"Bundoora" in Arabic means "tomato."
By Gideon Polya
MELBOURNE, Australia _ “Bundoora Arabesque” is a huge 4-seasons abstract expressionist painting that represents an ecumenical and amity-promoting fusion of Islamic, Renaissance Italian and contemporary styles overlaid with abstract expressionist figurative elements reminiscent of Jackson Pollock and of 20,000 year old cave paintings from Europe and Australia.
“Bundoora” is my local area and means “the country that kangaroos like” in the Aboriginal language of this region. Indeed I often see kangaroos in the early morning and evening in the local bushland (see if you can spot them as well as local bird life in this complex painting).
Bundoora is the Outer Melbourne suburb in which La Trobe University is located. La Trobe ranks about #10 among Australia’s 40 odd universities and some major scholars with international reputations have variously been associated with La Trobe. The university is named after 19th century Victorian governor Charles La Trobe, a traveler, mountaineer and author who is also notorious for setting up the Victorian Native Police who were involved in the Aboriginal Genocide in South East Australia. This ambiguity is reflected in a life-size upside-down statue of La Trobe at La Trobe University in which the head is on the ground and the plinthe in the air.
My “Bundoora Arabesque” painting was inspired by the beautiful local area through which I walked frequently some months ago when I was delivering a big theory and practical course to second year science students at La Trobe University. The painting has a quite unintended ”Aboriginal” feel to it in striking support of Australian feminist guru Germaine Greer’s idea that European Australians have become unwittingly imbued with love of land that is so intrinsic to Indigenous (Aboriginal ) Australian culture.
Unfortunately, completion of this huge (1.3 x 2.9 metre) painting has coincided with the appalling MILITARY invasion of Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) by the extreme right-wing, Bush-ite Australian Federal Government. The “excuse” was an expert NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” that detailed huge problems of alcohol, violence and poverty in NT Aboriginal communities. However the media and right-wing politicians have run with the revelations of appalling NT Aboriginal child sexual abuse that provided the climate for the Federal Government “invasion” of isolated NT aboriginal communities using soldiers in camouflage dress.
This has now culminated in passage of a 500-page Bill (with cowardly Labor Opposition support) that allows for racially-specific expropriation of NT Aboriginal land; race-based constraints on what Aborigines can read, see, drink, consume and purchase; and race-based withholding of NT Aboriginal social welfare payments.
This Bill involves breaching the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act 1975 that (among other things) stopped Federal violation of Aboriginal Australians who had suffered 2 centuries of what genocide experts call the Aboriginal Genocide. The Indigenous population dropped from about 1 million to 0.1 million in the first century of European colonization; the 20th century saw the forcible removal of 0.1 million Aboriginal children from their mothers; and indeed Aborigines were only finally “counted” as Australians after a Referendum in 1967. Their long struggle to regain Land Rights has been compounded by conservative opposition and horrendous living conditions in one of the richest countries in the world.
According to the Australian Human Rights, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 gives effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Its major objectives are to (1) promote equality before the law for all persons, regardless of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin, and (2) make discrimination against people on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin unlawful.
The obscenely-rushed racist legislation prompted an Editorial in the liberal conservative Melbourne newspaper The Age entitled” “Legislate in haste, PM, and you may repent in leisure” (Wednesday 8th August, 2007; links to the Age.)
“Has democracy in Australia come to this? Parliament reduced to a rubber stamp? Whatever the legislative details, the executive's show of contempt for Parliament is alarming. The plan includes undeniably discriminatory and draconian elements. . . will [the] spending be effective in ending the epidemics of sexual assault, violence and drug and alcohol abuse in the affected communities?"
This editorial goes on to observe that the Opposition only had 24 hours to peruse the 500-page Bill; that the Federal Government will be seizing control of 73 NT Aboriginal communities; the Bill fails to adopt any of the 97 recommendations of the NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” which provided the ostensible excuse for the Federal Government action; and that cost will be A$587 million for the first year of operation.
The militant, extremist, extreme right wing, Federal Australian Government already weeks ago sent soldiers in battle dress camouflage into NT Aboriginal communities. Now with cowardly and unprincipled Opposition support it has brought in profoundly dangerous and offensive racially-discriminatory legislation that grossly violates Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975 that gave effect to Australia's obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and which formally ended 2 centuries of race-based discrimination underlying the Aboriginal Genocide.
This is happening in one of the richest countries of the world because of deliberate and sustained neglect – Australian Aboriginal health services are funded at about 50% of what they should be according to the Commonwealth Grants Commission (2001) report “Report on Indigenous funding” (quoted by a recent and very detailed report on Indigenous Australian Health by N. Thomson et al: “Overview of Indigenous Health, 2004”:
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates “total per capita medical expenditure at average exchange rate ($US)” (2004) as $14 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Afghanistan), $58 (US-UK-Australia-Occupied Iraq) versus $3,123 (Occupier Australia)
With an Indigenous population of about 0.5 million that is funded at roughly the national average (despite huge morbidity and remote location problems) the extra funding required is about US$1.5 billion annually – as compared to the US$0.4 billion now offered, and this largely for Army and bureaucratic personnel and infrastructure.
Many Australian Aborigines live in Third World conditions; the “annual under-5 infant death rate” is over 3 times higher for Aborigines than that for White Australians; 1 in 5 Australian Aborigines have diabetes (mostly type 2 diabetes) which has huge attendant problems such as cardiovascular complications, kidney problems and blindness; the Australian Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years less than that for White Australians; and a top Australian diabetologist has warned that Indigenous Australians may actually die out by the end of the century.Image
The deficient medical expenditure statistics are reflected in an “annual avoidable death rate” (annual excess death rate) of Indigenous Australians is 2.2-0.4 = 1.8% as compared to 0% for New Zealand and for White Australia, 0.4% (South Asia), 0.5% (Occupied Iraq), 1.0% (non-Arab Africa) and 1.8% (Occupied Afghanistan).
1.8% per year of 460,000 times 11 years = about 90,000 Indigenous Australians have died avoidably under the 11 year rule of the Coalition Government.
The Indigenous infant death rate is over 3 times that of Australia as whole. The difference translates to over 146 avoideble under-5 Indigenous infant deaths annually or over 146 x 11 = about 1,600 avoideble under-5 year old Indigenous infant deaths under the Coalition Government.
However to illustrate the sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty of the racist, Australian Government it is useful to examine the Northern Territory Child Sexual Abuse reality in a quantitative way.
There is no doubt from the shocking anecdotal accounts in the NT Report “Little Children are Sacred” that from a qualitative perspective Aboriginal Child Sexual Abuse is occurring and must be urgently stopped. However the Report (p57) states that “it is not possible to accurately estimate the extent of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory” while documenting that 34% of females and 16% of males in Australia as a whole experience child sexual abuse (Dunne, M.P., Purdie, D.M., Cook, M.D., Boyle, F.M. & Najman, J.M.(2003), Is child sexual abuse declining? Evidence from a population-based survey of men and women in Australia, Child Abuse & Neglect, vol. 27 (2), pp141-152).
No doubt there is significant Aboriginal child sexual abuse and other horrendous problems that need to be addressed by urgent provision of exactly the same services that are provided to White Australians– decent infrastructure, decent housing, security, police, justice, nurses, doctors, teachers and other welfare workers. Those defaming Indigenous Australians for child sexual abuse in the absence of concrete figures are simply lying in a racially-specific way – it is akin to the deadly anti-Jewish anti-semitic canards of past millennia (e.g. “drinking the blood of Christian children”) and indeed to the current anti-Arab anti-Semitic and Islamophobic carnards (“terrorists”, “extremists”, “fanatics”, “militants”) that are routinely trotted out every day in the Australian and Western media. Those indulging in this race-specific propaganda have no idea as to whether the incidence of Aboriginal child sexual abuses is greater or less than the appalling figure for Australia as a whole.
Let’s be clear about what this legislation does and how it grossly violates Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (specifically Articles 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17, 19, 22 and 30;. NT Aboriginals will be circumscribed about what they can read, see, drink, consume and purchase in ways that do NOT apply to White Australians and their Land (Sacred to Indigenous Australians) and their Communities will be seized and controlled by the Federal Government - a contemptible, racist Government that presides over 9,000 avoidable Aboriginal deaths annually and which still refuses to say “sorry” for the past horrendous Aboriginal Genocide and Ethnocide. Indeed the Aboriginal Genocide continues – it took 90,000 lives in the last 11 years alone of rule of Australia by these racist, Bush-ite extremists.
A friend of mine from the tiny and vulnerable Lipari (Aeolian) Islands off the tip of Italy observed that the World War 2 experience instructs that we are all Jews. Just imagine the deserved national and international outcry if these obscene, racist laws were applied to Australian Jews.
My family was wiped from the face of Europe by the racist Nazis – our homes and lands are still expropriated in the Old Country. The post-Holocaust crie de coeur of “Never again” means “Never again to any people”. My wife is a Black Australian – I will make sure that the world is informed of this return to the pre-1975 Racist White Australia in gross violation of Australian anti-racism legislation and of International anti-racism Conventions.
Sanctions and boycotts worked against racist Apartheid régime in South Africa which had an “annual avoidable death rate” of 0.4% (1993) as compared to 2.0% for Northern Territory Aborigines in Racist White Australia today. The Racist White Australians – on a bi-partisan basis – are now imposing human rights-abusing racial discrimination on these vulnerable people in addition to this ongoing carnage.
The World needs to act urgently to stop the egregious racism of Racist White Australia and to stop the ongoing Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide – there must be zero tolerance for racism.
Dr Gideon Polya, MWC News Chief political editor, published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003), and is currently writing a book on global mortality.
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