Down and Out

Makarrata is a beautiful word: it means “the coming together after a struggle” and it is what Aboriginal Australians were after at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention in October. The Uluru Statement from the Heart, penned by Indigenous leaders, proposed a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice in Parliament, arguing that the 60,000 year ownership of the soil by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes had “never been ceded or extinguished” and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown. “How could it be otherwise?


That people possessed a land for 60 millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last 200 years? …Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers… This is the torment of our powerlessness… We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.” But no such luck. Uluru was rejected outright as political “over-reach” by the Turnbull Government. A few days later, the traditional owners of the actual Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Anangu people, declared that from 2019, climbing the mysterious great red rock at the heart of Australia would be banned. It is a UNESCO heritage site, scaled by about 60,000 tourists every year despite clear signage asking them not to because it is an Aboriginal sacred site.

The track was left in a disgusting state

The Melbourne Cup, when time stops in Australia and women perch fascinators on their hairdos and everyone joins the office sweep, was this year attended by about 91,000 party-goers. But there was an ugly undertow alongside the fashion and bling: arrests, and “boozed-up” revellers who traded punches, tried to destroy outdoor furniture and left Flemington in a “foul state”, the day ending with hordes of seagulls flocking to a sea of discarded bottles, cans and betting slips. Regal Monarch, a horse that had a fall, was euthanised, and coupled with a recent incident where an enraged jockey was caught on camera punching a horse in the stomach before a race in South Australia, the RSPCA’s long held stance on horse racing and whipping has taken on new meaning. Whipping during races, says the RSPCA is the most public form of violence we perpetrate on animals, and should be banned.

A man enjoying his own company

Statistics show nearly all race horses after a race such as the Cup experience bleeding in the lungs, and half experience bleeding in the windpipe. 89% of these racehorses will have stomach ulcers. What is wrong with us?

At last, the same sex marriage plebiscite has been pushed off the front page (the yes vote triumphed) by a new and equally absurd national obsession which has seen a parade of politician lose their jobs since July, and others standing to lose their jobs and has left the Government looking vulnerable. The big question is around citizenship: should dual citizens, even those who are unaware that they have the duality, be allowed to hold parliamentary high office? Legally, no, under section 44 of the constitution which essentially reads that they might have divided loyalties in time of an emergency.

About five MPS have already been unseated (some of who were not aware) because of automatic British citizenship by descent, and there are numerous variations on the theme, the most bizarre being an argument as to whether Josh Frydenberg, the PM’s right hand man and minister for Environment and Energy, is ineligible because he may hold Hungarian citizenship. It is unclear whether the minister’s mother, a Jewish refugee child fleeing Europe after WW2, was of “Hungarian nationality”, or “stateless” when she entered Australia at age seven. And another thing: if we find they are not eligible, will we rule retrospectively that the decisions they were involved in are invalid? The mind boggles.

Speaking of statelessness, asylum seekers will need permission to buy a pet, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has decreed. Questioned whether goldfish, guinea pigs and birds were included in the crackdown or whether the edict would be made retrospective, the department refused to comment.

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