Whereas The Politics of Suffering, both essay and book, found a white audience willing to embrace his conservative view of Aboriginal people, Sutton’s promotion of Aboriginal permanence in this book has likely missed the contemporary zeitgeist.
Fourteen years on, one looks back sadly at the devastation and havoc wreaked by the Intervention, with contemporary morbidity—long-term ill effects—experienced by many whom the imposed measures were supposed to heal and restore.
I can’t help but be disappointed that we find ourselves some fifty years into a Treaty movement, and in the middle of various concurrent Treaty processes, and yet we continue to lack a vision for an outcome or outcomes.
We were out in Gudanji country, a place some of us older people know well. But we didn’t know where we were. The river had gone, huge mountains of waste rock were piled high in the sky, blocking our view of The Barramundi Dreaming… We were lost in our own country.
…it seems the First Nations of Australia will be left with another empty promise that governments and mining companies, together so invested in their ongoing dispossession, will act in good faith to ‘protect’ them and their heritage. Surely nobody can reasonably believe this by now.
We communicated quickly and openly, we locked down ahead of everyone else, we ensured that holistic well-being was the centre of our responses and we treated ourselves with a dignity that we are not subject to in other areas of our Indigenous lives.
Systematic overwriting of one form of injustice with another reiterates the claim that settler law is not on the side of the First Nations. The innate unfairness in the system begets greater injustice by weighing economic interests against Indigenous rights that are incommensurable.
In nearly all cases where states require associations of traditional connection to be publicly performed in order to be recognised, the persons called upon and authorised to perform them have had their associations fractured by colonial dispossession.
It is no longer an overworked, under-resourced and at times chaotic legal system. It is now not fit for purpose and has become a depraved jailing machine consuming Aboriginal men, women and children at an ever-increasing rate.