Rants

Nhulunbuy and the future of a remote township: an open letter to State Capitalism

Dear State Capitalism,

You are sneaky and very shit. I knew this already, of course, but have recently learned it anew in my concern for the future of a certain remote township in North East Arnhem Land. It is everywhere and always implied that the State imposes taxes on citizens so that the government might provide them with services. This is a catchy tune. The Australian constitution certainly implies this – that people pay taxes so that the government can ‘perform all of its functions’, or something to that effect. However, this is not – and has never been – the case. I want to tell you a bit about the history and import of Nhulunbuy.

The historical relationship between Yolŋu people and mining in North East Arnhem Land has been of National significance and formative in terms of the nature of such intercultural engagement, policy and legislation. It was the excision of land from the then Aboriginal Reserve for the purposes of a mining lease and the subsequent Gove Land Rights Case (Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd, (1971)), instigated by the Yirrkala Bark Petition, which eventually laid the foundation for the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 (as a result of the Woodward Commission). More specifically, it was the Yolŋu response to the excision and the decisive action taken by Yolŋu people which forged new and innovative intercultural possibilities in their engagement with their ‘supporters’ (predominantly Methodist Missionaries), as well as the Federal Government and the Courts, in their determination to have their system of land tenure and rights over their estate recognised by the State and Federal Governments and the Australian legal system.[1]

Despite initial opposition[2] to the excision and the lease commitment to build a mine, a port facility and a township the presence of Rio-Alcan has become a part of everyday life in the region. Nhulunbuy township is an important hub of service provision (including local government, health, education and training) and a valued market enclave (with shopping centres, banks, taxi businesses, restaurants, bars etcetera) in one of the most remote areas or regions in Australia. Yolŋu people and communities now rely upon Nhulunbuy in many and various ways and Yolŋu residents have become accustomed to living in close proximity to an ‘around the clock’ industrial-estate-cum-township with all its conveniences and trappings. Yolŋu Traditional Owners have also actively sought to engage and negotiate with mining companies in the region.

May 2011 saw the signing of the Gove Traditional Owners Agreement between Rio Tinto Alcan [Rio-Alcan] and Yolŋu Traditional Owners. President and chief executive officer Rio Tinto Alcan bauxite and alumina Pat Fiore paid tribute to the work of Gumatj elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Rirratjingu elder Bakamumu Marika in securing an agreement, and said at the time: “This agreement is living proof of the great long-term benefits that can be secured when mining companies and Traditional Owners work together in good faith for a common purpose”. The deal was reputedly worth between $15 and $18 million per annum to Yolŋu Traditional Owners until 2053.

In November 2013, however, after failed negotiations with Federal and Northern Territory Government over the construction of a gas pipeline, Rio-Alcan announced that they would be closing the Gove aluminium refinery. Media coverage has focused on the loss of over 1000 jobs at the plant with only 350 left in mining, the flow-on effects on the mainly Balanda (white, European) township of Nhulunbuy, the negative impact on the regional economy and the anticipated collapsed value of the township real estate market. However, as Altman points out, there has been little discussion about how the closure will affect Yolŋu people and communities in the region. Altman suggests that the closure is ‘not necessarily a bad outcome for the Yolŋu people’, but I would hesitate to suggest otherwise. Census data may show that ‘there have been few employment benefits to the region, [with] only a handful of Yolŋu from the townships of Yirrkala and Gunyanarra and from homelands in the region actually work[ing] for Rio Tinto Alcan’ (Altman 2014), but social and economic relations are far more complex and enmeshed on the ground.

Nhulunbuy is a purpose built township situated on leasehold land within the boundaries of Aboriginal freehold land. It was established by the former owner of Alcan Gove [Nabalco] to accommodate and support staff involved in the operation of the bauxite mine near Yirrkala (~20km from Nhulunbuy) as well as the alumina refinery at Gove. It has a population of approximately 4,000 people, the majority of whom are non-Indigenous people. It is the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory and the service and administrative centre of the region. Capital, like magic, creates things.

The economy of the entire Gove Peninsula is centred around the mine and refinery. The Gove operation spends more than $300 million annually on local goods and suppliers, with approximately 1400 employees and contractors. The closure of the Gove refinery will mean the loss of 1100 jobs and almost 25% of the town’s population.

With the loss of $300 million annually from the local economy it is likely that small business will find it very difficult to survive. The shopping centres, clothes stores, video stores, sport and recreation stores, taxi businesses, restaurants, mechanics, cafes, bars, etcetera – many of them will close and their owners and staff leave town. The are many and various other features of this modern industrial township – the sports ground, the golf course, the yacht club, public swimming pool, fishing club, surf-lifesaving club, the speedway, the skate park – that may not survive. Daily Qantas flights to Darwin and Cairns, which connect this remote township to the larger centres, have already been cancelled.

With such a dramatic fall in the population of the township it is also likely that the delivery of services will be significantly wound back or deemed unviable. This will affect health, education, training and social welfare – the hospital, the schools, the TAFE centre, the Centrelink office. Staffing numbers will likely be reduced at the Shire Council, the police station and the local Court, which will affect service and capacity in these areas also. There are also questions surrounding the future of housing and infrastructure and the legal status of the township lease, situated as it is, within the boundaries of Aboriginal Freehold land.

Yolŋu people from across NE Arnhem land depend upon Nhulunbuy for their consumer needs including food, alcohol, tobacco, consumer goods, vehicle maintenance and banking needs among other things. They also depend upon Nhulunbuy as a service and administrative centre, for health, training, social welfare, licensing, policing and legal services, among other things. What will the impacts and effects be if they can no longer access these goods and services in Nhulunbuy? Will they have to travel to another town or centre to access them? Will the loss of access to these basics affect people’s health and well-being? If they have to travel elsewhere to access these things might this affect other aspects of their lives?

Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala and surrounds has also become a nationally significant site or hub of intercultural relations, politics and brokerage. It has seen the establishment of a number of influential intercultural organisations such as the Dhimurru Rangers, Yothu Yindi Foundation, etcetera, and events like the annual Garma Festival which attracts prominent politicians, including the Prime Minister, and social figures from across Australia every year. How will the closure affect organisations such as Dhimurru and events such as the Garma Festival? Or don’t we care?

‘Nowadays,’ writes Graeber, ‘we all think we know the answer to this question. We pay our taxes so that the government can provide us with services. This starts with security services-military protection being, often, about the only service some early states were really able to provide. By now, of course, the government provides all sorts of things. All of this is said to go back to some sort of original “social contract” that everyone somehow agreed on, though no one really knows exactly when or by whom, or why we should be bound by the decisions of distant ancestors on this one matter when we don’t feel particularly bound by the decisions of our distant ancestors on anything else. All of this makes sense if you assume that markets come before governments, but the whole argument totters quickly once you realize that they don’t’ (2011:55).

What is the responsibility of the State or Federal Governments in this situation? Whose responsibility is it to maintain the service and administrative centre in the region? When capital withdraws so too, apparently, does any sense of social responsibility on the part of the Government toward its citizens. Rio Tinto has announced a ‘rescue package‘ to help locals when it closes the alumina refinery, so where is the government rescue package to provide basic services for its citizens?

Please reply.

K thnx bai,

Bree.

p.s. What the **** do you do with all that money if it’s not to provide basic services for tax paying citizens?! Oh.

 

[1] We have seen similar unified, organised, determined and innovative responses from Yolŋu people in their engagement with the Native Title process. (See, for example, Morphy, F. ‘Performing law: The Yolngu of Blue Mud Bay meet the native title process’ in D. Fay and D. James (eds), The Rights and Wrongs of Land Restitution: ‘Restoring What Was Ours’, Routledge-Cavendish, Abingdon, pp. 99-122.)

[2] See ‘Nancy Williams, 1986, The Yolngu and Their Land: A System of Land Tenure and the Fight for Its Recognition, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.’

 

This work by Bree Blakeman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Affordable housing key to post-curtailment Nhulunbuy

The availability of affordable housing is absolutely critical to Gove’s successful transition from a cashed-up mining town to a tourism-based region populated by more realistically salaried families.

If it is not self-interest or downright greed running this region, it’s blissful ignorance, incompetence, apathy or a destructive combination of all.

“Say something,” you say?

One of the problems you will have with a public discussion is that too many of us value our jobs, many of which come with housing, subsidised or not and there are a few cliques within this outwardly idyllic society which would enjoy nothing more than your ultimate relocation interstate, should you feel the need to rock the boat.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this region and have no plans to leave but the wealth and power are controlled by a few at the expense of many; no different to any other purportedly democratic society, I suppose. I have worked in rural community regeneration and development and know from experience that my voice doesn’t matter one iota. However, everyone knows that many voices are capable of great change.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the library’s copies of the Fascist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and anything by Mario Puzo or with “Fifty Shades” in the title are permanently on loan.

In the years I have lived here, I have encountered many residents who see and understand the issues facing this town. Most agree with why it is so and agree with the way forward. The establishment of a community action group to address the issues this town faces has been broached on several occasions and received generally excited encouragement though sadly no action.

I won’t rant and bemoan the town’s woes without at least offering a suggestion on a way forward. If by some miracle several overly prominent members of this community who generally profit at the expense of the majority could be persuaded to relocate interstate, the town could start moving in the direction everybody but the privileged few, desperately want.

Here’s another suggestion, get rid of that DEAL quango and procure experienced and proven community regeneration and development organisations to make real and rapid change.

If that fails, well, I guess if you can’t beat them, join them.

Read more about Nhulunbuy in the NT’s Arnhem Land:

http://www.goveonline.com.au

My Charitable Gesture

Yesterday, I was feeling vaguely charitable (read curious) and so released everyone from cyber-Coventry (my ‘Blocked’ list). There were approximately 40 and they were no doubt overwhelmed with the joyous news of my gracious and forgiving act.

Would you Adam and Eve it, by lunch today ‘The Witless Six’ and ‘The Irksome Eight’ have already made compelling cases to be returned permanently, have their English teachers investigated, their priests investigated or their parents sterilised.

Alarmingly, some of this special ensemble hold positions of responsibility in society.

And yes, I am a grumpy old git with a moderate chance of making my fiftieth (please refer to quote/tattoo below).

“Bask in my surly malcontent, for I am curmudgeon.” – Me, Christmas 2014.

Have a great day!

Axe Murdering Rapist Walks Out of Open Prison – Shock, Horror, Disbelief Ensue

 

From our friends at the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services

Edward (Eddie) James HorrellEscape Custody – Nhulunbuy

 

Northern Territory Police are searching for a prisoner who is reported to have absconded from the Correctional Services work camp in Nhulunbuy overnight.

 

Edward (Eddie) James Horrell, aged 62, is described as being 170cm tall, medium build and was wearing a blue and yellow hi-vis button up shirt and dark blue shorts.

 

Horrell has a number of convictions for violent offences including rape, manslaughter and murder. Nhulunbuy Police are conducting enquiries with known associates and family members of Horrell in an effort to locate him.

 

If sighted members of the public are urged not to approach him and to contact Police immediately.

 

Likewise anyone who has information on his current or intended whereabouts are urged to contact Police as a matter of urgency on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. In an emergency call 000.

 

 

This convicted axe murderer and rapist waltzed out of our low-security open prison here in Nhulunbuy. It wasn’t long ago that the government assured the community that only low-risk offenders would be accommodated in Datjala Work Camp. Their website even states…

 

The facility can accommodate up to 50 sentenced and remand, low and open-security male prisoners. No sex offenders or prisoners of public interest are considered for placement.

 

Horrible Horrell was apparently seen doing some last minute grocery shopping at nearby Woolworths before continuing on his merry way. It is also rumoured that a position has become available at the work camp to monitor security cameras in the event the brazen walk-out encourages others to leave at will.

I have it on very good authority that 3 sex offenders were hastily flown out of town today in what stinks suspiciously of damage control.

Luke Thurrowgood at Stamper Constructions Pty Ltd Bendigo

Luke Thurrowgood at Stamper Constructions Pty Ltd Bendigo, your considerable invoice is now 6 months overdue!

My good friend over at Bendigo Web Design has five kids to support and is barely scraping by but he dropped everything and bent over backwards to accommodate you and you repaid him by ignoring his invoices and repeated attempts to communicate. 5 months ignoring all efforts to contact you and then out of the blue, you ask for bank details to pay your debt. Not surprisingly, another month passes without further contact. You should be ashamed of yourself. Instead of sticking your head up your arse and ignoring respectful requests to pay for the services given, you simply had to communicate and come to an arrangement.

Karma is a bitch and I sincerely hope you get what you deserve.

Stop being a grubby weazel, man up and pay your debts.

UPDATE

It appears we are not the only ones looking for him…

luke-thurrowgood-bendigoPOLICE are continuing to search for wanted man Luke Thurrowgood in the Bendigo region.

The 30-year-old man is wanted after failing to answer bail in relation to drug, assault and traffic matters.

Thurrowgood is known to frequent the Bendigo and Maribyrnong areas.

He is described as being 185cm tall, medium build, fair complexion with brown hair, blue eyes and normally has a beard.

Investigators have released an image of Thurrowgood in the hope someone recognises him and can provide information regarding his whereabouts.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Is the death penalty morally acceptable in today’s society?

Is the death penalty morally acceptable in today’s society?

How can it be? It is a misnomer. A penalty both grammatically and morally reprehensible.

Joko (International Joke) Widodo
Joko (International Joke) Widodo

In my book, albeit a somewhat diminutive one, state-sanctioned murder is weak. It certainly does nothing to address the underlying cause that rehabilitation is supposed to. The act of execution should be as unpalatable as cannibalism or following Collingwood yet it continues protected by weak men and weak nations. Ok, in fairness that was hardly the most qualitative statement but is justly deserved by the small man currently steering the good ship Indonesia.

Even the Indonesian government itself is extremely vocal in its efforts to persuade other similarly backwoods (not backwards, although applicable too) nations to grant clemency and not execute Indonesian nationals on death row, but at the same time unfathomably unwavering in its stubborn refusal to repeal this archaic law or offer clemency to a couple of obviously rehabilitated prisoners. This should make the definition of hypocrisy abundantly clear, even for the most intellectually-challenged.

Given this obstinate attitude, I refuse to support state-sanctioned premeditated murder and in an effort to also avoid harmful colourants, I actively read the labels of everything I purchase and whenever I read anything related to Bali or Indonesia, I reject with disgust and choose an alternative. In fact, I go so far as to replace the product as far back on the shelf and as hidden as possible. Furthermore, I will never take my family to Bali or mainland Indonesia and will proactively discourage anyone and everyone from visiting. I have heard the oft unintelligent argument that boycotting this duplicitous and contrary nation would only harm the average common man trying to scrape a meagre living. Well, tough titties! If the common man wants to make a living from tourism, maybe he should lobby the government for the cessation of legalised revenge.

Let us be perfectly clear, there is NO documented evidence that the death penalty works. It does not, in any perceivable way, shape or form prevent crime or act as a deterrent in modern society. In fact, the precise opposite may be true (McClellan, G., 1961 US). Just ask the retards employing Sharia Law today. Even they will tell you that while they love a good stoning, amputation and execution as much as the next backwoods nation, they will concede an upward trend in rape, murder and trite reality shows.

The death penalty is called a punishment but what is the point of administering a punishment if there is no perceivable positive outcome? It is infinitely more senseless to execute a prisoner rehabilitated by a system designed for incarceration and rehabilitation! You are most certainly not punishing the criminal; Bang! You’re dead! Lesson learned! That makes no sense.

Let us call it what it is; vengeance.

Legal vengeance solidifies social solidarity against those who break the law and is the ‘acceptable’ alternative to the private revenge of the victim or aggrieved.

The death penalty is as ill-conceived and outdated as it is immoral.

Next week we discuss state-sanctioned torture, condoned by the Internationally-viewed, piss-weak president (The) Joko Widodo.

Lara Bingle Continues Cringeworthy Baby Naming Tradition

By the time your fourth child arrives, you have probably exhausted your favourite baby names and the task of selecting a suitable moniker becomes more laborious. I get it, the missus and I had to do it five times (and name them).

Naming the firstborn was simple. A tradition in our family is naming the first son William. Job’s a good ‘un with the addition of Benjamin.

Next came Rhiannon Caitlin, a nod to my Welsh heritage and sticking with the Welsh (and Hebrew root if you want to be pedantic), we chose Madlen Tyleri for our third.

Naming our fourth child was a little more difficult but we stayed with the Celtic roots and leant towards the Irish (and one could argue Norse Viking) with Padraig Somhairlidh (Sorley). Historical linguistic academics still argue over the roots of Somhairlidh but we won’t go into that here, the point was that we put time, effort and thought into choosing a suitable name; a lot more than we expected to.

Staying with what we knew best, Cellan (keth-lan) Tomás came along. To be honest, I was keen on calling him Max (get it?).

We choose names for different reasons. We choose names based on our heritage. We choose names which hold personal meaning for us, honour others or continue a tradition. And then we have Lara…

rocket zodLara Bingle is reportedly upset after being publicly vilified by the International press for naming her sprog Rocket Zot. Really Lara? What did you expect? Naming your child after your late father is heartfelt, commonplace and acceptable. Giving your child your dad’s nickname, however, requires thought and common sense, both of which you demonstrably lack. Naming your child Rocket Zot is ridiculously self-indulgent and will very likely result in years of school playground abuse and probably decades of therapy for the hapless child. That said, Zot is probably not the worse nickname in the world (‘fucktard’ and ‘gaybo’ spring to mind) but getting ‘creative’ with kid’s names is a cringeworthy and narcissistic trend which has to stop.

A word about the nauseating trend of fusing two words or names together to create one truly repugnant abomination i.e. Leonya, Victasia, Kesleigh. Stop it, you fucking retards!

I would like to congratulate Lara and Sam, and wish baby all the very best for the future.

Note to baby: Deed Poll

News.com.au – Mainstream News or Personal Blog?

News.com.au is a strange and confusing entity. On one hand, it reports serious news as one would expect but it devalues itself by allowing a number of God-awful so-called journalists to promote their own personal opinions or agendas in the form of asinine prattle.

One particularly detestable exponent of the banal is (more…)

Tom Jones’ AFL Grand Final rugby ‘blunder’

tom-jones-afl-grand-final-2014So, 74 year old Tom has accidentally referred to the AFL players as ‘rugby players’. Big deal, you so-called journalists refer to players of every code as ‘footballers’.

Is this faux pas really in any way comparable to the off-key, out-of-synch wailing from Meat Loaf last year? For the sake of mediocre copy I guess it is but it’s not unusual for you grammatically and literary challenged gob-shites to over-exaggerate and over-influence a ‘story’ with your own agenda.

Shame on you.

 

Aussie ‘Rape Victim’ Jailed

A 21 year old Australian female cries rape and gets 2 weeks in jail.

You might be forgiven for thinking the punishment was a bit harsh following such an alleged  traumatic ordeal at the hands of a Thai taxi driver; Lord knows it can be a painful enough experience with some cabbies. However it wasn’t until authorities watched video footage of her arriving safely at her holiday apartment that the truth became clear.

The unnamed 21 year old female tourist from Sydney, confessed to fabricating the story and was duly sentenced to two weeks in jail.

Personally, I believe her sentence should have been equivalent to that of a convicted rapist. Give the bitch 15 years to life and I guarantee she, and other ugly fat chicks will think twice before trying to ruin some innocent’s life and costing tax payers countless dollars and that’s on the assumption that she would ever make it out of jail alive.

Oh, a word to the authorities involved, please release her name. The public should be warned.

Absolutely despicable. Shame on you ugly fat Australian chick.

Read the article here.