The human family I mean… the one where we are not divided by our ethnicity, our skin colour or our culture.
I went to a memorial service the other day for a remarkable Gomilaroi Elder called Uncle Jacko Smith and while I had never met him personally I certainly wished that I had. The people that described and characterised him so colourfully for me, spoke of the love, intelligence and wisdom that this wonderful man had for everyone, regardless of their origin. Yet he fought relentlessly for the values and understanding of his people in a way that has left a lasting testimony and an even prouder heritage for his family and the broader community.
As the incredible musical tributes followed, from his son Jamie playing guitar and singing for understanding as to why Aboriginal people can not be separated from their country, to the incredible vocals of Gavie Duncan and the mind blowing yidaki performance by Gumaroy Newman it became increasingly obvious to me that we white fellas don’t know a whole lot about real democracy.
If we did, I believe we would be more aware of people’s intrinsic value as leaders and less excited about the status and power of blustering and foolish despots.
One of the definitions of democracy is… ‘a system of government by the whole population or all of the eligible members of state’. A closer analysis of this statement seems to point to a system where all participants would have an equal say regardless of their achievements, their political persuasion or their status. To me a real ‘democracy’ mimicks the traditional Aboriginal form of council, of gathering in a circle and discussing issues until consensus is achieved.
Of course, this gathering was done as a truly democratic affair with each person’s opinion being of equal weight. A sophisticated and obviously successful system that worked for the original people of Australia for at least 60,000 years before Captain Cook arrived with the Magna Carter and the Union Jack.
If you are a true believer in democracy you will have to admit that Australia’s entire political set-up is flawed. Cook, followed by Phillip never consulted with the population of the continent on which Australia exists, in fact the land was fraudulently declared ‘Terra Nullius’ or ‘Empty Country’ and no actual treaty to co-habit the continent with Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people has ever been formulated. How then can Australia call its political system democratic if not all of the population have been able to participate on an equal level in the formulation of government policy?
Take for instance the debate which unseated the past Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Let me state here as full disclosure, that I voted for Kev ’07 and was fairly sanguine that he would be able to bring in a measure of change by his leadership that would precipitate us into a better and more ‘democratic’ era. It was of course, the issue of the ‘Super profits mining tax’ that undid Kevin… we watched and we saw alleged disgruntlement with his leadership spiral into a political coup, but certainly the scene in the background was that of the most powerful miners and their corporations waging a very well placed media campaign against the proposed ‘Mining Tax’.
What was to me the most interesting aspect of this campaign was that it was directed at ‘Joe Bloggs’… the everyman on the street, in order to defend the rights of the likes of Gina Reinhardt, the heiress of a huge mining empire and the richest person in Australia, to oppose a tax that was essentially going to apply only to mining corporation profits. I wonder what Joe Bloggs really thought when Ms Reinhardt, dressed in pearls and high heels travelled through the streets of Perth in a beat up old truck allegedly yelling through a megaphone, rallying people to the call to rid the world of the proposed ‘mining tax’.
Did anyone realise that in fact the only one to benefit from mining company profits are essentially the already very rich shareholders and that by taxing the mining profit margins that the wealth may have been distributed amongst the community at large. Did anyone think to question where the most profitable gold and uranium mines are situated within the Australian continent and how the mining companies have acquired the leases on these huge tracts of land that are necessary for the modern mining industry. Did anyone in the so called democratic country of Australia ever actually agree that Kevin Rudd should have been replaced as Prime Minister because he wanted a mining tax?
I will leave you a photo of Mark, Lenny and Robert having a spontaneous and quiet ‘corroborree’ in a park in an Australian city. Their thoughtful and intelligent way of sorting out these kinds of questions are done very democratically… everyone shares in the song…