Some days…

By Legal Eagle

…you just feel disappointed in your countrymen. Like today. I happened to click on this awful little story in The Australian (reported in more detail at Perth Now):

Aboriginal Liberal candidate Ken Wyatt has got [sic] hate mail from people who say they wouldn’t have voted for him if they had known he was indigenous.

Mr Wyatt, 58, will become the first Aborigine to be elected to the federal House of Representatives if, as expected, he is officially declared the winner in the West Australian seat of Hasluck.

The upset Liberal candidate said his office had received at least 50 emails and telephone calls from angry voters who accused him of only being interested in indigenous issues, the Perth Now website reports.

Personally I think it’s a damn fine thing that it’s looking like an indigenous person has a place in the House of Reps, and I salute Mr Wyatt. I feel like writing him a letter to balance out the horrible ones. In fact, I think I’ll do that right now.


  1. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    The problem with this sort of thing is that you can never be sure who is sending the letters. Tony Winsor on Insiders this morning was saying that he’s been getting calls originating in Melbourne and Sydney from people who claim to have voted for him.

  2. Posted August 29, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, both LE’s article and SD’s comment are all too believable.

    If we think about indigenous senators, there is no indication of “only” being concerned about indigenous issues. Indeed, I cannot think of anyone, on any side of politics, who had anything but deep respect for the work of Sen. Neville Bonner (Lib). But those were days before the Hansonite epidemic of bigotry.

    From memory, the MP concerned is Lib, which suggests the hate-mail is unrelated to orchestrations by party machines organizing the technically clueless messages to Windsor.

    The first I heard about that candidate (I’m in Vic), the “first indigenous MP in the House” was in the introduction by presenters before crossing to the interview. Surely any voter in that electorate paying any attention, especially voting for the guy, would have been aware of this aspect of the man? This makes me wonder about how pathetic most voters are, not just on knowledge of candidates, but of issues. Were they voting “tribally”, unthinking party fans?

  3. Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    But those were days before the Hansonite epidemic of bigotry.

    I would be sceptical that there has been much of a surge in racist views as such. A surge in various forms of frustration, clearly: including from the use of “racist!, racist!” to try and corral public debate and exclude various concerns. One remembers Andrew Marr’s abortive attempt to popularise “egalitarian racism” (a “racist” who believe in the same policies for all) during the Hanson surge.

    Thomas Sowell said it well:

    If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.

  4. Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Or, to put it another way, there has been a certain amount of racism for 150 years or more. The noxious letters to Ken Wyatt remind us of that reality. But I do not think it is some new or worse reality compared to even 20 years ago.

  5. Posted August 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    …people who say they wouldn’t have voted for him if they had known he was indigenous….

    His photo on the election posters didn’t tell them he was indigenous?

  6. Sinclair Davidson
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    LE – I’m not doubting he was heckled – but by whom? Close election in seat and nationally with tempers running high – could be anybody.

  7. Posted August 29, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I realise this election campaign hasn’t been particularly edifying, but this incident suggests some people really do need to grow up.

  8. Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:20 am | Permalink

    If the only way to know he is indigenous is by going to a Liberal Party webpage and reading about it, then it is not difficult to see how many/most of his voters were unaware.
    How it is an after the fact issue for them is something I struggle with. It is quite a shock when confronted with cut-nose-off-to-spite-face racialism.
    However I’m with Sinclair Davidson #1, you never know just WHO is making these comments. I’ve seen some dirty tricks in the name of politics, but the ability of the ALP to hate, surpasses all others I’ve encountered.

  9. conrad
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    “I’ve seen some dirty tricks in the name of politics, but the ability of the ALP to hate, surpasses all others I’ve encountered”

    I’m not sure I’d going blaming it on a party or anyone else until you know who it is. My first bet is that it’s just a bunch of idiots with no real party affiliation.

  10. Peter Patton
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink


    Your story about that Aboriginal girl at the Law school library nearly made me cry. Perhaps I understand a little better why the universities have so many programs and scholarships specifically for indigenous students.

  11. Peter Patton
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink


    This whole story has made me suspicious right from the word go. They have the energy and resourcefulness to track down his phone number, and make such sordid phone calls after they had allegedly voted for him, but for years no idea that he was an Aborigine?

    I smell shenanigans.

  12. Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Every poster handed out carried the i.d of ken wyatt being an indigenous candidate so how could anyone not have known that he was an aborigine.
    There were some who didnt accept any posters but merely stormed in and either voted informal or voted wyatt because they hated the alp so much!!

    robert halsey

  13. TerjeP
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The first aboriginal I met was a girl in third grade. Her father later killed her. In school she was verbally attacked on a relentless basis, much of it with racist remarks, but she said some pretty mean stuff herself. Although I recall thinking that she looked attractive, and was intrigued by the fact that she didn’t always wear any knickers, I didn’t like her. I don’t recall ever saying anything racist but I do recall thinking she was some weird kind of alien that didn’t belong. The Indian kids at our school never invoked that feeling. Luckily I grew up and learnt to look at the world in a more considered way. I suppose some people don’t. LE – sorry I didn’t have your capacity for empowering disempowered people when I was 9 but I was still figuring stuff out. Besides only losers talk to girls. 🙁

  14. Posted August 31, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    re [email protected] I remember my dad, a teacher, coming home and crying, because he’d told a kid “your homework is wet and filthy, looks like it’s been done in the gutter”, and it had been, under a street light, in the rain. At least this explained other things the kid had been picked on for by other kids, and my dad put the fear of leather (he was the school’s “designated strapper” as it were) into anybody who continued the hassling.

  15. TerjeP
    Posted September 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    LE – your anecdote reminds me of a situation that is too close to home to share in a public forum. However I will say that whilst I’ve learnt over the years to demand better from people I’ve also learnt to judge people a whole lot less. I was’t born to riches but I did have a very privaledged childhood.

  16. Posted September 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    His indigenous breeding mentioned on all election posters?

    Even the stupidest of voters couldn’t have missed that. Thus it all points straight to a deliberate hate campaign.

  17. Posted September 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Conrad #10. I didn’t mean to hint that ALP members were behind a race-hate based campaign. For proper hate (including vandalism of home & physical violence) the union movement has no equal. Political parties could never compete with the unions for juvenile & twisted retribution of perceived political enemies.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by blogs of the world, John Hacking. John Hacking said: Some days…: …you just feel disappointed in your countrymen. Like today. I happened to click on this awful little s… […]

  2. […] with the conservative side of politics be seen as a traitor to his or her people. I wrote a post on Australia’s first Aboriginal MP, Ken Wyatt, who has been the subject of abuse, apparently by right wing whitefellas and also by blackfellas […]

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