Make a Difference

Tag: andrew bolt

Anita Heiss Again

This will be my last post on this subject.

I have not read Anita Heiss’s book Am I Black Enough For You?, so I cannot comment on its literary merits.

But there seems to be to be a very clear difference between those who have left negative reviews on its Amazon page, and those who have left positive reviews.

It is not clear that the writers of the negative reviews have all read the book. Some are concerned about the quality of the writing, others about politics, the hypocrisy of the title, the shutting down of any response to Anita Heiss and her arguments. Some are quite forceful. A very few contain personal criticism of Anita or other Amazon reviewers. Even fewer could be considered mildly racist, in that they appear to make assumptions about aboriginal people as a whole. But in general, the negative reviews are well-written, thoughtful, and about the book.

The five and four star reviews are not. There is very little comment about the book and its merits, and rather more discussion of what a vile person Andrew Bolt is, and how the controversy is all his fault, and anyone who wants to ask the same questions he did must be one of his trolls and a racist.

I have copied below one review and the comments which followed. They seem to me to summarise the methods of both sides of the debate.

For more, see my earlier posts on Andrew Bolt’s trial, and Anita Heiss’s book.

Miriam Dorset

Five Star Reviews Are Politically Motivated

It is simply impossible that anyone who has read this book could give it five stars, or even four. This is the second of Heiss’s books I have read. The other was Manhattan Dreaming. On the Kindle page for that book she is described as the “best-selling author of Not Meeting Mr Right and Avoiding Mr Right.” But look at the sales figures for her books. Manhattan Dreaming is ranked 258,720th. In other words, two of Heiss’s friends have read it, and me. She writes at the same level as a moderately talented high school student. Her writing style is awkward and her plots are predictable. If she were male you’d call them puerile. I didn’t review Manhattan Dreaming because when I got to the end of it I had already given it far more time than it deserved. I could not finish “Am I Black Enough for You?” It is a trivial, self-obsessed book. The book makes it clear that Heiss, not mainstream Australia, is obsessed with notions of identity.

In 2010 Heiss was awarded $90,000 by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board to produce two non-fiction books – a collection of essays and a memoir. She has no reputation as an essayist. Am I Black Enough For You? is the memoir. On the Random House website she describes the hardships she had to endure while living in Paris at tax payers’ expense:

1. WEIGHT GAIN: I had to eat an embarrassing amount of bread and cheese, macaroons, croissants and chocolate – so I could actually write about it! This meant I had to put on weight for my job.

2. SORE FEET: Paris is a city for walking. Strolling down the Champs-Elysees eyeing all the designers stores and cafes is hard on the feet, trust me, I know, I did it quite a bit! 3. FLIRTING WITH STRANGERS: Now, let me preface this by saying, I was in character! Anita Heiss would never flirt with strangers, but for the purpose of `research’ I did what needed to be done for my craft. If you are serious about your writing, you will too!

Ms Heiss has made her race a matter of public interest, because she has claimed awards and benefits on the basis of race. The public is entitled to ask whether money given in grants, awards or benefits is going to the people for whom it was intended. She, and now the Australian ABC and her publishers, Random House, have attempted to shut down any discussion of this with which she does not agree. If it were not for this controversy, I suspect this book, like her others, would be languishing at 250,000th on Kindle, and in remainder bins at any shop silly enough to have bought it.

randr says: Great review. I also have read a couple of Heiss’s books, out of curiosity only as the genre of the books she writes are not to my taste. Regardless of any other issues she is a poor writer who I suspect would not normally get a look in by any publishing company. I’m sure she has valid points to make but is not skilled or imaginative enough to do herself justice. In many ways it’s a shame that she has generated all this response as her writing doesn’t warrant it.

Simon Santoro says: It is pretty clear that anyone who answers Anita’s question the wrong way, or even wonders about whether she is entitled to the benefits she claims, is going to be labelled racist scum or worse, or described as a hater or a blind Bolter. Silly. If there are issues here – and Anita has raised them in her book’s title – why not have a sensible exchange of views without calling people names?

The real point for potential buyers is simply that this is a dud book – boring, predictable, narcissistic.

Matthew says: Simon, if you have an opinion that is informed by facts and doesn’t resort to stereotypes and generalisation, then let’s hear it.

The problem with so many of the comments here are that they’re written by people who (a) have never read the original articles (eg people who claim they just “asked questions” or “didn’t attack anybody” or refuse to accept that there were stunning inaccuracies), (b) don’t understand (or haven’t even looked at) the case and judgement against bolt (eg people who think the judge inferred things that weren’t in the articles, or that it was all subjective or that he was only found guilty because he got irrelevant things wrong or because he was rude – all false), (c) think that there are now “illegal topics” or “illegal opinions” in australia (there aren’t – not only are mainstream newspapers – including The Oz – talking about them, the judge specifically said that he wasn’t setting a precedent to prevent discussion about anything), (d) think that andrew bolt has been “silenced” in some way (god forbid!), (e) think that he has been treated unfairly because the plaintiffs wouldn’t have won a defamation suit and took the soft option (almost certainly not true, not at all) or (f) actually believe the inferences made in those articles in the first place (a very misinformed decision).

So we get angry remarks based on misinformation by people who don’t know any of the facts of the stories, the case, the law or the truth behind the articles. They make angry generalisations that try to pin blame for serious problems on a selection of aboriginal people who – purely on the basis of skin colour and what they might happen to believe about their life story – are undeserving. And these are people whom practically nobody here would have even HEARD of had they not featured in a series of bogus articles and decided not to take the abuse lying down.

So sure, if you think you’re not one of those people, and you think you’ve got the bases covered, then let’s hear it. I promise not to call you racist

Simon Santoro says: Matthew you seem to have taken up a position as permanent Amazon commenter. I don’t have that much time. I did read Bolt’s blog posts, I followed the trial with interest, and read articles from both sides of politics afterwards. I think I am reasonably well informed on the issues. I am not quite sure why you make the assumption that anyone who sees things differently from you must be either ignorant, an idiot or a racist. The simple point is that regardless of the politics, this is a tedious, self-righteous and self-obsessed book.

Mal says: That’s right folks, Miriam Dorset must be right, because all those 1 star reviews couldn’t possibly be politically motivated could they? No, of course not. Especially since they rapidly went up after a certain Mr Andrew Bolt made an issue of it on his blog. Humbug! By the way, Miriam, you and a load of others around here obviously don’t understand that free speech generally doesn’t apply to the comment pages of corporate bodies. If it did, you and I would have blogs and columns and paychecks alongside Andrew Bolt. As to this “Ms Heiss has made her race a matter of public interest, because the public is entitled to ask whether money given in grants, awards or benefits is going to the people for whom it was intended.” – No, Miriam, Mr Bolt made it an issue by not properly researching his original articles (all of which can be read), getting a judgement against him for breaching the Racial Vilification Act, and now urging his witless followers in the most craven fashion to do his bidding for him. Finally I see that you are following the herd instinct her by attacking the person rather than reading the book.

Mal says: Stop being such a troll, Simon. In this post you are quite happily involved in the very abuse you are saying others are engaged in. And you do it in such a sneaky nasty way, don’t you. All this oleaginous concern about calling people names and then your last little piece of invective.

Simon Santoro says: I have read the book. I consider it to be poorly written and of little value. How is saying so abusive? There is a difference between discussion and criticism of a book – that is what these forums are for – and hurling abuse at people who do not share your view.

Mal says: Yes and you obviously followed his coded instruction to get on here and condemn the book, Mr Troll.

Miriam Dorset says: I am sorry my review has caused so much angst.

I wanted to make two points which seemed uncontroversial to me.

First, that by any normal measure, this is not a good book, either in insights or literary merit. This cannot be contentious for anyone who has actually read the book.

Second, when taxpayers fund special benefits or awards for people of a particular race, height, hair colour or whatever, they entitled to ask whether those who receive those benefits are the people for whom they were intended. In other words, if you claim publicly funded awards because of your race, then your race becomes a matter of public interest. Again, I cannot see how this is contentious. Nor can I see why making this point should justify such rage.

It also seems odd to me that the people who are asking why race should make any difference, and suggesting awards and benefits should be offered on the basis of merit or need are being called racists, while those who demand special privileges for themselves or others on the basis of race seem to assume a moral superiority which justifies insulting anyone who disagrees.

Cameron Dale says:

Yes – thankyou. It really is that simple:

1. This is not a good book, by any standard.

2. Race is only an issue because Anita has made it one.

Mal says: 1. Whose standard? yours and miriam actually – there isn’t any agreed upon standard about what constitutes a good book.

2. Wrong – Andrew Bolt made this and issue. The books is a partial response to that.

Mal says: Interesting that the proponents of “free speech” here are doing their best to cover up the speech of people who disagree with them.

Mal says: Watch out, folks that doyen of literary taste arbiters, miriam dorset has spoken. She has said there is no literary merit in the writing – so there mustn’t be – because miriam said it, and miriam is…Actually what are your qualifications miriam?

Mal says: And quit it with the phoney apologies while you’re at it, miriam. I also not a tone of moral superiority in your last comment.

Miriam Dorset says: If you think I am wrong, Mal, please feel free to quote some passages you think are especially insightful or well-written. I am happy to be convinced.

Am I Black Enough For You?

That is the title of Anita Heiss’s new book.

Anita was one of the people who sued Andrew Bolt.

The answer to Anita’s question is “No-one cares. Call yourself what you like.”

But if you claim tax payer money on the basis of your race, then expect the tax payers to take an interest. In other words, your race only makes a difference to anyone else when you demand it should make a difference. And if you do demand that it make a difference, you have no right to complain when people ask why.

For example, $90,000 of tax payer money so you could go to Paris and write a very dull book about how you went to court to stop someone discussing the question that is the title of your book. I can understand you might want to write this. I don’t understand why I should be forced to pay for it.

Here are Anita’s comments about the burdens she faces as a writer. No, not just a writer, an aboriginal writer, since that, she says, is the whole point:

It’s not easy being a writer. If you do in fact take the research seriously, there is much to consider… here are just five of the hardships of researching in Paris:

1. WEIGHT GAIN: I had to eat an embarrassing amount of bread and cheese, macaroons, croissants and chocolate – so I could actually write about it! This meant I had to put on weight for my job.

2. SORE FEET: Paris is a city for walking. Strolling down the Champs-Elysees eyeing all the designers stores and cafes is hard on the feet, trust me, I know, I did it quite a bit!

3. FLIRTING WITH STRANGERS: Now, let me preface this by saying, I was in character! Anita Heiss would never flirt with strangers, but for the purpose of ‘research’ I did what needed to be done for my craft. If you are serious about your writing, you will too!

All at the tax payers’ expense. Can I be black too?

One of the things that makes this especially interesting is that having invited discussion on the issue of her race, Anita, her publishers and the Australian ABC have gone to great lengths to shut down any discussion. Comments have been disappeared from all those sites. Well, people answered the question the wrong way, you see.

You can still find reader comments at this Random House page (I am sure this is an oversight, and these will soon be removed), and at the Amazon page for Anita’s book.

And $18.60 for a kindle book she has already been given $90,000 to write? Sheesh!

Update. As expected Random House has pulled all comments from the page linked to above. According to the Random House website, their imprints comprise of (sic) Ballantine Books, Bantam Dell, Delacorte Press, Del Rey/Spectra, The Dial Press, ESPN Books, The Modern Library, One World, Presidio Press, Random House, Spiegel & Grau, and Villard.

Since Random House is not interested in freedom of speech, I suggest exercising the freedom you do have, and choosing not to buy their books.

Amazon is still accepting comments and reviews. Go Amazon!


Over the last weekend I thought I would give up writing this blog. It has been an interesting couple of years. Some 1200 posts, half a million words.

This Winter has been difficult. Constant personal issues involving health and family for the last five years have begun to drain my emotional energy – and it does take emotional energy to force yourself to sit down and think, I mean really think, and then write, about the issues of the day. 

The real problem has been time. There are fewer tourists, and local people have less money to spend. This has meant working longer hours to try to cover the costs of staying in business. And I do need some time just to switch off and relax, and some time for family and friends.

Maintaining Qohel was beginning to look like a very low priority.

But after yesterday’s Federal Court decision, it is increasingly important to persist, and to insist on the importance of free speech.

I find many of Tim Lambert’s blog posts offensive, both because of his personal attacks on people he disagrees with and because of his determined resistence to facts. But I still link to him, and would be very disturbed if it was seriously suggested bloggers who hold his views or write in the way he does should be forced to modify their thinking.

Democracies work because people are informed. They come to be informed through considering a variety of viewpoints and theories. Free speech is essential to effective democracy. The fewer restrictions on free speech, the better a democracy will work.

Even David Irving and Mahmoud Imanutjob have the right to speak. They cannot insist on any right to force us to listen. But forcing people to hear particular views and only those views is only a short step behind the silencing of others.

Democracy and freedom of speech are incompatible with an imagined right not to be offended. Attempts to establish such a right, and especially to give that right to particular groups, will create, and always has created, obstacles to the exchange of facts and ideas, and just as importantly, will create divisions and resentments which undermine respect and trust.

Andrew Bolt Guilty – And They’re Coming For You Next

Somehow, in the shambolic mess of Justice Bromberg’s mind, a person who says that race should make no difference, and that people should be rewarded and assisted according to their abilities and needs, is guilty of racial discrimination.

Somehow, in the blinkered hollow of Justice Bromberg’s mind, people who claim extra rights and privileges on the basis of race, which they claim to be free to determine without reference to any racial characteristics whatever, are entitled to those privileges, and any questioning of this is insulting, intimidating, discriminatory and inflammatory.

God help us.

Being Who We Are Part Two

Just a few brief thoughts.


It seems to me quite clear, at the risk of incurring judicial wrath, that Justice Bromberg would very much like to find against Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times.

There have been a few comments and questions from the bench which indicate this. For example, his remark that “It (freedom of speech) is not an unqualified right. Never has been.”

No one had said it was. Certainly Andrew’s team had made no such claim. So why make this comment?

I could be quite wrong. Justice Bromberg may genuinely intend to put aside any feelings or political values he may have or espouse, and make his judgement solely on the basis of relevant legislation and precedent.

But at very least, it is unwise for a justice, during the course of a trial, to make gratuitous remarks which could beconstrued as indicating a bias.


It is simply nonsense to suggest that public discussion of another person’s ethnicity is out of bounds because it is necessarily racial vilification.

Say I was to discover that my maternal grandmother had been a member of the Ngapuhi tribe. One of my adopted sisters is a Ngapuhi woman, and my family had lived in Northland for a long time before coming to Australia, so this is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Say I then decided on this basis that I was a Maori. I would expect some pretty merciless mocking from my mates.

If I decided to return to NZ and to claim benefits or awards on the basis of being a Ngapuhi man, I would expect that this claim would be scrutinised.

I would also expect to be able to show the basis on which my claim was made. I would not feel insulted by requests to do this.

Even I did feel insulted, that would say more about my own conceit than anything else.

There is no right under law not to be offended.


Underlying the complaint in the Bolt case, and, it seems to me in some of Justice Bromberg’s remarks, is the assumption that race is less about race than it is about identity, community and culture. Some of the comments from the complainants go as far as suggesting that anyone who does not hold this new view of race is ipso facto a racist or eugenicist.

There may be instances where it is helpful to take culture and identity into account when race is being determined.

But that is different from saying that culture, identity, community are what matter, and that actual racial background and inheritance do not. A person who is ethnically Han Chinese is still ethnically Chinese even if she was born in Australia and knows nothing of Chinese culture or language.

I would be happy to see some public discussion of this. But it would be extraordinary if people who still thought that race was primarily about race found themselves in trouble with the law because they held and expressed that opinion.

Being Who We Are

My mother’s grandfather was Norwegian. He was a very old man when I was young. He was born in the late 1800s, and was one of the last generation of merchant seaman to sail in commerical wind-powered ships.

I liked him – he let me have sugar in my tea. But even more I liked the idea that some of my ancestors might have been vikings. I remember seeing The Vikings and The Long Ships at the Kings theatre in Kawakawa. They seem remarkably violent now for a five or six year old boy to have been allowed go and see alone. But times have changed. One shilling and sixpence isn’t going to buy you a movie ticket and an icecream anymore.

So of course I had to be a viking. I had a horned hat, and conducted carefully planned raids on neighbouring fruit trees. I leapt out from behind bushes to terrify local maidens, and threatened passing dragons (cars) from my lair halfway up the bank beside the road.

If I was minded to, I could just as easily have been Welsh, or German. Germans were still a bit unpopular in the early sixties, and the Welsh, well who the heck were they? So I had to be a viking.

Now I’m just me.

My wife had just as interesting a range of choices. Both her parents have scottish ancestry. But she is also part Cherokee. About as much as I am Norwegian.

She is interested in her Cherokee heritage. but she would never claim to be Cherokee, any more than I would claim to be Norwegian. Why would we choose to ‘be’ something that is only a tiny part of our total heritage?

But some people do just that.

Let’s imagine two young people. We’ll call them the Malfoys. They are white in appearance and were raised by a European family in a comfortable home in a modern city. In early adulthood they discovered one of their relatives was aboriginal.

This makes them aboriginal, they claim. A lasting sorrow is that as they were growing up they were deprived of learning their aboriginal culture.

Later the Malfoys become so expert in aboriginal history and culture that they become teachers of it.

They do not appear to notice that growing up as aboriginal in an aboriginal community would have deprived them of learning about the European and perhaps other cultures, which are also part of their heritage. And of the educational opportunities and income which allowed them later to pursue their aboriginality.

The Malfoys might say they did not decide what to be. But in deciding to favour one tiny part of the totality of their heritage over all others, they have chosen to be aboriginal.

And fair enough. Why would I care, any more than they should care if I claimed to be Norwegian?

But if they claim special privilege at public cost because they are aboriginal, then it becomes my concern, and I and other tax payers are entitled to ask why they are favouring this tiny part of their heritage over all else.

Any claim on taxpayer money is a matter of public interest.

Some of those who have accepted prizes, awards and assistance designed to benefit aboriginal people who have suffered prejudice or disadvantage, have an appearance and family background which means they cannot possibly have suffered any such prejudice or disadvantage while growing up.

It is disingenuous to pretend to be insulted by questions about whether awards and assistance given to them is an appropriate use of funds allocated for that purpose.

Andrew Bolt and Aboriginality

Andrew Bolt will appear in the Australian Federal Court this week to face complaints made against him and the Herald and Weekly Times under Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

In 1995 provisions were introduced into that act which dealt with expressions of racial hatred. Specifically, those provisions made it illegal for a person (corporate or natural) to:

do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people, and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group.

There are some exemptions. The racial vilification page on the website of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission explains these exemptions as follows:

To protect freedom of expression, the legislation sets out certain circumstances in which the prohibition will not apply, providing the person has acted reasonably and in good faith. First, if the communication is part of an artistic work it is not unlawful. Also excepted are academic and scientific works and debates or comments on matters of public interest. This permits a range of public policy issues to be debated such as multiculturalism, native title and so on. The media are given considerable scope in a third exception which permits fair and accurate reporting on any matter of public interest. This last exception enables the media to report on public issues, such as racial incitement or racially offensive conduct. It also allows editorial opinions and the like, providing they are published without malice.

As in much legislation, this is an attempt to balance different rights which may be in conflict. In this case, the right of citizens to engage in robust discussion without fear, against the right of persons to be protected against statements likely to provoke hatred against them on the basis of their race.

Now to the specifics.

In two columns published on his blog and in the Herald Sun on April 15th 2009, and August 21st 2009, Andrew Bolt drew the public’s attention to a number of persons who had claimed benefits intended to assist indigenous Australians, but whose basis for claiming to be aboriginal was not clear. Most of those identified looked as white any full-blooded dutchman, and some had little or no identifiable aboriginal descent or heritage.

Andrew made it clear in his columns that part of his concern was that if awards intended to assist underprivileged aboriginal persons were being given to educated middle-class white people, then the persons who should have been helped by those awards were not being helped at all:

…  when a privileged white Aborigine then snaffles that extra, odds are that an underprivileged black Aborigine misses out on the very things we hoped would help them most.

Take Mellor’s art prize. This white university lecturer, with his nice Canberra studio, has by winning pushed aside real draw-in-the-dirt Aboriginal artists such as Dorothy Napangardi, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson and Walangkura Napanangka, who’d also entered and could really have used that cash and recognition.

DOES this make sense? What’s an Aboriginal art prize for, if a man as white and cosseted as Mellor can win it, and with a work that shows no real Aboriginal techniques or traditions?

What’s a black Aboriginal artist from the bush to think, seeing yet another white man lope back to the city with the goodies?

That hardly seems calculated to to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people … because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person.

Those claiming to have been offended, insulted, humiliated and intimidated are represented by Joel Zyngier from the legal firm Holding Redlich. Zyngier told The Age on Sptemeber 18 2010 that:

‘‘We see it as clarifying the issue of identity — who gets to say who is and who is not Aboriginal. Essentially, the articles by Bolt have challenged people’s identity. He’s basically arguing that the people he identified are white people pretending they’re black so they can access public benefits.’’

The argument, then, is that any discussion of who is aboriginal and who is not, except by aboriginals themselves, amounts to racial vilification. In other words, that the only persons who have the right to determine who is aboriginal and who is not, are aboriginal people and aboriginal communities. Any discussion of this by other persons is foreseeably likely to cause offence, insult or humilation, etc.

Others have pointed out that questions of aboriginal identity and entitlement have been raised before, frequently by aboriginal people.

For example, in Quadrant September 2010, Keith Windschuttle noted that:

In 2001, after the Commonwealth government announced it would tighten eligibility for the right to vote in elections for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, the head of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, Michael Mansell, declared there were “more phoney than real Aborigines in Tasmania, and more than half the voters in the 1996 ATSIC election were not Aboriginal”. According to the Canberra Times, Mansell added:

“With the coming of ATSIC, we got stuck with people trying to rort the system. Saying you’re Aboriginal is the password into ATSIC and its money. It’s happening all over Australia, though Tasmania has had one of the sharpest increases.”

This is discussion of aboriginal identity by aboriginal people, or at least, by people claiming to be aboriginal, so no one should feel offended, humiliated, or intimidated.

But let’s say that those excluded by Mr Mansell’s criteria do feel offended and humiliated. Let’s further say that they produce evidence of their aboriginality, and ask the court to overturn the decision made by Mr Mansell and his group.

This will necessarily involve the court, a whitefella organisation, in consideration of who is aboriginal and who is not.

This is a circumstance in which it would be both appropriate and necessary for non-aboriginal people to consider what constitutes aboriginality.

Are there other circmstances in which such discussion might be reasonable?

To avoid any appearance of focussing on aboriginals, imagine that the Federal government has determined that red-headed dwarves are under-represented in Australia’s sports teams, political parties, art galleries and boardrooms. It is clear that they are frequently subject to humiliating insults – rusty, ginger, shorty, runt, etc – and that they face considerable obstacles in gaining employment and recognition.

A number of measures are introduced to remedy this situation. Special benefits are offered including access to education, prizes and scholarships.

After a while, members of the public notice that some of those claiming benefits seem to be of average, even more than average height. Some even have brown hair. It is hard to imagine that these broad-shouldered six footers with chestnut curls have suffered a great deal because of their red headed dwarfiness.

But when questions are asked about this, the questioners are met with outrage, and even threats of lawsuits. It is, they are told, the exclusive province of the red headed dwarf community to determine who are its members, and who are not. Any such questions raised by others are offensive and humiliating, and dwarfist.

That might be true if the question of who was in and who was out related to events and benefits solely provided and organised by the red headed dwarf community. But it does not.

It becomes a question of public interest because public money is involved. The public has set aside money to assist members of a group which appears to be under-privileged.

Money has been taken from tax-payers and allocated for that purpose. This money could have been used elsewhere, for roads, water supply, medical equipment, etc.

The public is entitled to be reasonably confident that the persons to whom their money is given are genuinely members of the group intended to be assisted.

This is not dwarfist. Nor is it racist. Persons claiming public money on the basis of membership of a particular group should expect the public to take an interest in whether they really do belong to that group.

Andrew Bolt is entitled to ask such questions. It is in the public interest that they be asked, whether by him or others.

This does not mean he is right in every instance.

I have an aquaintance, a friend of a friend, who was the daughter of a white man and an aboriginal woman. She grew up in a remote camp, speaking only pidgin, and subject to years of sexual and physical abuse.

She escaped when she was fifteen and went to work in a pub. She learned to speak standard english. She taught herself to read and write, and eventually went to university. She is a strong, couargeous, intelligent woman. She has red hair and light coloured skin. She lives in the city.

But she identifies, because of her mother and her childhood, as aboriginal.

If anyone deserves recognition and acknowledgement it is she. But she has never accepted any special benefits, prizes or scholarships.

I suspect she would regard reliance on those things, and the sense of entitlement that they encourage, as being as much a poison, a cause of paralysis and lack of progess for indigenous people, as Jarndyce and Jarndyce was for Richard Carstone in Dicken’s Bleak House.

I also suspect (and will ask her one day) that if she had accepted some special award for aboriginals, and been among those listed in Mr Bolt’s columns, she would have rung him and talked to him, rather than ringing her lawyer.

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