militarisation of the north Uncategorized

Timber Creek NT Propaganda

Timber Creek NT is little more than a pitstop in the NT.  It is in the spotlight because it is next to the huge military base Bradshaw and on the Victoria River which has flooded seriously just recently.  Timber Creek township is at the centre of the military buildup in the Northern Territory and the ABC has used this proximity to argue that the military and the Aboriginal people can engage in ‘cross cultural exchange’ to everyone’s benefit.  The ABC used its programs ‘Backroads’ ABC TV and its News App for an article on the same subject namely first nations v the military. 

The Backroads program starts with Kristy O’Brien who is breathlessly travelling in an American Osprey plane accompanied by US Marines to Timber Creek.  She is dressed in an outdoors NT look with appropriate hat and looks the part of the embedded (compromised) journalist with the military.  Bradshaw is one the largest live firing bases in the world. 

But paradise awaits all who live in Timber Town, especially the first nations people who have after some hesitations have been overwhelming welcoming to our military and the military of the US.  The First Nations people hold welcoming ceremonies and explain various dreaming sites and train both US and Australians personnel how to weave.  The Australian Army leader at Bradshaw is incredibly serious as he explains how he listens to the First Nations people as they explain where the sacred sites are.  The Australian Army then fires at will at the rest of the site, using tank rounds, missiles, and other calibre live firing practice.  But wait there’s more good news Bradshaw needs services and the First Nations people have set up businesses to supply the military with services such as grading roads and hauling supplies to the hard-working militaries.  Low and behold alcohol abuse has lessened and benefits of the military are there for all to see all accompanied by Kristy O’Brien’s breathless enthusiasm for the US marines in the NT.

The deal appears to be that the traditional owners of land can visit their sites on a restricted number of days per year and they can get to talk to the Australian and US soldiers about traditional customs and they can conduct welcoming ceremonies.  The US military personnel interviewed were a gormless young man who admitted he didn’t know there were indigenous people in Australia and a very friendly and warm US Navy nurse who was interested in different healing methods from around the world.  None of the US Marines interviewed were the ‘if it stands knock it over, or if it moves kill it’ variety, just a sanitised version of US beneficence and generosity.  The US marines in the NT always go on a charm offensive and do odd jobs for the community like painting school seats or bus shelters all with maximum media exposure.

No hard questions were asked of the indigenous people.  Did they know that the Chinese people were the ‘enemy’?  Did they welcome that they could become a target in a hot war?  Did they know that US servicemen have a dreadful record of abuse of hosting nations’ people?  Did they know that once the live firing ground was used it can never be used for any productive purpose again because the ammunition is toxic and will poison the creeks and rivers and kill wildlife?  Do they understand that unexploded ordinance remains a threat for decades?  Do they understand that the US loves to use our live firing sites because all their firing sites in the US are so hopelessly polluted that they can’t be used?

There did appear to be some money flowing directly to First Nations people which was set aside for some community facilities and some funds for tertiary education of young people from Timber Creek.  There was no understanding that this money was their due and part of the rent/compensation for taking their land.  It seems a pity that the only way a First Nations town can earn money is through assisting the military with their largely negative and damaging activities.  It is a pity that First Nations people seem impressed and taken in by the military.

Kirsty O’Brien was the journalist who produced these two pieces of information for the ABC.  She is the wife of the former Chief Minister of the NT Michael Gunner who introduced and welcomed the US marines to the NT.  He described the US presence a boon to the Territory and necessary to “defence”.

Unfortunately, another article about Timber Creek came out shortly after these items appeared.  Obviously the other two items had been prepared some months ago and were glossy presentations, but Timber Creek was hit by massive floods from cyclone ‘Kirily’ and they were cut off from supplies.  People in this article described being left to starve by the NT Government and pastoralists were complaining about the lack of help to restore their fences.  Where were the brave military boys and girls?  Why didn’t they help?  Maybe all is not good in the paradise called Timber Creek.