‘Every child deserves a mum and a dad.’ ‘Every child has a right to their biological parents.’ ‘What about the children?’ ‘What about the rights of the child?’
I kept hearing this rhetoric repeated again and again by the No campaign. Biological family was inalienable, a birthright with which the State should not interfere, an entitlement beyond the reach of social engineering.
Even as a conservative myself, I find this position a bit basic. It’s certainly not historically how our society has operated. For all the dodgy studies trying to convince us that there is something essential that a person gets through a relationship with a biological mother and biological father, there is the obvious preference that people have stability and certainty. People will love each other and bring children into their family units; it would be preferable that this unit be as stable as possible regardless of the gendered accidents of the people involved.
Australia has not had the greatest history of protecting families. Even recently, rules have changed on family visas making it harder to reunite families in Australia.
But perhaps the worst example of this attitude towards families was the genocidal attack on Australia’s Indigenous culture through what would become known as the Stolen Generations. For all this rhetoric about the need to preserve family units, we should expect that the loudest voices behind the No campaign are also the most outspoken about the atrocity of forcibly destroying family units.
Lyle Shelton, Director of the Australian Christian Lobby
Same-sex marriage requires breaking the primal bond between a mother and her baby. That is just a fact. Stolen indigenous children were regrettably removed from their mothers and fathers and on the whole placed in loving families. Love was not the issue. This should be allowed to be discussed.
Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister
Abbott has high praise for Windschuttle, saying he’s “a breath of fresh air in this whole area”. But people were stolen, weren’t they? “I’ve met people . . . lots of people, who left their families for all sorts of reasons. ‘Stolen generations’ is a morally loaded phrase.”
“Left” their families? You don’t accept people were taken?
“Well, I suspect in some cases, yes, but the story is not quite as one-sided as some people would make out.”
Eric Abetz, Liberal Party Senator for Tasmania
For an example of how Sir Ronald Wilson, in the Bringing them home report, got it so embarrassingly wrong, I would refer people to page 18 of Senator Herron’s submission. In the Bringing them home report, a lady, Joy Williams, was cited as being a typical stolen child. Her case was used by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission as one of the examples of a stolen child. The whole criticism of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s methodology was that none of the alleged evidence had, in fact, been tested. Were the stories that were being told in fact capable of substantiation?
Senator O’Brien —You don’t want to cross-examine her, do you?
Senator ABETZ —And Senator O’Brien said, `Did you want to cross-examine?’ Well, isn’t it interesting? Ms Joy Williams’s case came before the Supreme Court of New South Wales and it recently found that Williams, who it was alleged had been taken from her mother, had in fact been voluntarily placed into care by her mother. That is the finding of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Are we going to be told by the Labor Party that that judicial body is racist, that somehow it has deliberately turned and twisted the facts to come to this conclusion? Of course they cannot, because they rely on the same judiciary—as we do—that delivered the cases on Mabo, Wik and other issues. But this is just one example—albeit a very good and glaring one—of where a well-motivated and undoubtedly sincere Sir Ronald Wilson just accepted chapter and verse a tale which, when it was scrutinised, was found to be completely without foundation. Ms Williams is now referred to as one of the stolen generation; in fact, she was voluntarily handed over by her mother.
There are other cases. The Gunner case is another and the Cubillo case is another. The Wilson inquiry never sought to take evidence from people who were in charge of the policies of the time. They are still alive. Indeed, there are hundreds and thousands of children in this country whose parents were involved in the policies of the time and who are now having their parents labelled as being akin to SS officers perpetrating the horrors of the Holocaust. I can tell you that not a single person involved in the SS would ever have said that the treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust was somehow designed for the benefit of the Jewish people. That would never have been asserted. Yet there are very genuine Australians whose parents were involved in the welfare policies of the time, which were accepted on a bipartisan basis and on the basis of the social views of the time, and they were genuine and well motivated. The Australian Labor Party seeks to tag all our fellow Australians who were involved in those policies—policies, might I add, that applied equally to white, unmarried single mothers.
Cory Bernardi, Senator for South Australia
Another SA Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi opened his contribution by stating that “I do not feel any sense of guilt for what has happened during Australia’s brief history.”
“When I was 14, I was set upon by a gang of aboriginal youths for daring to be on “their land”, which happened to be Glenelg Beach in South Australia. Their violence went unpunished because I was told by the police that “nothing would happen to them because they are aboriginal,’’ he told Parliament.
“As a publican, I remember rescuing an aboriginal woman from a savage attack in the street by her husband. After providing her sanctuary, a group of “elders” then told me that unless I told her to leave they would “destroy my hotel”.
Andrew Bolt, News Corp columnist
SOUTH Australia seems set to become the second state to compensate “stolen generations” members — with few questions asked. The Liberals, Greens and Family First say that next week they will vote for a plan to give up to $50,000 to any Aborigines forcibly taken from their families. But no claimant will have to prove they were indeed stolen just for racist reasons — which does not surprise me. As the courts and the first compensation scheme, in Tasmania, have helped confirm, the “stolen generations” is, I’ve often argued, a myth.