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Blessed are the taxpayers in Abbott's Australia


Blessed are the Peacemakers by Chris JohnstonOur Prime Minister Tony, Abbott has become famous for his various verbal faux pas, most recently his comments in relation to remote Aboriginal communities.

Speaking on ABC Radio in WA he stated: 'It is not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise particular lifestyle choices.' Predictably this resulted in a storm of protest from various Aboriginal spokespersons and other commentators.

Notably the premise behind the comment fails to recognise any inherent cultural and spiritual connection between Aboriginal people and their land.

They should just pack up and leave, moving to areas where there are proper resources and services which would not be as expensive for the government to provide. Everything would be so much simpler if only they were more like us, if they assimilated to our western conceptions of the good life. And then they could become 'economically productive.'

And of course, to remove Aboriginal people from their traditional lands would weaken their claims to traditional land rights. Undoubtedly there are many mining companies who would find life much easier if they did not have to negotiate over royalties and sacred sites with the traditional owners of the land.

All this is fair comment in relation to Abbott’s words, but there is another feature that has become so commonplace as to go unnoticed and uncommented. And it raises fundamental questions about how we understand our Australian nation.

Ask yourself the question, in light of Abbott’s statement, on whose behalf does the government govern? To whom is the Australian government responsible? The logical response from Abbott’s statement is 'the taxpayer'.

I’m not sure when this slippage began. I certainly noticed it in the Howard-Costello years when our then treasurer regularly referred to the Australian people as taxpayers. It may go back to Paul Keating, but I cannot be sure. What I can be sure is that it represents a fundamental distortion of the role of governments in a democracy.

Governments are not responsible to their taxpayers, but to their citizens. I was a citizen before I was a taxpayer and it is likely I will still be a citizen when I cease to be a taxpayer, or at least become a minimal taxpayer through the (regressive) GST. As a citizen I vote for my government to do the best it can for Australian citizens.

On the other hand, there are any number of taxpayers who are not Australian citizens: overseas residents, to whom the government owes the rule of law, but who do not take part in our political life; and of course corporations, both Australian and foreign, who pay substantial tax, but do not have voting rights.

Indeed, if a government is governing for taxpayers rather than citizens, then one’s call upon the government becomes a sliding scale. The more tax one pays, the more the government should attend to you. Gina Rinehart only gets one vote – the same as me – but she pays far more tax than I do, and so doors open for her that will forever remain shut for me.

And so the slippage in language from citizenship to being a taxpayer begins to distort our democratic system, moving us away from democracy and towards plutocracy. And of course this is exactly how the Prime Minister behaves. On election night he proclaimed, 'Australia is open for business.' His is a government whose primary concern is to be responsive to business interests, and the bigger and more powerful the business, the more responsive he will be.

An Irish Facebook friend of mine posted a photo of a person holding up a poster stating, 'I don’t mind you being rich, I mind you buying my government.' As long as our public discourse falls into the habit of referring to us as taxpayers and not citizens, this is the risk we run, of getting the best government that money can buy.

Neil OrmerodNeil Ormerod is Professor of Theology at Australian Catholic University.

Coin offering image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Neil Ormerod, Tony Abbott, remote communities, Indigenous, Aboriginal, taxation, citizenship



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Existing comments

all so true Neil and so obvious (to some)... however

I would like to add another consideration not often noted:

"remote communities?" remote from whom?
white middle class western australians?
I guess so.

I'm sure those living in the so-called "remote communities" do not consider themselves "remote".

Far from it. I imagine they believe and I believe they would be right in this belief (as a white middle class western australian) that I am remote from them.

I believe as a white middle class western australian that they rightly know they are in the centre and heart of what really matters for them, their culture, their society, their spirituality and their own economy.

Nothing remote about that Prime Minister!

Jennifer Herrick | 13 March 2015  

I strongly object to the one-sided nature of the statement Neil Ormerod makes at the end of his article. One could get the impression that greed and corruption only reside amongst businesses. For once would someone at Eureka Street take off their blinkers and view the unions with the same caution/suspicion that they view business? In democracies it is hardly news that various groups will look to the government for an unfair advantage at the expense of other citizens. Why do we never read articles in Eureka Street of unions buying governments?

John Ryan | 13 March 2015  

It is really clutching at straws to deduce from Abbott’s welcome to business that he is moving Australia from a democracy to a plutocracy. Business creates jobs whereby people live and by which taxes pay for government services. Too often Catholic leadership supports social spending without regard for prudent economic policies. Remember that the sub-prime mortgages in the USA which created the GFC were forced on to banks by executive and statutory orders for the benefit of people on low incomes. Progressives pushed banks to provide mortgages to the poor, and in 1995 Barack Obama issued a mortgage discrimination lawsuit against Citibank on behalf of 186 African-Americans (half of whom subsequently went bankrupt or got foreclosure notices). Banks too played their part by merging traditional prudent lending banks with risk-taking investment banks, and the rating agency cartel went along with the whole shabby scheme. Land developers and building trades unions joined in the grab-fest. The market economy might be the most efficient means for meeting the basic material needs of entire societies (Centesimus annus) but it requires prudent management. Benedict XVI observed “Morality without a knowledge of economics is mere moralism, science without an ethos misunderstands man and is unscientific.”

Ross Howard | 14 March 2015  

Neil, your observation--insightful as it is--raises further questions in re your own field: Is the purpose of education to educate citizens or train the workforce as potential taxpayers?

Tom Halloran | 14 March 2015  

Ross, do you have the citation for Benedict's observation: “Morality without a knowledge of economics is mere moralism, science without an ethos misunderstands man and is unscientific.” It is not in Centesimus Annus! Notwithstnding the locus, it correctly, to my way of thinking, point out that the relevant opposition is not between "business" and "unions" but between a "verifiable understanding of economics" and "knee jerk reactions to econmic breakdown". When the car breaks down on the side of the road because the driver has been stepping on the accelerator and the brake at the same time, a new paint job is not the answer.

Tom Halloran | 14 March 2015  

Maybe Captain Cook and Captain Arthur Philip should have been a bit more prudent claiming Terra Australis for the crown without conducting a full economic risk assessment of the economy back in the 1700s. I guess there was no need for that, considering the Terra Nullius policy and the fact Aborigines were regarded as part of the fauna and flora.

AURELIUS | 14 March 2015  

Tom, I got Benedict XVI’s quote from a review of the book, “Understanding the Crash: The Financial Crisis of 2008”, and it comes from an essay by Kishore Jayabolam in that book. I looked up the C.V. of the author, Kishore Jayabolam, which states, inter alia, “… worked for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace… has degrees in political science and economics… worked as an international economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C…. received into the Roman Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1996…appointment to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York in 1997...”

Ross Howard | 15 March 2015  

Tom, I managed to track down the book on the Internet and downloaded it. It seems that the reviewer has precised the article. Here is what Kishore Jayabalan actually wrote in his chapter headed “Papal Economics and the Ubiquity of Greed.” [at page 63] But one thing is clear – the moral and technical aspects of economics are intertwined. In 1985, the future Pope Benedict XVI gave an address on the Church and economy in which he spoke of the modern problem of separating the subjective and objective realms of knowledge. He concluded, “A morality that believes itself able to dispense with the technical knowledge of economic laws is not morality but moralism. As such it is the antithesis of morality. A scientific approach that believes itself capable of managing without an ethos misunderstands the reality of man. Therefore it is not scientific. Today we need a maximum of specialised economic understanding, but also a maximum of ethos so that specialised economic understanding may enter the service of the right goals. Only in this way will its knowledge be both politically practicable and socially tolerable.” http://danubeinstitute.hu/index.php?id_embed=40

Ross Howard | 15 March 2015  

In the Howard years we were shareholders rather than citizens. Now we are taxpayers. Different emphasis but the same mindset.

Laura Murray Cree | 16 March 2015  

It is interesting that most comments are missing the crux of the matter. That in itself says something about the matter! Indigenous communities have the social, religious, and cultural right to live within their own Tradition of place and time. The dominant descendants of the colonial power do not have the right to force them to do otherwise. The UN Human Rights Charter to which Australia is signatory reinforces this repeatedly in various ways. Put another way: Culture is not Lifestyle. Citizens are not defined by their taxation input. That is the crux of the matter.

Jennifer Herrick | 16 March 2015  

The use of this phrase in this way is a litmus text. If accepted, not challenged, it will be used more frequently, e.g. of asset rich income poor pensioners living in highly desirable locations, and therefore high value homes. "Why should taxpayers subsidise their particular lifestyle choices"... let them sell their asset and relocate, down size in house and location, using surplus money to fund their retirement. Well challenged Euraka Street!

F.L. VAN LAAR | 16 March 2015  

Can that be right ? The PAYE-taxed middle class pay the most tax but surely they're the ones the government listens least to.

John Edwards | 16 March 2015  

So, instead of allowing people to make 'lifestyle choices' and have a house on a quarter acre block of land on the outskirts of a city, adding to urban sprawl and costing a fortune for the provision of essential services, let's make them all live in high rise towers in the centre of the city. And another thing, is this latest outburst by Tony Abbott the official policy of the Liberal Party or just another "Captain's Call"?

brian Finlayson | 16 March 2015  

Ross, thanks for following up on the quote. In the context of economics and morality, and generally science (both natural and human) and morality, you might find the following of interest. Bernard Lonergan, a Canadian Jesuit (1904 - 1984), perhaps better known as philosopher and theologian "discovered" the science of economics between 1930 and 1944 (turbulent times!) Fr. Lonergan felt industrialists who obeyed Pope Leo XIII's doctrine that employers are morally bound to pay workers a just wage would go out of business, while the unscrupulous reaped a profit. Fr. Lonergan believed it ineffective for Church theologians to decry abuses in the capitalist system without offering technically specific alternatives. Church economic teachings, ungrounded in economic reality, were just vague moral imperatives. What was needed was the economic analysis that could ground the moral and democratic economic order. That 14 year long discovery is chronicled in Michael Shute, Lonergan’s Discovery of the Science of Economics. Lonergan Studies: 21. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010. Lonergan was interested in "political economy"--the exigence to provide intelligent advice to enable moral choice by democratic men and women (citizens), not handing over decisions to an "elite" bureaucracy nor trying to gamble your way to a standard of living.

Tom Halloran | 16 March 2015  

It is as well to remember that when Benedict XVI wrote his aphoristic phrase, "Morality without a knowledge of economics is mere moralism, science without an ethos misunderstands man and is unscientific", he certainly wasn't speaking "infallibly". There are far more important bases for morality than economics (leaving aside the question of how much knowledge that former Pope has of the subject). One might better say -- in the light of the available evidence -- that, "Without morality, economics is largely sheer exploitative self- interest and its justification". And while it is true that many scientists do not think sufficiently about the ethical dimensions of their work (or of the moral ones, either), those who "pontificate" (the word can, in the context, hardly be avoided) about science with no real knowledge of what it involves can easily be dismissed as poseurs. Beware of public figures seeking to produce axioms or proverbs. It is usually simply rhetorical and mostly spurious.

John CARMODY | 16 March 2015  

Not only was Pope Benedict not speaking infallibly, he was not even a Pope when he made this comment. Kishore Jayabalan refers to him as 'the future Pope Benedict XVI' - in 1985 he was Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

David B | 16 March 2015  

ES has rarely in my experience published such a short article crammed with so much illogicality. The writer might enlighten us as to: Who does pay for the social benefits of our society? Are the aboriginal people who long ago abandoned their "traditional lands and lifestyle" for that of the euro- centred society no longer entitled to taxpayer funding? Are taxpayers not citizens in the eyes of the theologian writer? Has government no responsibility to the many aboriginal Australians who pay tax? "Governments are not responsible to their taxpayers but to their citizens" would have to be one of the most flawed, erroneously nit-picking statements ever written on the provision of social welfare !!! Government in this country depends on voters - perhaps that is why we get some bloody dreadful government on occasions.

john frawley | 16 March 2015  

It’s a grim picture, no? A prime minister telling aboriginal communities they “should just pack up and leave”, with greedy miners at his shoulder, salivating at the prospect of tearing up the vacated lands. Except that this “fair comment” as Dr Ormerod puts it, is pure invention. Tony Abbott didn't order aborigines off their ancestral lands. And even if they were to leave, no mining company could legally commence exploration or mining activities without entering into an agreement with them, even if they happened to move to the other side of the world. Dr O. surely knows this, but chooses instead to construct a bogeyman. (Abbott-hating is, one might say, a lifestyle choice of the Left.) The reality is that the remote communities, into which millions upon millions have been poured in recent decades, are by and large hell-holes, especially for women and children. Boredom, despair, alcohol-induced violence, and sex abuse at a rate that dwarfs any that commissions of inquiry are now documenting, are the order of the day. Moreover, bracketing those horrors, the essential lifestyle of the aborigines in these communities is “traditional” only in the superficial sense that delights urban white academics in air-conditioned university offices, with volumes of Marx and Rousseau strewn across their desk. No aboriginal community ever lived on subventions from outside – be it the taxpayer, charities or a benevolent billionaire. They faced the challenge of everyday survival by living off the land. Moreover, contra Dr O’s implication, economic productivity was as much in the foreground of their priorities as it is for us in the modern West. In fact, more so: children were expected to help the women in the daily round of gathering food, medicines and so forth. Child labour! And when the camp needed move on, the “economically unproductive” – those who couldn’t keep going because of sickness or old age – were left behind to perish. Any adult – aboriginal or otherwise – should be free to adopt an authentic traditional tribal lifestyle. IE no more handouts, no more “sit-down money” as the aborigines themselves perceptively call it. The government funding of the artificial constructs which are the remote communities should cease forthwith. The regulations of property which have turned them into communist-style soviets (with similar results) should be abolished. This would prove the greatest boon to the aboriginal resident citizens for many decades. Especially the women and children. Not to mention men. Oh, and taxpayer citizens too, who might be happy to see their hard-earned wealth used in ways that actually help aborigines flourish, not keep them locked in misery for ideological reasons.

HH | 16 March 2015  

This article is an excellent analysis of what is actually going on in Australia. Aboriginal people are undergoing further sustained and deepening oppression. So far in South Australia, Aboriginal communities are under the same almost unbelievable threat of the Federal Government withdrawing funding for water, power and other essential services by June 30th after having, quite rightly, had this responsibility for decades. The SA Government refused the just $10m one off 'transition offer' to cover all Aboriginal communities as completely inadequate. And apart from the immorality of forcing people to move from their lands in this fashion, where are they to go? Housing is at a huge priority. Any towns in the various regions eg Coober Pedy about 300 kms away from the APY Lands haven't the infrastructure to support several hundred extra people. It's a strategy we would condemn in other societies - actually denying funding for water and power etc to the children, women and men one has been elected to govern. 2 weeks ago further cuts were announced to Aboriginal Legal services. Before that - the announcement that 26 of the 27 Recommendations of the mining magnate, Andrew Forrest's Review were to be adopted including those with all their wide ranging repressive ramifications concerning land and culture.

Michele Madigan | 16 March 2015  

Good article, Neil Ormerod. Yes, with L-NP we are "getting the best government money can buy" - for the likes of G Rinehart, R Murdoch, J Packer & other multi-millionaires. Mr Abbott's grasp of Micah's "ACT Justly" seems minimal at best. He professes to help indigenous people "catch up" to other citizens, but then cuts the very federal funds they need to catch up. As the gospel says, by their FRUITS you shall know people.

John Cronin, Toowoomba Q | 16 March 2015  

Er... I am not a taxpayer, I am an age pensioner who spent 43 years of my life teaching in Catholic Education.

John Morgan | 16 March 2015  

Thank you Neil. You made very valid and important points in regard to democracy. So often it is plutocracy when the Coalition parties are in Government. An the matter of taxpayer v's citizen is extremely important. I ask myself why are citizens allowed to continue to build homes for lifestyle reasons, in known areas of high fire risk and consequently call on the services of the government for protection of property and, unfortunately often, for protection of life.

Patrick Kempton | 16 March 2015  

The PM claims he was stating a matter of principle - it is not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise lifestyle choices. I was going to say there is prior principle - everyone (whether a resident or a non-resident) who earns a living (of whatever style) by exploiting (not in any pejorative sense) the economic opportunities of Australia ought to pay tax. It is appropriate that the government gathers in these due taxes. It is also appropriate that mature (over 18 years old?) residents (not just taxpayers) are able to influence how the government spends these taxes. It is imperative that the government is transparent regarding the amount of tax it raises and how it spends it - hence an annual budget. In such an ideal (?) polity I believe there would be no talk of 'subsiding' rather there would be justifiable 'distributing' of income, that might even include saving some for a rainy day. Alas such a polity doesn't exist. Hence PMs and Treasurers (not just conservative ones) use terms to describe their distribution of the taxes raised that are value-laden and are interpreted according to each citizen's prejudices, as has happened with the PM's use of 'life-style'.

Uncle Pat | 16 March 2015  

Hush now, HH. We shouldn't distress the social justice gurus who might fall off the gravy train in shock and horror if you tell the truth !!!!

john frawley | 16 March 2015  

For someone alleging illogicality, John Frawley, your own post is a splendid example of a non-sequitur. Read Neil Ormerod’s article carefully. There is no claim that social benefits are not paid for, nor that urban indigenous are not entitled to taxpayer support, nor that taxpayers are not citizens, nor that the government has no responsibility for tax-paying aboriginal Australians. Mr Ormerod makes a much simpler claim: that to couch social policy in terms of or within the limits of “taxpayers”, to confine description of people to “taxpayers”, leads to a contraction of inclusive social and economic policy and of democracy. As Mr Ormerod rightly says, we are citizens first and last, whether taxpayers or not, and government business is to act on behalf of all citizens.

SMK | 17 March 2015  

Speaking of bogeymen, HH, your post seems filled with bogeymen of your own. “Locked in misery” - “child labour” - “left to perish”. And the only one raising Marx or Rousseau is your good self: you seem incapable of imagining - or tolerating - more than your Augustinian-like dichotomy of noble savage and invisible assimilee. Still, your approval of a fully nomadic hunter-gatherer paradigm in which children are compelled to work and the elderly or sick left on the scrap-heap reveals much insofar as it dovetails nicely, and coalesces smoothly, with the policies and philosophy of the politicians you so evidently admire.

SMK | 17 March 2015  

SMK, why not relate your comments to my post? Take, say, one point I’ve made and refute it with logic or evidence. My suggestion.

HH | 17 March 2015  

Laying aside taxpayer/citizen academics of ""sliding scales", there are the ongoing slippery dips of tax havens
Tax avoidance, or the use of legal arrangements to reduce tax, is rife. According to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), Australian companies in 2012 sent almost A$60 billion to related parties in tax havens. Singapore and Ireland topped the list of countries where businesses send their money.
Mind you ATO [after recently giving temporary immunity to allow 'rectification'] has joined international bodies to aggressively retrieve taxes for Australia]. Aussies could do with a few crumbs from the global cake.[Oxfam estimates that globally at least A$21 trillion are hidden in tax havens.]
Ecstatic are tax avoiders offshore from Australia until ATO and FATFcatch up!
#FATF=Financial Action Task Force Established by the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 to examine measures to combat money laundering. In April 1990, the FATF issued a report containing a programme of 40 Recommendations in this area. The Recommendations are designed to provide a comprehensive blueprint for action against money laundering covering the criminal justice system and law enforcement; the financial system and its regulation; and international cooperation. The Recommendations are not a binding international convention, but each of the FATF members has made a firm political commitment to combat money laundering. In 1996 the Recommendations were modified to take into account recent money laundering trends and potential future threats.

Father John George | 18 March 2015  

Great article. Ross et al....remember we live in a society not an economy. Not every aspect of society has an economic value!

Andrew Teece | 18 March 2015  

Mr Teece tax haven defense teams agree: "we live in a society not an economy. Not every aspect of society has an economic value using "sliding scales!
"Your Honour man cannot live by tax alone" Bring on those ATO amnesties.
Dr Ormerods ES article is headlines in off shore "Tax Haven Courier"s !
Viva amnesty at the Eschaton!
Aux armes citoyens!

Father John George | 19 March 2015  

Neil makes a number of valid points and I do agree with the last two paragraphs, although I would not limit it to the Abbott Government. I suggest future governments will follow the Abbott pattern, although probably not so openly. Sadly, I expect I will always be regarded as a taxpayer rather than a citizen. Double H, you are long (very) on negativity and criticism but despite the words, you don't actually put forward a constructive suggestion. It is one thing to ask others to pull your turgid prose to pieces and rebut each point, but that just avoids the thrust of SMK's comment. I also sensed a yearning from you for the good old days of nomadic hunter/gathering but I may be making the mistake of taking your comment seriously when it was in fact tongue-in-cheek or irony (I often miss irony). You might even consider organising your thoughts more clearly in an actual ES opinion piece so we could discuss your proposals for improvement on their merits. I suggest this without the slightest bit of Abbott-bashing in mind.

Brett | 19 March 2015  

Thanks, Brett. To recap: The constructive suggestions in my post were: 1. End government funding of all remote communities, since external subvention was never the way traditional aboriginal society operated by any stretch of the imagination and it thus robs the remote communities of any semblance of being authentically traditional. 2. Thus: enable aboriginal adults to choose between a. adopting an authentically traditional aboriginal lifestyle (no handouts, genuinely live off the land) or b. move to living a “western” lifestyle, as the overwhelming majority of aborigines do with no difficulty or objection. Either way avoids the hell-hole of the remote communities where life is desperate largely because it falls between two stools … neither truly traditional nor truly “western” but a purely artificial construct, the product of white Marxist/Rousseauist leftists of the 1960s such as ‘Nugget’ Coombs, etc. Note: I specified “adults” in 2. for a reason (something missed by SMK). Adults can choose themselves to live a subsistence, hunter/gatherer lifestyle. Not my choice by any stretch: I admire the necessary skills, but modern dentistry and anaesthetics wins every time for me! And their lifestyle is certainly not one the taxpayer should subsidize. Not least because that would defeat the purpose, no? Like Bear Grylls feigning survival ordeals but being helicoptered each night to a plush hotel. (Patrick Kempton’s point above about bushfire-zone dwellers is a propos here, and one could extend the examples to flood plain dwellers, farmers in “drough prone” regions – ie semi-desert—etc.). But certain Australian children, regardless of the origin or preference of their parents, should not be deprived of the benefits of Western education available to all other Australian children (including you, me, SMK, Dr Ormerod, Tony Abbott, his trenchant critics, everyone who reads “Eureka Street” or Andrew Bolt, etc), which deprivation would (and does) preclude them from participating in Western society should they choose that path when they reach adulthood. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if they’re aborigines, temporary asylum seekers, deprived children in Sunshine or scions of the burghers of Doncaster. They ALL deserve a chance to at least master basic English and know their multiplication tables up to 12. Over and above avoiding rampant sex abuse, chronic violence and an easy path to alcohol and drug addiction. (Why do I have to say this? Ah, the aboriginal remote communities…) So, let any adult adopt an authentic traditional aboriginal lifestyle who can do so responsibly. But allow aboriginal children to grow up in genuine Western communities (obviously in their families), and at their majority they can meaningfully choose which path to follow. Methinks they will choose one in overwhelming numbers, and for a host of excellent reasons.

HH | 20 March 2015  

Trenchant and to the point. A few comments about Abbott's ignorance of social justice premises would take it even further.

Professor John Collard | 20 March 2015  

Many of these remote communities are not inhabited by traditional inhabitants of the particular area but by people who have moved there from elsewhere in the past, often associated with now gone work or missionary activity. I favour absolute equality under the law. That should include no race based subsidy to remote living. The state has no obligation to pay for individual preferences.

Adrian | 20 March 2015  

@Brett. I disagree entirely with you that HH's prose is turgid. I find him one of the most lucid contributor's to this site.

John Ryan | 20 March 2015  

Well John, we will have to agree to differ on that point, but his/her 20 March contribution is less turgid than the previous one.

Brett | 21 March 2015  

The aboriginals living their traditional lifestyle do not require money..

Michael` | 21 March 2015  

Michael,like us, aboriginals cant live by tradition alone! Fred Hollows spent three years visiting Aboriginal communities to provide eye care and carry out a survey of eye defects. More than 460 Aboriginal communities were visited, and 62,000 Aboriginal People were examined, leading to 27,000 being treated for trachoma and 1,000 operations being carried out [not forgetting Freds mentor on aboriginal eye disease, Ophthalmologist priest Father Frank Flynn MSC, nor NT Bishop Gsell MSC who saved numerous young girls from,child abuse, arranged marriages to old men and polgamy[all within then aboriginal tradition]. And my erstwhile Latin teacher Fr Bailey MSC STL who taught aboriginals to build houses with local clay bricks versus traditional lean-to!

Father John George | 23 March 2015  

May I add Michael, some culinary aboriginal traditions could supply exotic stimuli to our 'traditional bland culinary traditions while aboriginals gain from our variegated input'--economic etc. Again modern aboriginal man cant live on traditional honey ants etc alone! Nonetheless chemical analysis has demonstrated the excellent nutritional qualities of the muttonbird, and it is likely that other traditional aboriginal foods have equally desirable nutritional profiles. The Aboriginal food culture can offer valuable delights to the wider Australian community beyond honey ants and witchety grubs. On the eve of British settlement/invasion, key foods of animal origin included kangaroo and wallaby, possum and wombat, muttonbird and penguins (both the flesh and the eggs) and various molluscs and crustacea. Their plant menu included fruits such as the native cherry, native currant and kangaroo apple, and vegetables such as the native potato and native carrot. (The adjective 'native' emphasises that these were quite different species from their European namesakes.) They also ate plants unfamiliar to later Tasmanians, such as honeysuckle nectar, pith from manferns, and the 'native bread' fungus. The fermented sap of the cider gum apparently provided a weakly alcoholic beverage, used 'occasionally of course. Two of the modern nutritionist's recommended food groups were absent: cereal grains and milk (apart from extended breast-feeding of infants). However, early European medical visitors considered Indigenous people to be in excellent health'[in Tasmania at least." [Australian Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics 52, 1995 ] But traditional aboriginal living off the land effectively [taught to WW2 military] cant salve burning socio-economic issues of modern times you understand Michael?

Father John George | 23 March 2015  

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