John Singleton, The Bulletin, November 13, 1979, pp. 76-81.

I’ve got to tell you the truth for starters, and the truth for starters is that when I arrange to do this tour I think I am on to the greatest story of all time.

Like here is the caper:

Buddy Williams is the fair dinkum real outback version of Slim Dusty.

For 40 years he’s been going to a different town a night for 11 months of the year. Non-stop. And after 40 years he is being honoured in Cairns.

The idea is we film this show and then follow Buddy on the road around the Aboriginal missions of Queensland.

Well, for a start, I’m a Buddy Williams fan and I know that part of the story will be a TV ripper.

But I also know what the Queensland Government don’t know, i.e., while I’m there I will have free and unfettered access to all the most gruesome Queensland Aboriginal horror stories, just like I’ve been reading about in The National Times and National Review for about forever.

I knew that after seeing the Aboriginal disaster areas in Western Australia and the Northern Territory I just couldn’t wait for this.

Our story starts in this Cairns Civic Centre which is as modern as tomorrow and the town turns out in force to pay homage to Buddy Williams.

But there aren’t any Aborigines because tomorrow is their day at Yarrabah about 30 kilometres south.

This joint is run by the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Advancement known, lovingly, well at least known, as the DAIA.

Yarrabah was a Church of England mission from 1892 to 1962 when the Queensland Government took it over.

The afternoon we get there is the school fete and most of the residents (about 1200) turn up.

They are known as Murrays and as far as I could see or find out there are no full bloods.

There is a new pub which is open for a few hours this day, there is no trouble. How bloody boring. No story here.

The kids are all healthy and happy, just like your kids.

And the Aborigines are all pretty happy too.

They live right on the sea, the average income, the manager (Shane O’Connor) reckons, is around $300 to $400 per house.

The average rent is around $3.

I tried to find a dissatisfied Aborigine but couldn’t. Everyone was too busy laughing and singing either at the fete or that night at the Buddy Williams concert in the community hall.

But I realised (or tried to convince myself) this was probably all window dressing and I couldn’t wait until we got out into the real wilds to see what was really happening.

(PS. For Queensland police haters I have to report that there were 12 police at Yarrabah. Two whites and 10 native police elected by themselves. We should have it so lucky.)

Bloomfield River Mission
This is run by the Lutherans and is seven road hours from Cairns and 2.5 hours from Cooktown.

It is set along the Bloomfield River just a few kilometres in from the ocean.

Quite as beautiful a place as you will ever see in your life.

There are 300 Aborigines here with their own kindergarten.

The 60 natives who work really only muck around and about the mission. (Although there is talk about the old timber mill getting going again. Every mission has a timber mill. None of them work. They’re all about to. I think it’s just a legend.)

There is no pub; the nearest is the Lion’s Den, sort of near Cooktown.

There are no white police and only four native police.

The houses are clean. And the latest ones are as good as you’d expect to find anywhere.

No one is doing very much, but everyone is happy and I am starting to get a bit worried about the whole bit. Like where is all the trouble? It must be coming?

Hope Vale
This is a Lutheran mission, too.

The Lutherans preach a fair bit about “Salvation by grace through faith.”

But putting up with a bit of the old Bible bashing isn’t bad exchange when you think the Aborigines get repaid by another knockout little town of some 1500 people.

We were originally going to camp on the floor of the unused children’s nutritional centre (which is unused primarily I suppose because the kids are full of nutrition).

But then we get to have the use of the hospital which didn’t have any patients anyway.

The Cooktown pub is only an hour or so away, but I didn’t see anyone drinking, let alone drunk.

Sixty-eight of the Aborigines work on maintaining the town, 14 in the sand mining nearby and another 12 work on a co-operative cattle station.

The rest just sit down in the sun and wait for their next cheques to arrive. Sort of like being part of the Kennedy clan without the tax problems.

Lockhart River
Here we go again.

A tiny little community. Everyone laughing and happy. The canteen (Aboriginal for pub) is closed.

I know that I’m getting impatient, so I decide there’s no point staying overnight, so I fly straight to Bamaga which is as close as you can get to the top of Cape York before you start swimming to Thursday Island.

Well, if the other places were beautiful, this is paradise.

Most of the people you see in the streets are Islanders. Big, strong, laughing Melanesians.

The first day I am there is the day of the Bamaga Show. I swear that if you arrived blindfolded you’d think you were in Tahiti.

The Islanders do up their little areas with palms and table cloths and in an empty park there are suddenly 20 Island outdoor restaurants.

Live turtles are cooked and served. (If you’re interested, turtle meat looks just like beef but tastes and smells a bit too much like old boot for my liking.)

And the Islanders and Aborigines can catch as many as they like for food.

The music is playing. The rodeo is bucking away.

The Bamaga Cup is the funniest race I have ever seen. The winning jockey weighs in at just under 15 stone. One Aboriginal jockey is so drunk he can hardly sit on his horse let alone ride and another Aboriginal jockey has a bit of trouble when his saddle falls off and his horse falls over. It could only happen at the Bamaga Cup.

But where have all the Aborigines gone? Say there were 1000 people at the show. I reckon there were 900 Islanders and 100 whites.

The Aborigines were probably having too much fun sitting down somewhere else. They couldn’t have been at the canteen because it is closed indefinitely. There seems to be a bit of controversy about some missing kegs.

There isn’t any work going on, but if you or I were offered the chance to live at a place like this we’d jump at it.

I mean most of our parents work all their lives with the dream of retiring somewhere even half as glorious as this. The Aborigines and Islanders get it all for nothing.

No wonder they’re happy.

Well, Weipa is a bit different because it’s a mining town. Comalco owns the whole joint, so it’s a bit like any other over-planned town with a big flash pub and the whole works.

A sort of heartless place; like a holiday version of Canberra.

But the next day I go down to Weipa South which has 600 residents all living like Jacky on yet another piece of God’s own country.

There’s no pub there, you have to go to Weipa. But by now I’ve given up on any scandals.

This is a bit different.

Last year for some remote reason the Federal Government decided that it would take over Aurukun.

But old Joh figured they couldn’t do that if he declared it a proper shire. So he does.

And now it is run by a shire clerk, Eric Grubb, who really knows what he’s talking about which is probably why no one from the media ever talks to him.

The Aurukun Council is elected by the natives each year and anyone who wants to do anything has to get the permission of the council.

Every year someone has a great new idea for a pub or a bottle shop. Every year it gets turfed out by the council.

The 600 Aborigines who live there all turned up at the concert and you wouldn’t meet a happier bunch. I was the only one unhappy because everyone else was so happy.

Edward River
By now I am about to give up.

The 300 Aborigines who live here have a canteen (pub), but it’s closed anyway.

They also farm crocodiles and amazingly it even looks like being successful.

And, if you can believe what I’m told, in two years the first lot of skins will have repaid all the costs, which would be a miracle.

But the crocodile farm is hardly the answer to Malcolm’s unemployment prayers, because the people who really do the work at this stage are white and only eight Aborigines help out.

Sad conclusion
Well, by now I know my scoop is not on.

And as I wander back to Cairns I really wonder where all those Queensland Abo-bashing stories come from.

Me, I’m against anyone getting anything for nothing, and that goes for the Aborigines as well.

But if we must spend money on giving people free houses, free medical care, free schooling and a free income as well, surely then the only ground for debate is whether or not the Aborigine is getting a fair go or not?

Well, anyone who reckons they’re not, in Queensland at least, ought to go and take any struggling young white couple and their kids; or any retired pensioner couple up to Cape York and ask them if they’d like to swap.

I don’t reckon you’d get a knockback.

There’s only one catch. They wouldn’t be allowed to live there anyway.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
  2. Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
  3. Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
  4. Singo and Howard on Compromise
  5. Singo and Howard on Monopolies
  6. Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
  7. Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
  8. Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
  9. Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
  10. Singo and Howard on Drugs!
  11. Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
  12. Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
  13. Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
  14. Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
  15. Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
  16. Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
  17. John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
  18. John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
  19. Singo and Howard on Aborigines
  20. Singo and Howard on Conservatism
  21. Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
  22. Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
  23. John Singleton changes his name
  24. Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
  25. New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
  26. Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
  27. Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
  28. Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
  29. Singo and Howard on Rights
  30. Singo and Howard on Crime
  31. Singo and Howard on Justice
  32. Singo and Howard on Unemployment
  33. John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
  34. Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
  35. Holed up, hold-up and holdout
  36. The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
  37. Workers Party Platform
  38. Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
  39. Singo and Howard on Business
  40. Singo and Howard on Discrimination
  41. Singo and Howard on the Greens
  42. Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
  43. Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
  44. Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
  45. Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
  46. Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
  47. Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
  48. The last words of Charles Russell
  49. Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
  50. Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
  51. Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
  52. Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
  53. "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
  54. Introducing the new Workers' Party
  55. Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
  56. Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
  57. Voices of frustration
  58. Policies of Workers Party
  59. Party Promises to Abolish Tax
  60. AAA Tow Truck Co.
  61. Singo and Howard on Context
  62. Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
  63. Singo and Howard on Apathy
  64. Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
  65. Singo and Howard on Decency
  66. John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
  67. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
  68. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  69. The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
  70. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  71. Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
  72. A Farewell to Armchair Critics
  73. Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
  74. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  75. David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
  76. Bludgers need not apply
  77. New party formed "to slash controls"
  78. The Workers Party
  79. Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
  80. The great consumer protection trick
  81. The "Workers" speak out
  82. How the whores pretend to be nuns
  83. The Workers Party is a Political Party
  84. Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
  85. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  86. Workers Party Reunion Intro
  87. Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
  88. Singo and Howard on Young People
  89. Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
  90. Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
  91. Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
  92. Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
  93. Singo and Howard on Consistency
  94. Workers Party is born as foe of government
  95. Political branch formed
  96. Government seen by new party as evil
  97. Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
  98. Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
  99. Singo and Howard on Licences
  100. Singo and Howard on Gun Control
  101. Singo and Howard on Human Nature
  102. Singo and Howard on Voting
  103. Singo and Howard on
    Inherited Wealth
  104. Singo and Howard on Education
  105. Singo and Howard on Qualifications
  106. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  107. Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
  108. Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
  109. A happy story about Aborigines
  110. John Singleton on Political Advertising
  111. Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
  112. Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
  113. How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
  114. The Discipline of Necessity
  115. John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
  116. Libertarians: Radicals on the right
  117. The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
  118. Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
  119. Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
  120. Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
  121. The impossible dream
  122. Why can't I get away with it?
  123. The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
  124. Time for progress
  125. The loonie right implodes
  126. Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
  127. John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
  128. Censorship should be banned
  129. "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
  130. John Singleton on Advertising
  131. John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
  132. Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
  133. Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
  134. John Singleton defends ockerism
  135. Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
  136. The Census Con
  137. Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
  138. Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
  139. Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
  140. John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
  141. John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
  142. John Hyde's Progress Party praise
  143. King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
  144. Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
  145. Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
  146. John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
  147. Save Parramatta Road
  148. 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
  149. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  150. Singo and Howard on Unions
  151. Singo and Howard Smash the State
  152. Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
  153. Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
  154. A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
  155. Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
  156. Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
  157. John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
  158. Thoughts on Land Ownership
  159. 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
  160. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  161. The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
  162. The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
  163. Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
  164. The mouse will roar
  165. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  166. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  167. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  168. Hancock's playing very hard to get
  169. Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
  170. Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
  171. John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
  172. John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
  173. Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
  174. John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
  175. I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
  176. Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
  177. John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
  178. Singo and Howard on Ballet
  179. Product innovation comes first
  180. Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
  181. A party is born
  182. Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
  183. John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
  184. Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
  185. Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
  186. John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
  187. Counterculture must exclude government handouts
  188. John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
  189. John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
  190. Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
  191. Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
  192. Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
  193. Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
  194. Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
  195. Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
  196. John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
  197. Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
  198. John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
  199. Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
  200. Return Australia Post to Sender
  201. Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
  202. John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
  203. John Singleton on cigarette advertising
  204. Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
  205. John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
  206. John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
  207. Gortlam rides again
  208. Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
  209. John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
  210. 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
  211. Singo asks two prickly questions
  213. Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
  214. Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
  215. Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
  216. An Ode to Busybodies
  217. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  218. How many tits in a tangle?
  219. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
  220. John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
  221. A speech from the Titanic
  222. A crime must have a victim
  223. John Singleton vs Australia Post
  224. Minimum wages the killer
  225. Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
  226. John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
  227. John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
  228. John Singleton vs Don Lane
  229. John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
  230. John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
  231. Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
  232. John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
  233. Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
  234. Charity: An Aesop Fable
  235. Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
  236. New improved moon
  237. Announcing people ... YES, people!
  238. Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
  239. John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
  240. Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
  241. John Singleton schools ad course
  242. John Singleton: advertising awards
  243. Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
  244. John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
  245. John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare
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