April 20, 2004


Jane Perlez in the New York Times continues that newspaper’s fine tradition of misreporting events in Australia:

The conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard has pushed the needs of the Aborigines to the sidelines, with few complaints from his white constituency, analysts say.

Jane’s “analysts” define Howard’s rejection of symbolic gestures towards Aborigines in favour of practical assistance as “pushing their needs to the sidelines”. The Howard government’s record here is actually quite good; for example:

Since 1996, the ATSIC/Army Community Assistance Program – an initiative of the Australian Army, ATSIC and the Department of Health and Aged Care – has delivered new housing, waste-management systems, transport and infrastructure upgrades, and upgraded water supply and reticulation systems to seven indigenous communities.

That program never received much coverage. Some of the soldiers involved apparently moved to those areas permanently. So who’s supplying this nonsense to the NYT?

"Aborigines are effectively off the white agenda," said Hugh Mackay, a social researcher.

Hugh, of course, has his own agenda, and it isn’t accurately summarised by the vanilla phrase “social researcher”. Jane should also have sought out Richie Ah Mat. Back to her story:

This week, the government announced it would abolish an elected council of Aborigines, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which was established in the 1980's as a means of self-determination for indigenous people.

Even though the council was widely described as corrupt, the national newspaper, The Australian, said the decision would "take Aboriginal governance back 30 years."

Wrong! That claim was made by columnist Mike Steketee. On ATSIC, The Australian’s editorial recently had this to say:

What really condemns ATSIC is the fact that, as a Productivity Commission report last November put it, the conditions of Aboriginal life have "deteriorated or regressed" during the 15 years ATSIC has been operating.

Here’s more from Insightful Hugh:

Mr. Mackay said many Australians carried a "huge but unadmitted collective guilt" about Aborigines that was reflected in the "most appalling racist humor reserved for Aborigines."

Australians embrace successful Aborigines, he said, and some who really shine — like the Olympic gold medalist runner Cathy Freeman — are treated as national heroes. But "if Aborigines are not glamorous and successful, we don't want to know about it," he said.

Aboriginal jokes, like Polish jokes in the US, mostly vanished by the late '70s. If Hugh is still hearing them, he should reconsider with whom he socialises. As for “not wanting to know” about Aboriginal issues, has Hugh already forgotten events like the march for reconciliation?

In the 1970's and 80's, successive governments made efforts to make amends to the Aborigines, but Mr. Howard rebuffed those policies.

Because, as the Productivity Report cited above mentions, those policies were making things worse. Perlez presents the typical liberal response to failed welfare programs: add more welfare. Her whole story reeks.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 20, 2004 02:33 AM

Aboriginal jokes were pretty much gone by the 70's?

Perhaps you didnt hear many at Geelong Grammar Tim, but I grew up in the country and I can assure you that they are still alive and kicking.

Posted by: Tom at April 20, 2004 at 03:24 AM

Speaking of aboriginal jokes; under 13 years of Labour, aboriginal Health services were given $800m...

Posted by: jafa at April 20, 2004 at 03:35 AM

And Jane Perlez is Australian and the wife of fellow NYT dufus Ray Bonner.

Posted by: Lewis at April 20, 2004 at 03:44 AM

Perlez "covered" Central Europe during much of the '90s, during which time she gave the phrases "10-year-old cliche," and "parachute journalism" and "whatthelivingfuck?" fresh new meaning....

Posted by: Matt Welch at April 20, 2004 at 04:04 AM

What is of interest is how "reporters" choose the sources to quote. By good chance, Tim could identify one of them The average Times reader accepts the source as a knowledgable unbiased expert. Ha.

Posted by: Ted at April 20, 2004 at 04:04 AM

I've always thought that the main reason Polish jokes went away in the US was because the Poles fielded Solidarity and Pope JP-II, which was a hell of a lot more impressive a pair than just about anything the rest of Europe produced in the 1970s. That put the end to the latent stereotypes of Polish immigrant workers as dummies, even in a place like Chicago where we still have plenty of them fresh off Lot-- the guy putting up your dry wall wasn't a dumb Polack any more, he was blue collar kin to Lech Walesa, a hero who helped bring down Communism.

Now instead we have French jokes.

Posted by: Mike G at April 20, 2004 at 04:15 AM

Well, technically, the French _are_ a joke, but WTF.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at April 20, 2004 at 05:28 AM

I am beginning to think that "journalism" does not exist. There are only writers with opinions.

Posted by: Roger L. Simon at April 20, 2004 at 06:22 AM

This story in the NYT is just another story, in a very long line of stories, the 'reporters' write to fit their world view.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at April 20, 2004 at 06:32 AM

"Yeah, I need some facts on Australia. You know, that little country next to Germany."

Posted by: Bryan C at April 20, 2004 at 07:28 AM

The last Aboriginal joke I heard (you know, the "Where's your wheelie bin?" one) was told to be by a mature-age Aboriginal student at uni, nearly two decades ago.

On a different topic... what the hell has happened to Mark Steyn? Guy writes two posts per day for a year, but now hasn't posted anything new for close to a week. Is he off to Iraq again? Is he dead and SteynOnline are trying to do an Osama/ Chernenko job by pretending he's still alive? Or does he work 24-7 for eleven months of the year and then hibernate like a bear for the 12th?

Posted by: Uncle Milk at April 20, 2004 at 07:42 AM

Whenever the Times starts citing "experts" or "analysts" it's time to stop reading, close the little door, and back away from the birdcage.

Posted by: Sergio at April 20, 2004 at 09:45 AM

I thought Polish jokes had been replaced by blond jokes.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 20, 2004 at 09:46 AM

I live in Sydney, Australia in the eastern part of the city.

I heard an aboriginal joke only last week. They're quite common among all classes (except the inner-city lefties).

Posted by: dee at April 20, 2004 at 10:36 AM

"On a different topic... what the hell has happened to Mark Steyn? Guy writes two posts per day for a year, but now hasn't posted anything new for close to a week. Is he off to Iraq again"

Excellent editorial piece in today's Telegraph (UK):

"Whimpers, whimpers everywhere. On American TV, the network sob-sisters tut sympathetically with the "Jersey Girls", four media-savvy 9/11 widows who've decided that metaphorically speaking George W Bush was at the controls of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Centre. Beltway reporters are a-twitter about the biennial doorstopper from The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, this time a huge book sourced up the wazoo portraying the President as a simpleton Christian avenger whose obsession with Iraq is a dark pathology as ingrained as paedophilia."

Posted by: walter plinge at April 20, 2004 at 11:23 AM

Meanwhile, aboriginals such as Noel Pearson recognise the aboriginal 'industry' is his people's own worst enemy:

A positive spin-off of rejecting the left-liberal consensus (about substance abuse) is that we will lose the support of people whose involvement would delay our attempts at restoring social order and a real economy.

Getting rid of the bureaucratic inner city-based rights industries - together with its cheerleaders in the churches and the liberal media - is the first step to aboriginal betterment.

Hence the Howard government's welcome move in closing ATSIC, of which head Geoff Clark's $240,000 annual salary was - take note Hugh Mackay - today's sickest aboriginal joke.

Posted by: ilibcc at April 20, 2004 at 11:28 AM

But "if Aborigines are not glamorous and successful, we don't want to know about it," he said.

As opposed to the legions of unglamorous, unsuccessful white people we regularly dote upon.

Hugh, you're an idiot.

Posted by: Andrew D. at April 20, 2004 at 12:15 PM

I heard a great joke the other day:

Two drunks are standing outside Young & Jackson's arguing about what Scotsmen wear under their kilts. Says the first one: "Look! Here comes one now. I'll trip him up and your check under the kilt."

So they do. And as their victim is sprawled on the footpath, the first drunk says: "See. They wear little black shorts."

Replies the second one: "You nong. That's no Scotsman. It's an abo!"

I think I'll email Jane Perlez, and tell her the one about the wheely bin also.

Posted by: superboot at April 20, 2004 at 12:21 PM

I'm still amusedly amazed that ANYBODY pays attention to the NYT, especially on sites like this...

I (like most of ya'll) spend on average 2-4 hours a day getting news and opinion from sources other than the VLWC. Wasting time on the NYT reminds me of a line from my all-time favorite Abbott & Costello flick, "A & C Meet Frankenstein."

Costello is inundated with pretty girls showing up at their hotel room, showering him with kisses. Abbott, increasingly pissed and frustrated at this incongruous situation, and ready to beat the shit out of Costello, finally grabs him, and asks: "Have you taken a good look at yourself lately?"

Costello's perfect reply: "Why should I hurt my own feelings?"

Posted by: geezer at April 20, 2004 at 12:31 PM

Hugh McKay lost his way on the road to salvation a long time ago. He succumbed to the temptation to graze in fields of simplistic,left-wing thinking (or what passes for it), acquiring a burning irrational hatred of John Howard at the same time. He lost his objectivity and so his credibility as a social researcher is zilch.

Posted by: freddyboy at April 20, 2004 at 12:34 PM
Her whole story reeks.
Whaddaya expect? It's the NYT, after all. Posted by: Barbara Skolaut at April 20, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Check out this drivel in the SMH.

Money quote:

For him to be treated as a dangerous threat to Australia's security feels like a macabre re-enactment of the sketch from Monty Python's Holy Grail, where four heavily armed knights are threatened by a dangerous fluffy rabbit.

They got into trouble because they failed to take it seriously, and Dr Kadous wants us not to take Izhar seriously.

Posted by: Andjam at April 20, 2004 at 12:59 PM

For the information of the NYT, ATSIC is at least the fourth Aboriginal Representative Organisation that has ended in disaster and waste over the last 30 years.

The forerunners were the NACC (National Abriginal Consultative Committee), the NAC (National Aboriginal Congress), the ADC (Aboriginal Development Commission) and now ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission).

With the demise of each body, a new one was set up in its place and the taxpayers funds provided to it were massively increased on each occasion. To put it into some perspective the Aboriginal Affairs budget in 1973 was about $30 Million and in 2003 it had increased to about $1.2 billion.

It is widely accepted that the general condition of Aboriginal communities has deteriorated over this time despite the massive provision of funds.

"Self Determination" was a euphemism for control of the Aboriginal welfare budget by black bureaucrats and fraud, waste and scandal abounded.
When things got too hot politically, the game was to change the name of the team but keep the players.

The Prime Minister, with the expected support of the ALP, has decided that enough is enough and the charade will end and the body will not be replaced but the services mainstreamed.

Latham has fallen for the old paradigm of setting up a new body and carrying on as usual. If there is one issue that will sink him at the next election then this is it.

Posted by: amortiser at April 20, 2004 at 01:09 PM

I think the butt of the wheelie bin joke was originally Japanese.

Andjam - that fluffy white rabbit WAS bloody dangerous.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at April 20, 2004 at 03:31 PM

The irony is there doesn't seem to be too much lamenting the demise of ATSIC except from the usual suspects. The general response from most Aussies I know is good riddance.

Posted by: Simon at April 20, 2004 at 04:23 PM

Andjam - that fluffy white rabbit WAS bloody dangerous.

Like I said.

In breaking news: bone pointed at Howard. Expect endless references to it in the blogosphere (eg Tim Dunlop) and the likes of Mike Seccombe.

Posted by: Andjam at April 20, 2004 at 04:58 PM

I'm sure they will still be there in Everleigh Street throwing rocks at the cops next week, just like they were last week.

They will be throwing them without 1.2 billion tax payers cash.

And now for the next trick, well you know how the ABC gets $750 million a year...

Posted by: Gilly at April 20, 2004 at 08:17 PM

i think i soiled my armor

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 20, 2004 at 10:04 PM

Aboriginal jokes 'mostly vanished', says Tim.

Is that like being fairly unique?

Posted by: Warbo at April 20, 2004 at 10:09 PM

There was a good one on Big Brother last year. It was censored by the media.

Posted by: Yobbo at April 21, 2004 at 02:49 AM

The bloghead hates it when Australia's dirty little secrets seep out into the foreign press.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 21, 2004 at 09:47 AM

Dirty little secrets, Miranda? You can tell us here.

Posted by: amortiser at April 21, 2004 at 11:03 AM

Miranda will have to ride the little tricycle for mumsy's friends tonight for that.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at April 21, 2004 at 02:34 PM