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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Ken Henry's stool « Previous | |Next »
June 28, 2007

It is often held that the politics of left and right use the Aborigines to defend highly predictable partisan positions. For instance, the left has refused to acknowledge the social disaster for fear of perpetuating stereotypes; the right has been willing to talk honestly but in order to defend past practices and resuscitate the policy of assimilation. Can we step beyond this frame?

Ken Henry, the Treasury Secretary, says that decades of passive welfare provision have delivered dependency, not capability; indeed, it is dependency that has eroded capability. He acknowledges that there remains some controversy over this position, but responds by saying that we will never make progress in any area of policy unless we are prepared to deal honestly and analytically with the underlying causes of the problems we face.


A quote from Henry's address to the Cape York Institute conference in Cairns:

Indigenous welfare has been provided passively. It has encouraged a state of dependency. And that dependency has contributed to the undermining of indigenous development. These are propositions on which we should be able to agree. And the sooner we can reach agreement on these propositions, the sooner we can start to work on more effective means of securing indigenous development.

I accept that proposition.

The aim is not self-esteem--it is economic development.It is about Indigenous enterprises becoming more established, organised, and confident, and the Aboriginal leadership shifted its emphasis from providing a welfare function to a more commercially oriented view.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:41 AM | | Comments (12)


On a positive side. I think Cattle feed lots would be a good way for some communities to go.

Well, where have the schools, health services, job re-training or alternatively re discovery training as to old bush skills training and so forth facilities been, to allow decultured people a lift up onto the dominant culture truck or find a vehicle of their own??
It is no use talking about belatedly fixing the problems NOW; certainly by unimaginative and mean spirited ripping off of their dole pittance; for too many this is WAY too late. That can only apply as to future generations.
For both Aborigines and many other subsets of welfare benficaries, benefits cannot be 'conditional'. Particularly with Aborigines, benefits should be seen solely as to their COMPENSATORY mode.
We stole their country, ruined their culture and traumatised them, sabotaging their ability to function as people for generations and have this far failed to offer adequate help in restructuring and transition. So much for colonialist classical liberalism.
We owe compensation!
Further programs to retrain, for health etc, belong in a category that is ADDITIONAL TO to compensatory benefits.
We don't like putting some rent back?
Hard luck!
Let Henry, Rudd, Costello and co claw back the tax cuts wasted on upper class people, or trim executive salaries if they are desperate for funds for policy initiatives!
Ripping off the most underprivileged on specious neoliberal grounds does NOT wash with this punter.
And yes- I disclose I have a vested interest as a long term unemployed person now on sickness benefits.
I know FULL-WELL, that the current attack on Aboriginal welfare is only the spear head for an ideologically- driven attack on welfare in general ( unless it is more middle class or corporate welfare rippage).
How on earth can it help the survival of an alreadyp-ruined person to take away the miserable pittance a miserable society begrudgingly provides?
Gary , I hope you are not becoming persuaded of antediluvian Ruddite /social theology shared by the likes of Henry, Hamilton, Pearson and Mundine, let alone thepollsters as a sort of electorally driven last lunge for power!
Principles must finally come first, or all we all will get is more Howardist-style opportunist government.

re your Gary , I hope you are not becoming persuaded of antediluvian Ruddite /social theology shared by the likes of Henry, Hamilton, Pearson and Mundine

Their analysis shows the limitations of Mal Brough's shock awe military style campaign. It's a tough reality in the Aboriginal communities, and we will soon see if what the campaign is really doing is clamping down and getting tough on the Aboriginal wastrels who get huge government handouts yet still manage to live in squalor while their mates in the "aboriginal industry" live it up on government grants for this and for that. Or whether it is just focused on alcohol, drug and child sexual abuse of Aboriginal communities.

maybe the days of rural economic development have come to an end?

yes in some areas it would be pointless.
But my point really is that a look around the blog world shows a lot of people voicing opinions about whats going on but no-one making suggestions about ideas.
Seems to me a waste of intelligence.
Paul, yes Oz was settled by whites. Get over it.
And get a bloody job too ya Bludger!

I disagree. The common critical response to Howard's interventions has been that the answers lie not in diminishing people's ability to control their own lives but in enhancing it. So we walk down a different pathway to the one that returns to the past.

I agree with Paul Hagen in The Age; namely the answer is not simply one:

of treating the symptoms — in things such as policing and control — rather than the underlying causes. All of the policing and micromanagement of people's lives in the world will be to no avail if the fundamental structural issues — cultural pride, economic development, elimination of poverty and purposelessness, improved availability of relevant education and health services and the like, are not addressed.

Ken Henry has proposed ways to begin address this in order to ensure that people are capable of participating in the economy.

I don't feel that Australia has to maintain these outpost camps that serve no purpose other than to collect welfare. Yes some of these people in the camps are unemployable but some and I single out especially the ones that are whiter than me and I call them bludgers.

If there is no viable business opportunities in the area where these people are or one cannot be developed close it. Other wise in 100 years time it will just be the same .

On Lateline Business Rex Wild, one of the authors of Little Children Are Sacred report says that mining companies, for example, are employers of labour and can therefore assist in providing employment, finding employment, encouraging employment in communities and helping the communities develop leadership in that area.

So another possibility is that businesses have a role to play in creating job opportunities in these communities.

Mining companies have been giving jobs to the natives for years. Lots come out with trades. But the ones in these camps have a very high percentage of either unemployable or no hopers. The ones that have potential are encouraged to leave. Or steered in a direction is a better way to put it.

you say

If there is no viable business opportunities in the area where these people are or one cannot be developed close it. Other wise in 100 years time it will just be the same.

You ignore indigenous art.

Only a small percentage of aboriginals are capable of doing saleable art. If you put too much of it out there it may also become somewhat devalued.

In some areas, local communities already run successful businesses, like the Pjinka Wilderness Lodge at the very top of Cape York. As you know a group of young women at Lockhart River have become successful, well-paid painters.

Noel Pearson has organised a trust, Cape York Partnerships Plan, which works with government bureaucracies and local communities to establish enterprises like these. It is strongly supported by the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie.