An epic new film on indigenous Australia — two years in the making — will be launched in Sydney with screenings leading up to ‘Australia Day’, 26 January, at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sydney on 21, 23 and 26 January and at Redfern Community Centre on 17 January, and in Alice Springs on 25 January. Details http://www.johnpilger.com/
John Pilger, wrote in The Guardian, November 6, that “in the lucky country of Australia, apartheid is alive and kicking.” He referred to Australia’s history, to Australia’s first prime minister, Edmund Barton, who drew up the White Australia Policy in 1901. “The doctrine of the equality of man,” said Barton, “was never intended to apply” to those not British and white-skinned.
John Pilger referred to the recent six-year tenure of the deposed Labor Government’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin. During her tenure, “the number of Aboriginal people living in slums increased by almost a third, and more than half the money spent on Indigenous housing was pocketed by white contractors and a bureaucracy for which she was largely responsible. A typical, dilapidated house in an outback Indigenous community must accommodate as many as 25 people. Families, the elderly and disabled people wait years for sanitation that works.”
“I drove into the red heart of central Australia and asked Dr Janelle Trees about the “old victim brigade”. A GP whose Indigenous patients live within a few miles of $1,000-a-night resorts serving Uluru (Ayers Rock), she said: “There is asbestos in Aboriginal homes, and when somebody gets a fibre of asbestos in their lungs and develops mesothelioma, [the government] doesn’t care. When the kids have chronic infections and end up adding to these incredible statistics of Indigenous people dying of renal disease, and vulnerable to world record rates of rheumatic heart disease, nothing is done. I ask myself: why not?”
“Malnutrition is common. I wanted to give a patient an anti-inflammatory for an infection that would have been preventable if living conditions were better, but I couldn’t treat her because she didn’t have enough food to eat and couldn’t ingest the tablets. I feel sometimes … as if I’m dealing with similar conditions as the English working class at the beginning of the industrial revolution.”
“When I began filming this secret Australia 30 years ago, a global campaign was under way to end apartheid in South Africa. Having reported from South Africa, I was struck by the similarity of white supremacy and the compliance and defensiveness of liberals. Yet no international opprobrium, no boycotts, disturbed the surface of “lucky” Australia. Watch security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs; drive the short distance from the suburban barbies of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, where the tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Reynolds calls “the whispering in our hearts”.
Utopia has received critical acclaim following its release in the UK. Here are some of the reviews: