Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest’s Indue card continues a proud family history of exploiting Aboriginal people

“Twiggy’s” Minderoo Foundation named after the site of an Aboriginal massacre

The Minderoo Foundation is named after Minderoo station, presently under occupation by Andrew Forrest. Minderoo is Aboriginal for “place of permanent and clean water”

Minderoo was established by Tim Hooley in 1867 through the simple expedient of stealing land from the Aboriginal people who had been living there for 65 thousand years.*

When Aboriginal people pushed back in 1869, two skirmishes resulted. The first led by Hooley with his workers and the latter known as the Battle of Minderoo** by an armed Government force sent from Roebourne. Essentially a massacre of Aboriginal people armed with spears and nula nulas (clubs) by Europeans armed with rifles and handguns.

Despite these “victories” –  continued Aboriginal resistance forced Hooley to leave Minderoo.

In 1878 the Forrest brothers secured the leasehold on Minderoo. David Forrest was the manager and the property was occupied by his brothers, John and Alexander Forrest along with Septimus Burt.

 

John Forrest entered politics and became Premier from 1890 to 1901.

Alexander Forrest became the first (and only) member for the  Kimberley in 1887. When responsible government arrived he was then elected to the Legislative Assembly for West Kimberley in 1890, and held the seat until his death. 

Septimus Burt was elected unopposed as the inaugural Legislative Assembly member for Ashburton, and held that seat until he retired from politics in 1900. During this time he was Attorney General (1890–1897) and Acting Premier when the leader, Sir John Forrest, was absent.

 

An advantageous meeting of political and business interests that Forrest descendant Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest seeks to emulate, albeit without the bother of democratic electioneering and the inconvenience of public oversight.

The station was sold in 1998 due to a series of droughts and to repay debts. “Twiggy” bought it back in 2009.

 

John Forrest: Nation-building on stolen land using slave labour

We learned about John Forrest in Western Australia (WA) at High School. Vaguely remember… Explorer… First Premier of WA… Kalgoorlie water pipeline…

In later years at University, probably the single most useful thing I picked up, was that real education involves unlearning.

It certainly seems the case here, as a little research unearths an entirely different picture to that formative snapshot of compulsory  curriculum.

Not only were cattle stations such as Minderoo built on Aboriginal land to the detriment (unto killings) of Aboriginal people, they were reliant on Aboriginal labour usually enforced by an indenture system.

 

The Sunday Times, April 30 1899

Slavery in W.A.

The wrath of Big John Forrest and his crowd at the badness of those bad men who talk about n****r slavery in Westralia is very pathetic, but the slavery is there all right-barring the name. The indenture system and the judicious use of the vagrancy law amount between them to a very comprehensive policy of n****r bondage.

The W.A. law regards every n****r as a vagrant not only the tame n****r who loafs round towns but the wild aboriginal in the bush. He is a vagrant because he lives as his fathers did before him, and doesn’t pay rent for a stone mansion, and go daily to a place of business with a bell-topper on.

When the squatter wants aboriginals the strong arm of the law goes out into the wilderness and catches them, and proceeds to “lumber” them as having no visible lawful means of support. As a matter of fact they have all the visible lawful means that they want the wallaby and the grub and other wandering victuals are their visible means but the pastoral J.P. refuses to take cognisance of any food that isn’t bought in a shop. So he gives the n****r six months, with the alternative that he may get out of his vagrant state by being indentured, for a long term of years to the squatter.

Any able-bodied n****r that the pastoralists wants has the alternative of going into bondage under the indenture system, or of being gaoled over and over again by the squatter J.P. till he thinks better of it. But it isn’t slavery, not actual slavery. The n****r need not be indentured unless he pleases, and he needn’t go to gaol either, if he obeys the law.

Any n****r who likes to come out of the bush and open a bank account and live in a good house, and have an office or a shop and float syndicates, can go about his business as freely as any white J.P. It is his sinful obstinacy in not doing these things which causes all the trouble.

“Bulletin.” (Source)

 

A Swiftian account that lays bare the exploitative slavery suffered by a people displaced and treated with less value than the sheep and cattle transforming their ancient lands.

 

“Older Aborigines today still remember the time when the hard soles of their feet were lacerated by files, of the sort which are used to work horse’s hoofs, in order to prevent them from running away, and still today one may see e.g. iron balls, to which black women were chained – for the disposal of the mostly single station managers and as hostages for their working but striving-away husbands.” Micha 1961: 673 Source

 

Aboriginal people were “paid” in salt beef, damper, a twist of tobacco, sugar and tea and were much easier to discard when injured, sick or grown too old, than even the non-unionised European labour of the day.

 

John Forrest an apologist for slavery and cruelty to Aboriginal people

Plenty of puff pieces out there similar to the High School material that skipped over the invasion of this country by the English and the racist social mores of the day. It is unsurprising that The West Australian has an article titled, How WA’s first premier Sir John Forrest, brother Alexander Forrest built this State.

While this piece neglects to mention the Forrest’s history as proponents of slavery, we are treated to the philosophy of their great, great nephew “Twiggy”Forrest.

For just as our education system was geared to producing the next generation of tradesmen (females mostly excluded back then) and bureaucrats, so too is our billionaire-run media complicit in furthering business interests. In this instance, making a rapacious billionaire’s hypocritical views on his humble selflessness appear worthy of attention.

“Mr Forrest said his great, great uncle’s achievements had influenced him in two significant ways throughout his business and philanthropic endeavours.”

Twiggy clearly confuses his ability to influence events because of his billions and a government amenable to racist paternalism, with that of his forebears whose status and powers were largely dependent on being elected representatives of the people.

“To not sweat the small stuff, because it really stops you thinking about the big picture — where you can make a difference, you can move society along, you can create a better life, for everybody, he said.”

The casual insertion of his right to “move society along” is grandiose and his assertion he can “create a better life, for everybody” patently absurd given the damage his tax-dodging Billionaire class has wrought on Australian society and our remnant life support systems.

 

Our conservative History professor was very strong on us appreciating, that transplanting our contemporary mores onto historical events was an impediment to a full understanding of the times. So bearing that in mind, it is interesting to note that the plight of Aboriginal people was not in step with contemporary views on human rights, necessitating John Forrest’s continual apologism on the subject.

 

Chaining Aboriginies. Remarks by Sir John Forrest. Melbourne.
The Register (Adelaide, SA: Friday 12 July 1907 )

Alluding to-day to the references in the House of Commons to the treatment of aborigines
in Western Australia, Sir John Forrest said: – ‘The people of Western Australia know more
about this matter than the people of England. The chaining of aborigines by the neck is the
only effective way of preventing their escape.

The ring they wear is often padded, and their arms and legs are left quite free. To place chains
on their legs or handcuffs on their wrists would be irksome and inconvenient, and I have no
doubt that the blacks themselves would much prefer the present method.

There is no inhumanity. I will undertake to say that in no other country are aborigines looked
after better than in Western Australia. Every policeman and every justice is a protector of
aborigines. I would be the last to sanction anything in the nature of cruelty; but, as one who
understands the circumstances. I have no hesitation in saying that a great fuss is being made
about very little.’

 

 

Notice the tin mug placed in strategic places on the tin wall behind the prisoners – if one wanted a drink or to go to the toilet the whole gang would have to go with them. In some cases, people were chained next to a member of a tribal group who were culturally inappropriate even to speak to – never-mind the different customs and language barriers – National Unity Government

 

 

The Covenant

In 2008, Twiggy in concert with then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, came up with the idea of the Australian Employment Covenant (the Covenant), which was supposed to put 50,000 Aboriginal people into jobs within two years.

“To do that would have been an impressive feat, given that the 2006 Census recorded the number of unemployed Indigenous Australians to be around 23,000 people” Despite receiving pledges from business for 55,000 jobs it is estimated that only 4,300 jobs had been filled when the scheme ended in 2011.

So a dismal flop?

Well maybe for the taxpayers who paid $4,000,000 in start up funding and a range of “outcome payments” as well as approximately $3,000,000 for the jobs pledged by employers. Total costs are a little hazy.

For Twiggy it meant millions in free advertising about what a selfless billionaire he was, but more importantly his credentials as a saviour of Aboriginal people were now firmly established.

 

Slavers to saviours

Naturally, following the failure of The Covenant, Mr Forrest was “commissioned” by Former Liberal PM Tony Abbot (2014) to look into ways to achieve “parity” for Aboriginal people. (Parity: the state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay)

Mr Forrest’s idea of “parity” was for the unemployed (Aboriginal people initially) to have their earnings quarantined and to suffer degradation and hardship, so that mates of the conservative Liberal National Party (LNP) could exploit them.

 

“The philosophy of the cashless welfare card is the perfect marriage
of neoliberal ideology and evangelical Christianity, both of which
pathologise, criminalise and individualise poverty as a lifestyle choice.” (Source)

 

It is fitting, that John Forrest’s great, great nephew, Andrew Forrest is the architect of the Cashless Debit Card, a means to further control, marginalise and punish Aboriginal people, for who, apart from a Billionaire (8.7 billion USD – 2020) descended from a pro-slaving dynasty, would have a better idea of the trials and tribulations faced by Aboriginal people?

Once again we see an eerie confluence between the Forrests – past and present. Just as John Forrest knew that Aboriginal people preferred neck chains, so too does his great, great nephew know, Aboriginal people prefer having their income managed.

In both cases, political and economic gains through control of Aboriginal people, are an intrinsic component of the Forrest apologia.


Footnotes

*65,000 years is an estimate

**The Battle of Minderoo – The poem

 

 

Andrew (Twiggy) Forrest | Class, Connections and Corruption

 

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