The Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Published in several places in 2007:
the last time in the 300th edition of National Indigenous Times.

The Senator says it looks ramshackle.
Well Senator, it is a tent
It’s asking white Australia
to pay the bloody rent.

They told the bully boys in blue
to pull it down in ’72.
But Aboriginal activists
just resurrected it anew.

They claim it is an eyesore.
It stops them seeing sore eyes.
The Trachoma that still blinds
needs only clean water supplies.

They think Blacks should find another way
to express their gratitude
for 18 times more incarceration,
for white Australia’s rectitude,
dying 20 years younger than whites,
and dispossession of such magnitude.

They say the tent’s been there too long,
too long by 32 years.
Decades shedding bitter tears
as babies die too young,
too few concessions wrung.
The aching long years spent
knowing “it’s time” for white Australia
to pay the bloody rent.

Now there’s a brilliant new idea:
after all it’s just a tent.
Forget about the symbolism.
Replace it with an ornament.

What about an Aborigine
on one leg holding a spear?
We could have 32 of them one for every year…..

For every year the embassy has stood.
For each year racists never understood,
that it celebrates survival.
215 years since our arrival.

It’s in the parliamentary triangle.
We need some fancy dingle dangle.
Something that would look ‘quite nice’,
and at not too great a price.
Something fitting – to adorn
the oh-so-green parliamentary lawn.
With a message almost mute
Now wouldn’t that be cute?

(John Tomlinson & Penny Harrington)