SURPRISING to relate, Thomas Keneally is still alive. I know because the obnoxious octogenarian had a piece in the Guardian on Friday titled The astonishing lies of the no campaign. He obviously feels the Voice is sufficiently historic to warrant, for posterity’s sake, the predictable thoughts of yet another elder of the Whitlam tribe. Not just any elder, however. “One of the wisest elders we have,” tweeted an easily led Simon Chapman. Keneally’s argument for the latest and oiliest ignis fatuus of the leftist hive mind was the usual mixture of ad hominems, ipse-dixitism, bourgeois snobbery and half-baked homiletics. What makes the Booker Prize winner’s tirade more shameful than anything even the self-muzzled Noel Pearson has said during this Labor-incited beach brawl with the ghost of Captain Cook is his claim that governments have recently executed hundreds of Aborigines. He starts by mentioning that Australia abolished the death penalty:
Good for us! Yet there has been, since the royal commission into Indigenous deaths in custody in 1992, in excess of 550 First Nations people who have died in forms of custody. There’s your capital punishment. Death for Aboriginals. We’ve done better than Texas.
Let’s disregard, for economy’s sake, the racism of comparing the mostly petty Aboriginal offenders locked up on any given day in our prisons with the psychopaths, rapists and murderers dispatched by lethal injection in the Lone Star State. Though updated, the figure Keneally cites above is taken from the Australian Institute of Criminology study of deaths in custody. In a 19-paragraph story on the AIC’s 2020-21 report, the Guardian tardily noted in paragraph 17 that “Indigenous people were no more likely to die in custody than non-Indigenous people.” Of 106 deaths in custody in 2021-22, 24 decedents were Aboriginal and 81 were non-Aboriginal. Fewer Aborigines than non-Aborigines have been dying in all forms of custody since 2003.
Keneally’s allegation – that states, ministers, prison guards and policemen are killing incarcerated black people – is the gutter talk of a moral dwarf. The 87 year-old should to be ashamed of himself but contrition and malice are never allies. That may have been the root cause of his early exit from St Patrick’s Seminary. Interviewed about the infamous conviction of George Pell in 2019, an elated Keneally told the Church Times that he was “amused” the Cardinal’s friends and supporters hoped to see him exonerated before he died. In custody.