I regret to say Macklin is also my local member. I first came across her when she was a poorly informed Canberra health bureaucrat who was unable to connect overservicing issues among GPs with the fact of universal free health care.
On aboriginal issues, according to Devine:
After 75 days in office, Macklin has not visited a single remote Aboriginal community. Her spokeswoman stressed on Friday that, as Opposition spokeswoman, she travelled to 15 communities last year and gained "a lot of corporate knowledge" to inform her decisions.
But for a Government big on symbolism, the message is that the minister is listening only to the usual suspects from the old rights-based Aboriginal power establishment, who have vested interests in the rotten status quo that has been so disastrous for so many Aboriginal children. So disastrous that researchers in the latest Medical Journal Of Australia seriously advocate a mass antibiotic program in remote communities because of the soaring rate of sexually transmitted diseases among children.
So dysfunctional that the former indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough tells of one community in which eight six-year-olds were raped by older children, aged eight to 10. In another, recent health checks identified 300 rat bites on children.
Yet when Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson began listing the unpalatable, well-documented facts of Aboriginal misery during his apology speech on Wednesday, he was attacked.
The fact that people, including, famously, two Kevin Rudd staffers, slow-clapped and turned their backs on Nelson at precisely the moment he spoke of child sexual abuse shows how the deaf ear has been turned to the suffering of the most vulnerable. Instead we have a craven revival of the Keating-era victimhood agenda.
"They do not want to hear the truth because it's so offensive and insulting," says Brough, the former army officer whose passion to actually fix problems in dysfunctional Aboriginal communities drove the Northern Territory emergency intervention. The aim was to re-establish social norms the rest of Australia takes for granted, by inserting police, preventing alcohol and drug abuse, performing medical checks and instituting income management.
Brough abolished the permit system which had long protected the potentates and predators of the communities from prying eyes. He also began dismantling the Community Development Employment Projects' work-for-the-dole schemes which had degenerated into fiefdoms with local standover men controlling all wages.