Monthly Archives: May 2018

The lingering infection of terra niullius

By JIM POULTER

EVERYBODY is familiar with the term “terra nullius”.

Australia was purportedly owned by no-one and the British used the term to justify colonisation.

Nowadays, almost everyone rejects the validity of this notion, but very few of us really understand its full implications.

We remain essentially unaware of how terra nullius still insidiously and unconsciously influences our thinking.

Aboriginal people hate the term terra nullius with a passion, and rightly so, because it strongly implies that Aboriginal people had a vacuous culture and achieved nothing.

After all, they were just a primitive bunch of people wandering around bumping into trees.

They did not use the land, had not even invented the wheel, and their only technological achievement was a bent stick that came back when you threw it.

Aboriginal people did of course cultivate the land, but not in the intensive, exploitative and unsustainable way that most other world cultures did.

All Aboriginal knowledge was integrated through the totem system to ultimately serve ecological purposes.

So whether it was knowledge related to science, art or religion, it was all focussed on ecological outcomes.

Even the nursery rhymes sung to little children had an ecological message.

Think of all the descriptors usually applied to traditional Aboriginal society.

Words like simple, primitive, pagan, uncivilized, nomadic, stone-age, hunter-gatherers.

These are all pejorative terms that put western civilisation at the highest level and Aboriginal society at the lowest level.

Never mind that western society has over the last 3000 years had a history of internecine war, conquest, rolling plagues, overpopulation, social inequality, gross disparities of wealth and poverty, plus religious and political persecution.

Aboriginal society had none of this, but ironically the sustained warfare of European and Asian history created the spur for technological achievement.

This technological advancement is then taken as a sign of a “higher” civilization.

Darwin put forward the idea of natural selection and this was immediately seen as a justification for western conquest and colonisation of others.

It was simply “survival of the fittest” in action. Many world cultures are so inured by their histories of warfare, that it is regarded as part of human nature. Many people therefore flatly refuse to believe there were never any wars of conquest or invasion in Aboriginal Australia.

The proof that there were no wars of conquest is simple.

Show me one myth, story, legend, dance or song from anywhere in Australia that depicts either the victories of a warrior king, the subjugation and enslavement of others, or an uprising against a despotic ruler. It just never happened.

The real problem is that spurious notions like this have seeped into our consciousness and we do not know how to challenge these received wisdoms.

This is the foundation of institutional racism, the process by which prejudicial ideas are ingrained into present day social perceptions.

However, this should not be interpreted as meaning that Australians are racist.

Australians are overwhelmingly fair minded people who meet and greet people as equals.

This is the cornerstone of our national culture. But what we fail to understand is how the prejudices of our forefathers continue to unwittingly shape our thinking.

The idea of terra nullius is in fact behind our inability to recognise a road or highway we are travelling on as an ancient songline.

It is behind our inability to recognise a river rapids area, like at Warrandyte township, as an original site for fish traps or a mussel farm.

It is also the reason why many historians make blatant errors when they try to interpret Aboriginal behaviours.

Their assumptions are often unconsciously based on ideas of European superiority.

Before giving a classic example of this fallacious thinking I will cite two facts.

First, Aboriginal people had ingrained cultural habits of listening and sound replication that made them gifted linguists. All Aboriginal children were brought up multilingual.

Second, Aboriginal people travelled extensively and safely through other tribal areas as long as they stuck to the designated songline and observed proper protocol.

However, when Aboriginal people tried to communicate these protocols to early colonists, it was wrongly assumed that Aboriginal people were frightened to leave their own country.

In 2008, AFL historian Gillian Hibbins, dismissed the possibility of any connection between Marngrook and Australian Football with the comment, “Aborigines….lived within quite clearly defined tribal areas, speaking a language different from those of other tribal areas.

“Aboriginal tribal strangers were regarded with suspicion and did not trespass without being killed.”

This comment clearly painted Aboriginal people as a simple, primitive, xenophobic and violent bunch.

Its roots were clearly embedded in the notion of terra nullius.

The comment is a glowing example of institutional racism by a historian who claims for herself the highest standards of academic scholarship.

Unfortunately, it is just one of many examples of the lingering infection of terra nullius.

Venom help Australia Deaf Team prepare for World Championships

 

CURRENT Warrandyte Venom coach and previous Venom and Redback player Ryan Holloway is the current coach of the Australian U21 Men’s Deaf basketball team — the Dingoes.

This year the Dingoes will be travelling to Washington DC to compete in the World U21 Deaf Championships in July.

This is the first time that Australia has ever been able to send an U21 team to the Championships, and Ryan told the Diary the team are all very excited about the opportunity.

The team of 10 come from four different states and range in age from 14-year-old development players to 20-year-olds with all the players getting together once a month to train.

The skills of the players range from those that have competed in rep basketball to those who started 12 months ago.

Venom put the Dingoes through their paces in a friendly match, as the team work towards the big event.

“We would like to thank Warrandyte Basketball for their support in hosting our first practice game,” said Ryan.

The Dingoes are looking forward to continuing to work with Warrandyte Basketball and the community in the future.

At the Championships, the Dingoes will square off against teams from Argentina, Canada, Greece, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine and the USA.

The road to the Championships is not an easy one, as the team needs to raise the money to get to Washington.

“Unfortunately, Deaf national teams do not receive federal funding, so we are all trying to raise as much money as possible,” said Ryan.

The Dingoes are currently raising funds for their journey to Washington DC with a wine drive.

To purchase a minimum half case of wine through Prospect Wines, visit bit.ly/DingoesWineDrive.

You can also follow the Dingoes progress and support their campaign through their social media channels.

Facebook: @dbasketballaus, Instagram: @dingoesdeafbasketball deafbasketballaustralia.org.au.

Large turnout at 103rd Anzac Day

Photo: STEPHEN REYNOLDS

DESPITE THE dwindling ranks of veterans, numbers continue to swell to commemorate Anzac Day.

On April 25 around a dozen former serving soldiers, sailors and airmen gathered at Whipstick Gully for the annual march to the Warrandyte RSL.

They were joined in their journey by an over 100-strong contingent of family, friends and community members. Representatives of all levels of government joined the march, led by a WWII Indian motorcycle together with lone piper, Casey McSwain.

Police, CFA, the Warrandyte Football Club as well as Scouts and Girl Guides showed their respect for servicemen and women by joining the march along Yarra Street, an effort that was appreciated by WWII veteran Don Haggarty.

“It is so good to see the young people here,” he told the Diary.

His son, Chris Haggarty, a volunteer at South Warrandyte CFA agreed, noting that it is important for the young people to “help keep the tradition alive”.

State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said that he commends the RSL for allowing “the evolution of the march to include family members who are here to support the veterans”.

The children who participated in the parade had been learning the history of Anzac Day and the Gallipoli campaign in the lead-up to the commemoration.

“We are here to remember the Anzacs from Gallipoli,” one young Guide said, proudly displaying her knowledge that Anzac stood for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

As the marchers stepped off they were encouraged along the route by an estimated 200 people lining Yarra Street, and met by a further 800 people to participate in the commemorative service.

The Catafalque Guard was provided by Melbourne University Regiment and as they took their positions around the cenotaph, RSL president David Ryan commenced the service. Mr Ryan noted that it was the 103rd anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli “where hundreds died and thousands were injured”.

The gathering also commemorated 100 years since the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front “where Australian and British troops drove the Germans out of the town in a daring night attack at a cost of 1500 casualties”.

The Bellbird singers provided musical leadership for the hymns and anthems sung during the service, and Barry Carozzi performed the stirring Eric Bogle ballad, In Flanders Field. A very moving address was read by John Byrne.

Mr Byrne concluded his address with the poem A Soldier Died Today.

David Ryan said he was delighted to see the large crowd turn out to commemorate “the sacrifice that men, women and families at home and abroad have endured from pre WWI to today with the War on Terror, United Nations and humanitarian conflicts”.

Mr Ryan told the Diary, he was delighted with the growing turnout, “I am just relieved that we didn’t have the problems with vandalism we had last year”.

Page 18-19 of the May Warrandyte Diary has a full colour photo spread of the day and a transcription of Mr Bryne’s speech

Drains, paths and bins at centre of budget

FOOTPATHS and drainage were at the top of Manningham Council’s agenda when they unanimously adopted, in principle, the 2018/19 budget at the April 24 council meeting.

The draft budget includes an additional $1.5M to footpaths and $1.5M to drainage in their respective department budgets next financial year as part of an ongoing maintenance and improvement scheme.

This additional $3M is also part of Council’s four-year $10.5M plan to improve footpaths and drainage across the municipality. Highlights for Warrandyte are:

• Funds for finishing Warrandyte’s second “missing link”, connecting Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail with a new shared path.

• The final design of the Melbourne Hill Road drainage upgrade is earmarked for completion by September 30 this year.

On the other side of the ledger, there will be a rate increase of up to 2.25%.

China’s ban on foreign waste import, which has left many local governments across Australia floundering, means Manningham now has to pay $720,000p/a for waste and recycling to be removed whereas previously the council was given a $720,000 rebate for kerbside waste disposal. In real terms, waste and recycling charges are increasing 20%, or by an additional $42.30per household for standard waste collection.

In the council meeting, Councillor Paul McLeish highlighted that although a situation outside of council’s control has resulted in an increase in waste charges, the charges residents of Manningham will incur are still cheaper than they were six years ago and is the equivalent of half a cup of coffee per week ($2.50).

Although the budget is required to be adopted, in principle, under Local Government Act 1989, the budget is currently on public display and members of the public are invited to submit their views about the proposed budget via the Manningham YourSay website or in writing to council.

Written submissions will also have the opportunity to be presented verbally at a public meeting on May 31.

All submissions — whether presented just in writing or verbally as well — need to be submitted by 5pm on Thursday May 24.

Council will meet on June 24 to have the final say on the 2018/19 budget.

Bridgeworks in full swing

AFTER A two-month delay from the original scheduled weekend closure, the Warrandyte Bridge was fully closed over the weekend of May 5–6 and works have now resumed in earnest on the main bridge structure.

Single lane working occurred on April 18 for the AusNet works to replace the power pole at the bridge, and then again on May 2 for the VicRoads bridgeworks.

Although conducted outside the peak period, these single-lane working days caused significant traffic congestion in all four directions, the worst being on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Traffic delays ranged from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, with the average wait time being around 22 minutes.

VicRoads told the Diary that all future single lane closures will be done at night to minimise the impact on the community.

The installation of the protruding cantilever beams was completed during the period of single-lane working on May 2, and the big job of completing installation of the three huge lateral beams was performed very efficiently during the weekend of May 5–6.

In fact, the job was done so quickly that the bridge was reopened to traffic late on May 6.

The result of this work is that there is now a long lateral beam running for the entire length of the bridge about three metres out from original structure on the downstream side.

The job over the next few weeks will be for massive concrete pours to fill in the gap, following which we will have a much wider bridge surface. The existing railings on the downstream side can then be demolished and a new barrier erected to separate the new northbound lane from the new shared walkway.

At the same time, work is continuing on the north side to erect new traffic barriers, and on the upstream side in preparation for a slight overhang to accommodate the new pedestrian pathway on that side.

Although the May Information Update Bulletin has removed reference to the expected completion date, engineers advise they are still hopeful that the work can be completed by September/October.

Further full weekend closures are expected in the next couple of months, but at this stage the dates for these have not been set.

Rat-runners prompt temporary road closure

By DAVID HOGG

NILLUMBIK Council advises that following consultation with residents it has resolved to implement a temporary road closure on Dingley Dell Road near the intersection with Blooms Road while the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade works are in progress.

Residents have been vocal in their disgust of “rat-runners” speeding down the narrow dirt road to avoid the traffic build-up on Research-Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Roads.

The temporary road closure will be in the form of a gate and is scheduled for installation mid-May.

The gate will be removed and the road reopened once the bridgeworks have been completed.

Complimentary signage to reinforce the road closure will also be installed on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte, Research-Warrandyte and Blooms Roads.

Signage is also proposed at the southern leg of Dingley Dell Road to advise of the road closure ahead to enable vehicles to turn at Dingley Close.

Nillumbik Council recognises that the road closure is likely to result in an inconvenience to the broader community; however, it considers this intervention critical to manage the unprecedented ‘cut-through’ traffic use of this local road.