Black fella White fella

Posted on January 31, 2013


When I was a journalist at Imparja TV in Alice Springs in 1994 and 1995, my news director spoke to me one day. He’d been in a meeting with Imparja’s General Manager Neville Perkins. He’d had feedback from influential Aboriginal women that they were very happy with a story I’d done.
The story was from an event at Arlwekere, a birth centre for Aboriginal women just outside of Alice Springs. A lot of influential women were there. I’d gone with an Aboriginal cameraman, taken vision and done interviews. I put them together, wrote a script and had the Aboriginal newsreader Jody Kopp do the voice over. It was good because it was a reflection of the event, it was about Aboriginal women and I’d left myself out of the story. I had no desire to have my voice or face on TV, I saw it as my job to present Aboriginal people on an Aboriginal-owned TV station. Once some friends from CAAMA were concerned that they never saw me and I told them it was not about me.
In contrast, another journalist came to work there from ‘down south’ and she was doing pieces to camera in every story. It was about her. Everyone cringed.
I’m saying this to try to explain a few things. Back then Paul Keating was Prime Minister and he was adored. If he’d got back in government he would have made himself Minister for Indigenous Affairs. He didn’t, and since then everything has gone badly downhill, look at the statistics after the Intervention and Stronger Futures were implemented.
I used to interview the Labor MP Warren Snowdon often, he was fine, and he had great people above him, Paul Keating and Robert Tickner.
I often interviewed the chairman of the Central Land Council, Tracker Tilmouth. Tracker always made me laugh, he had a way of saying things which put the truth of politics in a humorous way.
With all the drama about Nova Peris being put into pre-selection to be the first Aboriginal woman in Federal parliament as a senator, I’ve had a look at the situation that brought this about and I’ve got some unanswered questions.
Tracker Tilmouth tried to be pre-selected as a Federal candidate for the Labor Party and had Warren Snowdon’s support. It says that the Darwin part of the NT Labor Party voted for Trish Crossin instead. I have no knowledge of the internal machinations of the NT Labor Party. My question is, why?
The statistics for Aboriginal people in the NT have gone from bad to worse.
I believe that Aboriginal people need Aboriginal role models, to be an example of what to look up to.
Others can look to them and think,
“Look, he or she doesn’t drink much alcohol, he or she has a good job, he or she is articulate and I can be too. I’m going to be!”
I was in Darwin and travelled to Kakadu, Litchfield National Park and Katherine in 2012. I love sharing the supermarket with cowboys and countrymen, stocking up on tins, long life food and replenishing tea supplies.
On a bus in Darwin I met a countryman from Port Keats and Kununurra/Broome. When we got off the bus we sat on a bench in a bus stop talking. I asked him about The Intervention.
“I chucked that Basics Card at Centrelink. I said, ‘You mob can have it. Stupid, stupid. I chucked it at them, ‘you can have it. You don’t have to give me Basics Card, you can have it.’
“St Vincent de Paul at Stuart Park fed me up. I go fishing.”
He burst into song word-for-word ‘Big Isle of the North’ by Slim Dusty.
‘You can catch em barramundi.’
Is it time for whitefellas to step aside and empower blackfellas to lead themselves?