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Australian Aborigines and justice, some thoughts

At one time or another my opinions on matters relating to Australian Aborigines (Australia's First Nations Peoples, if you prefer) have been misunderstood. In this page I hope to clarify where I stand.

This page was written 2019/11/01
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©
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Aboriginal DNA

I would be pleased to be corrected if I am wrong, but so far as I have been able to find out, at the present (November 2019) it is not possible to reliably prove or disprove aboriginal genetic inheritance in anything like all cases. See Genetic testing and Aboriginality, Australian Law Reform Commission.

I note too, that Ancestrydna.com.au, one of the more popular sites for looking into genetic inheritance, does not list Australian genetic ancestry under its list of "more than 1000 regions around the world" (click on 'See all regions' on the Ancestrydna page).


A can of worms

If Aborigines were to receive additional preferential treatment, recognition in the Constitution or special treatment under a treaty, surely there should be some qualifications placed on who can validly call themselves Aboriginal. There are many people at present claiming to be Aboriginal who do not appear remotely Aboriginal, but I'm told that questioning these people's claim to Aboriginality is "incredibly offensive".

I wonder too how those who are clearly Aboriginal think about the 'white Aborigines' who often speak for all?

Such questions as these are politically incorrect, I ask them not to be offensive, but because they need to be asked – and answered.

Australian Aborigines were treated badly, unjustly, by European settlers; no doubt about it. But that was many years ago, injustices done by people who are long gone to people who are long gone. Do non Aboriginal people now living owe reparations to Aboriginal people now living? Is it justice to hold 'the sons responsible for the sins of the fathers'? I don't think so.

Of course any Aboriginal person now living who has been treated unjustly, like any other person who has been treated unjustly, deserve justice and should have justice. However, it is not fair to burden innocent people, either through taxes or relatively reduced services, because their ancestors may or may not have been guilty of crimes against Aboriginal people. And to indiscriminately give preference to people who claim membership of another racial group when the individuals involved may not have suffered any injustice at all is not ethically justifiable either.

Is it ever right to treat people differently based on their 'race'? (But then we are told that race is an outdated concept; that is another matter entirely.)

My ancestors were oppressed by the English establishment, particularly the upper class. Do the descendants of the English upper class of my great-great-grandparents’ time owe me compensation? At the time of the Irish potato famine the Irish tenant farmers were treated abominably by the English landowners. Do the descendants of the landowners owe reparations to the descendants of the tenant farmers? Or do all English owe reparations to all Irish?

Going back to Australia, if there is to be compensation or reparation paid to Aborigines, who should pay it? I have European Australian ancestry going back at least five generations. Should I be held more responsible than my wife, who was born in the USA? Who should receive reparations? All people who claim some Aboriginality, even if to all appearances the person concerned is 'white'?

Isn't the only fair system to give everybody equal rights? Give everybody justice? Treat everybody according to their needs?

Aboriginal representative body in government or a treaty in the Australian Constitution

I find it impossible to see how such things could be done fairly to everybody (or even to most people) and meaningfully.

For a start, how would you decide who is an aboriginal person and who is not? This would have to be done but it would be impossible to do in a way that would please many people. At the present it seems that anybody who chooses to be called Aboriginal has the right to be called Aboriginal.

Beliefs held with a lack of supporting evidence; delusions

I have heavily criticised all beliefs that are held without supporting evidence, be they religious, be they 'super powers' such as water divining or just delusions in general. I once said that the Aboriginal belief that climbing Ayre's Rock (Uluru) would offend the spirits was a delusion and I was called a racist for doing so.

Can one criticise 'white' people's unfounded beliefs, but not equally ill-informed beliefs if they are held by Aborigines?

Related pages

On this site...


Contribution; what do various people contribute to society?


Mateship; virtue or vice

A treaty with Australia's Aboriginal people

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