BY ALEXANDER EUGENE
Once upon a time a nice man named Captain Cook sailed to a big island with no one on it. He brought English people there, built towns, and called it Australia. They all lived happily ever after.
If you think this sounds like a silly story, it is. But believe it or not, this is the version of Australia’s history that our Government would have us believe as fact.
Since the controversial cancellation of the 457 skilled working visa, talk about “strengthening integrity” and “putting Australian values first” have been flying around as if a bunch of neo-Nazis had been discovered using mind-control on us all.
Well, in some sense this may not be far from the truth.
But I digress.
Have you ever looked at the Department of Immigration’s website? Unless you’re one of the hopefuls planning to apply for citizenship, you probably haven’t seen the section of the website telling immigrants and permanent residents what they need to know to make it to the next step.
The website kindly provides a document called Australian Citizenship : Our Common Bond which claims to tell you “everything you need to know to help you pass the test.”
Of its 84 pages, exactly half a page – five paragraphs to be exact – is dedicated to filling in the reader on Aboriginal people.
I can’t even say that it recounts any historical events involving Aboriginal people, because it doesn’t. They are mentioned as “the first inhabitants” in the first paragraph of the piece.
They drop out of the picture when white settlement occurs, according to the story. We are told “Captain Arthur Phillip overcame many problems in the first few years of European settlement.”
When the document finishes with history and moves on to statistics, we are told “In 1901, Australia’s population was counted at about four million people. This number did not include the Indigenous people.”
This is the grand total of words that describes the beginning of white Australia. Absolutely no mention of any interaction between white settlers and indigenous people.
This, my fellow Australians, is the summary of our history that the government is flogging publicly as truth.
Damn right it’s “everything you need to know”. If you believe newcomers need to be initiated into the culture of while privilege that ignores any liability or even existence of half a century of atrocities against our first people.
Getting back to those neo Nazis using mind control.
In what universe is this an accurate recounting of what occurred during colonisation of this country?
I can tell you. A neo Nazis’ universe, in which dictators would have you believe that aboriginal people don’t matter and only exist when we feel like it.
I’m just going to say it.
This is tantamount to holocaust denial. It is white washing of the highest order.
We have published a document claiming to inform visitors about our history and heritage, and we have willfully denied the genocide of our first people.
As if this wasn’t brazen enough of us, we have the nerve to test people on this made up bullshit, then tell them whether they can stay here to pay taxes or not, based on a haughty set of multiple choice questions.
“The citizenship test is designed to assess whether you have an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australia citizenship.”
This outrageous claim by our Government is laughable. Any reasonable person knows that we have a responsibility to acknowledge the awful events indigenous people endured at settlement.
We are privileged to live so easily in our modern society, only making inches of progress towards reconciliation every now and again, maybe when a politician is running a campaign and wants to earn some brownie points. Or when we start a meeting or event and take two minutes to think about the land we acquired through mass killings, euphemistically known as a “welcome to country”.
Our way of life depends on a level of white privilege which is way out of line. That is what the privilege of Australian citizenship really means.
The Immigration Department have been asked to comment on this and have as yet remained silent. I will be chasing them until they speak. And when they do, I will invite a slew of others to comment alongside their feeble explanation, not least one of Australia’s most eminent historians on Aboriginal history, who may be able to enlighten them on why there is a problem with their publication.
Stay tuned. I may even ask our mate Malcolm to clarify just how much integrity there really is in our citizenship test.