Re: birding-aus Re: Land Clearing QLD

Subject: Re: birding-aus Re: Land Clearing QLD
From: andrew stafford <>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 04:09:24 -0800 (PST)
Hi folks,

Like David Geering, I intended to let this thread
slide by (in fact, Nigel and David's notes were the
first contributions I read on the subject).

I realise that I am stepping outside the boundaries of
birds, and those bored with the diversions this
particular conversation has led us into should hit
their delete buttons now. But Nigel has already moved
beyond birds with his latest response to David's
posting, which was in reply to his earlier statement,
to wit:

>"They CHOOSE to farm. When I have children, I will
> teach them very early on
> >that other people aren't going to wipe their
> backside for them."

Nigel also says he is quite happy to receive
refutations. So here goes.

Unless one is born with
> mental or physical
> disabilities, we are able to make choices, including
> our career path.
> Country people, LIKE MY WIFE, can choose to move to
> the city, be educated in
> any number of areas and make big dollars...if they
> so choose.

Nigel, alongside "Aussie battler" there is another
pernicious myth that pervades our society. And that is
that everyone has free choice (and is equally able) to
be and do whatever they want. This is closely related
to another myth, that we are an egalitarian society.
In fact, mental and physical infirmities aren't the
only things that hold people back. Add to that: being
female, black, an immigrant, living in remote

Don't believe me? I was in north-east Arnhem Land
earlier this year covering a cultural festival put on
by the Yothu Yindi Foundation in my capacity as a
journalist. Part of the festival's purpose was to
celebrate the coming establishment of a cultural
studies centre south of Nhulunbuy. The centre aims to
provide a culturally appropriate secondary education
for the local Yolgnu children. Secondary education is
far from readily available to many indigenous
Australians (along with basic facilities like clean
running water and sanitation), so the establishment of
this centre is important. What's more, the Yolgnu
elders may be more comfortable sending their children
there than a traditional white school because they
will also be instructed in their traditional ways.

Another thing: the NT government recently abolished
bilingual education programs. This is equivalent to
cutting out the tongues of people for whom English is
usually a second (and maybe a seventeenth) language.
While a few may rise in white society - Noel Pearson
or Mandawuy and Galarrwuy Yunupingu, for example -
they have been the lucky ones. And few people, black
or white, have their intellectual credentials. Here
lies another point - even education doesn't buy real
intelligence. But it DOES help level the playing field
somewhat, IF you have access to it. That's not easy in
a country as sparsely populated as this one is away
from the eastern seaboard.

I've strayed from the point of farming, but my point
is, of course, that David Geering is right when he
says that:

>Many farmers just don't have the resources that we
> would like to see put
> >into conservation on their properties.

Indeed. Not just financial resources, but cultural and
sometimes intellectual as well. It's not as simple as
upping and moving to the city. And, by the way, why
should they? We should encourage them to stay, and do
what we can to make it better for them, as well as for
the environment. Telling them if they don't like it,
leave is unlikely to help, and it certainly won't
foster better relations.

The people who are the greatest
> battler's, if we are talking in financial terms, are
> those who created major
> empires such as Kerry Packer & Rupert Murdoch (not
> their sons because it was
> handed to them on a plate); they would have had to
> 'battle' alot harder than
> most people to get where they are.

Nigel, think again! Haven't you heard of Sir Frank
Packer? (and who was Rupert's daddy?) These guys are
no more self-made men than their sons. Wealth in
Australia is significantly patrilineal.

In David's words:

It's perfectly fine to state an opinion and be
> concerned about what is
> >happening out there.  We should be concerned!  By
> all means lobby hard to
> >stop this habitat clearing, but please make sure of
> your facts before
> >spouting off and making personal attacks on a group
> of whom you have no
> >understanding.  An informed argument will be
> listened to before an emotive
> >uninformed argument.

Hear hear. And now, back to the birds.



Do You Yahoo!?
Thousands of Stores.  Millions of Products.  All in one place.
Yahoo! Shopping:
To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to

Include ONLY "unsubscribe birding-aus" in the message body (without the

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU