Jobs Events Advertise

What if Barnaby had been Black?

Reece Harley -

The former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia was filmed lying flat on his back, muttering obscenities into his phone in Braddon, a suburb of Canberra, last Wednesday night. He has since acknowledged that his behaviour was the result of mixing prescription medication with alcohol.

For the last few days, I've been wondering - what if Mr Joyce had been a young Aboriginal man in the same situation?

In all likelihood, the police would have been called. He'd have probably ended up in the back of a paddy wagon.

Instead, prominent figures from across the political spectrum have come to Mr Joyce's defence. The focus has been on the behaviour of the passerby who chose to film the incident rather than offer assistance. A discussion has ensued for days around the morality of the witness.

Would a young Aboriginal man in the same predicament receive similar concern and empathy? I highly doubt it. The conversation around Mr Joyce's actions, marked by calls for understanding and concern for his welfare, stands in stark contrast to the often harsh treatment of Indigenous Australians in similar situations.

It's a selective application of empathy; where wealthy, influential, well-dressed white men are given the benefit of the doubt, and their actions are viewed through the lense of a medical episode. Judgement is reserved for the passerby who didn't render assistance. It's a profound double standard.

Image: Nine News.

Mr Joyce's recent critique of the Albanese government's approach to alcohol-related issues in Alice Springs, accusing it of increasing crime by "letting the grog back in," rings of hypocrisy.

His public drunkenness (not his first rodeo in this regard) undermines his credibility on these issues, and underscores the selective indignation that often surrounds discussions on alcohol, crime, and Indigenous communities in Australia.

The behaviour of an Indigenous person under the influence is criminalised, whereas the same behaviour by a non-Indigenous Australian, especially a high-ranking politician, are considered within the context of privacy, care, and concern for his welfare.

This episode should prompt a thorough examination of the systemic biases ingrained in Australian society. It's a clear reminder of the significant strides we all still need to make in ensuring all people are treated equally, irrespective of their background or status in society. We've got a long way to go.

   Related   

Opposition to Truth and Justice commission is founded on a lie
As the recently retired Senator Pat Dodson bows out with his integrity intact, Former Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken W...
Jesse J. Fleay 15 Feb 2024
There's nothing new - or sinister - about anti-colonial solidarity
The struggle for Aboriginal rights in Australia has historically been fought through an understanding of intersectional liberati...
Ethan Lyons 14 Feb 2024
When racism and white fragility prevented me from delivering my invited speech
Last Friday, on the 26th of January, I had the most confronting speaking experience I have ever encountered in over three decade...
It is time to pivot from divisive rhetoric to constructive action
There is something seriously wrong in our country when political division starts to infect where we buy our groceries. The call...
Zak Kirkup 31 Jan 2024

   Reece Harley   

In a heartbeat: smart watches helping to close the gap
When Aunty Mary Waites joined a research trial aimed at helping to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease in Abori...
Rudi Maxwell 23 Feb 2024
Groote Eylandt residents call for land council probe
Hundreds on a remote Northern Territory Island have called on the federal government to investigate "potential gross misconduct"...
Neve Brissenden 23 Feb 2024
Two drug deaths, including that of an Indigenous man, spark call for change
Two tragic drug-related deaths have led to recommendations police and parole officers be given better medical, first aid and men...
Miklos Bolza 23 Feb 2024
Officer In Charge used racist slur for Indigenous people in correspondence with Zachary Rolfe, inquest reveals
Sergeant Lee Bauwens will continue giving evidence in the inquest into the death of Kumanjayi Walker, four years after he was sh...
Neve Brissenden 22 Feb 2024