Thought shower? That’s golden

Jargon:  special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.

There is something missing from that definition.  Those that use it are wankers. 

There is a whole profession dedicated to the creation and use of jargon that appears to have nothing going for it other than it uses a whole mess of new words for old contexts in a desperately expensive effort to look innovative, new and fresh.  That profession is called management consultancy.  You know, the sort of people to whom you give tens of thousands of dollars and your watch and they tell you the time, but in a manner calculated to confuse. And in general the most optimum contribution that that sort can make is to leave your premises and never return.  If they do, release the hounds.

My attention was recently drawn to the following article. I’m not entirely sure what my erstwhile and very plain English speaking colleague (she used to routinely edit academic papers and is brilliant and brutal in equal measure) was seeking to achieve but if it was to have me expel coffee through my nose, mission accomplished.

Read the article if you must, but there is some jargon in there that just got all my hate glands going. Some of these are quite common these days.  We are all familiar with “blue sky dreaming”, “deep dive”, “spitballing”, and “getting our ducks in a row”.

In respect of the last, I’ve taken great pleasure in using it in a highly technical way: “we must align our waterfowl”. This, of course, comes from the same wellspring as “Robert’s your mother’s brother”, for example.

In the below article you will find such wonders as “flearning” which is a convenient mix of “failure and learning”. With that in mind, on an Advanced Diploma in Governance, Risk and Compliance course we came up with something that is a metric of that which is between a few and a lot, which is, of course, a “flot”.

I hasten to add, however, we were on the final day and the end was near and we were facing the final curtain and were thusly taking the piss, which, if you are going to be polite, can be rejigged to “extracting the urine”.

Which takes us onto the monstrosity of “thought shower”. I don’t know about you, but that expression just makes me feel, whether intuitively or, paradoxically, counter-intuitively, dirty.

None of this is new, as the article makes clear.  Language has always been full of this sort of thing. “A little often” and “hasten slowly” are two snorters that come to mind and are practically old age pensioners.

Then there is the perennial people’s choice of “don’t over engineer it” which I’ve shortened to “tighten loosely” and which I’ve now used a bunch of times and to great effect.

Little do people know that I got it from the instructions on how to assemble a wheelbarrow I had bought from Bunnings, and parlayed it into a blog.

Being in the public service I’ve seen some corker acronyms like BOGSAAT (Bunch of Guys Sitting Around a Table).  But the article below contains BHAG, which I thought was either the name of one of Grendel’s cousins or a side-dish for a curry: Big Hairy Audacious Goal.


The phrase that really caught my eye was “we are not going to punch a puppy”. Loosely translated it means not doing anything that would get you adverse publicity, because punching puppies is just horrible.

Why stop at puppies? There is a whole lexicon of totally uncool things to do and an animal kingdom out there. When I should have been paying attention in the organisation resilience (don’t start) module while the Fukushima fukuparama was being discussed I came up with the following:

  • Kick a kitten
  • Drown a donkey
  • Bugger a bushbaby
  • Eviscerate an elephant  
  • Slap a sloth                                                                                                        
  • Batter a butterfly
  • Gaslight a gecko
  • Defame a dromedary
  • Flog a ferret
  • Roger a raccoon
  • Kill a koala
  • Wound a wombat
  • Poke a possum
  • Niggle a numbat
  • Bruise a bunny
  • Harass a hamster
  • Slaughter a squirrel
  • Piss on a pelican
  • Choke a chinchilla
  • Defenestrate a deer
  • Molest a manatee
  • Interfere with an iguana
  • Assault an alpaca
  • Fart at a flamingo
  • Cuff a capybara
  • Bash up a bandicoot
  • Castigate a cassowary
  • Tease a tiger
  • Thump a three banded plover

And why not?

Because, as we all know, we are not here to fuck spiders.

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Avoid the edge of chaos and be back in time for tea.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child, chuck all its crap in the back of the ute along with your crap and everyone else’s crap and sort it out when you get home”.

I’ve too many memories of the absolute and utter chaos of coming back from a family holiday with everyone’s crap packed any old how punctuated by sand in every nook and cranny imaginable and arriving home to a house colder than the grave and eff-all in the fridge and an unwillingness to help with unpacking to the point of insurrection and collapsing into bed on the Sunday night with the cold hand of horror grasping your heart in the knowledge that you have to be at work first thing and the house looks like shit and so do you.

You are so busy you don’t pause for breath or put in a comma.

Well, we’ve just tried something slightly different. For a start I couldn’t be arsed fishing on Friday night, the events of the week being such that the activity was doomed, I tell ye, doomed. So, packed up that crap. Everyone else packed up their crap save the fresh clothes they would wear home. A leisurely meal of Charlottey’s experimental cookery vide “Messed Up Meat Balls” which are bbqd beef sausages, cut into bites and then whacked into a spag bog sauce with grated vegetables and served with pasta and spinach leaves.

The Human Locust ventured that this dinner was a “disaster” but ate it nonetheless.

Wash up the kitchen crap and see that all other packed crap is ready for embussing on the morrow.

A pleasant evening kip and then the packing of the Redneck Special with the crap that had been packed the night before and a clean out of the digs, quick idiot check, and hand in the keys to a spotless cabin at 9:15, 15 minutes in hand, and down to Short Point, so named, I think as it is only a short walk to the Point.

This is an off-lead area and so Fido and Patch can gambol to their heart’s content, sniff, pee and poo with abandon and woof at things. It was certainly Ruby the Wonderkelpie’s fave bit of the holiday. And the Merimbulians have an interesting way of dealing with doggie-doo: more packing of crap.

There are plenty of the black plastic bags available, but what intrigued me was the amount of used ones left near the path, mostly at the beginning of the off-lead area. It soon became obvious. A barker’s egg is usually produced at the beginning of a walk, statistically – and so within 5 minutes of being let out of the car, bombs away. People then bag them up and leave them in situ, to be collected on the way back to the car and dropped in the bin. The place was dotted with them.

Proper form I say. This is a lovely spot, romantic too (the carpark is at night), and who wants to run the risk of meeting that special someone while carrying a baggy of dog manure? I mean, it’s not really a conversation point (unless you have one dog and are carrying, like, 4 used bags) and they don’t really accessorize.

Quick walk and a baggage drop for Ruby the Wonderkelpie, photos and in the truck. Off by 10:00am and home by 1pm. Car completely unpacked by 1:30pm and clean clothes already gone away and dirty ones in the machine.

Fishing gear actually sorted, reels and rods cleaned, excess bait salted and in the deep freeze by 4pm.

Open fire roaring and everyone showered and pj’d, dinner, followed by toasting marshmallows and watching not one but two family movies. A further leisurely kip and we’ll cruise into Sunday with a couple of bits of housework on the way.

Seems to work.

[Editorial update.  Captain’s log, 7:00pm Sunday night]

The kitchen got cleaned until it begged for mercy. I got pre-occupied with the cleaning of the man-cave, which was more packing up and throwing away of crap, and started having a logistics conversation with a friend of Charlottey’s who was over for the day and is the same height or so and was wearing the same coloured top and jeans as Morag. Realising I was talking to the wrong person I recovered my wits, such as they are, and said “why are you impersonating my wife?”

That’s not a Dad joke. That’s a Dad sketch.



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Winter Manouvers

Want to have a lovely sunny summer’s holiday in Dingle, Co. Kerry?

Go to Merimbula in winter.

And so off to the beach for another hour or less.  Our last holiday in Eire got like this.  As the fishless freezing of the arse off became a habit, fewer hours were spent in the aforesaid activity.  Now,  having realised late on the 4th day that the wicket was not doing much, vide the targeting of the wrong species, valuable time had been lost.

Caught up last night with an undersized yellow finned bream (go and look it up, it will be good for you) who had been left home alone while all the mummy and daddy bream were up the estuary having rudies.

But the wind is back on again, coming straight off the snow and down the back of my neck. However the fishing gods must be appeased or it’s 1000 years bad juju. Had the beach to myself; I’ve seen more livelier cemeteries.

Had a bit of casting practice and chucked out a pilchard’s arse with sfa return. The place had a really couldn’t be fucked attitude going on. The seagulls weren’t even trying to nick bait when my back was turned, all appearing to have sullen hangovers, looking peevish.

About to retire hurt when down the steps, almost literally due to a strong gust all the way from Jindabyne, comes Mum and two daughters.  It was a picture of bliss and made Mary Poppins look like a splatter movie.

They’re all rugged up to the wazoo and, given the delightful basket the older of the two, about 5 was carrying, and sensibly holding mummy’s hand, out for some shell collecting. The younger, a wilful little beast, was sprinting as hard as something of bimbling age (2 years if she was a day) can, knowing that if it lands flat on its arse, it is still in nappies, there is some cushioning; augmented if they have just had a crap.  This they usually have and the bum disposal squad needs a RFS team in support to hose the flattened shite off, everything.

And so they made it down and I watched mummy and daughter 1 collecting shells, running squealing from the incoming waves and daughter 2 bimbling about in the manner of any scurrying animal you care to mention. Just with less purpose. Couldn’t have given a monkey’s about shells. Every once in a while there’d be a whooshing as a fresh gust came in and nearly over they’d go but they kept at it. It was a whole short film in itself. I wonder what the ending will be?

While all that palaver was going on the local prospector wanders down. He’s the local prospector because he looks like he is: long grizzled beard, eccentric headgear in the form of an appalling, tattered beanie and he speaks frontier gibberish.  And, he has a metal detector – going around the beaches looking for coins. Seen him a couple of times over the days and got on nodding and grunting terms with him.

Anyhoo, leaving the beach he intercepts me at the steps, under the pretext of scanning that spot. “Do any good?”, he said – leastways that’s what I thought he said.

“Nah – been going after salmon all week, but there’s been flatties close in. Got a small one last night”

“Yeahsbinabitquiet”, in a very, very, very, slow drawl, and a melancholic spaniel-like look out to sea and then, mark you, at the sand around him.

I pointed to the corner of the beach with the most foot traffic, and, if you were Aragorn, where a hobbit had lay down, or someone had planted their fat arse: “This area here is where most people have been hanging out, cause it’s out of the wind”.

Casting a furtive look around, in the manner of a claim jumper onto some potential, he brightens and hoovers his way over. I make good my escape and am halfway up when “Thaaaannnnkksssmaaate” wafts up.

“Yeah, no worries. It’s just the same as telling someone where they might be biting”.

Home again, to tell you lot about it and Charlottey is still on her iPad shopping for a new gym leotard. This has been, like, hours.

Before I left for the fishless desert, and with all that sand, it is at least half-way there, I suggested going for leopard skin to be universally scorned, even by Ruby the Wonderkelpie. She’s still at it when I got back.

“I still think you should go for leopard skin print” (Dad joke coming)

“Like, why?”

“Then you can have a leo pard leotard”

The look of scorn I received would have slayed a kitten.

Typing out the above shite, about 4 lines up, I paused typing, and I only said that so you’d look in case you didn’t get it the first time, and inquired:

“How is the lettard hunt going?”

Make that a bunny as well.

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Christmas hack

Well, here we are again, with a seasonally cold day for the annual thing, Wonderkelpies wearing antlers and everyone else looking knackered while 2017 lurches to a close, flapping about in an ungainly fashion like a badly winged pheasant which it will continue to do prior to lying on its back, giving a couple of kicks and expiring quietly and we can have a crack at 2018. Which I am rather looking forward to, especially to find out what wheel has been reinvented, and, indeed, renamed, as a life hack.

Where did that one creep in and when? I know I’ve used it once myself, but it was in the context of a satirical piece dissembling about assembling a wheelbarrow, and scarcely counts. It is a word rabbit though, popping up everywhere, as rabbits do, and it’s getting to be very prevalent.

It is disturbing that we have to give common-sense and good advice, or just plain useful information a hip name to make people pay attention. It really is quite counter-intuitive and not quite good enough. Here’s a life hack, stop using jargon like life hack and think it through. And take out your earplugs when crossing the road. It might just save your life.

And anyway, hacking is what is done either to bring up a satisfying wodge of phlegm, to be inspected morbidly, or slagged a fantastic distance, at your discretion; or an activity carried out in a grotty grotto in Mom’s basement by a spotty grot called Neuman Fink to get through a firewall and have a look around. Or what Russians do at US Presidential election times.

So it is that we’ve been up and done the ritual emptying of the sacks of stash, along with commentary, such as the Human Locust’s observation, to the general amusement, that Charlottey had a sack full of diabetes along with the usual socks, jocks and books.

He was not much better not only identifying a bumper bag of M+Ms as diabetes, but a monster bag of Twisties as zits. He got to the end of the loot to observe that a new basketball would be good for working off the diabetes, and then pounced on a bottle of some unguent for washing the face of teenagers “and this will be good for the zits” he proclaimed, happy as anything.

I started on the first, second and third of three good books, – but was shortly cut short by the attending to the fixment of brunch, being the traditional yuletide nosebag of scrambled eggs, southern fried ham and grilled trout. Such repast is now finished and the kitchen cleaned within an inch of its life and all barbeque plates and frypans various given their heavy duty prewash courtesy of the above Wonderkelpie, having shed her antlers, and now working for a living.

The trout, as all Ovens River trout, was symphonic. These were obtained during the last Mountaingrass where I played bugger all banjo and did a lot of fishing in some of the most magical country in the known galaxy.

And will be next week for the Nariel Creek Folk Festival, and with some fishing thrown in if my mate Stubbsie has left any and for which some flies need to be made. That is, of course, after the usual hoggish excesses of the day, with the prospect of further loot.  In the meantime, I have at least 3 good books to read, and so do you.

If you don’t mind, Merry Christmas, I’m busy.

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That’s cricket. Or not.

It is a fine day in the sun in the best traditions of the game with players late due to a high school reunion and eating yourself sideways on a luncheon of epic proportions. There’s banter a-plenty and prandial and post match convivialities with due care and attention to proper form

After the working week and the mad rush that has become known as Saturday, a day of rest beckons. But no, there are those hardy and noble souls who, battling everything from a high school reunion to a new knee, dutifully don the whites and join battle with an equally eccentric convocation.

That’s cricket.

You can have a fine match in fine spirit and once again, another one notched up for the best traditions of the game. And that’s cricket when we say “that’s not cricket,” vide some act of perfidy, such things never happening in cricket. Ever. Because when you are playing cricket, no matter if the other side is behaving in a manner that would warrant one uttering “that’s not cricket”, you never say “that’s not cricket”.


You are ineffably gracious in victory and, even better, insufferably so in defeat. Peter Ustinov remarked that this is where the real victory is won, with the loser so graciously gracious to the point the victor feels positively indecent. He didn’t say it exactly that way, mark you, but that is the general thrust of it. Go and read his book or google it.

There is, nevertheless, a perverse dichotomy (which sounds like it is extinct megafauna, but isn’t), in the fact that we only say “that’s not cricket” in respect of things happening in the context of things that are not actually cricket.

Maybe that is what is the comfort against the reality that keeps us coming back, knowing that in playing with proper form you are going to have fun no matter what but wear what comes your way. Including sledging. From your own team, generally.

Because the reality is, cricket is a cruel game. It is one where heart and soul can be torn asunder with a dodgy leg before decision either as a batter or bowler. I’ve had both in my time, sometimes in the same game, and it can cut you deeply.

Being a large country we often travel long distances to wear the whites. But cricket is too fickle to respect such commitment. In this country you can drive 3 hours for a golden duck. I’ve seen it happen and it is as heartrending as a lost kitten in a blizzard.

You can be the strike bowler on the last ball of a match with a six required and you put every shred of your being into an attempted yorker that would have brought you glory beyond measure and price. Instead you bowl a full bunga and it goes back over your head and into the next postcode.

I’ve seen that one too. And it puts a hell of a lot of other misfortune in the shade, for mine.

On the upside, things like that are a marvellous antidote to being absent of mind:  No-one ever lets you forget.

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The meaning of life? Tighten loosely

Hey ho me hearties.  I must say I am rather enjoying a garage/mancave restoration project. Over the last 3 weekends I have now found every single spanner, sprocket, socket, fucket, where is it? handtool, doover and generally useful thing that has been lost as far back as the second term of the Howard Government. The temper that I had lost in the interregnum, looking for the bastards, will not be restored.

The first phase was the building of a space-saving shelving solution, aka a mezzanine, built entirely from recycled timber specially selected at the Green Shed in Mitchell (where the real tradies shop) and collocations of common Anglo-Saxonisms of mine own creation. The “mezz”, which is head high and 2mx2m has a carpeted area underneath with room for a couple of chairs. It is very nice.

Phase two was the sorting through of crates and boxes and bags of crap, putting stuff away, throwing stuff out and frankly wondering what the hell some of this stuff is or its provenance. Phase three will be a final putting away and throwing out of peripheral stuff that made the first cut but is now on its first written warning.  It’s nearly all done and the chore is made even easier by cranking up an old tape of Butch Robins and some live John Hartford – or when he was alive at any rate and it seems to have general approval.  For instance, Charlottey gave instructions for her chin up bar to be installed on the mezzanine somewhere.  I didn’t have the right bolts and couldn’t be arsed going out.  But. We have a couple hours of daylight left, and I’m still on the do something ride, so what to do?

Now the Kelso wheelbarrow has not been well and on its last legs, the bucket anyhow, rusted through and gone in the bum. I hies me to hardware emporia various to look for a replacement tub and none to be had unless by special order.  A new 100l tub costs thirty Australian dollars more than a whole new one, albeit one you have to have some experience with anything from Meccano upwards to build yourself. Not quite good enough and I swearingly purchased the latter, giving the tub of the one that had breathed its last a reprieve from the crusher and it will start a new life as a flower garden with the frame repurposed to shift firewood. So there.

In the garage, with a greater portion of the shite of Christendom sorted, sifted and put away, leaving a workspace you could build the Titanic in I immediately filled said space with a disassembled wheelbarrow, layed out per the plan, looking like a fossilzed triceratops. I also read the instructions. And they were not bad. Not the worst I’d ever seen (microwave instructions on noodles in Spanish are buggers). The part nomenclature was clear enough: wheelbarrow tray, wheel, axle. But then it went off at a tangent and you wonder whether you’ve bought mountaineering kit: base pad, base wedge. Pleasingly there were handles and then it got all anatomical and safety conscious: leg, leg brace, nose guard and so on, down to the nuts, bolts, washers, spring washers, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

Utterly delighted to have had every part in the schedule actually supplied I got to work. Checking I had the right tools – and I still have no idea what a slotted screwdriver is, but I have a screwdriver that goes into slots and it worked swimmingly. There was also a helpful hint that was so blindingly obvious that they had to state the blindingly obvious but did so in the most understated way, as if fearful of causing offence by the mere suggestion of how we might do it without ending up with dead knees and a new bulging disc:

“A pair of saw horses or similar raised work platform will be useful during the assembly”.

Right too. The rest of the instructions took some work, and, given the suggested sequence, a degree of contortionism, both physiologically and with the noggin. Now, the base wedge (and if you had been paying attention I mentioned the base wedges earlier) has a bevel edge and long square edge and you get a diagram which is intended to show which is which and you are none the wiser; but this is critical because you then get asked very nicely to position the wedge correctly:

“Please send the Long Squre Edge of Base Wedge (C) towards the handle (D) And send the Bevel Edge of Base Wedge (C) towards the Base Pad (B)”. I don’t mind saying that had me flummoxed for a bit. I mean, there appears to be a whole etiquette to this  How do you send the wedges anywhere and do they need a letter of introduction?  Social standing is at stake.

Handy hint: if you get your Edge Wedge arse about the holes for the bolts wot attach to nuts and largely hold the whole caboodle together won’t line up.

And in terms of the nuts and bolts as this is a rather clever contraption of polycarbonate and metal, everything gets the bolts inserted first and then you tighten your nuts. If you tighten your nuts too early this chucks the balance right out and the bastard won’t go together. Which I found out.

Paying more attention to the instructions, after finally fitting the leg brace and wondering if tomorrow I’ll need a neck brace, I saw that for the fitment of a nut to a bolt there is, on many levels, a good life hack. In respect of this nut, and all the other nuts, once the bolts are in and it is hanging together:

“Tighten loosely”

I just love that. There’s no “DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN!!!!!” or “Overtightening of nuts in contravention of these instructions will result in all guarantees or warranties, express or implied, howsoever described, deemed void ab initio, and the product purchased will be fecked and so are you”.


“Tighten loosely” There’s so much wisdom in those two words I almost want to scream. I’m going to use it in a meeting, see if I don’t.

And so should you.

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Uluru: Statement from the Heart

As we move into National Reconciliation Week there are some milestones: The 20th Anniversary of Bringing them Home, the 25th anniversary of Mabo and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum where 92% of Australians voted to allow  Indigenous peoples to be counted in the census.

I often wonder about the other 8%. I merely surmise they are the ancestors of the the current crop of the angry, frightened and ignorant right wing rump otherwise known as customers of Rupert Murdoch, flagwits, Reclaim Australia and the joint and several political parties characterised by a permanent state of offence that other people are not like them.

The theme for #NRW2017 is “Let’s Take the Next Steps”.  In my workplace we are very committed to reconciliation. We are going to be writing down our personal commitment to what our steps will be.  I know mine already – and that is to support wholeheartedly, and without reservation, and be an advocate for the intent, spirit and goals of this extraordinary document. This Statement from the Heart.

The usual suspects, or the descendants of the 8% will try to paint this statement as divisive.  On the one hand that would appear to miss the point.  But missing the point is not the point.  The point will be trying to obfuscate. To muddy the waters. And, with no shame or sense of irony – to divide.

That will be the actual point.

But this Statement seeks to unite.  This is made clear in the first substantive paragraph:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

Reading that back and writ large is an intertwining of faith, fact, law and science. This is a commonality between our peoples and reflects, ultimately, that we cannot turn back the clock.  You cannot change history. But you can learn from it and thereby guide the future.

Now this is where it gets predictable. The 8 percenters will repeat the tired old trope that we are living in the here and now, that they were not responsible for what happened, and why should they feel guilty?

But let’s just have a look at that and give it some analysis.  Yes, we are living in the now and no – you were not responsible.  However, what about the notion of having a shared history?  Which I think this Statement reflects. Shared history is important.  We are taught in school, for example, about the importance of our relationships with Britain and the USA.  Why?  We have a shared history and that has influenced our present and will continue to do so. Those aspects of shared history are many and varied and one is a major one: war.

And here is another thing.  Inasmuch as Indigenous Australians are told to “get over” colonisation and everything it brought, why are we not “over” Gallipoli or Pozieres?

It might also beg the question of why we have living ex-service-people sleeping rough on the street or committing suicide for want of support while $650m can be found for memorials for people who have been dead 100 years.  It may reflect an inability to deal with the here and now, it being far more comfortable to get a faraway look in your eye, wear a poppy, talk nobly about sacrifice, buy another beer and play two-up.

I am not suggesting for one second we ought not have ANZAC Day.  Taylor, J 2304306 has participated in the one day of the year as part of a catafalque party, I’ve marched with my mates and all of that.  I recognise it from a sense of place from history, and a sense of shared history with those other men and women.  Many other people do the same, and not just with ANZAC Day. It could be any day where there is something momentous from history to commemorate, and we come together to do it. If Carlyle was right and that history is the essence of innumerable biography, then it means it is nothing other than what we share as people and as a people.

So why cannot we approach a concept of shared history with Indigenous Australia?  John Howard pissed in the soup with the “black armband” view.  A more accurate description is white blindfold.  In not acknowledging that history a message is actually being sent “I don’t care”.  This is going to happen over the next few days.

Then the right wing media, Bolt, Windschuttle, Akerman, Devine and other such great thinkers of the modern age will respond to the inevitable dog-whistle and after a preliminary round of mutual arse-sniffing on Sky News or some such other echo chamber, the yapping of “Guilt Industry!!” will commence.

It is all getting rather tedious.

I am unsure of what it is in the psyche of the conservative commentariat but there seems to be an inability to separate empathy and compassion from guilt.  It may surprise people to know that it is entirely possible to feel empathetic and compassionate and have a genuine desire to want to help without feeling a shred of guilt or shame or blame.  The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that much, at least.

I have no feelings of guilt for what amounted to genocide in this country.  Then again, I’ve never experienced dispossession and I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be a curiosity in your own country, or not feel you are on your country on equal terms.

But I know what it feels like to want to help someone who does not have it as good as you.  Many other Australians know that feeling too.  That is why we have volunteers and charities: the Salvos, the Red Cross, Vinnies, the White Coats, Medecin sans Frontieres and myriad others. This is an innate desire, and in some cases, need, to roll up your sleeves and do your bit to make someone else’s life a little better, if you can.  And I would give fairly good odds that not one of the army of people who go out and do this work, day in, day out, for little or no monetary gain do so out of anything to do with guilt. They do so out of empathy and compassion:  Two of the things that make us human. And they do so because they want to make Australia better, as well as be better Australians.

So why is it so hard when it comes to Indigenous Australia?  It need not be the case.

I think that is the point of the Statement from the Heart.  They are not asking for us to make reparations out of guilt.  Nor is this Statement a request for a hand out or even a hand up. It is a request for a hand on equal terms. They are asking for nothing other than that which we take for granted as our birth-right or citizenship right, to take their place alongside us, because currently they do not and cannot.

Why is this the case.? Principally because, I think, they are regarded as a defeated people.  And there is an ugly streak of “winners are grinners” than runs through part of the Australian psyche. They are regarded as losers, even though they never ceded sovereignty.  But against firearms, alcohol, disease, strychnine laced flour and waterholes, being treated as fauna up until 1967, stolen children and otherwise relegated to missions where you needed a pass to go into town you don’t really stand much of a chance of victory. A referendum is great but it will not do much except trap you in your equality; when what is really needed is equity.

Equity, in my view, and I think this is consistent with the concept in whitefella law, means recognising and acknowledging that sovereignty, in the sense of the document was never ceded and co-exists with Crown sovereignty.  This will be a difficult concept for many to grasp, even for the well-meaning:

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

You note again the intertwining of our cultures, going beyond the notion of shared history and exploring shared concepts of being. This is in the reference to ancestral ties to the land or “mother nature”. You will also note the concept of birth, death and being returned to the land.  Who has not heard that at a funeral service for a friend?

And what about spiritual sovereignty with respect to land?  We all recognise that, for we all know that links to what we call home go deeper than a crown lease or discharge of mortgage.  In the The Castle Darryl Kerrigan taught us that and so did his lawyer and it is more than just a vibe.

I don’t read anything in this document that seeks to be divisive and assign blame for past wrongs. To read that in would actually be to miss the point.  What this Statement says to me is that we are in the here and now and we are here because of the past, but we can do something now and pass it on for the future.  This Statement is seeking a fundamental pathway. Righting wrongs is all well and good but for the future we need to break the cycle and thereby influence the future.

Important work is being done in that area, but not many know of it:  Empowered Communities. This is a national framework, which, at its heart, is about Aboriginal communities taking control of their own destinies and breaking the cycle of passive welfare and all that which goes with it.  But don’t just take my word for it, read the report.

I was privileged to be seconded to the West Kimberley from Feb to April 2017 where I had the honour to work on a project associated with Empowered Communities and also meet and work with some of its leaders, one of whom has ultimately played a role in the shaping of the Statement.

Now, I considered myself reasonably enlightened when I got to Broome.  A few days in and I was profoundly angry.  When one reads the media one either gets the shock horror depravity rubbish of the Murdoch press, or, let the record show, this being what I have been told, the sob stories in the more left leaning media.  Both wings of this very confused avian critter are misguided and wrong-headed.

In the West Kimberley, and in many other regions, the Empowered Communities model is providing real change and positive results.  There are Aboriginal people standing up and making a red-hot go of things with education and trade training, governance, preventative health, suicide prevention, youth leadership.  It goes on and on.

But mainstream Australia is being told none of this.  This is happening right under our noses and, for some unfathomable reason, we are told relatively nothing.  This is both is shameful and irresponsible.  If nothing else it is a lowest common denominator perpetuation of the patronising attitude that Indigenous Australians have been dealing with for over 2 centuries:  the whitefella even gets to decide what blackfella stories get told.

Well, as Gandhi and Shakespeare might have said: “Fuck that shit”.

It was during my secondment that I had some wonderful discussions with my colleagues in my host organisation.  One in particular I remember with a young woman, trying to bring up a kid by herself and finish her law degree. We got talking about reconciliation and how we could make things work and so forth and I finally got the point she was making.  Her world-view was that reconciliation is not just about making Indigenous lives better.  It is about making Australia better for all of us.  Of course, with true reconciliation non-Indigenous Australians will benefit.  And you don’t have to be Einstein to work out how.

On a spiritual level the entire country – whether you are part of the guilt industry or not, will be better off.  With less passive welfare we will see a better return on investment from the taxpayer dollar spend on health, education, welfare, the justice system.  With greater employment the tax base is broadened.

With new businesses and investment you promote the free flow of capital. And on a cultural level you get a mutual understanding.  How is any of that divisive?

This much is illustrated here:

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country

And this:

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

And finally, this:

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Which captures again our shared history and, so fundamentally and importantly, a vision for a shared future.  The time for symbolism is over.  Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, our fellow Australians, seek to be heard.  I think it is time we all sat up and listened and then joined that trek.

Let’s take the next steps.


[In the preparation of this chapter of my blog I pay my deepest respects to the people of the West Kimberley for inspiring me to change my life]

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