Letter to Senator Chris Evans

Written 21 March 2006

Dear Chris
I read with interest your speech to the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy. I was not surprised by Christopher Pearson’s “Shift in the right direction” The Australian 18/3/2006 allegedly supportive response or his slightly less obnoxious ABC Perspectives commentary 20/3/2006. Of course, if you are hoping to have a future as an after dinner speaker at the Bennelong Society then you are on the right track.

I agree with you that ideology should not blind us to evidence and that the right has cleverly portrayed Labor as obsessed by symbols, separation and impractical ideas. But this does not justify a move away from a deep commitment to Indigenous Australians.

The starting points you suggest that Labor is committed to are themselves imbued with ideology as are all social policy positions. The extent to which you desire to follow Noel Pearson policy prescriptions is also informed by your ideological position.

I would urge you to be careful in getting on the Pearson bandwagon – it is heading down a path that will further marginalise many of the poorest Aboriginal people. You may like to look at my critique of the Howard and Beattie Governments and Pearson’s policies in a paper given at International Conference on Engaging Communities which can be found at http://www.engagingcommunities2005.org/abstracts/Tomlinson-John-final.pdf

Yours sincerely