The Vintage Reds welcomed our guest speaker, Roxley Foley.
Roxley is currently the Fire-Keeper at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Old Parliament House, Canberra. He is a young Gumbaynggirr man and activist from Adelaide.
[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]
Roxley presented a wide ranging analysis of actions and policies by government and business which are having an adverse impact on aboriginal groups, and which undermine the possibility of a treaty based on mutual respect and good will. Mining and the sale of land and assets are particularly problematic: Roxley mentioned fracking, the loss of food basins, and government manipulation of Land Councils.
Given that the prime minister had rejected the Uluru Statement of May 2017, the audience was interested to hear Roxley’s comments. He said that the convention’s process had been taken over and compromised by bureaucrats. He was critical of the large number of participants who were hand-picked and not elected delegates. Some aboriginal groups withdrew, unhappy about the final negotiations at Uluru. There were echoes of the now-defunct “Recognise” campaign which had a lot of corporate support but not so much at grassroots level. Roxley is opposed to any move which sees aboriginal people give up rights to sovereignty or the possibility of a treaty, only to be absorbed into a constitutional system. The Constitution is racist and gives no protection for aboriginal law and land. But he also rejects black nationalism or an island of black inside Australia. He wants a movement that brings everyone along with it. Continue reading
Our speaker was Melanie Nolan, the general editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB). Here is a short version of her talk, including her answers to questions from the floor. [Photo: ANU School of History]
Melanie began with an acknowledgement of country.
The ADB began in 1957, led by Keith Hancock, with the aim of establishing a federal dictionary project. Hancock had a history of involvement with the UK Dictionary of National Biography. The ADB’s first employee was Ann Moyal. Her work duties included driving round in her car, all over Australia organising working parties and drumming up support for the dictionary project. Douglas Pike was appointed as first editor, not Ann, in 1962. In 2006 the dictionary went online, free. It now gets 60 million hits a year. So far there are 13,000 articles. The ANU continues to be a strong supporter. Files not yet online are all available to be consulted at the ANU archives. The current crop of biographies includes people who died between 1991 and 2000; it will be a decade’s work. Once the articles go online, and then taking into account any feedback, they will be published in book form. Continue reading
Richard is an academic and a member of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. His topic was “How do we get to abolition?“.
Richard opened his talk with an acknowledgement that we met on aboriginal land, and paid respects to Aboriginal custodians and elders past and present.
He acknowledged the work of Dr Sue Wareham and ICAN, which started ten years ago in Melbourne. Richard has been a member for 5 years and is currently a Board member. He was also the Director of the Nautilus Institute in Australia where he was involved in peace and security issues including work on abolishing nuclear weapons.
Richard outlined the history behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (which passed the UN vote on 7 July 2017) and lead to the ICAN Nobel Peace Prize. It was notably not signed by Australia and the USA among others. The world now has 15,000 nuclear weapons and these are being modernised at the moment at a cost of $1 trillion. Richard spoke about the outcome for the entire world if, for example, a local war between India and Pakistan resulted in a nuclear attack – apart for the “local” destruction, there would be decades of increased atmospheric carbon leading to widespread environmental destruction and famine. He argued that the idea of “deterrence” is dangerous as there is every likelihood of these weapons being used in some circumstances. There are now 9 countries with nuclear weapons.
Vintage Reds were delighted to welcome Tony Kevin to talk about
his book, Return to Moscow (University of Western Australia, 2017).
Tony worked for thirty years as a diplomat, including as ambassador to Poland and Cambodia in the 1990s. His first posting was in Moscow in 1969-71, and he made brief visits again in 1985 and 1990.
In 2016 he made a 4-week trip to Russia as an independent traveller. Tony is a Russophile, and gave a strongly pro-Russia talk. He believes that we are completely unaware of how overwhelmed we are by Western anti-Russia news. Whereas in other news story we presume some state of regularity, when the news is from Russia we presume irregularity. In the misinformation echo-chamber of the West it requires a huge effort of will and intellect to judge things from the outside. Continue reading
Helen introduced our speaker, Tony Payne. Tony is a semi-retired professor of politics at Sheffield University who with Colin Hay has co-written Civic Capitalism, a rejection of Anglo neo-liberalism.
They reject the Thatcherite view that “there is no alternative [to the market economy]”; they also reject the Marxist view of capitalism, that it is global, unreformable, and must be overthrown. Hay and Payne want to occupy the sensible centre, which Payne sees to be increasingly unoccupied.
We were delighted to welcome our speaker, Emma Davidson, from the Women’s Centre for Health Matters, who spoke on the topic of housing in the ACT.
Emma noted that housing affordability for women is worse now in the ACT than when she joined WCHM in 2010. There is movement from the government: a housing summit scheduled for September; submissions being sought for an inquiry into housing, due in February; and submissions also being sought for Mick Gentleman’s inquiry into environmentally sustainable housing.
Funding shortages are affecting public and community housing. Women are particularly affected as their numbers are hidden. We need more diversity including models that suit groups and sharing, with a sell-on option. Many women are carers and require courtyard/accessible housing, for example. A non-government brokerage service would be ideal, to place people into appropriate housing. Planning regulations need more flexibility. Capped access to new land blocks (independent of developers) would allow more first home buyers into the market. The Nightingale project and the Women’s Property Initiative, both in Victoria, are good models. Reclaiming of government land by developers (funded by taxpayers) seriously erodes public confidence and housing affordability options. Public housing stock is being lost faster in the ACT than in any other jurisdiction. Negative gearing (a federal issue) is only benefiting big corporations and the wealthy, and must be reformed.