Confessions of an Opiat Eater.

Wobbly Press, Darwin, 1974.

The story of the missing “e”.

I’m often asked why the title of this book uses “Opiat” rather than the normal spelling of “Opiate”. There are several possibilities for this – the first being that the author is concerned about the over use of the letter “e”, and fearful that such excessive use could lead to a shortage of “es”. The other explanation is that the author is dyslectic and that the printer responsible for printing the cover is also spelling challenged.


To fear the night
because it is followed by another day.
To know that right
is wrong expressed another way.

Lone Idolatry

I live in a world of dreams,
the cloud cast thought
of lone idolatry:
and through the maze perceive
all others as I picture them.
some hate, some love,
but never in between:
and I love her.

No price could buy his soul.

He sat at an oaken table
looking out on a smog laden city.
Looking out at his lessers,
who lent on shovels
or worked with jack hammers.
He watched the foreman tell them what to do.
He watched as they did it.
Down below he saw the shoppers
scurrying along the littered footpaths.
He sneered as the rookie raised his hand:
he sneered as they dashed and cars halted.
What petty power –
what little men.

Then back again
to that file stacked table.
“Back to those people’s troubles:
the pensioner who was to be evicted,
the widow and three kids without a home.
Why did they clutter up his desk?
These unimportant things.
They have no claim for extra help:
they have no claim on the Department.
Help one and you’ve got to help the lot.
It’s their fault they’re homeless.
There are more important things,
The Department needs two new cars,
the Department needs more money.
Can’t be expected to help every lame dog,
can’t be expected to solve all the problems.”

“Bugger this paper work,
have to see the Minister at three o’clock;
have to shake up those damn typists,
efficiency is the thing
without it everything will go to the pack.
The Thornton-Smiths are coming over tonight,
don’t know why Bev invited them.
He wanted Departmental information
offered me a thousand dollars;
the hide of him,
my soul is not for sale.”

Thus we see the civil servant.
for a hundred dollars a week
he is a bureaucrat;
a department man.
No price could buy his soul –
his mind he gives away.

No love feel I

Man no better than a dog:
a mere animate,
to weak to kill himself.
Suffering the barks and jowls
without complaint.

Worshipping life above all else.
Speaking of an afterlife.
Even in old age,
afraid of death.

He lives; that’s all could matter.
Sleeping, eating, laughing, crying;
making love.

What is love?
A concept sunk in the richest setting,
the high cultural heritage.
The snake has coitus –
we make love.
Oh humans show me the difference.

In death we learn

Born in symbolic circles,
born dead.
And in death we learn
our strivings to suppress.

Woman master of all,
you still taunt me:
my unrequited thirst to quench,
the tantalising grapes, that hang
just out of reach.

I died.
Shall I be born again?

Aboriginal Embassy Song

We’re on our way to Canberra
Where we shall all be moved
We’re on our way to Canberra
Where we shall all be moved
By the forces of oppression
We shall all be moved
We shall be; we shall all be moved
Just like a tent that stood outside of Parliament
We shall all be moved.

We shall be; we shall all be moved
We shall be; we shall all be moved
By the power of white racists
We shall all be moved
Just like a man asking for his land rights
We shall all be moved.

We shall be; we shall all be moved
We shall be; we shall all be moved
By the Liberal Country Party
We shall all be moved
Just like a people fighting for their freedom
We shall all be moved.

We shall be; we shall all be moved
We shall be; we shall all be moved
Moved to band together
We shall all be moved
In the fight for justice
We shall all be moved.

We’re on our way to Canberra
Where we shall all be moved
We’re on our way to Canberra
Where we shall all be moved
Moved to join in brotherhood
We shall all be moved
Fighting for our land rights
We shall all be moved.

We shall be; we shall all be moved
We shall be; we shall all be moved
Moved to join in struggle
We shall all be moved.

Sung to the tune “We shall not be moved.”


The stunted bush
and nibbled grass,
twisted sand filled trees
above the flow:
deep green moss
and blackened leaves
grey-brown logs
submerged by it.

Gouged banks
and surface sand
spiked reeds
small grey-silver scales
and flashing tails,
green back and orange-pink
give movement.
I see but cannot understand
such hell spelt paradise.


My Brothers
My brothers are working throughout the land,
and the unions are talking of taking a stand
but justice and freedom are beyond their command
and true socialism they don’t understand.

The party of labour is the party in power
and I thought we’d be getting our land rights now.
The party of labour is the party in power
and I thought we’d get decent pensions now.

(Friends you’ll have to take responsibility for any other verses)

Editor’s Note written in Feb 2017:

In this poem I was more than a little unkind to the Whitlam Government. They were the last decent government in Australia and the only one I have generally approved of in my life. Since Whitlam we have experienced the ravages of Neoliberalism and the conservative Liberal National Coalition Government is as I write sending out 20,000 letters a month to social security recipients claiming they owe debts to Centrelink without doing basic checks to see whether or not the debt is real. They are employing debt collector thugs to stand over clients demanding money with menace. The debt collectors as well as receiving agreed fees get a commission proportional to the amount of money they extract. The Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge released personal details of a single mother who had criticised this robo-debt collection process to a journalist to facilitate an attack upon her.  They are breaching nearly every Aboriginal unemployment benefit recipient in rural and remote Australia, at least once a year. They are a bunch of bastards compared with Whitlam.



80 miles of road

I wander down the road
between tall trees
and, in the setting sun,
that pasty yellow light.

The trees had lost their greenness,
though were not brown,
but black against a hollow sky;
an empty pleasant sight.

As I strolled along this road
journeying to my love
I wished she could be with me now
and in the coming light.

Workers of the World

Workers of the World Unite.
Grab a hand grenade and fight.
Then we’ll see who has the right.
To control the workers might.

The singing flowers

 The singing flowers,
and little bees around,
dims silence –
that immortal sound.

The breeze softly touching tender petals,
gentle free,
timeless age.

The sudden furry of pollen spreading –
golden dust,
unspoilt and free,
flying so lightly
rejuvenating life.
Soft petals forming in your bosom
sweet bud of spring.
The moulded fragrance from out your heart
shall spread and yield
unto the light of day.
This freedom – a gift sublime.


Woman, you control our destiny.
Your tender lips, your golden breasts,
have given and received my love.
Soft breath
has calmed an angry mind:
changed boyish hopes to manly ecstasy.

Tender passion –
which is but slave to you.

The desert flower 

My life has been as barren
as the union of two sodomites.
An unresponsive mind so frigid,
no woman could be less warm.
Relentless wanton strivings.
Angry self-destruction.

Then, like a desert flower – pink
among a mass of drying bones,
you sprang.

I, like a thirst craved man,
looked on this so sweet mirage
in disbelief.

Now, as I touch the ground,
that gives you life and birth
I know:
the sun shall try to whither,
but with each sun, a moon.

Brown Grass

Brown and unkempt grass
paddock grass.
Deep blue and whitened sky,
impish face in lemon light
gentle lips
moulded body caressing him.

A Nun’s Burning

I was sixteen years old
and had run away.
Why I went, I really don’t know
things got me down, I was sick of the home.
I’d been there for years
and nobody cared:
I don’t think anyone cared.

I remember my mother.
My mind paints a picture
a picture they burnt.
I don’t know mum
but I once owned a picture.
She was pretty,
she was smiling,
she was mine.

I was sixteen years old
and was lonely and cold.
Why I was there I really don’t know.
I just had to get out of the home.
I left HER standing and staring
as I raced down the road.
I left behind mum’s picture.

SHE burnt it they say
and a photo of dad
and a letter from two of the kids.
They never wrote back
though I’d written and written.
Someone said they had moved.
SHE burnt it they say with a smile.
My family she burnt
but you can’t kill a memory.

I was sixteen years old
the police brought me back.
How they caught me I really don’t know.
They’ll punish me now for running away
for going, and not having a reason,
except I was sick of the place.
THEY tell me to pray
to seek full forgiveness.

SHE kneels in prayer
and fondles HER cross.
I stand and stare
and think of my loss
and try to remember my family
and try to remember what the kids said
and think of HER burning my photos.

I look at the cross
I see a nun bending
I see a nun burning
my photos – my family.
I clutch at the cross but SHE’s there to restrain
SHE’LL teach me forgiveness
SHE’LL labour in vain.

I’m twenty-six years old
and I look at the cross.
I see a nun bending
I see a nun burning.
I’m expecting a baby
and I’m back in the home
‘cause they took me in
and I look at the cross.
I see a nun bending
I see a nun burning.

Editor’s Note:
In the period from 1964 until 1973, before the Whitlam Federal Government began paying lone parent payments to single parents I had a lot of contact with single parents, mainly unmarried mothers and mothers to be. I got to see inside lots of “church homes” mainly Salvation Army, Catholic, and Anglican. This poem resulted from hearing just one person’s story – but her story was representative of so many others in that it conveys the emptiness of those homes and the cruelty of many of the religious custodians of the homes at the time.



My Pledge

Starving faces stare
from these cold pages.
Startled cries of hungered fear
give union through their shame.
The sin is ours to share.

Yours is a world of hate
heart and brain encrusted
by joys sensate
heinous hedonist
can you feel pity
or are you dead?

Ears and eyes feel
their starving shame
pages slow reveal
a hand that will clasp mine
till death together.

A Dream

I stand on a mountain overlooking
a hill – brown against a pale blue sky
the green leaves almost obliterated
by the profusion of pink and white blossoms.
Perhaps they are apple bushes or pear trees.

Slowly a seagull – pure white glides past
this conglomeration of colours,
shortly he is followed by a thousand others
some white like himself,
others with shining grey wings
and many completely steel grey.
Their movement is so co-ordinated
yet never pre-arranged.
It is the chance configuration
of colours that is so beautiful.

The first morning

Blond hair limp, but shining
brown eyes look on her
as thin light shines on pale sheets
half covering moulded beauty:
their passion spent.

Slowly blue grey eyes open,
a smile so gentle – unparted lips
gives sweet and lasting joy.
Timidly she strokes his chest,
her shoulders he caresses.
And in the waking light of morning
pure ecstasy is found.

Old Man Rock

The tide was out and the water had beared its jagged peaks
shallow seas surged over sand bars
a faint sun was visible through the cloud banks
and in the distance rain fell.

I stood on the cliffs admiring the multiplicity of greens and blues
that Nature had devised for this bay.
Brown rocks jutting only feet from thrashing sea
towered below me.

The white capped wave reached up at the rocks
fell back, and another tried, and always failing
only to race on to run over exposed sand
then on again to the blue water.

The green sea – a shallow sea grew darker
black clouds covered the lighted circle
obliterating the brown rocks by a grey wall
as the rain moved closer.

Editor’s note:

Old Man Rock which Aboriginal people call Dariba Nunggalinya is totally covered at high tide. It lies just off Casuarina Beach Darwin. The traditional owners of that country are the Larrakeyah (also spelt Larrakia).

Old Man Rock is an important site in the song line dreaming of the Larrakeyah and Tiwi people and other peoples all the way to Maningrida.

Because of the nature of the beach line, when you are at sea Old Man Rock appears to move.  This poem was written in the early monsoon season.



I can’t be me because I don’t exist.
Everyone I meet
wants to change the me
that they perceive as existing
but at the same time
to preserve many of the elements of their me.

When I try to talk to them
in order to dissolve the me into an us,
they react by taking to and the with is forgotten.
It is then that I realise that if there is no me
then there are no other mes
belonging to the other people;
so there cannot be an us.

I met a young woman

I met a young woman who gave me her body
to have and to hold until the tomorrow
which still has not come.

Her husband she said
was alive and not dead,
but he was away
and I’m in his bed.

We talked of ourselves
of dreams that we once had
a life that we weren’t going to see.
We spoke of the present
as we lay there together.
I held her – she kissed me,
and nudged up against me
and gently caressed me,
and then set me free.

It could not be total
because of my urging
my stupid demand
to combine past and future.

We found at the end
it was five in the morning –
the taxi was waiting
and I went away.

I could not take my tomorrow
because it was chasing,
chasing me –all the way home.

To my favourite nun

Then I’ll leave you again
with the guilt and the pain
and you’ll know that I took you
because I wanted to screw the church.

The Western failure

The flickering fire
burns in their eyes
on their faces and bodies
through their minds
back to their fathers
and their fathers’ fathers
then to the dream time
birth spirit
and rainbow god.

Chanting reminds the old
initiates the young
cherishes and is cherished.

Western clothes forgotten
they don’t exist
at this time.
This is the dream time.


Each cause must have a leader,
else ways there is no cause.
And, when that leader dies,
elect a lesser man.

You, who have never had a cause,
your streets need cleaning;
and trees need saving;
you may find a cause.

And you who strive for personal liberty,
offering up your soul,
have you asked why
others don’t follow?

Don’t be disillusioned like your lesser.
Down with restraint.
Shall you win out?
Death only stops you.

March to Utopia and sit in idle dreams,
meditating your losses:
you peasants of the street,
men have stopped you.

A Nurse’s thoughts on seeing her first death

I used to like that little old lady;
she was always nice to me.
Though her mind was deranged
her face showed tranquillity,
her eyes such serenity.

I helped bathe her bed sores –
the black and the red
and the white orange puss
that flowed on the swabs.

When she spoke
her voice had sincerity
though the faint lowly whispers
often lacked clarity.

Tonight she had changed,
she was dying.
Her face was all twisted
as she lay there in agony.
The sight was hideous
slow gasping for breath.
She had but one relative,
two mourned her death.

When it was over
I started to sponge her.
Life seemed a mockery,
as we folder her arms.

Tomorrow I start at six in the morning:
six in the morning for six pounds a week.

Written in 1963. My sister Ricki was the young nurse.

The rising sun

The rising sun, it tells a happy story
of lives to live, and of things to be done;
rights to fight for, of battles to be won.

The setting sun, it tells a sad, sad story
of life that’s lost, or lingers in nothingness;
of love’s bewildering, but still unfound caress:
with morals twisted in this heathen urn,
where prostitutes are ravaged and are slurred
and were the mighty are not fit to spurn.

All is of sin, and sin is so consuming.
I rejoice – and in my laughter and my ignorance
I fall.

After the nuclear bomb detonates

The red sail flaps,
the red mast stained,
the red logs grind,
yellow sea in purple sky,
green sand and blue trees.

The flashing yellow surge,
and slashing reddened sail,
jostling red-brown logs,
red stained mast;
green sand in purple skies,
blue trees and whitened eyes.

Violet cloud on grey flotillas,
harsh shroud on blackened sea;
scarlet sun in yellow light,
plunges this raft through whitened night
with red sail flapping.

Blue-black on dark horizon,
looking, searching for the light;
orange glare on whitened eyes:
black-grey, black-red,
black-white, in roaring skies.

Pink rain – red sand,
slow pain of slower turbulence;
jostling logs surge red,
loose sail sprays red,
and mast stained scarlet.

On foaming seas a gangrene cross
trails limp, through currents swift:
the reddened mass of blackened bone
hangs dangling red;
suspending reddened souls.

Whitened eyes on blue sand,
green bones on black sea,
yellow mast sustaining,
a sensual red sail swinging,
on a purple sea.

Tired eyes – green,
hollow eyes – red,
yellow eyes – bored,
longing eyes – blind,
black hiding yellow sea.

The tearing black-grey wind
spews reddened mass
to slashing orange jaws,
blue tails and violet eyes:
white eyes long to surrender.

Copper scales replace pink rain,
copper bones, but reddened mast;
whitened eyes close,
as bushes rainbow-blue
circumscribe the mauve-grey shroud.

Whitened eyes feel pain,
yellow seas wash over red logs,
blue bushes cover a scarlet mast,
green sand the red sail,
whitened eyes are torn from purple sockets.

Originally published under the title “Agony”. First performed at the Queensland University Folk Club in 1963.

Lone wanderer

Beside the fern couched creek
I lie.
The sound of water falling
Slow panting of my dog
I hear.

Then peace has come at last
to me:
all else is quite in the sun-set.

In these hands a knife,
And in this moment I am God,
Slow plunging soundless wound,
I die.
But in that instant,
I am God.

Written in 1963.



Saturday night
Black hands stretch out
for her white body.
The tearing thread gives up
its last pretence of modesty.

Black eyes see fire;
serene blue eyes
expectantly search the darkened face.

Screams of the jungle
as the tiger passes:
old young find fulfilment.

But she a shop girl
and he a clerk.

In the swamp the sea is still
– there is an alternative title “Queensland society”.

Slow clogging mass of weed,
whose green-black gaiety
suffers rounded ripples,
transfixed by grey-yellow ooze.

You can only be disturbed
by the rush of water birds
flying to less stagnant pools:
or flashing rocks, which sink
once they meet your suffocation.

Alas it is so true, that
“In the swamp the sea is still”.

Vietnam and all the other Vietnams

Generations still unborn
with crippled hands
and legs deformed
you’re the one that
I must mourn.

Your mother’s womb
was ripped and torn
by napalm and white phosphorous.

On Noosa beach

 The white-capped
wind-lashed foam
gives rest
to tired eyes and worn mind.

The crash of breakers
at the mouth
disturbs not peace.

The rush of tide
sweeping over shallow sand
stirs thoughts of nature
and of man:
so small a master.

Written in 1962.

Black ghetto

Black ghetto awoke
and now torments the screaming eyes
of whites.

The police with club,
fire hose and cattle prod
have gently taught the Negro
what is right.

But now and then
a Martin Luther King
wields the heavy sword
that Ghandi made.

What can a bomb
placed in a Negro church destroy?
A child, a parent’s dream,
and blocks of stone.

On Knockers

You’ve never had it so good
never worked a day in your life.
All you want to do is knock things
I don’t have to apologise for my country.
We’ve given you more than we ever had,
during the depression I worked like a dog
when I could get work.
Just so you could stay in school.
What’s it done for you?
You’re just a knocker.
I fought the japs to save the likes of you
now you won’t fight will you?
You’re a queer – I don’t understand you.
Don’t answer back I’m talking.
You never say anything constructive
just want to smash things.

Now look here son we all get upset at some things.
When I was your age I wanted to change the world.
I’m only trying to save you
you’ll find you can’t change things.
Your mother and I – God knows we tried.
We wanted you to have a chance.
All you’ve done is spit in our face.
We wanted some security in our old age.
All we’ve got is worry
we never know what you’ll do next:
if you’re not yelling about
killing those yellow bastards,
its Aboriginal advancement,
stop the bomb,
worker control,

A song for all the people

I can see the children coming
down the street and around the corner
singing song that we have known
all our lives, all our lives.

I can see the students marching
and can hear the songs they’re humming
down the street in slow procession
to the cries of “Freedom Now”.

I can see the workers standing
on the corners with their banners
telling stories of the struggles
we know well, we know well.

I can see old people sitting
on park benches deep in silence
with the thoughts of yesterday
that we’ve not learnt, that we’ve not learnt.

I can see the soldiers coming
there is no joy just the sound of drumming
I can smell the fear of death
that we know well, that we know well.

Cold warmth

Cold warmth of winter’s nights
you have denied
to brace yourself against the hurts
that they inflict.

Like moss awaiting the melting snow and ice
you are the wattle seed
expecting fire and summer rain;
enclosed in casement strong
you shall remain
and in a sheltered crevice
hide your eyes.

Or go forth
to sigh in bitter pain
in possum style
on moonlight night
with dewy eyes:
but in the half-light of morning
be exposed,
and sob the sobs of childhood
once again.

Then in the trap that night has cast so well
you find,
your captor – fellow prisoner
and a smile.

There is no beauty in the fog

There is no beauty in the fog
a mass of surging white
there is no brilliance in the fog
uncoloured endless light.

But I saw laughter in the fog
and great happiness unfold
and in the mist I found delight
forgetting bitter cold.

A lone lamp shone
and single shadow cast
through the chaffing wind
saw beauty unsurpassed.

But there is no beauty in the fog
that I won’t deny
for there’s no truth in beauty
if one can always lie.

John who?

He lay in the gutter with congealed blood around his mouth.
His old Panama hat had been crumpled by the feet of passers-by.
I remember the day he got that coat from St Vincent de Paul,
it had two buttons then and was tolerably clean,
it now bore the stains of constant wear.

John Fitzgerald was the name he went by;
“Jesus” he used to say “is coming for me, son”.
“Jesus knows the trouble of a bum.”
“Kid don’t worry about this child of God”.

Killed: but let no one call it murder.
Killed: but no one takes much notice.
Let the government provide a decent place for these men.
Lean over passer-by and get a closer look at this dead tramp,
lean over – then hurry home to watch tele and forget.

Now it’s too late for this one – but there are others,
a hundred thousand others, but then again
“Never waste a good dollar on a shiftless tramp –
no never, no never, no never again.

A song


I wish you were with me
to love and to kiss me
I wish you were with me

To walk by the sea
alone with me
and watch the seagulls homing.

To feel the salt mist
sealed by a kiss
and listen to the breakers surging.

To stroll hand in hand
on whitened sand
and feel the wind a blowing.

To sit by the tide
close by my side
and watch the fishermen roaming.

Darwin 1967

A Larrakeyah man sits facing the sun
seeing the golden waters reach up to the red cloud.
A swirl beneath an overhanging tree:
quickly a brown spear glides to its mark;
Barramundi tonight for tea.

The Moil woman digging yams looks up at the dying glow.
Calling her sisters gathering lily roots, she trudges home:
stops to put a wild flower in her hair,
her husband will like it she muses,
one look back at the hundreds still there.

Crouching, a young Brinkin hunter watches a wallaby
his uncle behind encouragingly whispers “Not yet”.
Boy, woomera and spear a quivering unity:
the grey ears not hearing and black lips chewing.
The wallaby senses danger and so lives to see the sun set.

A paper bark canoe is paddled through the night towards a camp fire.
Finally, four Tiwi men emerge from the darkness and the sea,
walking up the white sand towards the warmth.
the light from the fire shines on smiling faces illuminating friendly gestures
tomorrow these me will trade earnestly.

Around a Malak Malak fire old men sit,
tall stories and legend: younger men listen and learn it.
Beginning to talk over important business
they discuss the initiation of old Ngarmil’s son
“He’s nearly a man, now ‘s his time to earn it.”

If you gave a poet ten million lines to tell the story
of paintings so fine as to dwarf Namitijira:
of religion so complex and yet so complete:
and of kinship pattern as vast as the number of men in this land:
he could not tell it all, the end never gets nearer.

Out of the light came white squatters and soldiers.
Close on their heels white administrators,
traders, pearlers, miners and clergy –
a show of force and material superiority,
police and soldiers to deal with black agitators.

(Let an old timer tell you the story.)

“They’re not using the land that we need.
Dirty, lazy, shiftless and black –
there’s plenty of land they can move on to.
We’ve started a town and set an example
we’ll prosper and grow, there’ll be no turning back.”

“Some men have befriended the wild Aborigine
and mad men talk of their right to liberty.
If they work we will feed them and teach Christianity,
some make good trackers and could show us the country.
But they’re savages now and savages they will be.”

“The year have rolled by and Darwin has grown
Malaysian pearlers, Chinese traders and Indonesians
have interbred with these primitives:
the children show the worst of both races.
There is even some talk of involvement with Europeans.”

“We’re doing our best to subdue the natives.
It’s amazing the good that Abo hunts have done,
it’s safe to go anywhere now.
If we have not taught them respect for the white man
but we’ve taught them respect for his whip his gun.”

“Then came the war and the Japanese bombs
rained down in inhuman torment obliterating buildings,
disrupting our lives – killed women and children,
It’s really too despicable to comment.”

“After the war came an influx of migrants.
They’d do almost anything to make a quid
and the half-casts are quickly multiplying.
The natives still haven’t learnt anything:
the Welfare and missions help them as they always did.”

“The red lights have gone out at Winnellie,
the police no longer visit the place,
the government thinks it has stopped prostitution.
It has just scattered the cancerous sore.
Sex the great leveller; VD no respecter of race.”

A fight in the main street, a Greek holds his stomach
blood trickles through his fingers on to the footpath.
The shoppers stand, uncertain, just looking;
compatriots rush him to hospital.
Shoppers nervously laugh – the aftermath.

A fight at the Don an Aborigine started
the police rush in with their fists flying.
They push around a drunken bystander
then march off some who weren’t involved:
but they don’t trust a black man, he might be lying.

The administration clerk sits in his government house.
He might beat up his wife now and then
but that’s because he’s disturbed;
he is shown kindness and is taken to hospital.
After all, most of the time,
he’s a man among men.

I thought I heard a man crying in the “country of the lost”.
Perhaps it was an echo from that “could have been land”:
an echo somewhat softer yet somehow more piercing.

Confessions of an Opiate Eater

These are the confessions of a man who, ignoring Donne, sent someone else to see “for whom the bell tolls”. I shall try to me mindful of the danger in confession: the conceit of humility. Whenever I have over heard “Lord forgive this poor man who has committed worse sins than any other in your kingdom,” I have wondered whether he is showing remorse or merely skiting.

Some time ago, after careful reflection, six years of close study of the situation and an amount critical self-appraisal, I came to the conclusion that the refusal to grant land rights to Aborigines was ethically unsupportable and against Australia’s best interests.

Aboriginal people in this country have had their economic base – their land – stolen by Europeans. Even Aboriginal reserves are not safe from miners and graziers. Comalco aided by a corrupt Queensland (Liberal – Country Party) Government forced the people of Mapoon to leave their reserve at gun point in November 1963 and reduced the Wiepa Aboriginal reserve from 2,380 square miles to 308 acres shortly afterwards. Nabalco is exploiting the bauxite deposits at Gove, a part of Arnhem Land reserve, it has consistently ignored the wishes of the local Aboriginal people about the pace and direction of development. It has shown disregard for important religious sites. It has even failed to provide significant employment prospects for Aborigines. These are only two examples of a pervasive policy. So when someone tells you that Aborigines were robbed of their assets a long time ago – remember we are still robbing them. The next major robbery of Aboriginal possessions will take place in 1974 when uranium miners are granted leases in Arnhem Land in the Oenpelli region.

Some nights I lie awake thinking what it must be like being the mother of a malnourished child, holding a crying baby in her arms, and knowing she has insufficient food to feed it. Watching it week after week until finally the child becomes part of the statistics of the Aboriginal child death rate. (In many parts of Australia the Aboriginal children’s death rate is ten to seventeen times that of white children. When whites first came to this country Aboriginal children did not die more often than white children. Some authors suggest that in the early nineteenth century an Aboriginal child had better prospects of living than a white child.)

Confronted by this knowledge, by my own attitudes, what have I done? I have done nothing. I used to be a pacifist – believed in democracy, reform, liberalism. Now I would kill. I want to see every politician who by his advocacy or silence sanctions the present situation. You may say to me “But you are not consistent.  You say killing is wrong, then you want to kill your opponents.” I claim there is no lack of consistency. I believe that killing these miscreants of public office would lead to the end of this present period of stealing, lying, and starving people to death. It might force Australians to realise that Aborigines are Australians. The granting of land rights will not mean a loss to Australia. In fact, it might mean a gain to Australia particularly if Aborigines successfully negotiate a return to Aboriginal hands of vast tracts that Liberal-County Party governments have placed under the control of foreign dominated multinational corporations.

But as I write Aboriginal people are having their interests ignored, their children are dying: because of a combination of public indifference, governmental neglect, and politicians’ complicity with racists in stealing what remains of Aboriginal assets.

So I want to kill: I want to commit mass murder. You may suggest I’m mad (it’s an old ploy). I am not mad just a coward. I have not acted – yet. I am too self-centred. I love life and do not want to die. I realise that to try and kill all the politicians who are guilty of exploiting or ignoring Aborigines must result in my death. I am afraid and may not act. But perhaps some of my readers also find the guilt of inactivity oppressive. Someday, they, she, he, or I may act: we may kill. Revolution is each person’s discovery. Each must act in their name for, by, with and of themselves: not send another.



The last page noted that this book was published by the Wobbly Press, Darwin 1974.


The back page blurb read as follows: This book was written by a mini-dissident and should in no circumstances be read by children under the age of three, nor should it be looked at by women over the age of eight-three, Southern Stirrers, Black militants, trendy lefties, communists, fellow travellers and new left activists as it could incline them towards revolt or lethargy.

The views expressed in this book warrant action by the government but because the sedition contained herein does not offend against the obscenity laws, no action can be taken. However, the government would be interested in hearing from anyone who feels they have been libelled by this publication.

Signed: Officer in Charge of Secrecy under Open Government