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Issue #1789      August 9, 2017

Book Review – Tom Salisbury

A must-read – Driving Disunity
by Lindy Nolan

On May 29 this year, ABC TV screened a program from a meeting in Canberra of approximately 250 Indigenous delegates. They were delegates who had previously come from all parts of Australia to meet at Uluru where discussions, deliberations and decisions were agreed upon and from which the “Uluru Statement” was delivered.

This statement is historic and very moving. I am sure that everyone who heard it that night would have been deeply affected by its message, for it is indeed a “statement from the heart”.

A key proposal passed by the delegates called for the establishment of a First Nation’s voice to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution. They emphasised their aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and “for a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination”.

However, towards the end of the ABC program, Noel Pearson was interviewed and admitted that he had been advised in the preparation of the Uluru Statement by some close friends – “constitutional conservatives” as he called them.

The following weekend, the Saturday Paper of June 3, featured on its front page a report by Karen Middleton entitled “The Making of the Uluru Statement” and I would like to quote some of the remarks she made.

“Behind the landmark Uluru statement are years of conservative negotiations and compromise led by Noel Pearson ... In the vein of politics being the art of the possible, his was not a search for perfect reform but for compromise. Having first approached constitutionalist Greg Craven to talk about the kind of change conservatives might accept, Pearson sat down with conservative thinkers Damien Freeman and now-Liberal MP Julian Leeser ... Unbeknown to many who have engaged with the debate since, those discussions significantly influenced the direction of Australia’s constitutional debate ... perhaps more than even any of its participants know”.

The article went on to say:

“Noel Pearson’s constitutional adviser, Shireen Morris, revealed this week that the basis for what Indigenous people agreed on at Uluru was actually drafted in consultation with the non-Indigenous ‘constitutional conservatives’ ”.

Later in the article, Karen Middleton quotes Noel Pearson again: “The decisive move that needed to be made was to step right”, he said. “We needed to fully take account of the conservatives. We needed to take full account of their reasonable objections.”

Karen Middleton’s revelations are very alarming. There are implications that need to be addressed and questions that have to be asked. And so we come to this wonderful book by Lindy Nolan, Driving Disunity: The Business Council Against Aboriginal Community”.

Here is a treasure trove of recent Australian history – pages full of facts and figures. In particular it exposes the nefarious and divisive activities of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and its affiliates – the largest 100 companies in Australia – and its attempts to wrest control of Aboriginal lands for exploitation and development. Companies are named, CEOs are named and their activities exposed.

Well researched and documented Driving Disunity deserves to be in the front window of every bookshop, in every council and school library and in every home. This is a book that needs to be discussed and the subject it presents debated in universities and symposiums (and Party branch meetings) for its message is so important and topical.

If the BCA gets its way, they will desecrate Sacred Sites, plunder ancient art galleries, vandalise Ceremonial Bora Grounds – all in the guise of “jobs and growth”.

In Darkinjung Country, BCA’s insidious propaganda has already split and divided its people.

Driving Disunity, is very important for understanding what is at stake for all of us.

Footnote:

On ABC’s 7.30 of July 17, 2017, Leigh Sales interviewed Pat Dodson. As a member of the Referendum Council, he was asked if the work of the Council was proceeding after its recent meeting with the Parliamentary leaders, Turnbull and Shorten. Unfortunately, Dodson readily admitted matters were “going around in circles”.

This reminds me of an anecdote published in the Sydney Morning Herald many, many years ago. The Herald had commissioned a well-known author to travel the outback and write a series of articles on his observations. He went way past the “black stump” gathering stories as he went. Eventually he came across a tribal elder camped by a creek and sat down in the dust beside him and they yarned while the author scribbled away. On leaving, the author asked the elder, “And how do you get on with the local whites?” The writer quickly noted the reply “Oh, white fella all right I suppose – alla same – talk too much plurry humbug”.

Next article – Crisis facing public interest journalism

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