So reads the headline of a three page article in the Friday 27th July 2007 Il Venerdi supplement of La Repubblica, the most widely distributed national daily newspaper in Italy (La Repubblica has an excellent website [fixed broken link, JHS]; however the supplements are print only and not available on the internet). The headline and subhead read:
“L’Australia dichara guerra agli aborigeni. Sulla base di accuse che sembrano costruite (violenza sui bambini, alcolismo) il governo manda militari << ispettori >> nei territori sacri dei nativi. Dietro ci sono le promissime elezioni, E le miniere di uranio.”
which I translate as:
“Australia declares war on the Aborigines. Based on accusations that seem made up (violence against children, alcoholism) the government sent troops ‘inspectors’ into the sacred lands of the natives. Behind this are the next elections. And the mining of uranium.”
The article covers the main points of the “Little Children are Sacred” report and goes on to say that the government’s actions are a pretext (“un cavallo diTroia”, a Trojan horse) for the final phase of a plan:
“with the excuse of reestablishing public order and preventing the sale of alcohol and pornographic materials, Howard has in effect practically imposed federal administration and annulled the pre existing laws on land rights which guaranteed a certain administrative autonomy to the Aborigines in the years after the devastating invasion of the British colonisers” [my translation]
The author, Raimondo Bultrini, points to the interests of national and international mining companies, particularly those involved in uranium mining, in such Federal intervention, along with Howard’s concerns about positioning himself for the next election, as the main causes of the government’s actions (it mentions the photos and videos used by Howard in the 2001 election).
There is a breakout box entitled “E c’e chi approfitta dei nativi pagando i loro quadri in Viagra” (And there are those who profit from the natives by paying for their pictures with Viagra) that describes the spectacular prices for some Aboriginal art, such as that by Emily Kngwarreye, in contrast to transactions in Alice Springs where bottles of rum and Viagra are the currency of exchange. The article ends on a sombre note suggesting that the uranium mining interests will far outweigh those of the Aborigines in the next election.
Postscript: Australia is also being shown in a more positive light in Rome – on Thursday night I went to an open air showing by the Tiber of “Razzle Dazzle”, a nice pseudo-documentary about kids competitive dancing. The mostly Italian audience certainly enjoyed the film and gave it a rousing round of applause at the end.