"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.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.
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."
Pollies are a squeamish lot really, aren't they?
Back to system that permits social rot