Category: History

“There were no stolen generations”

Posted by – 16 January, 2010

…so argues Keith Windschuttle in the Quadrant and his latest book: The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881–2008.  By the strength of his Quadrant article, it seems the intellectual climate on the issue will begin to turn. Some observations made by KW.

- Not one Federal Court ruling has upheld the idea of a generation of Aboriginal children having been forcibly removed from their parents for the purpose of destroying the Aboriginal race,

- The High Court ruled in 1997 that there was no Aboriginal genocide,

- The figure of 50,000 children having been ‘stolen’, as argued by the PM and others, is a work of fiction. Archival evidence shows that just over 8,000 children were removed from their parents between 1910 to 1970 – some voluntarly  – for a range of legitimate child welfare reasons, or reasons that were also given for removing white children from their parent(s) at the time.

 - Very few infants were ever removed from their parents, the majority being teenagers who later returned to their parents after education and workplace training, while full blooded Aboriginals were mostly left alone by government officials,

Most children affected had been orphaned, abandoned, des­titute, neglected or subject to various forms of domestic violence, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

- In other cases parents regularly accompanied their children to Aboriginal settlements or children were placed with Aboriginal foster parents,

- During the period of the so-called ‘genocide’ the Aboriginal population actually increased 68 per cent,

 - The Joseph Lyons Commonwealth government in 1933 rejected proposals to regulate the marriage of Aboriginal half-castes,

- There is no evidence that Aboriginal activists thought there was an Aboriginal genocide during the 1960s and ’70s and…

A greater mystery is that some of the best-known of an earlier generation of Aboriginal activists had been in an even better position to see what was going on. In the 1940s and 1950s, William Ferguson, Walter Page and Pearl Gibbs actually served as directors of the Aborigines Welfare Board of New South Wales, one of the very organisations then committing the purported genocide. Yet they never realised what was happening. Of all people, they were the ones who should have identified it first. How could they possibly have missed it? If the Stolen Generations story was true, then at that very time, right across Australia, in all states and territories, scores of white welfare officials, backed by parliamentarians and senior public ser­vants, were forcibly removing Aboriginal children to put an end to Aboriginality. How did these hundreds of white people, for a period of more than sixty years, maintain the discipline needed to keep the whole thing so quiet that Aboriginal activists like Ferguson, Page and Gibbs were oblivious to its existence? Why did no one leak the truth? A conspiracy on this scale must have been the best-kept secret in Australian history. On these grounds alone, the inherent implausibil­ity of Read’s thesis should always have been self-evident.

Merry Christmas – the only way the ABC knows how

Posted by – 24 December, 2009

…by bad mouthing Australia. It has been a while since I have read such an ill-informed piece of diatribe as the ABC’s Stephen Long’s piece about Australia’s ‘dumb luck’.

…the Treasurer, the Treasury and the Reserve Bank were set up for success by a wave of pure, dumb luck: a litany of lucky breaks and historical accidents that allowed Australia to – by and large – avoid the financial crisis.

This is the Donald Horne thesis about Australia as the ‘lucky country’. All our economic successes are down to luck. This thesis has been widely discredited in economic history circles, yet the left keep rolling it out as a way of undermining national pride – which they hate.

The main problems with this thesis are that it completely ignores the high level of scientific, engineering and managerial skill and innovation required to run massive mining and agricultural operations and the political skill required to forge trading links with other countries to sell those products.

Secondly, there are many other countries in the world that have similar factor endowments as Australia yet remain complete basket cases - South and Central America ring a bell (Chile and Costa Rica possible exceptions)? So much for it all being about luck. Success requires laws and institutions that ensure property rights, etc… Readers should note that unlike in Argentina, no Australian Federal, State or Colonial government has ever defaulted on its debt and no Australian in the last 100 years has lost their bank deposit, despite the absence of a US style FDIC deposit insurance scheme. So that says something positive about our financial dealings that the ABC would like to ignore.

Thirdly, it is hypocritical and cynical of the political left to keep harping on about Australia’s economic luck. It implies that politicians and government are mostly inept. Yet the political left want more government control and regulation. So where does that leave them on the role of government? Stuck, that’s where.

The substance of Stephen Long’s article seems to be based on what-if scenarios not on historical and current economic realities. Living in this type of fantasy land is unsurprising given that Santa is just round the corner. If the facts don’t fit the thesis, just make the facts up.

More quality ABC programming

Posted by – 8 October, 2009

This time from Foreign Correspondent covering the Italian PM, by Emma Alberici:

ALBERICI: Italy has a history of defending freedom throughout the world, and yet now there seems to be a bit of contradiction in the way it’s attacking its media at home, just over the mere fact that people dare to ask questions.

Ummm, ahhhh, errrr, like in WWII or the Napoleonic Wars, or in Ethiopia, or etc…

A look into the future

Posted by – 12 September, 2009

A damning article of ‘New’ Labour’s socialism in the UK from the Spectator. A small window into Australia’s future if Rudd and his cronies stay in office for just as long as Blair and Brown have:

The bleak truth for UK plc is that after 12 years of stupefying Labour incompetence, the worst is yet to come. Britain is once again on the slide towards the margins of economic influence and military clout. We have the worst public finances of any comparable western economy. The British Chambers of Commerce warned this week that the UK faces a ‘grim’ economic future, with a high risk of a relapse. Unemployment is not just spreading but setting like concrete for years to come. And our shabbily treated troops, once a match for the world’s best, will soon be driven humiliatingly out of Afghanistan.

This is not the slow, managed decline of an empire looking for a role. It is a sudden, embarrassing discovery that we don’t count on the world stage any more. Thanks to our lumbering Prime Minister, we have been given the unwelcome gift to see ourselves as others see us. And it ain’t pretty.

Worse than 1979 argues Kavanagh. Then this interesting comment:

If Britain is just another victim of a worldwide crisis, why are our high-street banks effectively bust, with liabilities running into trillions? If we’re all in the same boat, how is it that Australia, for instance, can boast that all four of its major banks still have double-A credit rating, and have not needed a dollar of taxpayer support?

So socialist Britain is broke, but Howard’s ‘neo-liberal’ and ‘extreme’ capitalist Australia isn’t. Gee, which side is history on? Certainly not Rudd’s

Yep, Rudd really isn’t that smart

Posted by – 11 September, 2009

Rudd’s recent accusation that the other side of politics dropped the ball on reform, and of being ‘indolent’, has been rebutted from Howard ‘Stirred from his sick bed’:

His analysis of the economic reform process in Australia since 1980 was partisan, inaccurate and lacked any semblance of objectivity.

Which is to be expected from Rudd, a PM that seems to have been asleep over the last 30 years.

LET’S start with some facts. As the 1980s began Australia needed five major economic reforms to ensure success in a rapidly globalising world economy.

They were financial deregulation (LIB/ALP), fundamental taxation reform (LIB), dismantling of high tariff protection (ALP), privatisation of government-owned commercial bodies (ALP/LIB) and a freer labour market (LIB).

My notations above.

The blueprint for financial reform came from the Campbell inquiry, set up by me, as treasurer. The reform process here started with the Fraser government, through the introduction of a tender system for the sale of Treasury notes and Treasury bonds, described by the former Reserve Bank Governor Ian Macfarlane, in his 2006 Boyer lectures, as “second only in importance to the float of the Australian dollar in 1983″.

The Fraser government also began the politically difficult task of deregulating interest rates, by removing all interest-rate ceilings on bank deposits.

Howard notes that Treasury – i.e. the public sector world that Rudd comes from – opposed these initial financial reforms. Howard also points out that something happened to the ALP when they went into opposition. They basically turned their backs on the Hawke/Keating economic legacy by opposing continued financial deregulation, tax reform and the privatisationagenda. (Hint to left-wingers in the Coalition that turn their back on the Howard legacy). Rudd is a product of the ALP’s strange days in opposition.

Labor negativity in opposition was not confined to the five major reforms I have cited. It also tried to thwart the fiscal consolidation process, commenced in Peter Costello’s first budget in 1996.

The ALP basically opposed anything and everything. But of course today when the Coalition try to make amendments to government legislation they are mostly de-rided by the Canberra press gallery. And compare the achievements of the last governments with Rudd’s. What exactly has he achieved? Money spent on classrooms schools don’t want, billions sent to China to make ceiling insulation, back to the future employment legislation a couple of essays and a number of incomprehensible and ill-informed speeches.

‘A victory for democracy’

Posted by – 5 September, 2009

Readers may recall a Yes Prime Minister episode entitled ‘A victory for Democracy’ in which Jim Hacker does battle with the civil service to ensure the continuation of democracy on the island of St George (a fictitious island). The civil service do their best to stop Jim Hacker intervening in the affair to defeat a group of Marxist agitators intent on overthrowing the democratic government. The Foreign Office have drawn up their own policy position and they are intent on ignoring the will of government. The position on St George’s can best be summed up be these classic lines:

…every support, short of help.

I was reminded of this episode when reading a Paul Kelly article on the East Timor intervention, with reference to the great mandarin and apologist for corrupt regimes, former civil servant Hugh White:

Defence Department deputy secretary Hugh White, the leading strategist, defined what he believed were Australia’s objectives. They were: having East Timor remain part of Indonesia; ensuring ties with Jakarta were put before the fate of East Timor; retaining Australia’s military ties with Indonesia; and avoiding any Australian Defence Force deployment, if possible.

In other words, ‘every support, short of help.’ Another case of Canberra civil servants pretending to be politicians. However:

These were White’s principles guiding the Defence Department; each of them was trashed before the end of the year, proof of the violation of policy orthodoxy that Howard and Downer would entertain.

The whole Paul Kelly article is worth a read. I disagree though with one point; that the success of the mission was only due to Indonesia deciding not to challenge the intervention. As if the ADF did nothing at all to contribute to the mission’s success – it just happened by itself. This is typical left-wing historical defeatist revisionism at work.

The story of East Timor’s independence is pretty remarkable for the speed in which it took place and the people Howard and Downer convinced (Habibie, Clinton) or pushed out of the way (Hugh White) to make it happen.

The great pretender

Posted by – 1 September, 2009

Rudd likes to pretend to be a great intellectual, but in most cases he is way off the mark. From Greg Melleuish:

The history wars to which Rudd refers long predate the prime ministership of John Howard. They came to public prominence because the agenda of the black-armband brigade was taken up by Paul Keating as part of his “big picture”. Their willingness to use history for political purposes provided useful ammunition for Keating on matters such as indigenous affairs, the republic and multiculturalism. Howard was essentially reacting to what he saw as the extreme nature of Keating and his ideological supporters. Rather than going beyond this division, Rudd’s approach indicates that he is intent on entrenching it. He seems to think that historical inquiry consists of a constant cycle of celebration and condemnation.

This is not the purpose of studying history. Historians seek to understand the past, to gain an appreciation of how and why people acted in the way they did…his speech encourages the unhelpful idea that the real purpose of history is serve moral and political concerns.

Rudd’s white flag in the History Wars

Posted by – 28 August, 2009

Rudd has called for a cease fire over the History Wars during the launch of Thomas Keneally’s latest salvo for the left: Australians: Origins to Eureka.

The Prime Minister said he believed the “the time has now come to move beyond the arid intellectual debates of the history wars and the culture wars of recent years”….Mr Rudd said he believed a core timeline of events was essential for understanding our history and “we should all agree that a sequence of events took place”.

Sounds too me like Rudd wants to get out of a hot kitchen, and it does not spell good for Keneally’s latest book.

The author of the Booker prize-winning novel Schindler’s Ark, Mr Keneally said he also intended to bring those historical figures, usually found on a plinth in a park, down to earth.

Typical left-wing tactic, see the bad over the good: ‘Damn it, Australian history is not allowed to have any heroes in it’. He continued this line on Lateline, describing Australian history as ‘perverse’ and settler culture as a ‘virus’ and then he rambled on about the ‘inevitability’ of Australia being a Republic, describing our constitutional arrangements as ‘absurd’.

Keneally claims of course that he is not writing a ‘blackarm band’ view of Australia, but this is just to make his book appear acceptable to potential book buyers. If it is a powerful book for the left, Rudd wouldn’t exactly be raising the white flag at the book’s very launch. Rudd ally and history war propaganda commander-in-chief Robert Manne, speaking about what the other side has to say about his own history:

…began to challenge what was perhaps 20 years or so of history about Aboriginal dispossession and regard it as a kind of left-wing fraud

Which is exactly what it is. Of course the ABC online news interview of Manne does not provide an opportunity for one of his opponents to offer a rebuttal. Manne again:

“I agree entirely with the Prime Minister’s desire for an end to the history wars,” he said…”So that if we can end what I think is something associated with culture wars and is associated really with a period of neo-conservatism; if we can end that then we’re much likely to get much better and nuanced history.”

Nuanced history?!? History without the facts. Looks to me like Manne is putting out a smoke screen to cover his retreat. The left is definitely on the run. We should not be looking for a cease fire, but the type of victory that comes from total conquest of our opponents. John Howard – like a calvary charge cutting down retreating infantry – hit back at Rudd:

”I can understand why he wants to move on from the debate because he clearly doesn’t understand the intellectual framework of it…”

And then Rudd had the following to say, a white flag if I have ever seen it:

Mr Rudd said it was time to turn the page and ”embrace a balanced, reflective but positive view of our past that both informs and inspires our future”.

I wonder what Manne and his gulag history of Australia would have to say about that. Naturally Geoffery Blainey agrees with the PM’s movement away from Manne’s view of Australian history:

I thought a lot of them were sensible comments. What he said was that you should have a balanced view of our past; that there are things that make us embarrassed and there are a lot of things that make us proud and on the whole I thought his speech was a balanced summary of our past.

I’m not sure that the ABC’s radio interview of Blainey really delved deep enough. Blainey would likely disagree with Rudd on what is ‘bad’ within Australian history. However, Rudd’s retreat is a promising start.

Rudd’s ignorant essay

Posted by – 1 August, 2009

MT has written a to the point response to Rudd’s latest essay, in which Rudd once again condemns something he calls ‘neo-liberalism’, in favour of big socialist government bureaucratic driven and highly regulated solutions to national problems. Well history is clearly on MT’s side. As Thatcher once said, socialism fails because eventually it runs out of other people’s money. Equally clear is that Rudd has no idea, firstly of what caused the financial meltdown and secondly of recent economic history – especially the 1970s stagflation. If Rudd is seriously arguing that the last 30 years have a been a ‘neo-liberal’ failure, then what, the 1970s were boom times!?! Gerard Henderson tears apart Rudd’s recent essay, exposing the contradictions and plain ignorance of Rudd’s words.

…If right-of-centre politics is responsible for the GFC, then the British economy should be in a stronger position than Australia’s. It isn’t.

But to acknowledge this Rudd would have to concede that the Howard government made some correct decisions on taxation and expenditure, industrial relations including waterfront reform and financial regulation and oversight.

Of all the actions Rudd has taken since being in government, his water policy above all else demonstrates his disdain for rural Australia in favour of his devotion to the inner-city ‘green’ chattering classes:

On water security, our biggest environmental challenge, he is abandoning the vision of investing $10bn in increasing water efficiency in rural Australia by diverting these funds to buy back more and more water entitlements without regard for the impact of those buybacks on food security or the communities that depend on them.

Rudd’s let them eat cake moment, imported at that.

The GG starts up the Orwellian rhetoric, again

Posted by – 1 August, 2009

Reported by the ABC upon the Governor-General Quentin Bryce opening some type of conservative bashing literary event that apparently we as Australians are all meant to be interested in:

Ms Bryce also says the presence of Indigenous writers is important in the anthology, shining a light on the so-called ‘black armband’ view of history that polarised Australia.

“I think that’s one of the great contributions; bringing this new understandings, awareness and knowledge and voices from right across Australia,” she said.

The GG can’t help herself, entering into a deeply contentious issue. The only opinions the GG seems interested in are those from the left. And unlike how the ABC has reported the history wars, it continues to polarise Australia. A change of government has not ended the debate.