A facebook post from my friend Janine Gertz (Community Engagement Officer at James Cook University):
Watching Nelson Mandela's Memorial on TV, I couldn't help but think about what the world might have looked like without this man.
I bet you didn't know this but South Africa's Apartheid system was modeled closely on Queensland's Aboriginal Protection Act (1897).
Queensland's Apartheid system enabled the Government to forcibly remove Aboriginal people to reserves and missions - places like Yarrabah, Palm Island, Cherbourg to name a few. It's hard to imagine but the lives of Aboriginal people were controlled down to every element of decision making that citizens enjoy - who you can marry; what job you were to be employed in; where you could travel on your days off; what you could buy with your wages.
It was a devastating piece of legislation, the effects of which we a still dealing with today through inter-generational trauma.
Politicians and public servants spoke about it in those days as being a policy of 'Care and Protection' but hindsight has shown us it was really it was about control and incarceration.
New Protection Acts, modeled on the original 1897 version, were passed through the Queensland Parliament as late as 1971 with hangover policies enduring within the Public Service programs until the late 1980's. And the ideological struggle continues today in 2013.
On this day, I reflect on the memory and legacy of not only Nelson Mandela, but of my grandparents, parents, uncles and aunties, and the other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who lived through this regime, became political activists and paved the way for social change. I owe them much...
Mr ABBOTT (Warringah—Prime Minister) (21 Nov, 14:25): I do thank the member for Kennedy for his question and I appreciate his concerns, concerns which are quite general in this House, to ensure that the foreign investment Australia gets is the right foreign investment that supports our national interest, not the wrong foreign investment that does not. This government, this parliament, this nation has long supported foreign investment. Foreign investment has been a very important part of building the strong economy that we enjoy in this country.
Our agricultural industry, our mining industry, our manufacturing industry would not be what it is but for foreign investment. So we do very much support foreign investment, but it does have to be the right foreign investment, foreign investment that clearly is in our national interest, not the wrong foreign investment. We have a strong and a good process to determine which is which. We have the Foreign Investment Review Board, which makes recommendations, and we have the Treasurer, who makes decisions on this matter. I am confident that this process is being amply pursued in the case in question and I am confident that it will give our country the best possible result.
When I was studying European history as an undergraduate several decades ago, one of the truisms was that the many strategic errors of military generals could often be explained by their tendency to fight the last war again rather than the new one.
Those generals were heavily involved in the previous war, often it was the formative influence in their careers, and they has learnt the lessons of the last war very well. They understood, perhaps hoped, that this war would be a rerun of the last war, a war for which they were - now - well prepared to fight.
I have noticed in the commentary about the ALP's forthcoming decision on carbon pricing - whether to support the new government's repeal legislation - a certain resonance with the attitudes of those generals.
Most commentators seem to accept a trio of fairly dubious propositions:
1. The ALP's defeat at the last election owed a lot to the unpopularity of carbon pricing, perhaps even as Abbott suggests that the 2013 election was a referendum on carbon pricing.
2. The Australian electorate is overwhelmingly opposed to carbon pricing.
3. Thse attitudes are unlikely to change in the future.
Accepting these three propositions allows your average political pundit to project forward three years and pronounce labor dead in the water at the next election if it does not immediately 'repent'.
Even if you accept these propositions, which I don't, there is still a leap of faith required to get to the position that the 2016 election will somehow be a rerun of this year's election.
Victorious political parties, and interest groups, have a vested interest in seeing the next election as a rerun of the last triumph.
The union movement has tried repeatedly to get a redux of the 'glorious' 2007 anti-workchoices campaign off and running, with little success.
I remember the view amongst many senior labor people in 1993 was that this improbable victory had vanquished the Libs for several elections (I have heard tell that at least a few very senior Libs held the same view). Instead, Howard won in a canter in 1996. Did Keating win the 1993 election by default because Hewson was a 'scary' economic radical, a bridge too far for an electorate already scarred by labor's more circumspect embrace of neo-liberal policies.
The ALP came close to beating Howard in 1998 and hoped that its GST roll back scheme might do the trick in 2001. But the world changed, and the big new issue was Tampa and all that has followed from that.
In 2004, the big new issue was 'who do you trust on interest rates', but also 'we will determine etc.' Perhaps, the ALP contributed to its own defeat with some poor policies on health and education, and a nutjob as leader. Who knows the weight we should put on these and other factors.
The popular histories of election campaigns always look more inevitable and straightforward in hindsight than they really are.
As Tolstoy made clear in 'War and Peace', everything is a lot messier on the battlefield than the generals imagine or pretend.
These campaign accounts are invariably written by story-tellers who want to provide their audience with an appealing, coherent narrative.
Yes folks, they say, it is all simple and it all makes sense - just buy my book.
The truth is that it is very difficult to know what was decisive in the last election, or any previous election, there is always a range of issues, and perceptions about parties and leaders.
The one truism seems to be that the next election is never be just, or primarily, a rerun of the past election.
Political strategists, like military generals, should always bear that in mind.
This time round there is an even greater degree of uncertainty because the media environment is changing so rapidly - three years is a long, long time in the media these days. How many of our newspapers will be extinct by 2016?
These media changes will throw up new campaigning strategies and tactics, which will only make those popular election potboilers even more delusional.
As for all those people boldly predicting the issues the next federal election will be fought on ... its just comforting, complacent, column-filling rubbish.
I have worked in politics, public policy and strategic communications for over 30 years. I was recently awarded a doctorate in Australian politics at the University of Sydney. My thesis was on the (changing) relationship between the ALP and unions. I have been blogging since November 2003 and over the past decade I have written many articles on politics, public relations and social media for newspapers, magazines and websites. I love literature particularly John McGahern and James Joyce.
The header photo is of the Clarence River taken before dawn at Ulmarra in 2012.