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The long walk to Canberra

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 07:56 pm
Long walk

http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,1658,397751,00.jpg

Essendon (Oz rules football)hero Michael Long has vowed he will walk to Canberra if PM John Howard won't meet him to discuss problems in the indigenous community.


Long walk sets PM a challenge
By LINCOLN WRIGHT
21nov04

ESSENDON great Michael Long has asked for a meeting with John Howard and promised to walk to Canberra to confront the Prime Minister if refused.

The former Essendon star says he wants to talk to Mr Howard about immediate action to combat Aboriginal social problems.
He said he was willing to put aside his three-year row with Mr Howard to find solutions to problems of alcoholism, malnourishment and violence in Aboriginal communities.


Long said he would start walking to Canberra tomorrow "blackfella style" if Mr Howard refuses to meet him.

"I'd like to sit down with Mr Howard and the elders. I won't take no for an answer when it comes to indigenous problems," he said.

Long said he would walk with anyone who wanted to follow him to Canberra and camp out until Mr Howard agreed to talk. Only indigenous people could help themselves, but they needed the help of the Howard Government, Long said.

"We want to put down our spears and the Government wants to put down its guns."


Long is the chairman of the Australian Football League's Indigenous Foundation. He helps recruit Aborigines.

But his eyes had been opened to the serious problems of alcoholism, malnourishment and violence destroying his people.

"Who knows? In 2050, there might not be any black people.

"This is not a political thing. This is something we need to do right. I mean no disrespect to Mr Howard. I want us to barrack for the same team, black and white together," Long said.

"I have just come from a funeral. I have just seen so many deaths, the alcohol and destruction within our own mob."

Aboriginal people needed a voice that could mediate between both sides of politics.

To that end, Long called for restored power to Aboriginal elders, saying they had an enormous amount of knowledge.


In 2001, Long called Mr Howard a "cold hearted prick" for his attitude towards the Stolen Generation. Mr Howard refused to apologise for Australia's treatment of the Aborigines and downplayed a landmark report into Aboriginal children taken from their parents last century.

"I want to apologise for calling him a cold-hearted prick. Howard can be a great leader if he opens up his heart," Long said.

"The Lord works in mysterious ways -- so does the Prime Minister."

Long said his parents were stolen, an experience he said had scarred him. People should not make throwaway lines about a trauma behind the problems of indigenous Australians, he said.

"I was angry (at Howard's comments). But I'd prefer to make love, not war."
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:08 pm
I love Michael Long! So, where's he starting from?
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:10 pm
Hey, now there's an idea. You make your Prime minister walk to Canberra; we make our President walk from place of residence to Washington. We'll see just who wants the job then.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:23 pm
littlek wrote:
I love Michael Long! So, where's he starting from?


He started in Melbourne. A spontaneous decision after attending yet another Aboriginal friend's funeral. I heard about the walk on ABC radio, a short time ago. The small group is now making it's way through country Victoria, heading north. I felt really inspired & moved. One person has already joined them & hopefully more will.

Michael Long is/was a famous black Australian Rules footballer.

His parents were members of The Stolen Generation. Those "half cast" aboriginals who were forcibly removed from their families by the authorities for their "betterment". A disastrous policy of assimilation & has had ongoing repercussions.. ( & is the subject of Oz film, Rabbit Proof Fence)
The Prime Minister has refused to say "sorry" to the Stolen Generation, as an act of reconciliation, a stance that has caused much grief, anger & hurt to aboriginal people & to many other Australians. Long is Right!: The Prime Minister IS a prick! Evil or Very Mad
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:24 pm
roger wrote:
Hey, now there's an idea. You make your Prime minister walk to Canberra; we make our President walk from place of residence to Washington. We'll see just who wants the job then.


Laughing
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:46 pm
AFL footballer to lobby PM on aborigines
November 23, 2004 - 9:50AM


A top AFL footballer is walking from Melbourne to Canberra in the hope of meeting Prime Minister John Howard.

Former Essendon player Michael Long set off on Sunday on his 660 km trek to raise awareness of the plight of Aboriginal Australians.

Long, whose parents were stolen as children, once called Mr Howard "cold-hearted" for saying the stolen generation was a myth.

He said while he had apologised to Mr Howard for the comment, he was still concerned that the government had yet to formally apologise over the stolen generation.

"Whatever money you've got in government can never replace what was taken away for those people of the stolen generation," Long told ABC radio's AM program.


"And we need to recognise that as a country, it's like anything, if you do something to someone and you hurt someone you apologise.

"And I think it's not about the money - at the end of the day it's about us recognising something and moving on together."

Long said he wanted the Howard government to recognise that Aboriginal people were keen to work with it.

"The most important thing is, ever since ATSIC has gone down, there's been no voice, there's been no representation, there's been no consultation about some of the issues that have been happening in our backyard and some of the third world conditions," he said.
"We want John Howard to recognise that.

"If he is a great leader we ask him, 'Let us come with you'."

Long rejected suggestions he had any political ambitions.

"No, this is just Michael Long the blackfella," he said.

© 2004 AAP
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 08:59 pm
Legend's Long march to PM's door
Stuart Rintoul
November 23, 2004/the Australian


AS he sits on a grassy verge on the outskirts of Melbourne at the start of his long trek, Michael Long is asked why he is walking to Canberra to see John Howard.

"Why not?" the AFL legend replies. There is a touch of Forrest Gump about this, a kind of naivety that makes the question seem wrong. There is something of Vincent Lingiari and Rosa Parks about it too. It was Lingiari's decision to sit down on his land that resulted in land rights for the Gurindji people. It was Parks's decision not to give up her bus seat to a white man that galvanised America's civil rights revolution.

Long was recently told the story of Parks by Aboriginal leader Patrick Dodson. On Sunday, after returning from another of the many funerals Aboriginal people attend, he started walking -- 658km from Melbourne to Canberra -- to see the Prime Minister.
"I'm not a political person, but I know right from wrong," he told The Australian.

"I played the game on the field, but I've got a responsibility to my people on the other side of the fence. Our hand is being forced. We are fighting for survival."


What does he want to tell Mr Howard? That Aboriginal people are dying before their time and living hopeless, lost lives.

He hopes to say: "We want to be a part of this country, Mr Howard." And he wants the Prime Minister to imagine what it is like to walk in the shoes of an Aborigine.

"We want to be on the same team, black and white, walking together," he said.


As a footballer, Long was dazzlingly elusive. The way he ran was compared with a frill-necked lizard. Unpredictable, gone before you knew it.

It was the way he began his long walk to Canberra.

He started on Sunday, "blackfella way", just gone, stepping out on to the road before anyone knew it. He started on the edge of Melbourne and got as far as Wallan, 30km away, where he was encouraged to stop while everyone caught up.

By last night, a support structure was being thrown up around him by an Aboriginal leadership sensing that something unexpected was occurring. Victorian Aboriginal leader Paul Briggs called it "an act of desperation, and it needs to be an act of desperation because Aboriginal people are in a desperate situation".

Permits were being approved yesterday and routes mapped out. In Sydney, NSW Aboriginal MP Linda Burney was organising permits on the NSW side of the border.

There was talk of Long being joined by people from as far away as Darwin. He is encouraging people to join him. "Walk a mile," Long said.

Four years ago, Long called Mr Howard "a cold-hearted prick" after the Prime Minister said the stolen generation was a myth. Both Long's parents were stolen as children.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:01 pm
Mr Howard sounds like someone I would not like to meet.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:03 pm
He is most definitely someone I would prefer NOT to have as my prime minister, littlek. A man of the 1950s.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:04 pm
Sounds familiar.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:08 pm
Yep. He's good mates with you know who! Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:14 pm
I know who.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:17 pm
who?
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:18 pm
<ACK!>
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:20 pm
A 658 km walk from Melbourne to Canberra. Such a simple thing, but so inspiring. I hope international media pick up the story & ask why Long's doing it. I hope Long tells them everything. I hope they ask awkward questions of the PM. I hope the PM is put on the spot. I hope he's mightily embarrassed & shamed. I hope they ask why he refused to say "sorry" to the Stolen Generation. I hope they enquire about what life is like for aboriginal people in Oz, 2004. I hope they do some expose reports. What will it take for Howard to ACT?
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:21 pm
littlek wrote:
<ACK!>


Laughing
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:25 pm
MsOlga - I hope the international media picks up on it too. But, I had to type in "Michael Long" to see any news on ggogle about his protest. He certainly seems to be being the bigger man on the issue.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:30 pm
msolga, would you like to be a participant in my "penthouse forum" thread?

I think I can work you in.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:32 pm
It's very early days, littlek. And the walk is going to take quite a while, of course. So here's hoping ..... Smile Michael Long is famous in football mad Melbourne, so that explains why the focus is on him.
Actually, we've all been so depressed since the election & this is about the most uplifting news in weeks.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2004 09:33 pm
gustavratzenhofer wrote:
msolga, would you like to be a participant in my "penthouse forum" thread?

I think I can work you in.


I read some of it, Gus. I think it's out of my league! Laughing Embarrassed But I'm very impressed! :wink:
0 Replies
 
 

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