Ferals run amok

If they really wanted the sniff of a genuine black camp they could have pitched a tent in the river bed at Alice Springs ...

THE barbarians aren't just at the gates. They've smashed through and are camping in the Kings Domain gardens.

And, no, I don't call this rabble in the tents at "Camp Sovereignty" barbarians because they are Aboriginal.

In fact, not even a third of the 150 illegal campers who were there at the height of the Commonwealth Games looked even tanned.

And that's the worry: our change-the-world ferals -- now lawyers, journalists and councillors -- are growing stronger, and our officials are now too ashamed of our culture to resist them and their Aboriginal mascots.

Just check how we've been humbugged by the camp's Black GST (Genocide, Sovereignty, Treaty) group and its leader, Robbie Thorpe.

Thorpe says he is an "Aboriginal elder", though he has more British blood than our ethnic Chinese Lord Mayor, John So. Or me.

But it's his black ancestors who have helped him most. They've made him a useful ally for the eco-ferals who see Nature as sacred and urban humans as corrupt, who adore the "Noble Savage".

And so Thorpe, as an "Aboriginal elder", is now an unlikely holy man -- a guide back to the Garden.

Oops. Too philosophical. So here are the plain facts.

Thorpe's ties to forest ferals go back years. In 1991, for instance, he helped the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group to resist imports of tropical timber, saying then that he was an elder of the Barbuwooloong clan of central Gippsland.

In 2000, the Communist Party's newsletter reported he was helping protesters at the Goolengook anti-logging camp, this time as an elder of the Krauatungalung clan, from around the Snowy.

Three years ago he was "saving" the Strzelecki forest, giving a speech alongside Greens leader Bob Brown as an elder of all western Victoria's "Gurnai Nation" clans.

He'd then drifted to the radical fringe of black politics, becoming treasurer of the Aboriginal Provisional Government, which issued its own passports and demanded half of Australia be put under black rule where the "laws of the white man would not apply".

His APG had more success than you'd believe. Its deputy president, Geoff Clark, a Scottish wharfie's son, became the (last) head of ATSIC, the taxpayer-funded Aboriginal parliament. The pale APG secretary, Michael Mansell, is legal manager of the state-supported Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

You'd think stirrers with such a dumb and divisive agenda would get the bum's rush, no matter how black -- or white -- they were.

But the Melbourne City Council last year started digging a designer hole for itself by holding a groovy "Talk Blak" conference featuring not just Mansell and Clark, but a woman from Thorpe's Black GST collective.

How crazy was that, especially given the race-based rant Thorpe had given at a Black GST public meeting just weeks earlier?

"The white man," rasped Thorpe, part-white himself, "he's a liar, he's a thief."

So evil was he that he'd "exterminated 99 per cent of the (black) population here".

"Weapons of mass destruction were used on innocent people in a pre-emptive strike, namely smallpox . . . (using) a cargo of disease".

And this "pariah state" was still committing a "premeditated criminal genocide of the indigenous people ongoing for 237 years".

Aborigines, on the other hand, "never committed crimes against humanity like the white man does" and had cared for the land.

"Because you've separated them and their customary law, their ceremonial practices, you're facing your own peril." White man was destroying Mother Earth.

Fact check. Smallpox was brought here not by whites but by Indonesian fishermen; the British did not try or want to to wipe out Aborigines; and settlers made this land so fruitful it can carry tens of millions more people than were here in 1776.

More facts: Aborigines were more likely to die in their own endless wars than white Australians were to die in the world wars. As for the myth of the green black . . .

But never mind facts. Feel instead the eco-feral faith -- that toxic mix of white-hating and green-preaching.

And thus was Thorpe adopted by so-sorry whites who can't get enough of what hurts. Note the help he got when when he announced the Black GST would set up camp in the Botanic Gardens during the Games to demand black rule and a treaty from the Queen. The camp was illegal, but the timid council let it stay rather than enforce its own laws. Greens councillor Fraser Brindley even offered the Black GST the use of his flat.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres, paid by the Bracks Government to actually help the poor with their legal troubles, meanwhile gave Thorpe and his mates free advice and a 24-hour hotline to help resist any moves to kick them out.

No wonder no one touched them, not even when their foul-mouthed heckling forced the Queen to drop a street walk, or when they crashed a Thai festival at Federation Square.

Instead -- most spookily -- eco-feral Melburnians came to worship in their thousands, and be led, shiny-eyed, through a "sacred fire" lit by Thorpe and his friends.

This fire, said Thorpe, was "a living conduit to the Creator". It could "heal", but if extinguished had "destructive power". The council must build something to ensure it never went out, if black religion was to be respected and the city saved.

Thorpe couldn't have made a smarter marketing move in these pagan days. You see, magic fires are all the rage among eco-ferals, as you'd see at next weekend's Confest, near Deniliquin.

Here's how Queensland University cultural anthropologist Graham St John described the fire-frenzy at one of these annual Confests, started with the help of former Labor Deputy Prime Minister Jim Cairns and now a must-go for witches, pagans, nudists, vegans, artists and failures:

'One hundred females danced in a circle pulsating towards and out from the centre (a fire) chanting to a steadily increasing drum beat." Then "dancers, many of whom were naked, with mud, ochre and paint-based body and facial designs, gestured frenetically" to music.

Thorpe's fire at the Botanic Gardens burned less bright, but callers to 774 ABC talkback were almost in ecstatic tears as they told of having been "smoked" there.

As Age columnist Tracee Hutchison, mystically wrote, this was an "ancient and gentle healing ritual", and she felt "humbled" that "the Fire Man" who smoked her "thinks I've got some kind of blackfella spirit inside me".

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings, easily sucked in by black spin, even seemed to tell protesters he was comfortable with fencing off their "sacred" blaze.

Hundreds of eco-ferals meanwhile camped with the Black GST to get in touch with that re-imagined Aboriginal spirituality, around a fire that the grovelling council promised yesterday it might keep burning forever.

Of course, if they really wanted the sniff of a genuine black camp they could have pitched a tent in the river bed at Alice Springs, but the boozy, brawling reality isn't what such folk desire.

Ernie Dingo of The Great Outdoors might even have let them camp in the horse paddock of his 4ha Brisbane home, but they prefer their blacks primitive and poor, not rich and sophisticated.

And so they camped among the New Tribals who make them feel closest to the Nature gods they've always dreamed of. But how Aboriginal was any of this really?

Ask Graham Atkinson, a Yorta Yorta man who co-chairs the Victorian Traditional Owners Land Justice Group, and he'll tell you Thorpe and his crew are just blow-ins who are causing trouble and should "now pack up and call it a day".

Local Wurundjeri "elder" Ian Hunter also wants them kicked out. I'd have asked the rival Boonerwrung land councils what they think of Thorpe, too, but I doubt they're any more the voice of Melbourne's "real" Aborigines, given the spokesman of one is a white restaurateur and the other is an activist from Western Australia.

But it's not Aborigines who made a hero of Thorpe anyway. That was instead the folly of eco-ferals and their sympathisers in the bureaucracy, who see in him the Noble Savage they've always wanted to light their fire.