In both conferences I was seen as a trouble maker trying to detract from the debate on South Africa and trying to dilute the condemnation of South African and United States problems with race. In both places I was condemned for being racist for suggesting that Australia's record was equal to, if not worse than, that of South Africa and the USA.
I feel vindicated today, having read an article in the Guardian by vetran left wing journalist John Pilger that confirms what I was saying about Australia a quarter of a century ago:
The facts are not in dispute: thousands of black Australians never reach the age of 40; an entirely preventable disease, trachoma, blinds black children as epidemics of rheumatic fever ravage their communities; suicide among the despairing young is common. No other developed country has such a record. A pervasive white myth, that Aborigines leech off the state, serves to conceal the disgrace that money the federal government says it spends on indigenous affairs actually goes towards opposing native land rights.
Australia's record on attitudes towards the indigenous population is abhorrent, it should be condemned by all decent people, and I still think that we should use the same sanctions against Australia as were used against South Africa, to pressurize the Australian Government into a change of attitude.
*NUPE - National Union of Public Employees, now part of UNISON