Citizenship on Invasion Day

I had a hectic mix of activities on Australia Day, participating in 3 separate citizenship ceremonies, plus dropping in on part of the Invasion Day rally and march outside state Parliament House and also attending some of the later festivities to mark the day at the Jagera centre near Musgrave Park in South Brisbane.

The Invasion Day rally was well attended, with over Invasion Day march, Brisbane, 2007500 people there, buoyed by the unexpected news that the review of the DPP’s decision on the Palm Island death in custody had recommended manslaughter charges be laid. It is good that the support from non-indigenous people seems to be continuing and that the state government is clearly still feeling pressure about their failures to date in many areas of Indigenous affairs. The challenge will be to keep this momentum for genuine change going.

This time last year I wrote about what a positive experience citizenship ceremonies are for me. Everyone who chooses to become a citizen will already have lived here for a number of years, and there is no compulsion on people to take the step to become a citizen – as is demonstrated by the many thousands of long-term permanent residents who never become citizens – so it is a positive reflection on our country when people make a conscious choice to become a permanent part of it.

While the basics of citizenship ceremonies are the same everywhere, I found the differences between each of the ones I attended quite interesting. For those who know Brisbane, one was held at Mitchelton, one at Wishart and one at Shorncliffe – all quite different parts of the city. Each had about 40-50 new citizens and each had the mix of the local Councillor presiding, with state and federal members also making short speeches.

Shorncliffe had the distinction of being outside in a park under glorious gumtrees on a hilltop overlooking Moreton Bay, creating a much more casual feel. Whilst each ceremony had an interesting mix of people from a wide range of countries, Wishart had the highest proportion of people from a non-European background – probably about 75 per cent, including a fair number of African background.

The masters of ceremony at each place had a tough job reading out some of the names, but probably the most difficult one I heard all day was of a young woman from Iceland at the Mitchelton ceremony. In a nice touch, this woman gave a short and very good speech at the end of the ceremony telling her own story about why someone from the land of ice and snow was now committing herself to the land of the hot summer sun (and it was a very warm day too). It is interesting that speeches such as these from ‘non-professional’ speakers often go down better with the crowd than the formal ones from people like me.

It may seem to some that Invasion Day marches for justice and Australia Day citizenship ceremonies are completely inconsistent with each other, although I wouldn’t think so myself. A good example of just how compatible they can be came at the ceremony I attended at Mitchelton. Whilst all of the ceremonies acknowledge the Traditional Owners in some way or other these days, the Mitchelton one also had a speech from a locally based Indigenous person (although not a local T.O.). He spoke of some of the history of his people from a bit further north in Queensland, telling some of the stories from when their tribe was being hunted down and shot by police and others, where they fled to to survive and later when they were prohibited from being in the townships after sunset. He also mentioned a local bora ring – which I wasn’t aware of – that they were trying to get proper protection for. He mentioned that many of his people call the day Invasion Day. At the time he was speaking, the Invasion Day rally at Parliament House would have been starting and the people there being given the news about the manslaughter charges being laid over the death of Mulrunji. This probably made it all the more poignant that the Aboriginal man giving the speech at Mitchelton was a police liaison officer, speaking in his police garb. He spoke in a very matter of fact, friendly story-telling way and was very welcoming to the new citizens. He was not a regular speech giver either, but it seemed to me his speech was the best received of all by the crowd.

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42 Comments

  1. Am I missing a few things here?
    How is it that this is dropped in the wee small hours of the morning AFTER Australia Day, giving the aggravating buzz of parochial, self-congratulatory, isolationist smugness that has engulfed the country in the lead up to Oz day?
    Firstly, congratulations to the Queensland government for finally and much too belatedly biting the bullet. This is particularly in comparison to reactions from two other sources that this writer personally finds objectionable; tending to despicable.
    Overtly despicable is the response of the Queensland police force. One would have thought that the chance for S’Sgt Hurley to explain himself before his community in an open forum would have been aplauded rather than condemned, particularly if he proves to be as innocent as their reception proposes as to their feelings toward this individual. But one wonders whether or not any of these individuals have spent much time considering the nature of Mulrunji’s death, or else lack consciences.
    Secondly, the Queensland Liberal Opposition. What prank is it that they actually think they are playing?.
    Clare is already damned beyond redemption as to reputation and any thing will do to avoid saying that the AG had done the right thing in moving to implement quickly the Street review finding.
    Please, bystanders, no silly political games. This is too serious an issue for political grandstanding.
    Finally, I think I can see why Street cannot be released immediately. The matter must be subjudice, in order that S/Sgt Hurley receives
    the same benefit we would take for granted and expect for ourselves in a similar situation, as to his day in court.
    Am left in mind of the late Doomadgee Mulrunji, though.
    And the hapless David Hicks. Can certain denialists FINALLY see what it is that upsets many people about David Hicks treatment by the USA and Ruddock?

  2. Hmmm…Paul Walter, as lawyer Andrew Boe said when announcing the decision at the Invasion Day rally, it is important to watch what we say about Mulrunji’s death.

    It would be a bad thing if the trial were to be thrown out because anti-Hurley comments had prejudiced the jury.

  3. I, too thought it strange that the news quietly appeared around midnight online.

    Even stranger that the QPS immediately threatened to strike and protest – as if one of their own cannot be brought before the courts.

    Stranger again this quote from Denis Fitzpatrick The VP of the QPU:

    “…He said street marches and even strike action had been discussed.

    Mr Fitzpatrick said Queenslanders should be concerned about the “blatant political interference in our justice system”.”

    I thought it was the failure of the justice system to act properly in QLD that has brought about this welcomed decision. Finally justice is being seen to be done, but, it has had to be dragged in, kicking and screaming all the way.

    I’ve read a number of good articles by Tony Koch (I think he’s an ex C-Mail reporter) in The Australian. I believe that this reporter should be praised for his ongoing interest, commitment to the principles of justice and his persistence in reporting the case.

    I agree, we need to watch what we say about Hurley, for the sake of a fair trial (which is all that was being asked in the first place).

    Leanne Clare should not remain in the position of DPP, that position has clearly been politicised (on a number of occasions).

  4. The news broke on January 26th: Andrew Boe announced it at the Invasion Day rally at about 10.15am, after the Attorney-General had called him. (I was at the rally, taking notes and pictures).

    I got home from the Invasion Day rally just after 1PM, and threw a quick article up on my blog and also on Melbourne Indymedia. Someone else had already mentioned it at MIM, and the ABC and The Australian were already carrying stories – The Australian’s was from the AAP news agency.

    I’m not sure this was an attempt to cover up the news. Australia Day roughly marks the end of the silly season, not the beginning, and this story has had so much attention that it was always going to spread quickly.

  5. Richard, “Invasion Day” is a term used by some to mark the arrival of permanent white settlement in Australia. Given that the local aboriginal people hadn’t invited them, it is considered an invasion.

    I note that some also refer to it as Survival Day – noting that aboriginal people have survived 200+ years of white settlement.

    Not everyone in this country finds something to celebrate on 26 January. Maybe we should become a republic and change Australia Day to that date.

  6. Speaking of “kicking and screaming”, the astounding response of Bjelke-Beattie on tonight’s news was astonishing. He mulishly denied there was a problem with law enforcement and incarceration conditions, particularly in remote indigenous communities.
    This seems diametrically opposed to the apologetic responses after the Palm Island mess first happened. All the talk of adequate funds being made available to sort these problems was just “talk”, then?
    Are we seeing the sort of “governance” and “policy” that typified ‘Dr.Death” being also applied to aboriginal problems and enforcement?
    That is, NO adequate funds to be made available for social problems; no matter how serious?
    Sen.Bartlett, am desperate to know your take on Beattie’s news comments tonight. Am truly bewildered at a supposed Labor Premier’s seemingly callous response to this unfolding social saga. If you never respond to another request from this writer, he will not object, but please help a gobsmacked frequent ALP voter from times past understand what it is that seems to be unfolding before his disbeleiving eyes.

  7. The man to whom I was once married, lost all respect for the aboriginal people after he starting working for the Health Department and travelling all over Queensland.

    He visited places such as Yarabah and Bamaga, and what he saw there disgusted him.

    The aboriginal people destroyed the houses the government had provided, using them for firewood.

    Their children were malnourished and neglected, while the adults drank and brawled among themselves.

    Christ only knows what goes on between the aboriginal people and the police. I couldn’t imagine why any police officer would want to work under those conditions.

    My husband was scared for his life the whole of the time he stayed in such places, even though he was an Australian Judo Champion.

    The only thing that scared him more was when he had to do maintenance at Boggo Road jail with a convicted murderer as his assistant.

    Hurley’s trial will do nothing to help the population’s general disrespect for the police.

  8. Paul:

    I didn’t see the TV news, although I have seen various quotes online. I think it is just an example of the political tactic of deny, deny, deny which is quite a standard practice for most governments these days. Occasionally things become so obvious that there is a need to admit some specific thing, but the blanket of denial starts surrounding and limiting that again pretty quickly.

    Even the Police Union is saying that the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody are not being complied with – although admittedly that was in the context of them pressuring for more police resources.

  9. I forgot to mention that I also have a male cousin who was sent to teach in the Cairns/Yarabah area.

    He had a nervous breakdown within 6 months and had to be sent back to Brisbane, where he continued to teach without further problems.

  10. ‘invasion day’, what a PC/trendy-nutter hoot. What about an ‘ecocide invasion day’ then, to mourn that evil day when the ancestors of the aborigines ‘invaded’ the continent and set about hunting practises which wiped out the megafauna?

    It would be just as meaningless, and just as attractive to gaia-worshipping loons. A win-win for the fringe-dwellers, surely?

    MarkL
    Canberra

  11. Thanks for reply, Andrew.
    I just don’t undersand why it is so difficult for them to simply spend a few bob and get the worst of some it fixed. They seem to have no problems when it comes to spending money on junk like PP’s, that only seem to make bad situations worse, but with no overt benefit for anyone ( note the qualifying term “overt”). But when something “real” needs attending to politicians universally are no where to be seen.
    It occurred to me last night after sending the post that the State governments are often left to carry the can for a Federal government which delights in playing silly beggars involving funding to states, in pursuit of some of the silliest of coalition ideological goals.
    The public really needs to know who is at fault, if there are funding shortfalls.

  12. Mark L is right. The aborigines were a conquered people a very long time ago.

    We need to stand united under the one flag; otherwise migrant groups will want to “do their own thing” as well.

  13. I don’t know about “standing united beneath the one flag”.
    What if a flock of birds is perched on it?
    Which flag? The Eureka Southern Cross, or is it permanently discredited since the bikies took it over as their symbol.
    Many aborigines reckon the flag stands for just those things that have ruined them and turned them into the sort of human beings Coral describes- dysfunctional.
    Please, finally think of WHY these people are in the mess they are in. We all know it looks untidy. The real question is why and what to do about it.
    Think of your own upbringing Coral and what that brought you and compare that to what the kids you described are undergoing. Some people are so unfortunate as to deserve pity rather than condemnation.
    Do you blame a cat that has not been housetrained for leaking on the rug?
    As for Mark L, who full-well does know better, in the light of that, will not bother with even the contempt of a response, for such callous responses.

  14. Hope am allowed to commend an article in the “Age” for the benfit of those who still seem to be struggling with the problems discussed above.
    The article, 26/1/07, by Prof. Larissa Behrendt, is entitled:
    “A tale of two Australias
    ” examines Australia since 1967 as to things going wrong.
    If Prof. Behrendt’s clear and well-written article does not at last clear away a few cobwebs, will be very surprised. But if the piece canot acheive this, must be resigned to the fact that nothing I write will.

  15. Coral, you need to stop your attacks on anyone you don’t like dear, it is tedious.

    And you need to remember that you are the descendent of migrants who are doing their own thing. Like stealing the land from the owners, destroying the ecology in the name of progress and now whinging because it don’t work no more.

    I have lived in the bush with white kids who are hungry – bloody hell me and my sisters used to bake mud pies in the 1950’s and were so damn hungry we ate them as well.

    As for the invasion day thing – well you see it is like this. If people own a land and other people come and take it uninvited it is called an invasion.

    And please, please dont’ tell me it was non-violent or I will puke.

    I spent Australia day doing what I do every year. Avoiding it and ignoring it – although in 1988 I marched for peace, justice and equality with the aboriginal people and thousands of others. for about 30 seconds it seemed possible.

  16. Coral, I’m not really sure how the problems you describe in aboriginal communities justify a police officer beating a man to death.

    I find comments like that disgustingly racist and offensive.

  17. ‘invasion day’, what a PC/trendy-nutter hoot. What about an ‘ecocide invasion day’ then, to mourn that evil day when the ancestors of the aborigines ‘invaded’ the continent and set about hunting practises which wiped out the megafauna?

    It would be just as meaningless, and just as attractive to gaia-worshipping loons. A win-win for the fringe-dwellers, surely?

    Well, I am a atheist materialist and I get frustrated with ‘gaia-worshipping loons’, but I can still recognise the injustice that has been done to Aboriginal people.

    I hope that when that injustice has been righted, it will be easier to have a proper debate about pre-invasion Aboriginal culture and history.

    I’m not a big fan of the myth that Aboriginal people had some special spiritual relationship with the land that made them far better custodians than white people.

    One thing that is not often mentioned is that there were several waves of Aboriginal settlement of Australia, and that the ancestors of the current Aboriginal people probably took the land by force as well, many thousands of years ago.

    But that does not excuse the appalling way we have treated them, since we started to rule this continent by force of arms.

    If you can think of a better word than ‘invasion’ to describe landing on a continent, fully disrupting the currently existing society and establishing a completely different one by force, please say so.

  18. Patrick Corals comments on this (and a number of topics) have had the same effect on me however I believe it is important to take these types of views into account in any effort to improve the situation for Indigenous people.

    Corals comments are at the core of the problem of some of the wider community, that is, not having a level of respect for the Indigenous population needed to lay adequate foundations for positive change.

    If I read Corals arguement at post #8 correctly she is saying that the wider community will not repect the police if action is taken against a police officer charged with offences against an indigenous person who simply by their place/race at birth is not worthy.

    These types of views bend the rule of law in many directions.

  19. Kaye – please try to remember that not all of us float along in your high zone of moral righteousness and ethical rectitude.

    How excatly are you improving the situation for indigenous peopl by taking Coral’s views inot account – how pathetically patronising and sniggeringly supeiror.

    In my view whether invasion or not is largely irrelevant – it has happended and the use of the term is divisive and not helpful for the “indigenous” population group.

    Bartlett is a likeable person (see we can all be patronising) but turgid and predictabel on these issues – it doesnt help and doesnt even get good political mileage if that could be seen as a ratioanmle.

  20. Thanks Ken.

    I’m not sure why it is bad thing to take other’s views into account – I would have thought it’s more likely to improve things in the long run than ignoring other people’s views is.

    I generally avoided the use of the term ‘Invasion Day’ for some time because it seemed to have an alienating affect on many in the wider community (and thus perhaps didn’t get good political mileage). However, a person’s vision would have to be seriously limited if they can’t see why many Indigenous Australians use the term or perceive European settlement/colonisation as an invasion.

    The term may be too confronting for some people (or ‘divisive’ to use Ken’s term), but it is also a reality (unless as David suggests someone can come up with a more accurate description), so trying to disguise reality by refusing to use such terms involves a lot of political correctness.

    Mark L seems to dislike political correctness, so I would thought he would approve of accuracy in language, rather than try to use derision or hsotility to silence people – that’s why political correctness is so detrimental to free speech.

    As the rally and march I went to was called an Invasion Day event by the organisers, it would be the height of political correctness to have airbrushed it by calling it something else.

    As I mentioned, the Aboriginal speaker at a citizenship ceremony used the term in what was a genuinely welcoming speech to new citizens, and the sky didn’t fall in.

  21. Andrew

    I didn’t say taking other peoples point of view into account was a bad thing at all – what I said was the approach taken to Corals view, whether one agrees or not was condescneding.

    One can’t take the high moral gropund of righteousness, as long as it invovels somethiong one agrees with, for example the poster while seeking to impose a view that respecting indigenous peopl is a prerequsite for improving their lot, clearly indicated disrespect for Corals viwe. You cant have it both ways as many of your posters do, me included probalby.

    You, to your credit dont do that, viz the criticism you got for not supporting Browns efforts against the Bretheren, from many who would happliy lock Hopward and Bush up in Guantanamo Bay. Get the point.

    Anyway, the issue with invasion as a gterm is not a personal l problem for me, frankly I couldn’t caer less what people want to call it, I just have a view its not particualyl helpful to progress thast all.

    My in laws coem from the middle east, theer land has periodiclly been invaded for cneturies and centrueis, thast what happens.

  22. Andrew, I am old enough to remember the original name for ‘political correctness’.

    Hypocrisy.

    So yes, I dislike it, but it is far better to laugh at it, at the sheer banal vapidity of it, than to get angry about it. PC amuses me and teh best defence against it is to laugh at it. It is also an excellent tool to identify ‘P2 people’ (posers and plonkers) as a former ALP personage of my acquantance calls them.

    If people want to feel all mopey about ‘invasion day’ (technically that is the wrong term in any case), let ’em. Mostly they will be ignored or quietly smiled at anyway, and if feeling bad about something 200+ years ago that they did not do, had no involvement in and cannot alter floats their boat, why should I concern myself about that? I’ll not offend them by sneering at them to their faces or otherwise insulting them. Why bother? Most are wowsers or PC sadsacks who merely thrive on the PC martyrdom they think hostility confers on them.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  23. Ken my disagreement of Corals view is completely different from what you percieve as “clearly indicated disrespect for Corals viwe”.

    It’difficult for reasoned debate on any subject when the reponse to the issue at hand gets clouded/sidelined by personal attack and accusations….I am genuine in my belief that negative views against the Indigenous population are part of the overal problem and on that basis need to be addressed if we are to stride toward solutions.

  24. Kaye – quite right I agree entirely wiht your sentiments now experssed at #24, however that’s not what was expresed, albeit in my interpretation, at #19.

  25. Thanks for your support, Ken.

    What I had to say was not a personal attack or accusation against anyone.

    Facts and experiences aren’t racism. If the realism of a situation is negative, that isn’t my fault.

    I gave no justification for police beating a man to death. In any case, the man is innocent until proven guilty. But perhaps the processes of law are not of interest to some people???

    The best evidence is the evidence of one’s own eyes.

    All Australians need to become ONE UNITED PEOPLE, regardless of colour. Anything else will eventually lead to civil war.

    As a person who has been educated in destructive cultism, I am becoming increasingly nervous of the Muslim leaders among us, who seem determined to upset the apple cart with their condemnation of our people and talk of a Jehad.

    Marilyn:

    I too believe in peace, justice and equality for all. Giving any particular group the power of “self-determination” works against those principles.

    I think your comments are extremely disrespectful.

    We should be united under the one flag and work toward that – not bickering over who came here first.

  26. If people want to feel all mopey about ‘invasion day’ (technically that is the wrong term in any case), let ‘em. Mostly they will be ignored or quietly smiled at anyway, and if feeling bad about something 200+ years ago that they did not do, had no involvement in and cannot alter floats their boat, why should I concern myself about that?

    What is the correct term?

    The issue is not something that happened 200 years ago. The issue is the effects of that – effects that we are still dealing with today. If Aboriginal people had a genuinely equal place in our society, then ‘Invasion Day’ would be a silly thing to say. But they don’t.

    It’s not a question of feeling bad. I forced myself to realise almost a decade ago that feeling guilty over the fact that I have more privileges than an Aboriginal Australian is a stupid thing to do. It’s not my fault I was born here.

    But I do think we have unfinished business, that comes from the destruction of Aborignal society by European society.

    This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to ‘like’ Aboriginal people (as if anyone could ‘like’ a whole ‘race’ of people), or fall for the romantic myths I discussed above in comment 18.

    But I’m sure there are many Aboriginal people who would welcome your help in their struggle for equality if you offered it. And I’m sure they’d get bored with you quite quickly if you were the sort of person who went on about how bad white people are and how evil Australia is.

  27. Lest I become hypocritical concerning Coral’s comments I admit I discern where she is coming from, in one aspect of her comments. Yes, it is not a nice sight to see drunks; white, aboriginal or otherwise in full cry.
    I started “postponing the next drink” yonks ago and one the shocks I experienced later was when watching other drunks, realising what I had looked like and the hate some must have felt for me “in my cups”.
    Conversely, I know some good aboriginal people who have had the same problem as me and do as well as I do these days.
    Grog is not concerned about race. It wants anyone vulnerable.
    Where race applies in this debate comes from the explanation of formidable cultural forces that hinder some in recovering far more than others. With all my advantages, I had a battle and may yet fail despite life being as sweet as it is. So, I understand why it is so hard for those who “kick against the wind” from birth and never had my advantages.

  28. Sorry to a few people – I had to delete a bunch of comments. Some impersonation happened which had some responses to it. Easier to delete the group then try to unpick unrelated parts of the comments. I’ll put some tighter moderation on for a while, but feel free to repost any parts of comments you wish to say again.

  29. I think the worst form of racism is that directed at one’s own kind, including people condoning sedition and acts of treason against their own country.

  30. Carniverous racism Coral?
    “I think the worst form of racism is that directed at one’s own kind, including people condoning sedition and acts of treason against their own country.”

    Why racism “directed at one’s one kind” the worst? and what does it entail, inculding your spin on sedition an acts o treason (under law of course)?

  31. Coral, when you talk of people condoning sedition
    and acts of treason against their own country, I presume you refer to Mr.Ruddock, who has clearly betrayed an Australian and hence all Australian, by operating exclusively in the interests of a foreign power by encouraging the ill-treatment of that innocent Australian citizen kidnapped by that foreign power and being held in a concentration camp .
    Or do you mean the Alan Jones or Tamworth types who foment civil strife by slandering and provoking Lebanese or other ethnic minorities, incidentally damaging Australia’s good name overseas as a civilised country by making us appear redneck clowns.
    Or maybe you mean those supporting brutal criminal acts that bring law enforcement agencies into disrepute?
    I think those who are accused of “sedition” for being concerned with this countries good name are the real patriots, and those who are prepared to sell out our traditions for the sake of expediency are more its traitors.

  32. I was thinking of people damaging our war planes and going into Pine Gap. Those are acts of sedition/treason.

    I am also now thinking of those who want to blame white folk (or their own government/countrymen) for everything – instead of recognising that there may be fault on all sides.

  33. Andrew, I take it that the post I replied to was not written by you?

    I am rather glad of that, if that is so.

    MarkL
    Canberra

  34. Yes – a small problem that’s happened a couple of times on a couple of sites – first time on this one though. Mildly annoying, but not something worth making a big deal over.

  35. Invasion Day, what a great concept! Everyone country should have at least one. The Brits would need several.. Roman Invasion Day, Norman Invasion Day, Viking Invasion Day, Angles, Jutes, Saxons, etc.

    Europe will have just a plethora of Invasion Days, thanks to the Romans, French, Germans etc etc invading each other over hundreds of years.

    And all the countries invaded by Arabs and Turks..the list of those is huge.

    Then South America, Africa, Kuwait of course (they can have Invasion, Rape and Pillage day, thanks Saddam!)

    Oh, it’s just wonderful…don’t forget the make them public holidays. What is it the lefties say? Keep the rage going….for hundreds of years if necessary.

    I love nutroots sites like this, they have such wonderful meaningful discussions.

  36. One of the ways injustices can live on so strongly for such long periods of time is when they are ignored, or when people display contempt towards victims of it, like you just have Moriarty.

    The impacts and injustices of colonisations sometimes do go on for centuries, but they don’t have to, if people are prepared to confront facts rather than sneeringly howl them down in a politically correct way.

    And I don’t know what it is that your idea od ‘lefties’ say, Moriarty. I don’t find discussing exaggerated charictatures very illuminating, but perhaps that’s your idea of “meaningful discussion”.

  37. Insults aside, I think Moriarty makes an excellent point about invasion.

    We all need to accept, integrate and move on as a single nation of Australians – no matter where we hail from.

    I was glad to hear of plans afoot (on the Muslim front) to remove the Mufti from office for his un-Australian attitudes.

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