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Will to win

By Stephen Hagan - posted Monday, 19 November 2007

U. S. Army General Douglas Macarthur (1880 – 1964) once said "It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it."

Bring on the federal election – I just can’t wait!

I’ve not known any other period in my adult life where so much constructive dialogue on Indigenous issues has been entered into by leaders of government and the opposition even weeks out from a federal election.


The reason I’m excited about these developments is because our discrete cultural group, Indigenous Australians, is generally not viewed by either party has a big ticket item at election time.

If we are mentioned at all it is raised principally as negative rhetoric when politicians, bereft of original thought, insist on playing the tried and tested ‘race card’ to draw attention away from shortcomings of their term in office.

The playing of the race card was a successful ploy for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party in both federal and state government election campaigns of the ‘90s (especially in Queensland) and indeed have been used effectively by the Coalition and more judiciously by Labor when convenient.

In his address to The Sydney Institute on October 11 on the aptly titled paper “The Right Time: Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous Australians”, John Howard referred to a new alignment of ideas and individuals; a coming together of forces I have not witnessed in 32 years of public life.

Howard said a major catalyst for the new alignment is the rise of the Indigenous responsibility agenda and the intellectual firepower which a new generation of Indigenous leaders has brought to Australian politics.

I guess in many ways he is stating the obvious.


Australians of all political persuasions have heard the divergence of opinion through the media from the Indigenous right; NIC Chairperson Sue Gordon, former Labor Party President Warren Mundine and Cape York Institute Director Noel Pearson and the Indigenous left; UTS Professor Larissa Behrendt, Queensland author Sam Watson and Tasmanian lawyer Michael Mansell.

And in between our warring factions of both extremes we have a luminary of Indigenous blue and white collar professionals occupying middle ground on the Indigenous debate and who are equally keen to have their voices heard; if not publicly, then certainly within their circle of associates.

In addition we are also blessed with a luxury of riches in our ever increasing critical mass of Indigenous university educated affiliates who are eager to share their new outlook on the bigger picture for our people. In many ways their views may be dissimilar to those of the old school Indigenous right’s advocates, but nevertheless their views are equally as important in shaping our future.

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About the Author

Stephen Hagan is Editor of the National Indigenous Times, award winning author, film maker and 2006 NAIDOC Person of the Year.

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