A NATION OF SPIRIT
A NATION WITH FLAG
A NATION WITH LAND
A NATION WITH HOPE FOR SELF DETERMINATION
Michael Mansell cannot accept Australia Day nomination
“I understand I have been nominated for an Australia Day award. It is a nomination I could not possibly accept.
These awards are inextricably tied to the celebration of Australia Day, a day that marks the coming to Australia of whites. That makes the day a race-based day. As the national awards website states: ‘Awards are an integral part of Australia Day’.
It is one thing to acknowledge the fact of invasion; it is quite another to celebrate it. Unqualified acceptance of these nominations and awards is tacit endorsement of the celebration of a race based day. It shows Australia at its worst.
Australia has not once apologised, and meant it, for the invasion of Aboriginal lands. There has been no acknowledgement of the massacres that remain hidden under a ‘pioneers’ version of Australian history. There is no effort to genuinely undo the wrongs that still affect Aboriginal people today. Parliaments that acknowledge the traditional owners do so mechanically, without sincerity.
It is regrettable some Aboriginals become star-struck by an award and abandon principle for personal glory. Any Aboriginal leader who accepts Australia Day awards legitimises the right of whites to govern and of Aborigines to be governed. Would Palestinians accept an Israeli of the Year award?
In my opinion, any person (not just Aboriginals) who accepts these nominations without condemnation of the essence of Australia Day celebrations, lacks a social conscience. Those participating in Australia Day ceremonies and awards have an opportunity to call for a change of date for national celebrations . I am aware that other Aborigines have accepted these awards with unreserved pride, but invariably they are the politically assimilated.
There may come a time when it is legitimate for Aborigines to accept these nominations- when a treaty has been made between Aborigines and Australia to include land, an Aboriginal Assembly and 8 seats in the 150 strong Federal Parliament. The make-up of parliaments should reflect the people they govern. No constitutional change is required. The Commonwealth could create an Aboriginal Assembly along ATSIC lines, with added powers of State governments. Most of the 548,370 Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders living in urban settings could choose to vote for the Aboriginal Assembly or vote in the electorate within which they reside. Non-Aborigines living on Aboriginal lands could do the same thing, potentially overcoming an image of an ethnic electorate.
The date of the agreement could mark a new national date for celebration, where both peoples acknowledge each others rights and aspirations, thus avoiding the current ‘whites only’ celebrations.
Until that day, while I am grateful for the thoughts behind my nomination, I would be a hypocrite to accept it”.
A current affairs segment on the issue of Native Title VS Land Rights
Featuring interviews with Gary Foley, Bob Weatherall, Monica Morgan, Jenny Munro, Robbie Thorpe, Michael Mansell, Jack Beetson and Michael Anderson
Posted 20 October, 2013