I’m writing this post in response to some comments that have been left on Blak and Black over the last week or so. The comments are interesting from a number of perspectives, though for me their interest lays not so much in the comments themselves, but in the socio-economic backgrounds and age of the commenters.
The commenters I’m referring to are tertiary educated, work in the medical profession and are members of ‘Generation Y’. These are not the hallmarks one would normally associate with radicalism, but they are the hallmarks of a younger generation who are willing to listen, with a view to coming to terms with the history behind some of the issues that are raised on Blak and Black and elsewhere by ‘cyber-pamphleteers’.
‘Generation Y’ are going to be the immediate inheritors of these issues and within this generation, as with past generations, lays the opportunity to address these issues with impartiality and in good faith. However, impartiality and good faith can only come on the back of understanding, which can only be gained by knowing the history behind the issues.
In the interests of transparency I should add that I have contacted one of the commenters I am responding to, who works in the emergency department of an inner-city Sydney hospital and who has agreed to provide me with a statement detailing her experiences with police brutality against indigenous people, the mentally ill and other marginalised groups.
As always and unapologetically I write as an Indigenous Australian, a Wiradjuri and member of the Stolen Generation(s). More importantly, I write as one who has experienced, both personally and vicariously, the effects of the racism, stereotyping and downright corruption that so infects and undermines contemporary Australian society.
While it is not appropriate to expect someone to accept responsibility for the past crimes of their ‘cultural’ ancestors, it is equally inappropriate for the beneficiaries of the proceeds of those crimes to refuse to accept the concept of a shared responsibility for the suffering of the victims of those crimes. This refusal on the part of Australian society to accept a shared responsibility for the current plight of Indigenous Australians has its genesis in part at least, in the Howard era. One of the main policy ‘initiatives’ of the Howard regime was to ensure that if you were a ‘servant’ of the public (police officer, bureaucrat, member of the ADF or politician) you were given an ever increasing ‘bag of rights’, compensated for by an ever diminishing ‘bag of obligations’, which was invariably followed by an ever diminishing requirement to accept personal responsibility for your actions.
Parallels between Nazi German and Contemporary Australian society
Back to the title of this post. To my mind there are many, many parallels between Nazi German and Contemporary Australian society. The first point worth considering on this issue is point 24 of the Nazi Party Programme, which endorsed a ‘positive Christianity’, an endorsement which helped create a deceptive façade of a state based on the ‘rule of law’ where no excesses would be tolerated. Point 24 of the Nazi Party Programme becomes more interesting when we consider the growth in the influence of the Christian right in state and commonwealth elections and the flow-on effect this has into policy making. As Gandhi once wryly said, “If Christians were really Christian, I would be one”, a point well made!
As discussed in my post Injustice within Justice, Howard perfected a programme that was instigated during the Hawke/Keating years of changing or creating laws that were indispensible to securing power and demarcating their party’s main ideological positions, a process that has continued under the vacuous Labor leadership which followed Howard’s electoral defeat in the 2007 general election. Andrew Wilkie summed up this process succulently in the following paragraph taken from his 2006 paper to The Australia Institute, All Quiet in the Ranks: An exploration of dissent in Australia’s security agencies:
The Howard Government has sought to reverse the cultural renewal
of the security agencies of the 1980s and 1990s by vetting senior appointments
and installing trusted players in key positions. For example the head of ONA
appointed in 2004, Peter Varghese, and the head of ASIO appointed in 2005, Paul
O’Sullivan, are both former members of John Howard’s inner circle of advisers.
Similarly, the head of the National Security Division in DPMC, Miles Jordana,
previously served on John Howard’s staff. All three of these men were closely
involved with the Government’s Iraq strategy. Mr Jordana was the recipient of
the correspondence from ONA to the Prime Minister’s Office on 7 November 2001
detailing ONA’s concern about the accuracy of a report about the so-called
‘children-overboard’ affair, a concern John Howard claims to have not been
aware of when at the National Press Club the following day he used the ONA report to back up his claim that asylum seekers had thrown their children into the water. Such security appointments raise questions about the independence of the agencies at a time when the public needs to have confidence that all is well.
One of the apparatus used by the Nazi Party to control the public and the bureaucracy was the abolition of intermediary powers and controls through the appointment of party functionaries to important or sensitive executive posts, which created a network of horizontal ties between the party and the state apparatus, and reshaped the professional beaurocracy into one that was cleansed of political enemies and those of an undesirable
racial makeup creating a beaurocracy that was duty bound to the party.
The creation of a subservient and compliant beaurocracy, duty bound to the party was not the sole domain of the Liberal Party during the wasted years of the Howard regime. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which has been under the control of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) since the October 2001 Territory elections, the ALP took a similar process of cleansing the ACT bureaucracy of supposed political enemies and those of an undesirable racial makeup.
On Friday January 30th 2004 the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue (Commissioner), a Wiradjuri man, was sacked from the ACT Public Service on the basis of a fraudulently altered personnel file, prosecuted by the AFP at the behest of the ALP and racially vilified by both. His real crime was that as an Indigenous Australian and statutory office holder, he was insisting that the ALP and senior members of the ACT bureaucracy hold themselves accountable to the same standards of the ‘rule of law’ to which they seek to hold others. As in Nazi Germany, it became a criminal offence in the ACT to challenge the ruling party and to demand equality before the law. The reason that the ALP has gotten away with this outrageous abuse of process so far, is because under Howard:
Australia’s security agencies – principally the ADF, Australian Federal Police (AFP), intelligence services and relevant policy departments – have become increasingly politicised under the Howard Government. Direct political interference and self-censorship have shaped the agencies and skewed their outcomes to the point where they now cannot be relied upon to consistently put the public interest ahead of the Government’s political interests. (Andrew Wilkie, Member of the House of Representatives, Australian Parliament)
ACT Policing, the agency which racially and politically prosecuted and persecuted the Commissioner, is a command of the AFP. This is the same AFP that Andrew Wilkie stated skews “their outcomes to the point where they now cannot be relied upon to consistently put the public interest ahead of the Government’s political interests.” For a more detailed discussion of this issue I recommend readers to my post “You can only have as much justice as you can afford”.
As in Nazi Germany, via the process discussed above, the principle of the separation of powers and the distinction between public and private law have been abolished in Australia, openly in part, and in part tacitly. Going hand-in-hand with this process Australia has witnessed the disintegration of the freedom of the press via the ongoing concentration of the mainstream media into the hands of a few national and multi-national corporations, corporations which can be controlled via the mutually beneficial process of “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”. Again, it is worth noting that Hitler regarded freedom of the press as “objective lunacy”. (Hitler, A, Mein Kampf, 328th ed. (1938), 93)
Closely and clearly linked with a politicised police and security apparatus, are the fundamental violations of the principle of equity through the disenfranchisement of minorities. This process, which began ten years ago in Australia with the Tampa crisis and reached its crowning glory in the Northern Territory ‘Intervention’, has witnessed along its journey such high points as the Australian Wheat Board (AWD) scandal, the ‘Children Overboard’ affair, the Weapons of Mass (WMD) debacle and the on-going Moti saga.
In the aftermath of the Tampa crisis and as a result of the Northern Territory ‘Intervention’, Australia witnessed a swing to the right. This resulted in a certain class of people being denied their basic rights, which we are all foolishly led to believe are protected under the Australian Constitution. Aboriginal Australians living in the Northern Territory witnessed the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), while asylum seekers have been denied access to Australian courts via the excising of certain parts of Australia from Australia. In reality this is nothing more or less than a refinement of the Nazi concentration camp system, in which inmates fell outside of the norms of the German legal system.
It is worth remembering that a racist revolution aimed at disenfranchising firstly minorities and then everybody, does not have to be achieved via hectic legislative activity that pushes “prerogative laws” increasingly into the foreground; it can be achieved by the “unrestrained interpretation”, to use B Ruther’s phrase, that changes the previous state of
the law. Without money, the victims of this “unrestrained interpretation” of the law by the lower courts or even the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or the police lack the ability to enforce their rights in the higher courts. This can and does create an inbuilt system of inequality, an important step along the path to Nazification. Is this the type of Australia you want to live in?
As promised in a previous post, my next post will dissect the career of the Attorney-General’s Deputy Secretary, Miles Jordana, John Howard’s international adviser who was at the centre of the children overboard affair and the false weapons of mass destruction claims on the basis of which Australia joined the attack on Iraq, the AWB scandal and the Moti saga.