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Healthy cynicism ... deathly silence

By Graham Ring - posted Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Our economy is booming, the Prime Minister is keeping all the Bad People out of the country and the Aussies did well in the cricket. In these rosy times, checking under the bed, we discover Commies and bleeding hearts.

Those wild-eyed communists at Oxfam are all steamed up. Apparently they've kicked off a campaign arguing for an extra $450 million a year to be spent on Indigenous health.

Doubtless these do-gooders will bombard us with the usual moral guilt campaign. We'll hear all the standard stuff: 20-year gap in life-expectancy ... unconscionable rates of circulatory and respiratory problems ... kidney disease at epidemic levels ... and the rest.


Why is this country so negative? Our economy is going from strength to strength, our sporting teams are conquering the world, and our wheat board is able to negotiate profitable export deals even in the most unlikely of circumstances. Yet we are supposed to come over all maudlin because a small minority of our population are experiencing health problems.

Don't get me wrong. I care about this Aboriginal stuff as much as the next bloke. I mean, I walked across the bridge for reconciliation. Or was that Moomba?

Anyway, the point is, we'd all like things to be better but you can't have everything. Sometimes people like me, who lead comfortable lives with easy access to high quality health care, just have to put the suffering of others to one side and get on with things.

So who do these Oxfam people think they are anyway? This motley crew has been limping along for a mere 60 years. They bang on about airy-fairy stuff like “the relief of suffering arising as a result of wars or of other causes in any part of the world”. Well, that's all very nice. But what about my housing interests rates? Every quarter-percentage point rise has a drastic impact on my ability to dine at interesting restaurants, let alone keep my cellar stocked with appropriate supplies of acceptable quality reds.

To be frank, Oxfam lacks international credibility. Apart from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium and Australia, they have very little support among the economically prosperous western nations. And their well-intentioned warmth ignores some harsh realities.

Consider, for example, the crucial importance of continued surplus budgets. Everyone knows that our Standard and Pours AAA Double Plus Good credit rating must be maintained at all costs. Our very economy is at stake.


It may be that some of the folk from the non-white, non middle-class strata of our society will have to suffer a bit in the interests of the greater good. But you know the old saying: “You can't make an omelette without breaking a few lives”.

And anyway, there are other items on the government's shopping list which must be prioritised way above the fripperies of Indigenous health.

Our ageing stock of F1-11 fighter planes will have to be replaced soon, and airborne machines of death don't come cheap.

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First published in the National Indigenous Times, Issue 127, on April 19, 2007.

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About the Author

Graham Ring is an award-winning writer and a fortnightly National Indigenous Times columnist. He is based in Alice Springs.

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