"The irony is superb. For at least two decades, bleeding hearts on the Left of politics insisted that white Australians should not tell Aborigines how to live their lives. If they wanted to fish with spears, live in humpies and drink themselves to an early death, well, it was the fault of white people, certainly, but there was nothing much that could be done, since Aborigines were assumed to want to live a "traditional" life in remote communities.
Now, on the Cape York peninsula, a dynamic group has emerged that would rather not live a completely traditional life, eating turtles and taking welfare cheques. It wants access to the Cape's land, rivers and resources, so it can start building a modern economy. The 10,000 people who live on the Cape dream of working their way out of poverty and putting an end to a humiliating dependency on welfare.
But no: green lobby groups, chief among them the Wilderness Society, traditional supporters of indigenous people, decided that the Cape's rivers were more important than its people. They asked the Beattie Government to ban most economic development on the Cape (except, perhaps, jobs or Aboriginal rangers, showing groups of white tourists how to dig food out of the ground). The Beattie Government decided to protect Green preferences, rather than promote indigenous development, and passed the so-called Wild Rivers legislation, which prevented mining, farming and other development. Black leaders were appalled. Gerhardt Pearson, younger brother of activist Noel, could not understand why a native parrot was more important than an Aboriginal child. They were insulted, too, by the idea that Aborigines would run rampant over the Cape. It is in pristine condition because indigenous people have taken such good care of it."
The Beattie government has changed its mind, and will now allow the natives entrance to economic development, self respect, and a modicum of modernity.
Sure, it’s not nearly as romantic as living in a humpy with no blankets for your children, but hey, that’s the price of letting the natives have a life. Oh, ooops, that’s what the left-greenies don’t want them to have.
The Australian - editorial (down the bottom, after the Keating piece)