January 19, 2008

Weep for them

Weep for the babies, children and women of the remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
"After two months of dewy consultations, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has underlined the path ahead for Labor in the Aboriginal bush. It's back to the future: back to an apartheid world, where visitors to the 73 main towns and communities of the Territory's remote north and centre can go nowhere without the stamped approval of a Land Council commissar.

For three decades, this system flourished, and brought with it the results we know: anomie, small-town boredom, drugs, drink, illiteracy, social collapse, illness, early death. It was a significant factor in breeding weak societies, not strong open ones.

[Macklin] has prepared a chopping-block for Sue Gordon, the chairwoman of the federal taskforce, who this week begged the Rudd Government to give the intervention a new resolve. Macklin's pallid answer: increasing consultation with the affected communities.

"I'm not interested in ideology, I'm interested in what works," she told her first press conference on reforms to the intervention yesterday.

But the permit system is ideology crystallised to perfection, and it doesn't work.

In fact there is one reason for the Rudd Government's move to reinstate permits, and it is anideological reason. The progressive support base of the Labor Party loves the idea of sacrosanct Aboriginal Australia, untainted by harmful Western influences, its people performing ceremonial activities and tossing off the odd jewel-like work of art.

The NT Labor Government has itself clamoured for keeping permits, precisely because it listens only to the "big men" on communities who want to preserve their power."

The power of a few black men over children and women will now be re-implemented, locked away from the prying eyes of the rest of us.

Pollies are a squeamish lot really, aren't they?

Back to system that permits social rot


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    Yes Caz, certainly a retrograde step.
    I am extremely disappointed and saddened by Labor's decision here, though not surprised....Sigh..

  2. But Kath, Macklin is going to increase "consultation with the affected communities".

    Such swift and decisive action, such daring, such a strong signal to Aboriginal women and children that their days and years of being beaten, raped and abused, of having no future worth speaking of, might soon all change, replaced with a hopeful, less violent future.

    Yeah, consultation is a proven tool for radical social change.

    Consultation will likely prevent dozens of drunken beatings this very day, and prevent a dozen or so children from being raped.

    Now, if only the Victorian gov't had thought of consulting with organised criminals here, about 20 or so "underground" murders would have been prevented during this last decade or so. At the least they should follow this fine lead and start consultations with robbers - no more hold-ups for this year, hey? Just lots of little conferences at the Hyatt, perhaps.