A few weeks ago, I was lamenting that the big shots in the Law Council of Australia, the lawyers’ trade union that puts the CFMEU in the shade for repressive work practices, had taken to opening their speeches by reminding us that we live in Australia under sufferance from various Aboriginal land owners ‘past, present and future.’ I also noted that the new version of this exhortation includes ‘past, present and emerging’ custodians with whom we will be sharing the land. None of the tragics who mouth such clichés ever suggest they will give their own land to the emerging tribes, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Since then, I have been to a performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and I find that even that august institution has got into the cliché racket. Right on cue, the announcement came that we had to make obeisance to an extra lot who are also after a bit of the action. The new joint owners will be, apparently, various ‘First Nations’ with whom we are going to have a ‘shared future’. You will notice the whole thing has taken on an ever-expanding life of its own; we used to have only designated tribes with long names, but then they became a nation, then a Nation with a capital ‘N’ and now they are plural, so there will be entire Nations with whom we will be sharing the land. I suppose they got the idea from the magically multiplying stolen generation which started off as one, but rapidly became the Stolen Generations, picking up capital letters as well as unwitting members on the way. I really don’t mind if our betters keep on giving vent to their guilt and promoting childish exhortations to show how pure they are on politically correct issues, like sharing the country with emerging Nations. What I object to is the monstrous hypocrisy of it all, saying these things about shared ownership of land which they know are false and, worse, building up unrealistic hopes and expectations which they know cannot and will not be realised. Expect a lot of this hot air from now on, especially as the Victorian government is going full steam ahead on concocting a treaty with… well, don’t ask me, but we are going to be educated on it all by the Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner and the Aboriginal Treaty Interim Working Group whom I am sure will have our best interests at heart. All we know so far is that Victoria’s entire Aboriginal population is 38,000 and that you are one if you say so. But the new bureaucracy will be comfortable; they have to work under the Travel Policy and Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy, and if history is any guide there will be more than enough of that largesse sloshing around. If the Turnbull government had an ounce of backbone, which we know it does not, it would tell the Victorian government to stop this divisive nonsense and remind it that we are one nation and that only the federal government makes treaties. I think I would rather live in Putin’s Russia than under the thumb of a Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner.
Something else emerged last week: the emerging political leader. One of the many burdens imposed on us these days is to keep up with the increasingly ritualistic and cringe-making practice of self-appointed committees taking it in turns to give each other awards and appointing their dubious heroes to Halls of Fame and similar totemic nonsense. As a general rule, the soaring pomposity of the title of such awards increases in direct proportion to the ludicrous and pointless nature of the award itself, like the hilariously named Young Voltaire Award from Liberty Victoria, just won by Yassmin Abdel-Magied. We have just had another one of them, this time the grandly named McKinnon Prize Political Leader of the Year, which is actually two awards, the first being for a mere Political Leader and the other for an Emerging Political Leader, although they are equal in pretension. You must be aware of them, as the donor has been reminding us of its generosity every day by enormous display ads in the Australian. It seems the McKinnon Foundation has discovered a truth hitherto hidden from the rest of us, that political leadership is essential to our society and it is determined to meet this need by conferring the two awards. Well, you have to hand it to them. The selection committee could easily have been diverted by choosing two political leaders concerned with trifling and peripheral issues of no importance like defence, economic progress, taxation, poverty, pestilence, the world order, race, political correctness, nuclear war, stagnant wage growth, climate change and so on. But no! They have wisely pushed those baubles aside and honed in on the two really big issues confronting the world and on which we clearly need true leadership: same sex marriage and the municipal functions of the Torres Shire (pop. 3500, but fortunately multicultural). Senator Dean Smith won the first award for his tireless work on SSM and the second award went to Vonda Malone, the mayor of the shire which she governs from her capital on Thursday Island, building on her former employment with the UNHRC which must be a great help. These awards show again those principles that are so vital to our system of government: the award must be for one of the approved range of fashionable causes taken up by the cognoscenti; the winning cause must appeal only to minorities; winners must be on the approved and acceptable side of the issue; the selection committee must not include any ordinary citizen with a boring job; and above all, the award must show its true purpose, to reflect the wisdom of the donor. It is all so predictable that you could list the next ten winners here and now.
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