voice and clear influence, about affairs affecting their cultural communities. Their marginalisation must stop.

    I believe this strongly and after much reflection.

    I am an Anglo-Celtic, from entirely Scottish (majority) and English origin, being descended from pioneers who all came to Australasia before 1875. We should not cling to the Anglophilic notions prevalent when those of English or British origins were in ascendancy. I yearn for a new synthesis of our ethnic and cultural origins, which reflects the reality of the multiple origins of Australians and which gives a special and proud place to those who were here for 60,000 years or more. I am proud of my Scottish and English history, but not at the expense of recognising that of others, particularly of my indigenous brothers and sisters.

    David Maxwell Gray

  4. Elly says:

    You’ve nailed it Mungo. Turnbull has well and truly earned the right to lose the leadership as well as the next election.

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