Monday, August 06, 2007

Exaggerated responses to Fed intervention into aboriginal affairs

The exaggerated responses to the Federal Government’s much needed interventions into Aboriginal affairs continue.

Pat Anderson complains that the legislation facilitating a Federal takeover of aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory treats aboriginals as 'children'. If this is intended to convey the impression that the aboriginals are not in a position to manage their own affairs then the claim seems to me accurate. Aboriginals do not seem capable of running their affairs.

On the other hand the claim by Galarrwuy Yunupingu that the measures mean aboriginals will be “dispossessed of everything” is just inaccurate. Indeed, former Labor Party national president Warren Mundine has said the Federal move is not a ‘land grab’ and has urged the Labor Party’s left to support it.

Aboriginals and the Northern Territory Government have shown that their joint administration of aboriginal affairs is ineffectual. Much of the moaning about Federal Government plans comes from failed bureaucrats and failed aboriginal community leaders who are being displaced.

The Government’s plans include:
  • Abolishing the permit system so Commonwealth sponsored personnel can enter aboriginal lands. As an Australian citizen why should I need the permission of any group to drive along public roads that are adjacent to anyone’s land?
  • Alcohol and pornography will be banned in 73 aboriginal communities taken over by the government. Alcohol abuse is the major social problem facing these communities. This measure will not eliminate this abuse – drunks can still head off to town – but it will increase the user costs of abuse and help separate abusers from abused.
  • 50% of welfare payments will be quarantined to ensure children are adequately cared for. This will only impact on families where children are being neglected because parents spend welfare payments on booze and other inessentials.
  • Health checks to be given to all indigenous children.
  • As a part of broader reforms parents who do not send their kids to school will be denied welfare. This is a good move that in the long-run will help aboriginals gain employment.
  • A job creation scheme replacing current CDEP schemes that often do not provide real jobs. This is an objective of policy rather than a policy measure and the success of the Federal intervention should be measured in terms of how well this is achieved. It is difficult to establish meaningful jobs in remote areas. If it is impossible then perhaps aboriginals seeking to live on social welfare should be encouraged to relocate.
These are sound policy ideas that deserve community support not a puritanical guilt-based reflex of disapproval.

1 comment:

Bring Back CL's blog said...

two reports.
The one this intervention was based on and the totally discredited Bringing them home report.
Evidence for both reports: hearsay and anecdotes.

The government does nothing in responding to the first one and then gallops into NT as a result of the second one still without any evidence to suggest NT is any different to anywhere else.

Howard is a spendthrift and a desperate one at that