Williams’ Word | Ignorant of different things

IGNORANT OF DIFFERENT THINGS

Your ancient scribe once fired a shotgun and all because of an Aboriginal man. I have written before about Jack, an Aboriginal axeman who worked for my father in the big timber business on the North Coast. 

He became too old for such tough work, but my Dad employed him to look after the big yard where the timber was kept and often took him out bush because Jack could read the bush like you or I could read a book.

A skinny teenager, someone had lent me that shotgun and one shell.

We were walking through the bush when Jack said there was a lake or lagoon to our left and that there would probably be some ducks I could shoot. So, I set off. 

Sure enough, there were ducks and I fired at them, and ended up flat on my back because of the recoil. I never knew if I had shot a duck.

Later I asked my father if Jack had lived around that part of the bush and knew of that lake. No, my Dad said, Jack knew it was there simply because he could read the bush, like you or I could read a book. He was an amazing man was Jack.

He tried to teach me bushcraft, but he could see things that I could not see.

My father’s comment was that “The difference between the Aboriginal and the white man is that they are ignorant of different things”.

AUSTRALIA DAY

It seems the doomsayers have convinced the ABC that Australia Day should be a day of mourning and not suitable for their traditional Triple J broadcast of their popular 100 top records.

The arrival of the First Fleet was an invasion, but ‘invasion’ is the story of mankind’s domination of this world. Humans have, over the years, invaded every continent and every country, even the Antarctic. We are the most widespread animal on earth. The story of mankind started in Africa and gradually moved throughout the planet. Name one country that has never been invaded!

Sure, the invaders, the First Fleet, were tough on the original occupiers of this continent. At the same time these invaders were also tough on their own people. Any reading of the way the prisoners were treated will show that.

The Great South Road was built by convicts in chain gangs and their punishments included 50 lashes (and these were whips that brought blood) if they were seen “talking to strangers”.

It wasn’t pretty but, in time, these invaders brought housing, clothing, health services, ample food and water, education and even the dole for those who could not find work.

Now, which of those things are the critics upset about?

Would the critics of Australia Day rather that the people of this continent had remained as a nation of hunter gatherers in a one of the most unforgiving continents on earth?

Compare that lifestyle today with the changes the descendants of that invasion brought with them.

Sure, there is a long way to go for many of the descendants of those original occupiers of this continent, but I think they should acknowledge that the ‘invasion’ has brought them a far better, healthier and safer lifestyle.

Describing them as ‘victims’ is unreasonable, damaging and unrealistic. It achieves nothing. Indeed, it should be a time of celebration.

The arrival of the First Fleet was the most important date in our recorded history. Rather than dampen the enjoyment for the date selected for Australia Day, everyone should be able join in celebrating the fact that we live in a country that, compared with many others, provides us all with the potential for a great lifestyle.

Just how we use it is really up to the individual.

STATISTICS AND COMPASSION?

Maybe we all need some lessons in statistics and compassion. Also add some common sense.

It has been reported that Australians are being ripped off to the tune of $24 billion a year by the gambling industry. That is in a country with a total population of 24 million. Someone calculated that the punter has more chance of being hit by lightning than he has of winning the big prize in the most popular lottery.

And all forms of gambling are designed for the gambler to lose money. That is simple statistics. That is why the people who run these schemes become incredibly rich and the regular gambler becomes increasingly poorer.

Statistically, the more you gamble the more you will lose, and some families become devastated by those losses. Pokies accounted for the loss of $12 billion in 2015-16 and far too much came from people addicted to the machines. Sure, the profit from the pokies gives us those flash registered clubs that provide us with pleasant surroundings and good, cheap meals; but that means we are benefitting from the weakness of the addicts and the devastating impact they have on their families.

Many years ago Australia’s top race caller told me that about 60 per cent of people in the horse racing business were crooks. “They don’t realise they are crooks but they manipulate races and if you have 10 horses in a race you have 10 owners, 10 trainers and 10 jockeys and if you think you are going to have an honest race you are very much mistaken”. That advice has saved me lots of money over the years.

Is it too much to ask that we have enough politicians with enough courage and compassion to work for as constant reduction of poker machines in our country and to remind us all that, statistically, the more we gamble the more money we will lose.

  • Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.