Friday, February 19, 2021

ABC reporting misrepresents facts about Mt Warning Closure

UPDATED SBS report is worse! see below
Update 20/2/2021 Correction to misleading headine requested

On February I made a press announcement about the release of documents obtained through FOI/GIPA from the National Parks and Wildlife Service about the closure of the Mt Warning/Wollumbin National Park and its famous summit walk. The documents were posted to my Right to Climb blog. 
On 17 February I was interviewed by ABC North Coast Radio's Bruce MacKenzie about the documents. 
I felt it was a good interview I got to talk about the main findings of the release that revealed the following:
A "Final Wollumbin Closure Event" planned for 25 November 2022 and show NPWS have NO intention of re-opening the park to the public before that time. It’s clear the permanent closure has been planned for many years.
Public information released about the safety issues on the Mountain by National Parks has a critical mistake. The Service have claimed there are "extreme" and "catastrophic" risks on the mountain from landslides and other hazards but the FOI documents show these are in error and these hazards are assigned a "medium" risk in Parks own safety assessment. For the hazards listed the risk is similar to other Grade 4-5 bushwalks in the state that are currently open. 
The medium risk conflicts with a slope stability assessment completed by geotechnical experts in 2018 that found risks to visitors from possible landslides and rockfalls in the park are very low, effectively lower than traveling anywhere by train in Australia. 
Consultations NPWS have had with Aboriginal groups have not included or considered and paid respect to the diverse range of indigenous opinions, about Mt Warning some of which actually encourage climbing. NPWS have an obligation under the National Parks Act to take the views of owners into account. The area of Mt Warning is the traditional area of the Ngarakwal/Nganduwal peoples.  -  not the Bundjalung who are a merger  or various other northern NSW tribal groups. In an interview in 2007 before she died Ngaraakwal elder and Mount Warning custodian Marlene Boyd. Stated  "I do not oppose the public climbing of Mt Warning - how can the public experience the spiritual significance of this land if they do not climb the summit and witness creation!" What a wonderful inspirational message that is! It is such a joyous affirmation of the awe and wonder we all experience when we connect with nature and the natural world, and it is outrageous that her views have been ignored by NPWS.

Once again I made the mistake of not making my own recording. But I have requested a copy from the journalist involved and will post it here when (if) I receive it. 

ABC North Coast Radio provided radio coverage about the pending permanent ban on the park on the Breakfast show on the morning of the 18th of February. I was listening via the internet and recorded what was broadcast (you can listen to it HERE). The interview was truncated about halfway through just prior to my mention of the views of Ngaraakwal/Nganduwal  elder and Mount Warning custodian Marlene Boyd. I called the talkback switch and was told by ABC's producer that it was cut because ABC were unable to obtain an interview with local Bundjalung elders. 

Marlene's views are highly important because they demonstrate conclusively there are a range of Aboriginal views about the summit walk. NPWS are obligated to take these views into account in accordance with the Act.

Mt Warning is being closed because NSW NPWS have not properly consulted with the Aboriginal Group recognized as the custodian of the central part of the caldera. Instead for many years, it has promulgated the false narrative of the so-called Bundjalung Nation and ignored and discriminated against the views of elders like the late Marlene Boyd. FOI documents reveal her views have not been considered. Instead of exposing NPWS for their failure to meet its obligations under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 No 80 section 30K, ABC censored the views of this amazing woman who according to her brother "died of a stress induced heart attack fighting these scandals." (Nice going ABC!)

If that was not bad enough, in its online report about the FOI documents ABC failed to mention the clear errors in NPWS risk information (see graphic below) and it further insulted the memory of Marlene Boyd by discriminating against her and only mentioning the views of the Bundjalung Nation. 

The consequence of the poor reporting is that ABC, like NPWS have misrepresented the facts about Mt Warning and in doing so have misled the public about the diversity of Aboriginal opinions about the summit walk and insulted the memory of a strong Indigenous woman. Shame on the ABC! They have also mislead the public about the true nature of safety issues on the summit in not providing coverage for my findings in their online report. 

ABC has breached elements of its editorial policy namely:4 Impartiality and diversity of perspectives

It has only provided the Bundjalung view about the climb and not reported that there are a diversity of Aboriginal perspectives including some that are supportive of public access to Mt Warning's summit. 

ABC has not reported on the errors in NPWS risk assessment. 

In my complaint I have requested ABC correct its online report to:
1. include the views of Marlene Boyd to provide balance to the Aboriginal opinions reported about the summit climb.  
2. Indicate NPWS have made an error in providing safety information about the park.

NPWS erroneous risk assessment

No doubt ABC's complaints unit will ignore this clear failure and sweep it under the sand like it normally does. Will update when I get a reply.

Update 2 20/2/2021 This correction to ABC's misleading headline requested.
Further to my complaint Reference Number C3345-21 please note a factual error that requires correction. The headline reads "Wollumbin National Park summit, formerly known as Mount Warning, could be closed permanently"

The name "Mount Warning" is still current. The feature is dual named. 
refer to NSW Geographic names board:

https://proposals.gnb.nsw.gov.au/public/geonames/caffbc27-34bf-4479-8d09-5266f2709bef

Please amend the headline and article to reflect the name Mt Warning is still in current use. 

From NSW government Gazette 20/2/2006
GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES ACT 1966 PURSUANT to the provisions of section 10 of the Geographical Names Act 1966, the Geographical Names Board has this day assigned the names “Mount Warning” and “Wollumbin” as dual names for a mountain situated about 6 km W by N of the town of Uki and approximately 14 km WSW of Murwillumbah which has been previously named and known as “Mount Warning”. Both names will be entered into the Geographical Names Register as dual names and neither name will have precedence over the other. The position and extents for this feature is recorded and shown within the Geographical Names Register of New South Wales. This information can be accessed through the Boards Web Site at www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/geog/. WARWICK WATKINS, Chairperson

UPDATE SBS have also had a go at misinforming the public. I fired off a complaint this afternoon....

I made a press announcement about the release of documents obtained through FOI/GIPA from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service about the closure of the Mt Warning/Wollumbin National Park and its famous summit walk. The documents were posted to my Right to Climb blog. The post may be accessed via this link: http://righttoclimb.blogspot.com/2021/02/foi-bombshell-permanent-ban-on-mt.html
The main findings of the release included:
• A "Final Wollumbin Closure Event" planned for 25 November 2022 and show NPWS have NO intention of re-opening the park to the public before that time. It’s clear the permanent closure has been planned for many years.
• Public information released about the safety issues on the Mountain by National Parks has a critical mistake. The Service have claimed there are "extreme" and "catastrophic" risks on the mountain from landslides and other hazards but the FOI documents show these are in error and these hazards are assigned a "medium" risk in Parks own safety assessment. For the hazards listed the risk is similar to other Grade 4-5 bushwalks in the state that are currently open.
• The medium risk conflicts with a slope stability assessment completed by geotechnical experts in 2018 that found risks to visitors from possible landslides and rockfalls in the park are very low, effectively lower than traveling anywhere by train in Australia.
• Consultations NPWS have had with Aboriginal groups have not included or considered and paid respect to the diverse range of indigenous opinions, about Mt Warning some of which actually encourage climbing. NPWS have an obligation under the National Parks Act to take the views of owners into account. The area of Mt Warning is the traditional area of the Ngarakwal/Nganduwal peoples. - not the Bundjalung who are a merger or various other northern NSW tribal groups. In an interview in 2007 before she died Ngaraakwal elder and Mount Warning custodian Marlene Boyd. Stated "I do not oppose the public climbing of Mt Warning - how can the public experience the spiritual significance of this land if they do not climb the summit and witness creation!" What a wonderful inspirational message that is! It is such a joyous affirmation of the awe and wonder we all experience when we connect with nature and the natural world, and it is outrageous that her views have been ignored by NPWS.

These points were listed in press release sent to SBS news. 

On 18 FEB 2021 - 10:50AM SBS posted the following story to its website: Wollumbin could permanently close to climbers, documents reveal, by Reporter Shaman Shad

https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2021/02/18/wollumbin-could-permanently-close-climbers-documents-reveal

SBS's report is heavily one sided, unbalanced, lacks a diversity of views, and fails to cover major parts of the story related to NPWS' erroneous safety message and most shamefully censors the views of a deceased Aboriginal woman.

The report fails to mention and effectively censors the views of the Late Marlene Boyd. Marlene was Marlene was a Ngaraakwal elder and Mount Warning custodian. In a 2007 interview quoted in the press release she stated: "I do not oppose the public climbing of Mt Warning - how can the public experience the spiritual significance of this land if they do not climb the summit and witness creation!" It is to ABC'S great shame that they censored her voice and only provided one viewpoint about Aboriginal perspectives about the Mt Warning summit walk. The reporter would have been well and truly aware of Marlene's views as they were included in the press release 

The report also fails to cover the errors in NPWS' safety classification.

The report fails to correctly mention the source of the documents and fails to accurately acknowledge the "Right To Climb blog".

This is perhaps one of the worst pieces of journalism I have seen and I have been reading and contributing to the press for 40 years. 

The absence of any mention of the views of Marlene Boyd is a total disgrace. I do not know why your reporter has decided to discriminate against the legitimate views of a dead Aboriginal woman. If there was a Walkley for poor reporting she has won it.

To rectify the issue:

  • SBS to apologize to the family of Marlene Boyd
  • Correct the news story by including Marlene's wonderful message "I do not oppose the public climbing of Mt Warning - how can the public experience the spiritual significance of this land if they do not climb the summit and witness creation!"
  • Accurately report on the errors NPWS have made in classifying hazards in the park. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

SBS climbing story was rubbish

SBS are as bad as ABC when it comes to bias misrepresentation and poor appreciation of the facts. Last year they ran a pile of utter rubbish, poorly researched piece of propaganda about rock climbing at Nowra. Our complaint was a little too late to be considered.

Here's the reply:

Dear Marc

Your recent complaint to SBS (ticket number: 136495) does not fulfil the requirements of a code complaint under the SBS Codes of Practice.

According to Code 9 (Comments and Complaints About SBS Content), code complaints must be received within 6 weeks of the date of broadcast/publication of the relevant SBS content. Your complaint was received more than 6 weeks after The Point report that concerned you was broadcast and published on 29 October 2020.

As a result, your complaint will not be formally investigated on this occasion.

A copy of your concerns has been passed on to the relevant SBS division as feedback for their information.

Thank you for making your concerns known to us.

Yours sincerely
Alison Angles
Researcher for the SBS Ombudsman


Here's the Australian Climbing Association of NSW reply to SBS's error-laden story....

This statement aims to correct factual errors in the SBS NITV story and inform the wider climbing community about what work is being done to maintain respectful access to this climbing area. It should be being sold as a good news story but that is not the angle that SBS NITV decided to take.

Six weeks prior to this story being published we were informed by climbers at Thompson’s Point that SBS NITV had been filming a story there. These climbers were alarmed at the ambush style interviews and the questions being asked of them without context. We approached SBS NITV immediately as we felt it likely from the nature of questioning that climbers were being unwillingly co-opted into a trope of ignorant climbers damaging Aboriginal culture and the environment. We were concerned that SBS NITV would not provide fair and balanced reporting. We provided information to counteract this image. This information has been totally ignored. We shall be making a formal complaint to the SBS ombudsman, and to the media regulatory body, ACMA.
Read the rest via this LINK and please send a complaint to ACMA and your local member if in NSW.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Stuffed emu: how ABC education fails to educate

Stuffed emu: how ABC education fails to educate

Peter O'Brien has an excellent article on Quadrant (Bruce Pascoe’s Whoppers: In a Class of Their Own)  dealing with ABC Education's deeply flawed web presentation featuring Bruce Pascoe and his book Dark Emu. Peter mentions the addition of a note on that page that reads: 
Note also that since 2019, Pascoe’s work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don’t agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.

The text below provides some insight into how that note came about....


ABC have a statutory responsibility under their charter and editorial policies to ensure their output is impartial and reflects a diversity of views. The aim being to "equip audiences to make up their own minds".

On a number of topics ABC has demonstrably failed to live up to this principle and the message is less about providing the public with a range of views so they are able to judge for themselves and more about the ABC preaching their own views and their own opinions regardless of the facts and evidence. The tale of the stuffed emu outlined below is another example of that failure. This time it involves a site developed by ABC education that promotes one man's point of view about Australian history while ignoring errors in that view and failing to provide an alternate perspective supported by the historical evidence.

ABC picks and chooses where it follows its editorial guidelines. One area where the public must insist the principles are followed is on its education site.

Stuffed emu

ABC education note: Note also that since 2019, Pascoe's work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don't agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.

Bruce Pascoe is a writer and claims to be an Aboriginal man with links to a number of Aboriginal communities. His claims of Aboriginal heritage have been challenged by members of those communities and a genological study was unable to find any evidence of Pascoe's Aboriginal past. He has thus far failed to provide any answers to the serious questions raised about his claims. In a letter (see below) published by the Koori Mail on 20 April 2011 Pascoe himself highlighted issues with non-Aboriginal writers entering literary prizes reserved for Aboriginal writers without sufficient proof of identity. He indicated that even a "statutory declaration was not sufficient proof of identity".  We leave readers to make up their own minds about the strength of Pascoe's claims and the morality of his receipt of various writing awards and other prizes reserved for people with Aboriginal heritage.
From Koori Mail 20 April 2011


In 2014 Pascoe published Dark Emu: Black seeds: agriculture or accident?. The book is essentially Pascoe's interpretation of early explorer's accounts of interactions with Aboriginal peoples. Pascoe believes his version of those accounts provides evidence that Aboriginal people should not be viewed as Hunter-Gatherers but as settled farmers who used sophisticated agricultural methods. 
The book won a number of awards most notably in context with the information above, the NSW Premier's Literary Awards: Book of the Year and the Indigenous Writers' Prize, but it took some time for Pascoe's views to be challenged. It took a while for someone to check those historical sources but when they did they found Pascoe's interpretation of the explorer's journals to be deeply flawed. The most comprehensive challenge came in late 2019 from writer Peter O'Brien who published "Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu". The book is described thus:
"Bitter Harvest is a comprehensive appraisal of Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu. Pascoe postulates that, rather than being a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, Australian Aborigines were actually sedentary agriculturalists with ‘skills superior to those of the white colonisers who took their land and despoiled it’. Dark Emu has enjoyed extraordinary public and critical acclaim, winning Premier’s literary awards in New South Wales and named Book of the Year. Professor Marcia Langton called it ‘the most important book on Australia’. Its ideas have already been taken up in school texts and the ABC is producing a documentary series about it.

But nothing in Dark Emu justifies its success. Bitter Harvest is a forensic but highly readable examination which reveals that Bruce Pascoe omits, distorts or mischaracterises important information to such an extent that, as purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another."



In May 2019 ABC education released a "digibook" featuring Bruce Pascoe discussing concepts from his book. The "digibook" is intended for use by schools and is directed at school children studying Australian History. The digibook draws heavily from Dark Emu. Like much of ABC's content the site went largely unnoticed until late 2019 when media drew attention to extensive criticism of Pascoe's work. 



A complaint is raised:
Having read both Dark Emu and Bitter Harvest and looked over ABC Education's Digibook we were concerned children viewing the page would be critically misinformed and on 13 November 2019 we raised a complaint to the ABC about the content and failure to follow ABC editorial guidelines with respect to factual content and diversity of views: 

Subject: Factual errors and omissions in ABC education piece about Bruce Pascoe

Comments: ABC education are promoting the work of Bruce Pascoe's "Dark Emu" but there appear to be significant factual errors in Pascoe's past and his story that would result in the intended school age audience being critically misinformed. Revelations about Bruce Pascoe's ancestry on the Bolt Report 12/11/2019 cast doubt on Pascoe's claimed Aboriginal ancestry which has a major bearing on claims he makes in the videos and his credibility as an indigenous writer. Fact checking of Pascoe's book "Dark Emu" from various sources including by writer Peter O’Brien in his book "Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu", by Quadrant Books need to be considered by ABC and properly addressed. O'Brien writes: “Almost every significant claim that Pascoe makes that is sourced, turns out to be either false or misrepresented. As purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another.”

ABC have a responsibility under its editorial policies to provide factual information. It is currently promoting a work that is "worthless". It is clear that facts concerning Pascoe and his book are lacking and ABC need to correct the information.

We got the following reply from ABC sent 20 December 2019, but only received by us on 29 January owing to it ending up in our spam folder: 

With regard to your contact of 13 November, this was assessed as not requiring a response; it is general in nature and does not identify or reference any specific aspects of the ABC content to support the view that there are inaccuracies and omissions. Should you wish to resubmit your complaint, please indicate which editorial standards (https://edpols.abc.net.au/policies/) you believe to be relevant to your complaint, and why you believe the content failed to meet those standards – with examples from the content.

Your comments regarding a forthcoming ABC documentary are noted; Audience and Consumer Affairs investigates complaints regarding content that has been broadcast or published.

Yours sincerely

Denise Musto
Investigations Manager
Audience and Consumer Affairs

In light of Ms Musto's request to resubmit our complaint with more information, we submitted a 13 page letter dealing with specific issues with the content of the website (content is provided below) on 5 March 2020.

Ms Musto replied on 1 May 2020 with the following:

Thank you for your complaint regarding the ABC Education resource Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity. I apologise for the delay in responding.

Your concerns have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards: https://edpols.abc.net.au/policies/   

In essence, your complaint asks Audience and Consumer Affairs to make a determination on the accuracy of Dark Emu, in response to criticism of it and Bruce Pascoe by Peter O’Brien and others, including the Dark Emu Exposed website.  While noting your concerns,  Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the substantial investigation you seek is not warranted and nor is it a proportionate use of the ABC’s complaint handling resources for the following reasons:

  • This ABC Education resource has been available online since May 2019; as you would be aware, Audience and Consumer Affairs do not generally accept complaints for investigation which are received more than six weeks after broadcast or publication of the content in question.  You have not provided any reasons for the delay in submitting your complaint.  Nonetheless, we accept that since this resource was published, there has been some criticism of Dark Emu, and in light of this and in good faith we have broadly considered the matters you raise.  

  • This resource is based on the acclaimed, award-winning book Dark Emu by author Bruce Pascoe.  Since its initial publication in 2014, the book has been generally well-received, as evidenced by the number of awards it won or was shortlisted for, as well as numerous positive reviews in the media and in academic journals. It was selected as the inaugural book for the Parliamentary Book Club and has been praised by politicians and other public figures. We are advised by ABC Education that Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity was produced for a number of reasons: the unit received a number of requests for a resource to be developed based on the book; the children’s version Young Dark Emu is being used in some classrooms; and more broadly there is a high demand from their audience for Indigenous history resources.  Given these facts, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that Dark Emu is a credible and appropriate subject for an ABC Education resource.  

  • Audience and Consumer Affairs is aware that since 2019, Dark Emu has been the subject of some sustained criticism from a range of mostly non-expert sources, much of it relating to the accuracy of Dark Emu and Bruce Pascoe’s interpretation of sources.   Given this somewhat persistent criticism, we have viewed the fact checking documentation undertaken by ABC Education for this resource, which demonstrates that reasonable efforts were made to ensure accuracy. We have also considered the context in which this resource is presented.  Following receipt of your complaint, we note that ABC Education have updated the prologue to Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity to appropriately include this information:  Note also that since 2019, Pascoe's work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don't agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources.  The presentation of this module, as the name suggests, prominently features Bruce Pascoe and it is clear that he is presenting an alternative viewpoint, underpinned by research, which challenges the belief that Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers.  The ABC’s Editorial Policies allow for this point-of-view style of presentation. 

While we have declined to further investigate your complaint, please be assured that your concerns are noted and have been made available to ABC Education.  Thank you again for writing to us.

Yours sincerely

Denise Musto
Investigations Manager
Audience and Consumer Affairs


Once again ABC's minions thumb their noses at their charter and editorial guidelines, ignoring the historical evidence and promote their own warped world views. 

We understand production of a new documentary featuring Bruce Pascoe is in progress readers are encouraged to watch and see if it meets ABC's policies with respect to facts and diversity of viewpoints and if not direct your complaints to this site: ABC Complaints.


Complaint #2

Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity
Errors, misrepresentations and omissions
Text from ABC education site in numbered italics and issues identified listed below each.
Summary
The ABC Education website Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity
breaches ABC’s editorial code for:
Accuracy
Includes errors of fact and false and misleading information
Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
Does not provide for facts presented by experts that demonstrate Pascoe is in error. This is particularly egregious considering the presentation is for school children.
Recommendations
Remove site from ABC Education, or provide room for alternate views.
Specific issues
The section below provides commentary on the text of the website detailed specific issues. It is broken down into chapters on the website.
Prologue
1. Bruce examined the journals of the early explorers and found evidence of a complex civilisation that was using sophisticated technologies to live, farm and manage the land.
Pascoe’s book has been thoroughly debunked by Peter O’Brien’s Bitter Harvest and the Dark Emu exposed website. His work also called into question by prominent academics and other writers. Students using the ABC education website should be informed of the controversy concerning Pascoe’s book.
Bitter Harvest: The illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu
Bitter Harvest is a comprehensive appraisal of Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu. Pascoe postulates that, rather than being a nomadic hunter-gatherer society, Australian Aborigines were actually sedentary agriculturalists with ‘skills superior to those of the white colonisers who took their land and despoiled it’. Dark Emu has enjoyed extraordinary public and critical acclaim, winning Premier’s literary awards in New South Wales and named Book of the Year. Professor Marcia Langton called it ‘the most important book on Australia’. Its ideas have already been taken up in school texts and the ABC is producing a documentary series about it.
But nothing in Dark Emu justifies its success. Bitter Harvest is a forensic but highly readable examination which reveals that Bruce Pascoe omits, distorts or mischaracterises important information to such an extent that, as purported history, Dark Emu is worthless. Even worse, it promotes a divisive, victim-based agenda that pits one Australian against another

Dark Emu exposed
When we first read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, we were captivated by his story. Many of our friends had read it too and said they felt good about the “fact” that the Australian Aborigines were not “just” a hunter-gatherer society when the British settled Australia in 1788, but they were in fact, as the Judges of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards claimed “..liv[ing] sophisticated  lives…[in an] Aboriginal democracy [that] created ‘the 'Great Australian Peace’ on a continent which was extensively farmed, skilfully managed and deeply loved.”
However, a little digging into the “evidence” presented by Mr Pascoe has deflated our enthusiasm and the more we dig, the more disappointed we become. When it comes to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, we all know they are not “true”, but it is nice to promote the narrative, as it is all in a good cause and a delight to our children. However for adults, the accuracy of history is important and historical facts should not be fabricated, bent or manipulated to serve ideological ends, or to satisfy the needs of a “virtue-signalling” readership.
As we upload our reviews and critiques in blog-posts over the coming months, let the reader decide as to whether Mr Pascoe :
“…puts forward a compelling argument for a reconsideration of the hunter gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians…[where] the evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing - behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag.” - from Dark Emu dust jacket blurb;
or whether his arguments fail to overcome the accepted, Australian belief of :
“They [the Australian Aborigines] are, of course, nomads — hunters and foragers who grow nothing, build nothing, and stay nowhere long. They make almost no physical mark on the environment…They move about, carrying their scant possessions, in small bands of anything from ten to sixty persons…Their tools and crafts, meagre — pitiably meagre — though they are, have nonetheless been good enough to let them win the battle for survival, and to win it comfortably at that. With no pottery, no knowledge of metals, no wheel, no domestication of animals, no agriculture, they have still been able to people the entire continent…”
- W.E.H. Stanner, The Dreaming & Other Essays, Black Inc Agenda, 2010, p 64,65 & 70 - (our emphasis)
The site is edited by Roger Karge and, as of December 2019, has around 30 independent researchers. Unfortunately, in the current climate in which we live, most of our researchers need to operate under pseudonyms to protect their careers. Some work within academia, or government departments, that are strongly Progressive Left and, needless to say, any criticism of Mr Pascoe and his book Dark Emu is likely to lead to their ostracisation!
We are independent and all the work by our contributors is on an unpaid, voluntary basis and we do not receive any outside funding. We are not aligned with, or funded by, the Herald Sun, The Australian or Quadrant magazine, but we greatly appreciate their interest in our project and their reporting on it from time to time.
Taking sides over ‘Dark Emu’
How the history wars avoid debate and reason
But throughout Dark Emu, Pascoe regularly exaggerates and embellishes. One example: he quotes Thomas Mitchell’s description of large, circular, chimneyed huts Mitchell observed near Mount Arapiles, in western Victoria, on July 26, 1836, but leaves out the words “which were of a very different construction from those of the aborigines in general”. Pascoe adds his own commentary: Mitchell “recorded his astonishment at the size of the villages”; he “counts the houses, and estimates a population of over one thousand”; and “the evidence is everywhere that they have used the place for a very long time”. But in his own journal, Mitchell doesn’t express astonishment, he doesn’t count and he doesn’t estimate a population size. Nor does he present any evidence that would support a conclusion about longevity of residence. Granville Stapylton, Mitchell’s second-in-command, recorded seeing one hut “capable of containing at least 40 persons and of very superior construction” on July 26. Pascoe includes this, but not the rest of Stapylton’s sentence: “and appearantly the work of A White Man it is A known fact that A runaway Convict has been for years amongst these tribes.” That could be a reference to the well-known escapee William Buckley (who was found by John Batman the previous July), or it could be a racist myth. The point is that Pascoe simply left it out.
By themselves, examples like these split hairs. But they’re all the way through Dark Emu. Together, such selective quoting creates an impression of societies with a sturdiness, permanence, sedentarism and technical sophistication that’s not supported by the source material. In speeches and interviews Pascoe is known to reach even further. And far too often Pascoe relies on secondary sources, including those obviously pushing ideological barrows.
2. Researchers continue to discover new evidence of the earliest human occupation of Australia. A recent scientific study in south-west Victoria suggests Aboriginal Australians may have been living on the continent for 120,000 years.
The study in question is highly speculative and has not been independently confirmed. It is not an appropriate remark for an education site without further commentary of the surrounding issues and should eb removed or amended to reflcet current consensus ie about 50,000 years. https://theconversation.com/when-did-aboriginal-people-first-arrive-in-australia-100830 If humans were in Australia 120000 years a significant part of current understanding of pre-historical movement of humans out of Africa would be overturned.
3. we learn about the vast agricultural fields, ingenious aquaculture systems, sophisticated use of fire and successful industries that existed in Australia prior to colonisation.
As detailed in Bitter Harvest and elsewhere Pascoe’s claims are distortions, misrepresentations and exaggerations. The ABC education site requires significant room for alternate view points and discussion of areas where Pascoe claims do not stack up.
Chapter 1.
4. “Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man.”
While Brice Pascoe claims his has Aboriginal ancestry he has not been able to demonstrate this or provide firm evidence through documentation. An independent genealogical study has found no aboriginal ancestors in Pascoe’s past (See https://australianhistory972829073.wordpress.com/2019/10/23/bruce-pascoe-how-aboriginal-is-he/ )
He has also been disowned by members of the Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian Aboriginal communities see https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/aboriginal-groups-declare-bruce-pascoe-isnt-aboriginal/news-story/090376ffe8a87a70da3be1f21be1d2d6.
All reference Pascoe’s claims aboriginal heritage should be removed from ABC websites until his claims are proven.
Through the remainder of Chapter 1 Pascoe’s addresses the ABC audience as though he is aboriginal, but he isn’t.
Chapter 2.
5. “They weren't Stone Age people.” 
They were in fact stone age people. The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make implements with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted roughly 3.4 million years and ended between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Age
6. I come from this country. This is Yuin country. This is my law. 
Chapter 3.
7. I read that Sir Thomas Mitchell rode through nine miles of stooped grain and that grain grew higher than the saddle on his horse. The country was that rich. But the Aboriginal people had harvested nine miles of that and stooped it, stacked it into sheaves right across the country.
This is a complete fabrication and misrepresentation of what Mitchel saw and wrote. What Mitchell actually said in his 1848 Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, on page 90 (1969 reprint), was :
“Dry heaps of this grass, that had been pulled expressly for the purpose of gathering the seed, lay along our path for many miles. I counted nine miles along the river, in which we rode through this grass only, reaching to our saddle-girths, and the same grass seemed to grow back from the river, at least as far as the eye could reach through a very open forest. I had never seen such rich natural pasturage in any other part of New South Wales.”
So, Mitchell records that he rode through nine miles of rich, natural pasturage (grass) standing up to his horse’s saddle-girth (that is, not fields of human cultivation, but just tall, wild grass fields), with some dry, pulled grass laying in heaps along the way; he did NOT appear to ride through a continuous “nine miles of stooked grain”.
Mr Pascoe also seems to incorrectly cite this in Dark Emu as being from Mitchell’s other cited journal, Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, when in fact we found it in Mitchell’s 1848, Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, on page 90 (1969 reprint).
The voice over text must be amended to reflect what Mitchell actually wrote. There was not 9 miles of stooped or stooked grain.
8. And Lieutenant Grey.....couldn't walk across the fields that Aboriginal people had been growing yam on in Western Australia. They'd been so deeply tilled.
What Mr Pascoe doesn’t tell the reader however, is that he has lifted this isolated section from the brilliantly detailed work of Gerritsen, and totally omitted any reference to the crucial paragraphs before, and after, this section. These paragraphs detail Gerritsen’s theory that Dutch survivors from the Batavia shipwreck and mutiny landed on the West Australian mainland and befriended the local aboriginal tribe, the Nhanda, inter-married with them, and introduced them to the cultivation of the Asian yam variety that the Dutch were most probably carrying as supplies.
Section should be amended to include full reference to suggestions by Gerritsen that Dutch survivors introduced Yam cultivation.

9. In Australia, they went out of their way to prove that Aboriginal people weren't human
A statement completely unsupported by any factual evidence- remove.
Chapter 4.
Claims about earliest bread are unsupported. In fact grinding stones have been identified from three Palaeolithic sites across Europe. If Pascoe can speculate that Aborigines baked bread one the basis of the grindstones then we can make the same assumption of other stone age peoples. Recently the starch grains were identified on 30,000 year old grinding stones from three Palaeolithic sites across Europe: Bilancino II in Italy, Kostenki 16 in Russia, and Pavlov VI in the Czech Republic. The starch includes Brachypodium grass and Typha, commonly known as bulrush.
ABC to include reference to other Palaeolithic grindstone locations.

Chapter 5.
10. Pascoe with the help off ABC Education editorial staff misrepresent an encounter between Charles Sturt and a group of natives.
BRUCE PASCOE: One of the really, um, interesting stories that I came across was that Charles Sturt, who was one of the more kindly explorers in the country - that is, he didn't kill anyone, uh, but his brother was pegging out all the land, so they were still avaricious, they were still greedy for land... But Sturt was dying. Uh, he had scurvy. All his party had scurvy. The horses were so weak, they couldn't ride them anymore. And they climbed a sand dune. They'd been climbing them for weeks. They climbed one last sand dune and 400 Aboriginal people hailed them.
VOICEOVER: And on gaining the summit were hailed with a deafening shout by 3 or 400 natives... I had never before come so suddenly upon so large a party. Had these people been of an unfriendly temper, we could not by any possibility have escaped them.
BRUCE PASCOE: And as the men staggered down the sand dune... And Sturt said they couldn't have stopped themselves from going down that hill, because the momentum was carrying them, and that if those Aboriginal people were in any way aggressive, they were dead.
VOICEOVER: Several of them brought us large troughs of water, and when we had taken a little, held them up for our horses to drink; an instance of nerve that is very remarkable.
BRUCE PASCOE: Now, they'd never seen a horse and, yet, they recognised the horse as a...another animal.....a sentient being, and they gave water to that creature because they knew the horse needed water. That was an act of kindness that Sturt recognised.
VOICEOVER: Placing the troughs they carried against their breast, have allowed the horses to drink, with their noses almost touching them... They likewise offered us some roasted ducks, and some cake.
BRUCE PASCOE: Roast duck...and cake. Roast duck and cake in the desert? Well, it wasn't a desert for those people. They were harvesting that desert and they were living a really good life and they had a village of houses and they offered Sturt a new house they'd built.
VOICEOVER: They pointed to a large new hut and told us we could sleep there. I had already determined to remain, and on my intimating this to the natives they appeared highly delighted. When the natives saw us quietly seated they came over, and brought a quantity of sticks for us to make a fire, wood being extremely scarce.
BRUCE PASCOE: Firewood. They gave him more bread. They looked after him as you would look after a visitor to your house.
VOICEOVER: At sunset all the natives left us, and went to their own encampment; nor did one approach us afterwards, but they sat up to a late hour at their own camp, the women being employed beating the seed for cakes, between two stones. The whole encampment with the long line of fires, looked exceedingly pretty, and the dusky figures of the natives standing by them or moving from one hut to the other, had the effect of a fine scene in a play.
BRUCE PASCOE: It's a great moment in Australian history because the...the humanity of the moment cannot be mistaken. The humanity of the moment - to give water to a creature you've never seen and to give water to another human in need. It's a great moment in history.
Peter O’Brien outlines the facts about the encounter in Bitter Harvest: Pages 82-92 copies provided to ABC. The alternate view by O’Brien should be reproduced to provide balance to the presentation.
Chapter 7.
Pascoe’s claims about Murnong debunked  in Bitter Harvest P11-26

Chapter 9.
Pascoes claims about aquaculture debunked. Bitter Harvest P69-80

Chapter 11 Housing
Pascoes claims about Aboriginal Housing debunked in Bitter Harvest  P 80-113



Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid19 Fail: models vs reality

On April 7 the Federal government released its epidemiological modelling of the Covid19 outbreak in Australia. The models were used to justify strict quarantine and isolation measures enforced by Federal and State governments that will see Australia experience its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. ABC has thus far failed to provide any meaningful coverage of the models and their failure to match reality.

The rationale behind the government's "flatten the curve" strategy was to enforce strict physical distancing measures to ensure enough ICU beds were available to handle the caseload.

Under the government's model peak ICU demand with strict Level 3-4 Quarantine + isolation + social distancing measures in place was predicted to occur in week 43 (see graph below) which would be well into November with nearly 5000 ICU beds required, about double our capacity.

It seems reality played out quite differently.

The first case of Covid19 was reported in Australia on 25 January and around 14 weeks later it seems the "curve" has been well and truly flattened with only a handful of cases now reported daily.  We never reached more than 5% of ICU bed capacity with maximum daily use being around 100 beds way back in week 10 prior to the effect of level 3-4 measures being felt and the release of the Government's epidemiological modelling. The pandemic for us is well and truly over and we now face the social and economic consequences of a completely disproportionate response. Handling of the Covid19 pandemic by Australian Governments at all levels has been perhaps the worst example of Risk Management in history.

The ABC costs us well over $1 billion annually, we could fund 15000 nurses for that figure, yet somehow it lacks the integrity to take the government to task over models that were effectively disproven on the day they were released.



Data sources:
ICU bed use from April 5 via Dep Health infographic series https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-at-a-glance-infographic-collectioninfographic_3.pdf 

Total number of ICU beds: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2020/surge-capacity-australian-intensive-care-units-associated-covid-19-admissions


More model fails:

From: https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/flattening-the-curve-to-help-australia-s-hospitals-prepare

And...

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Missing News: RIP Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson passed away last week (28 Feb). One of the world's greatest thinkers in physics. He was outspoken on many issues. On climate change he was completely unconvinced it was a major problem. He wrote recently:

To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.
I consider myself an unprejudiced person and to me these facts are obvious. But the same facts are not obvious to the majority of scientists and politicians who consider carbon dioxide to be evil and dangerous. The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence. 

ABC failed to report his passing. The taint of the ideological spin coming from Ultimo so great that the passing of one of our best and brightest goes unnoticed because of his scientific scepticism. Utterly shameful!

RIP FREEMAN DYSON, your equations and words live on.

Dyson's Awards

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

OZ media spectrum - ABC sits in the looney left quadrant

Survey finds ABC sit at Looney left, low-quality end of Oz media spectrum.

ABC News and current affairs heavily weighted towards the looney left

An independent survey of media consumers has confirmed suspicions that ABC has a strong left-wing political bias. Oz Media watchers were requested to rank various Australian news sources on their perception of quality and right or left-wing political bias. The unsurprising results found a strong left bias among Oz media outlets overall. The Australian Newspaper was ranked highest for quality, while SkyNEWS returned a neutral bias ranking.
ABC news programs were perceived to have a very strong left-wing bias with its main news and current affairs outlets falling into the Looney left side of the political spectrum. This must be of concern for ABC's chairperson Ita Buttross who has stated previously the organisation might have issues with bias, despite having a charter that is supposed to ensure it is apolitical.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The bias marches on... and on.

Gerard Henderson's column in today's Weekend Australian highlights the fact ABC is firmly stuck in trolley tracks of left-wing bias and nothing looks like shifting it back to the centre. Worth a read as usual....

ABC’s leading journos out of touch with Australia’s key issues
GERARD HENDERSON

It is just four months since the ABC’s mission to Bankstown in southwest Sydney. Led by ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson, dozens of the ABC family headed to the outer suburbs for a planning workshop aimed at making content that was more relevant to average Australians than what had previously been on offer. That’s how ABC management described the mission at the time.

Gaven Morris (ABC director news, analysis and investigations) told Nine Entertainment newspapers there were “some parts of the community that we don’t serve as well as we could”. This implied the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster was in search of the “quiet Australians” to whom Scott Morrison had referred to immediately after the May 18 election last year.

The Coalition’s victory had stunned many journalists, but none more so than the ABC’s key political commentators — virtually all of whom got the result wrong. So certain was 7.30 political correspondent Laura Tingle that she told 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales on the eve of the election the Labor Party “will” win and dismissed the possibility of a Coalition victory with a laugh.

It is not clear what, if anything, the ABC learned from the mission to Bankstown of recent memory. Maybe only that it is a long way from its head office in the inner-Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Certainly the ABC is just as much a conservative-free zone as it ever was — perhaps even more so.

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