Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Not So Condensed Andrew Bolt

(We read Andrew Bolt so that you don't have to)
In today's column " Why I won't change" respected journalist and commentator Andrew Bolt tells us why he goes on, in the face of constant carping and misinformed criticism of his motives; he's doing it all for the kiddies. To protect them from lies such as:

Between 1910 and 1970 up to 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken forcibly by police or welfare officers. Most were under five years old. They are known as the "stolen generations" ...

To be Aboriginal was enough. They were taken because it was Federal and State Government policy that Aboriginal children -- especially those of mixed Aboriginal and European descent -- should be removed from their parents ...

Bolt refers to the Federal Court Hearing into the case, which is also summarised here. He says:

That hearing cost at least $10 million and ran for a year, talking to all kinds of witnesses. It was, [Robert] Manne said early on, the best investigation we'd get into the worst area for child stealing.

But the findings? That Peter Gunner's mother had in fact signed a form to permit her son to go to a home in Alice Springs and get some schooling. That Cubillo couldn't be said to have been stolen either, not least because her mother and grandmother had died, her father had vanished, and it was hard to tell who in the hard bush was actually looking after the little girl.

But more than that, the court said it hadn't found anyone who'd been stolen in the NT, and the "evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part-Aboriginal children such as that alleged by the applicants".

Here's a little challenge; visit either of the two links to the Federal Court transcript or summary. Call up your browser's "Find in this Page" function and enter the text in bold in the search dialogue. Now click the "Find" button.

I've been trying this for the past ten minutes and the results have been rather interesting to say the least. Especially when you consider point 200 of O'Loughlin J's decision:

200 The extracts from the documents that have thus far been identified are sufficient, in my opinion, to justify a conclusion that the Commonwealth Government had, since about 1911, pursued a policy of removing some part Aboriginal children and placing them in institutions in Alice Springs and Darwin. The material is not sufficient to sustain a finding that this policy applied to all part Aboriginal children. On the contrary, it would seem that it did not have such a general application. The probabilities are that the policy was intended for those illegitimate part Aboriginal children who were living in tribal conditions whose mother was a full blood Aborigine and whose father was a white man. The Commonwealth, in its final submissions, claimed that it cannot be determined whether the policy was consensual or forced, and if it was forced, the extent to which that was so and was justified by normal welfare considerations. I agree that words to that effect are not to be found in the writings that were tendered in evidence. But there are two comments that must be made in respect of that submission. The first is that there were no words in the written material that would have prevented non-consensual removals. The second is that Aboriginal people would not have been concerned with the formalism of a Government policy. What would have concerned them would have been the practical implementation of that policy by patrol officers at the grass roots level. [my emphasis again]

It looks to me like Bolt has verballed Judge O'Loughlin, in the same way that Phillip Adams verballed Dubya. I look forward to the calls from Prof Bunyip, Tim Blair et al for Bolt's dismissal. He's been just as naughty as Phil.

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