Utopia: An inside story


CEO of the Ampilatwatja Health Clinic Dave Smith is interviewed by internationally renowned journalist John Pilger, for the film Utopia, which premieres in Australia in January 2014.

CEO of the Ampilatwatja Health Clinic Dave Smith is interviewed by internationally renowned journalist John Pilger, for the film Utopia, which premieres in Australia in January 2014.

IN JANUARY 2014, the nation’s most famous ex-pat journalist John Pilger will launch his latest film in Australia. Two years in the making, Utopia is a feature length documentary that chronicles the ongoing plight of the First Australians and their fight for justice.

The film has a number of important themes. First, it serves as a testament to the struggle of Aboriginal people, and the truth that there has been a long resistance to the effects of invasion despite mainstream Australia’s determination to sanitize its past. Second, the film lambastes Australia for its failure to not only come to grips with its brutal history, but its frequent refusal to even acknowledge it. Thirdly, the film seeks to show that very little has changed since Pilger made his first film about Aboriginal Australia – Secret Country – in 1985. Utopia shines a light on the denial of justice to Aboriginal Australians – the withholding of basic rights like treaty and self-determination – but also the denial of basic services which all Australians expect as a right of citizenry. [Read more…]

VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE: How black Australia rejected Tony Abbott


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott... he wants to be the 'Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs'.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott… he wants to be the ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’.

TONY Abbott is the new ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’. One problem: no-one bothered to ask Aboriginal people if they even wanted him. It turns out they didn’t, if the most in-depth analysis of Aboriginal voting intentions ever conducted is anything to go by. CHRIS GRAHAM explains. [Read more…]

All roads lead to Byron, and blackfellas


The Aboriginal flag flying high at the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

The Aboriginal flag flying high at the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

MUSIC, at least for me, is an intensely personal thing. I was fortunate to be raised by parents who have a great love of music, so they made sure that my three brothers and I got a good musical education.

We all had to learn multiple instruments, we all had to join choirs, we all had to play in brass and concert bands. Most of the time, when I was forced to sit down and practice (piano, or drums, or briefly trumpet) I would have obviously rather been out riding my bike. But looking back, I’m grateful for the experience because even though I never went on to pursue music as a career, it fostered in me a strong love and appreciation that continues to grow to this day.

That’s one of the amazing things about music – it gets better with age. And that explains how, finally, I found myself at the Bluesfest in Byron Bay over the Easter break. [Read more…]

Frenetic activity, bugger-all progress: the art of bureaucracy


Old Timers town camp, on the edge of Alice Springs.

Old Timers town camp, on the edge of Alice Springs.

THERE are at least two truisms in Aboriginal affairs. The first is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ll come back to that one. The second is that the road through Aboriginal affairs, while often paved with good intentions, is sometimes paved with bad ones. [Read more…]

Masons and Foster acted corruptly in Wagonga land deals, ICAC finds


THREE former members of the Wagonga Local Aboriginal Land Council have been found to have corruptly accepted cash payments in exchange for trying to push through dodgy land deals in the NSW south coast town of Narooma.

Ron Mason Snr, his daughter Vanessa Mason and Ken ‘KJ’ Foster were each found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have engaged in corrupt conduct over the land deals, which ran from 2005 to 2010. [Read more…]

ULLADULLA DREAMING: A brighter future in spite of the bureaucrats


THERE’S two ways you can read this story. One from the ‘glass half empty’ perspective. One from the ‘glass half full’ perspective. Shane Carriage, the CEO of the Ulladulla Local Aboriginal Land Council, is very much a glass half full kind of guy, although after battling 12 years to complete an ambitious land dealing that would provide jobs, an income and independence for his people, he’s keenly aware that what he almost ended up with was a glass neither half full nor empty, just broken. CHRIS GRAHAM reports. [Read more…]

A CAUTIONARY TALE: Land deals and brown paper bags


IF NOTHING else, the story of how a wealthy property developer came to be working with a small Far South Coast Local Aboriginal Land Council over a series of land deals that potentially would reap millions is a cautionary tale. It’s a story of rich white developers; of organized crime figures; of poor black land council officials; of corruption; of deceit; and ultimately betrayal. It’s even got a brown paper bag, full of cash. [Read more…]

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