1December 2008




1st December 2008

Rolf Harris should stick to doing portraits of his beloved Queen, rather than painting Indigenous Australia with his broad and bigoted brushstrokes. The picture he has painted with his most recent inflammatory comments shows an artist who is all too willing to dip into a poisoned pallet.

This of course is not the first time Harris has used his ‘art’ to denigrate the first Australians. His offensive lyrics in the song ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’ tried to turn the reality of Indigenous Australians being enslaved by the Squatocracy as something humorous.

There is nothing funny about the abject poverty that many of your former compatriots live in as a direct result of colonisation. There is nothing funny about the rate of infant mortality experienced by our children and the early deaths of our Elders. Harris had previously apologised for these lyrics he had penned early in his career. In good faith and with an open heart, many Indigenous people forgave him for his ignorance and insensitivity.

His latest comments are a knife to the heart to those who with dignity and compassion thought he had changed. There is nothing compassionate or dignified about an individual, born into advantage solely due to his colonial heritage, who returns to his country of birth and blames those most traumatised by the impacts of colonisation.

Mr Harris, there is not an Aboriginal problem in this country, there is a post colonial problem and until people of your ilk claim collective responsibility for past and present denials of social justice, then we will continue to have unpleasant realities putting you off your dinner, whilst you watch your television.

There is indeed a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up. We didn’t make the mess and by referring to it as an ‘Aboriginal problem’ assumes we should be the ones solely responsible for cleaning it up.

I assume artists require an eye for detail when capturing reality. How about trying to capture the truth sport?

Yours sincerely,

Dennis Eggington, ALSWA CEO