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

double standards « Previous | |Next »
August 14, 2007

In an article entitled Lack of respect will not help indigenous children in the Sydney Morning Herald Banduk Marika draws attention to the disturbing aspects of the Howard Government's intervention in indigenous affairs in the Northern territory.

Alan Moir

Marika, a community leader and artist in Yirrkala, Arnhem Land, says that:

now it seems that our whole culture is being blamed by government and media for the problems associated with grog, poor education, a lack of jobs, houses and health care. The main problem our culture is being blamed for is child abuse....We live in circumstances that are not of our own making and without the kind of support that other people in Australia have had for many years. The small number of persons who go against their families and bring shame on us all must be held accountable - but it is not the fault of our society as a whole. Many of us do not drink or take drugs, and we protect, respect, love and care for our children, our families and our cultural traditions.

This contests the failed state metaphor deployed by Minister Brough to legitimate the law and order approach with its underlying policy of assimilation.

Marika adds that the Howard Government:

is now trying to say that land, community councils and the permit system are also part of the reason for child abuse. But this is a lie. Has any non-Aboriginal council ever been taken over by the government because of child abuse occurring in its area? Has anybody in non-indigenous Australia had their land taken away because of child abuse in their community? I don't think so.

She points out what is obvious th the indigenous people's relationship to their land has nothing to do with child abuse. Or alcohol for that matter. The issue is clearly stated:
So I want to say that we do honestly welcome any real help with the problems created by our contact with non-indigenous society, and by past failures to fund and deliver basic services, but we will not be treated as though we have no rights in our own land or lives. Like our elders before us, we will continue to stand up for what is right and fair. And for who we are. I
The charge is that the Howard government is using the children as an excuse for stealing the land away from indigenous people.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:52 AM | | Comments (9)


Taking control of the land gives the government the ability to impliment housing strategy without having to put up with radicals and those that attempt to spoil and slow things down by claiming racist agendas.
Those that link the seizing of land for 5 years to uranium or other mining rants fall into this catagory also.

if the government takes control of my land it pays a fair compensation. This does not seem to be the case with the Howard Government in the Northern Territory.

You seem to condone this injustice.

A remarkable statement. All sorts have people who have felt uncomfortable over this coercive and oafish nonsense have commented but there is something unnerving as to the clarity and penetration Marika's statement.
"We live in circumstances that are not of our own making and without the kind of support that other Australians have had for many years."
Does Marika mean Packer's tax dodging, for example, let off time and again?
Some would say there has been spending on indigenous affairs for some time, but a thoughtful assessment would offer the observation that the hole aboriginal culture has been put in over the last two hundred years required and requires much more still.
Should Australians perpetually cringe for the mistakes of the past and carry the sum total of the responsibility for previous generation's ignorance and excesses?
If viewed from a certain point of view, indeed yes. But realistically it won't happen. Lucky us.
But we ought to be good enough to admit that way too much that was done was harmful and be prepared to help out in a genuine way, if for no other reason than the defence of our much- vaunted "Australian values". Certainly not the cynical exploitating of a bad situation for personal gain that some have attempted, with a callous lack of care for the certain continuing infliction of even more harm on top of that in the past.

Fred Chaney ( not to be confused with Dick), former Fraser government cabinet minister offers a small "l" liberal perspective in the so-called Emergency legislation and indigenous policy in general; the "Age", 15/8, entitled:
"Give Aborigines Hope".

You missed my point Gary.

Taking control of the land for 5 years makes it easier for the government to do what they want to do.

Do child abuse [child sexual abuse in particular] and domestic violence occur only within indigenous communities? In the NT?
Or are both these social crimes also occuring at extremely high and totally unacceptable rates in other states, in other ethnic groups including 'white', in suburbs including those like Toorak and where we all live?
Are these crimes not endemic to the whole of Australian society in all of the subsets that constitute US?
Why then such draconian, extremist and overwrought measures aimed at one small sector that the available information suggests has rates within the range for all Australians?
You know the answers.
And they have nothing to do with "save the children".

fine, but compensation still needs to be paid by the commonwealth for taking over the land. You appear to deny the fair compensation bit. Do you?

If their intention is to give them back control after the 5 year period ends I don't see that its a compensation issue.

Do you think the government should pay rent for 5 years?

Thanks for the reference to Fred Chaney's Give Aborigines hope. Chaney supports the Brough intervention:

But let me make my own feelings on the matter clear. I am shocked at the extent to which the legislation, rushed through the Parliament last week, is contemptuous of Aboriginal property rights and of the principle of non-discrimination; authorises an absurd and unattainable level of micro-management of Aboriginal lives far beyond the capacity of the federal bureaucracy that would permit the notorious protector, Mr Neville, to ride again; provides for desert dwellers to be forced into towns, as they were once emptied out of the cattle stations in the 1960s with devastating social effects; and could see successful communities and families returned to dependence, crushing the engagement that is essential to making progress.

He says that we need to be upfront and learn from our mistakes: centralised, imposed programs delivered from Canberra or state/territory capitals have not delivered the success we must now expect.