Thursday, May 10

grey territory

I decided a long time ago that the world was grey …
And that I should become a psych nurse.

When you decide this … and tell other people
You invite all sorts of answers into your
Everyday conversations.

Some people are disgusted
Some people think you are amazing
So very amazing.

Some people have no idea what that is
And assume that you have something to do with
Sigmund Freud.

He was weird.

I just reckon it’s interesting
And it’s one of the greyest areas there is.

Are there shades of grey?


I recently made a trip to Utopia for work … there I had a chat with the local hippie doctor Kaminarnda who told me that Utopia, which is just like it sounds, is soon to be split up into half by a new scheme to Shire-ise the Northern Territory. One of these shires will take up one side of Utopia and another on the other side …. Of course … these people don’t like change much and hell, why fix something that ain’t broke. As I was staring at the map on the wall as the doctor was talking i realised that –

When I first moved to Alice Springs from Sydney I quickly got the picture that Australia, as a concept, is very East-Coast centric. Most of the people are on the Eastern Sea-board and the money and decisions flows through there. Decisions are made there that affect people in far-away places that these people have never been to and never will … and probably don’t have much attachment to at all … even if a place like the outback has fuelled our imaginations as a country … it’s part of our bloody identity … but people don’t even know what to tell a tourist other than “There’s nothing out there mate! NOTHING!” … which isn’t fucking true anyways is it!

After a while I started to notice something else … The Northern Territory is very Darwin-oriented. For those of you who don’t know, Alice Springs is in the dead centre of Australia … it’s very dry, surrounded by a very different climate to the “Top End” (as they call it). The top end is tropical and has crocodiles, has more people, has more facilities, has more shipping, more access to cheap flights, has the government etc. I started to hear people talking about how frustrated people were about having government somewhere else. Darwin makes decisions about what money is sent to Alice and for what … usually in the same way the money is spent up there even though it looks and feels and sounds and smells and tastes like a different world. The indigenous cultures up there are completely different too. I realised that the Territory is the same, it’s Darwin-centric.

After another little while I began to think about Central Australia (a term which is really a Centralian way of reclaiming our individuality from ‘Territorians’ from Darwin) and the remote Aboriginal communities which are reliant on Alice Springs as the capital of Central Oz for supplies, white specialists, health, power, technology … there are people in Alice who make decisions for communities up to four-hundred clicks away and as little as 20. And then I realised something … decision makers in Alice screw it up all the time too.

I’m not suggesting that I could come up with better political solutions … just suggesting that you don’t have to be far removed from a place to make decisions that affect people in ways you never thought possible, detrimental ways.

Centralised governments that do not consult with locals are inevitably going to stuff people around. It must be said that the idea behind making tonnes of shires in the Territory was a recognition of the fact that centralised governments have too much trouble in such spread out places. The remoteness of the Australian interior ends up meaning that governments would rather speed up the democratic process by making decisions on behalf of other people instead of a nice PC process of consultation which would take bloody forever.

This is not a diatribe about the evils of centralised governments … I’m hardly a commie … or a fascist …

just illustrating how wonderfully grey it is to work in the world’s murder capital.

(and I love the racially loaded phrases people use like “world’s murder capital”).

first and third photo // Nadine Kessler. copyright 2007

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