"Canada's Traditional Learning Curve"

Transcript of article that appeared in The Courier Mail, 31st October 1997 in response to a One Nation press release.

by Peter Jull referred to by The Courier Mail as Adjunct Associate Professor, Centre of Democracy, University of Queensland."

"The 'underlying blueprint and inspiration' of native title in Australia is an indigenous land and sea claims agreement in Canada's Artic, according to Pauline Hanson.

"Nunavut, the Inuit peopled region in question, is slightly larger than Queensland and is counting down to the election of its first "parliament" in 1999. Like Canada's existing territory governments, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, Nunavut will be self-governing and closely resemble Canadian provinces or Australian states.

About 90% of Nunavut's population are Inuit, the so-called Eskimos, who retain their own language (as well as English) and live in 30 villages with no connecting roads. The National Geographic magazine, now in newsagents, has a wall map, history, article and photos of Nunavut.

"It includes an interview with John Amagoalik, the Inuit leader who envisioned and guided the Nunavut project from the early 1970s. Hanson claims I was "architect of Nunavut" and, although I am proud to have worked for it, I am not its architect.

"Hanson's words about me and her general view of Nunavut as a threat to Australia yields clues as to her source of ideas. An American-sourced extremist "newspaper" published in Melbourne in early 1995 used the same words.

"In other words while denouncing foreign influence in Australia, Hanson may be bringing in some of the least credible notions from abroad herself.

"The newspaper in question had an eight page section headed 'Aboriginal land rights - Prince Philip's indigenist plot to destroy Australia', and claimed the late Dr "Nugget" Coombs and I were working for Prince Philip to break up the country.

"The Prince's honorary role in a wildlife conservation group was "evidence" of his evil intent.

"Perhaps reference to "Crown lands" in Australian land claims deluded a naive computer nerd in the United States and they were perceived as personal holdings of Prince Philip and the royal family.

"Hanson's conclusions about new Inuit influences and Australian indigenous activism also may surprise the High Court, lawyers and other general readers, familiar with native title concepts from court cases, royal proclamations and philosophical reflections going back centuries before British settlement of Australia.

"Nunavut is not the "separate country" or "separate indigenous nation" as Hanson imagines. Inuit are "joining" Canada, not separating. Long isolated and powerless, ruled by white officials, Inuit are gaining rights as Canadians including the right to govern their region.

"One cold afternoon in 1983 in a village by Hudson Bay, a priest from Europe who had spent half a century in Nunavut told a community meeting that Inuit should insist on their ownership and sovereignty of the Artic, rejecting Canada. Amagoalik replied that Inuit had occupied the land for thousands of years but believed it better to share in Canada's future than to separate.

"Nunavut will be a startlingly different member of the Canadian federation when seated around the conference table with prime minister and premiers at the first ministers' meetings where so much Canadian policy is decided. With unique outlooks on indigenous needs, ecologically sustainable development and the perils of resource extraction, the Inuit will have much to offer Canada's jaded southern leaders.

"As for my role, years before I ever imagined living here, Australian diplomats in Canada sent visiting ministers and officials to me for briefings. I slowly was 'discovered' by those, including Coombs, looking for someone who knew about northern hemisphere indigenous politics and policies.

"Virtually all my articles, talks and interviews during the past ten years have been invited by Australians. Sharing information and enabling people to make up their minds is how modern society works. Change is driven by people picking up or transmitting information. Television, e-mail, Internet and older media drown out any person or organisation.

"I'm glad Hanson didn't know I am a disciple of the late Marshall McLuhan who coined the term "the global village". He would see today his prophecy come true: that when all inter-connected electronically we are prey to shocks, sensations or paranoia instantly, without preparation, just as foreign exchange markets, global mourning for Princess Diana and the Hanson phenomenon have illustrated."

Return to Hanson's speech in Parliament.

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