Why is it a land grab?

Let us assume for the sake of argument that the entire “intervention” is just a smokescreen for a land grab.

Why are Howard & Brough grabbing the land? I’d be interested in hearing credible motives.

So Far:

  • Not a land grab – an election stunt
  • Easy access for mining companies
  • Nuclear waste dumps
  • Ideological landgrab
  • Undermining aboriginal organisations
  • Establishing a secret base for aliens (this is my favourite so far)

What else?

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41 Responses to Why is it a land grab?

  1. One possible line of speculation is the Government’s (particularly Howard’s) ideological opposition to land rights, and anything that smells vaguely of collectivism.

  2. Bannerman says:

    More to the point, I think, is why isn’t it an attention-grabbing election stunt? I notice the media aren’t all that hyped any more, preferring to postulate about Iraq, oil and other ‘security related’ issues.

  3. David Rubie says:

    “Let’s see, land snatching… land snatching… land snatching… – Land: See Snatch.” Hedley Lamarr, Blazing Saddles.

    I can’t wait to see Mal Brough exhorting the locals to sing a “good old fashioned n*gger work song”.

    On the not so funny side, the intervention is playing out much like the plot of that movie – what sort of sheriff can we send into Rock Ridge to distract people while we’re building a railway right through their town (or unlocking it for mining exploration?). Noel Pearson as the unwitting dupe who may yet make good when he realises what’s going on.

    Howard already has form on undermining the usefulness of land rights by limiting it’s power. Toss in the usual “won’t somebody think of the children” conservative smokescreen to obscure the fact that resuming the land has nothing to do with child abuse and voila! Western Mining get their playground back, liberal party coffers get topped up, JWH gets a “sweetest victory of all” moment. That’s what he really wants.

  4. gilmae says:

    Nuclear waste dumps, Jacques. Grab the land, move the locals to another location because their community is ‘untenable’, wait a few months and then start buying adverts on late-night Chinese TV – “So where the bloody hell s’ya radioactive waste?”

  5. It’s probably not just an excuse for a land grab, Jacques.

    But aside from the ideological opposition, there’s also the issue of minerals exploration.

  6. zoot says:

    Why the false dichotomy? Your question implies that Howard either
    1) is totally committed to the welfare of the children, or
    2) has no concern for the plight of indigenous children and is only interested in destroying land rights.
    I suspect the reality is somewhat more nuanced. Particularly as nobody from the Government side has satisfactorily explained how moving people to 99 year leases will stamp out child abuse. Private land ownership hasn’t destroyed pedophilia in the non-indigenous world.

  7. Brendan Halfweeg says:

    HR: The Liberal National Coalition is not anti-collectivist. The tax and churn welfare state Howard and Costello have created is by definition a collectivisation of the family, giving the state a collectivist role in areas such as child care, fertility (baby bonus) and home ownership (first home owners grant).

    It is a wedge issue, your standard paternalistic conservative reaction to the symptoms caused by structural problems created by the state over generations. I’m all for converting Native Title over crown land to Freehold title and giving all private landowners (Aboriginal as well) ownership of mineral rights. I’d even go so far as releasing all remaining crown land to Australian citizens and turning all Australia land into being privately owned. That would give all Australians more secure property rights and go someways to restituting the displacement of indigenous Australians.

  8. codger says:

    1. GNEP
    2. Uranium
    3. Waste
    4. Railway
    5. Port of Darwin
    6. Problem: LR Act
    7. Solution…?

  9. Jacques Chester says:

    GNEP? You’ve lost me there, I’m afraid.

  10. Note that Brough has already abolished of the statutory distribution of mining royalties to land councils). On the issue of mining, see this piece by an engineering academic in Crikey:

    It is no coincidence that many of the communities targeted for military style intervention are also areas that are heavily targeted for minerals exploration, particularly uranium, as well as for potential nuclear waste dumps. This includes Western Arnhem Land and Central Australia, where numerous known uranium deposits are being actively investigated by various wanna-be uranium producers.

  11. David Coles says:

    I suspect that they thought that most people would buy the idea that there was some kind of connection with child sexual abuse and that the only people who would get upset are the ones who have. So far it looks like a win for the government. Their intervention is apparently being applauded, although most appear to view it cynically and the people objecting are the ones they needed to have come out of the trees.

    What Howard/Brough will get is some controlling power, I assume, within townships and, to some extent, the people living there. There doesn’t seem to be a suggestion that wider areas of land are to be seized.

    It appears not to be widely recognised that the community where that direct Federal control has always been in place, and where it remains today, is Mutitjulu. Brough wont need to seize it.

  12. Phil says:

    Does anybody knows anything about the court case involving Bob Collins? Looks like it has been swept under the carpet but I think it’s actuality since the report on the children in aboriginal communities. He was in Maningrinda as a gardener. And teaching gardening to aboriginal kids…Don’t you think it’s time he faces the court?

  13. harry clarke says:

    JC, You ask people to assume something absurd – that it is a ‘land grab’ and then ask why this would be done. People like Mark B accept the first assumption is false but then seriously respond to the second, its about stealing the mineral rights – using the land as nuclear waste dumps etc etc. David Rubie believes this far-fetched nonsense and Mark has an excuse to exercise his hatred of anything the government does.

    If the assumption of a grab is wrong (and it is) any rationale for the so-called grab is foolish.

    The land has been leased for 5 years when rights will be returned. The reason for the intervention is to try to stop the sexual abuse of young children by limiting supplies of booze and porn. The land leasing was to give people the right to access the land and intervene.

  14. Harry, for someone who doesn’t believe that attributing motives is a valid part of assessing arguments, you certainly honour your own commandment in the breach.

    I’m perfectly willing to accept that there is an element of genuine desire to assist and respond in the government’s actions. That’s not inconsistent with political motives. It would be strange indeed if a government didn’t have political motives, and indeed there are no human actions which are motivated solely by one thing.

    Nor did I say anything about “stealing the mineral rights”. I pointed out that Brough has already abolished the distribution of royalties in the NT – which is a fact, and I linked to a piece by an engineering academic who’s in a position to know something about mining prospectors’ desire for access to Indigenous land. Both points were supported by links.

    You’re just contributing polemic, with all due respect.

  15. gilmae says:

    And I was mocking the people who seriously consider it to be a land grab by coming up with the most ludicrous solution I could before I left the office – and it *still* wasn’t as off the planet as the first post :- )

  16. Quiggin:

    The more than meets the eye components of the package include the abolition of the permit system restricting access to indigenous communities and the end of communal land tenure. These policies have been high on the wishlist of the governments ideologists, but are irrelevant as an emergency response to sexual abuse of children. The end of the permit system might well be counterproductive. These policies should be debated separately on their merits, not rammed through in a crisis atmosphere.

    Jacques’ question can be turned around. What arguments are there that child sexual abuse will be addressed by:

    (a) removing the permits system;
    (b) five year compulsory leases;
    (c) the refusal of the government to commit to returning to collective land tenure.

    It’s inevitable that these measures will end up in court. It will be interesting to see how they are justified by the government. In the meantime, perhaps those who want to argue it’s not a “land grab” could offer some suggestions as to how these measures will address child sexual abuse. They might also like to explain why the sanctity of property rights is a belief that apparently doesn’t apply to Indigenous communal title.

  17. Robert Read Heath says:

    Look no further than the most recent edition of AWAYE on radio national. The story about the coyote and the ducks serves as an apt metaphor.

  18. harry clarke says:

    What are you saying then Mark in reponse the question ‘Why the land grab?’ Yes you deny it but then go on to say that were it true:

    ‘But aside from the ideological opposition, theres also the issue of minerals exploration’.

    ‘Note that Brough has already abolished of the statutory distribution of mining royalties to land councils)’.

    It is devious and involves obviously flawed logic in response to a false premise that there was a grab.

  19. I find your hard to follow, harry. There is no doubt a land grab. What I’m saying is that’s not inconsistent with other motivations (both political and altruistic).

    I don’t understand why it’s “devious” to point to the fact that Brough has already acted to undermine the rights to royalties of title holders. It is just a fact.

  20. SJ says:

    Jacques question can be turned around. What arguments are there that child sexual abuse will be addressed by:

    (a) removing the permits system;
    (b) five year compulsory leases;
    (c) the refusal of the government to commit to returning to collective land tenure.

    I see that this thread is turning out for you no better than your last effort, Jacques.

  21. Robert says:

    There appears a certain pain in Jacques’ post previously, which when landing here in this thread comes to heart. Jacques has spent a great deal of time amongst Aboriginals in the Northern Territory, from reading, and as I understand it is now in Perth. This massive hit of an issue has occurred, for him, during his time of relocation.

    I can’t imagine what that feels like, yet it is important I believe to acknowledge this, and to try to see it from Jacques’ perspective, if not feel it. And why amongst other things this post question is raised.

    I’m just guessing, JC, that you’ve known Aboriginal folk in Darwin and surrounds – have you been to any of these remote communities?- and seen them in all manners of behaviour. The remote communities must feel like your backyard, to us, even if you haven’t been there.

    A person of lost hope, lost face, lost soul, is terribly hard to hold in your own being, let alone empathise with theirs, and JC must have seen this beyond what could be remembered. And I’m guessing he’s had moments with Aboriginal folk, too, where one or other might speak not of “seeing” a person, but of “smelling” them – that is, a person does not have a visual persona but an olfactory one, and is just as clearly defined. And to have a beer with one, or a hundred, over time, too – and to try to put that all into perspective amongst everything else that is seen and felt, and smelt.

    It’d be great to read a post from JC, having now moved, to look back on his experiences in the NT and give it to us, guts and heart and laughs and tears and all – or however he chooses. It’d be great to have a glimpse of what JC – and others up there at the top – go through on a daily basis.

    Why? Because I believe stories like this must come out. Let’s flush the system with our experiences, subjective as they are – to remind us that we are dealing with humans.

    We may not agree on the politics – yet we are all agreeing, it is clear, on the humanity. And, if I may, the call of humanity.

    But such stories are hard to write: not because of what might be in them, necessarily, but because we may be defined by the writing of them, when matters are so complex. And not just complex in “content”, but struck through with complexity of time, too: some things need addressing right now, some many years ago, and some for the future.

    There is an irony in that, too, given the ancient Aboriginal language as I understand it, had no definitive word for “time” as we understand it, and that irony is itself complex: for it is tragic on the one hand, and inspiring on the other.

    Just a humble, thoughtful request: that stories appear in the blogosphere, that humanise and personalise this moment in our lives, and not to take away, as it can’t, from the concise assessments as they come to pass – but to add to them, so we can come closer in heart as well as mind to what is going on, and could go on.

    Go for it Jacques – if you wish, I feel you’d have others in your hand as you did so. It feels that way, from the glimpses lately, and the depth of your feeling.

    Mr Coles, too – what stories and insights you must have. How your heart must have been deadened a thousand times, and yet enlivened unexpectedly, one day, to continue on again. I’d be interested for one – can you tell?

    And if I may, still more generally, I am forming the thoughts through the ‘sphere and in spoken life that how we first meet and connect with Aboriginals and Aboriginality serves to direct our experiences, thinking, feeling, regard and giving and learning with (them). (Hopefully, soon, we can move on from us and them, though we’ve all needed it to now).

    Jacques, I hope you don’t mind this being so far, off topic. It is given to embrace what comes across as one reason for the opening it up to us.

    Smack on, this is a humanitarian “issue”, and I’d say there are many of us who have had our hopes dashed time and again for what could have been and was either floated and then left to die, or killed outright, by the current “white” Government. We hope, mate, I can tell you. Our own hopes, dreams, visions and wishes for a country enriched in ways other than “economy” have been smacked down, lied to, ignored and much else, and we get up again. And when it comes to this national moment, where what we feel of ourselves towards Howard for doing that is rendered yet again of no meaning, it is done so because we realise, (yet again), that others in our sphere of responsibility and feeling and thoughts have had that done to them so, so, much more. We, too, feel it, Jacques, and we wish for this time to be different.

    If you grant us, whom you regard as wiping away all of Howard’s good things (which we don’t do, and have argued the need for greater depth of national debate to include that very thing amongst so much else), that we do care, then you may see our raised voices, against the grain, is of value. We speak to keep the bastards alive to their own goals, if nothing else. And, granted that, some are speaking against the grain as place in possible (if not lived) compromise their own careers and with that, lives, for doing so.

  22. SJ says:

    Shorter Robert: “I’m from the Gamma Quadrant. Look at this – it’s shiny!”

  23. Juan Moment says:

    Let’s just turn the question around. Assume it is not a land grab, why is Howard doing it? What are his motives?

    It can’t be the protection of children, because abolishing indigenous control over who is allowed on their country will create the exact opposite effect. The NT Police has criticized this component of Howard’s plan, saying that it’ll take away an existing method to control the inflow of people into communities, be that miners, tourists etc. Taking away this existing permit system will open doors for grog & ganja smugglers or petrol driven cars. It is not in the best interest of those affected children to allow the whole world free access to their communities.

    I mean look at the measures he suggested. Firstly, many of them are not based on the very thorough Little Children Are Scared inquiry and its recommendations, which doesn’t mention the removal of land rights at all. Secondly, many of the measures costing money have a temporary six month or so life time/funding, whilst the removal of land rights is far more permanent. Cui bono?

    Since Howard has come to office, he’s been busy taking pretty much everything from Indigenous people that they couldn’t nail down. One of his first acts as new PM in 96 was to slash ATSIC’s funding by an entire third, only to accuse it 6 years later of having failed (in areas like education and health, which wasn’t even ATSIC’s responsibility but state and Cwealth) and abolished it all together. No more self determination.

    And finally, if I look at who it is that fights drawn out court cases with applicants to the Native Title tribunal, namely the state & Cwealth governments, then I can’t help but get the feeling that the idea of indigenous people having any sort of say in what happens on their land is not in the establishment’s interest. This from an article about Prof. Mick Dodson’s speech at this year’s Mabo lecture in Cairns:

    ….Prof Dodson said the WA government, with encouragement from the commonwealth, has tried “every dirty trick” to oppose the recognition of native title in the south west of WA.

    “This is not just political opposition for the sake of securing the redneck voters,” he said. “It is structural and systematic opposition by governments at all levels to the recognition of native title.”….

    And that’s unfortunately where this country is at when it comes to indigenous affairs.

  24. One Who Knows says:

    Harry Clarke said: “The land has been leased for 5 years when rights will be returned.”

    In fact the Howard Govt is (understandably) indicating that some other arrangement will be made for holding the town land after 5 years, rather than having the infrastructure simply revert to sitting on the underlying title – which is mainly, but not by any means always, inalienable Aboriginal freehold.

    Personally, I think the reason for the intervention is sensible, and aims to achieve enough force (and yes, ‘synergies’) to break through the decades-long blockages, inertia, stagnation, paralysis, lack of Aboriginal leadership and political will to confront multiple obstacles and deal with the deadly malaise.

    The aim is to get up enough head of steam to break through, and to try to do a number of things which together should begin to reduce the high levels of numerous social dysfunctions on many communities.

    These dysfunctions include the sexual abuse and neglect of children and youth.

    But sexual abuse and child neglect cannot be dealt with in isolation, so the abysmal rates of school attendance and deplorable education outcomes, the massive rates of substance abuse, the accompanying passive welfare dependency and endemic violence, the widespread neglect and exploitation of old and frail people, the housing situation, the joblessness and the apparent pervasive collapse of acceptable social norms all need to be targetted in one way or another at the same time as well.

    The Brough package will do this, in its inimitably hamfisted way, and it may well have enough sense and force and mutually reinforcing mechanisms contained in its haphazard design to actually break through. God knows, enough people in the bush want it and welcome it, so it may have timing, grass roots acceptance and luck on its side.

    The land leasing was to enable further physical development and repairs of community infrastructure, without veto power over the common good able to be exercised by a small number of (sometimes selfish) people. It also (unlike the crude wholesale attack on the permit system, which should have been restricted to simply providing access rights to accredited journalists) is a reasonably sensible move.

  25. One Who Knows says:

    In reply to Juan Moment:
    Whether or not the Brough approach addresses the AndersonWild recommendations is largely irrelevant, as the recos are not very good, largely absolving perpetrators themselves of responsibility and failing to recognise that there has been a striking inability and/or unwillingness on the parts of most Aboriginal people to take part in the very risky but very necessary business of confronting the problems head on.

    The recos are certainly not as realistic or strategically arrayed as the circumstances require. They stray far too much into the quicksand of romantic idealism, with their muddleheaded yearning for culturally based solutions that have been talked about for decades, widely tried and usually found profoundly unproductive.

    Typically, AndersonWild avoid any recommendations which broach the really difficult questions for the Aboriginal community, such as the complex of problems surrounding the power that a very small number of (often selfish) TOs exercise over very small pockets of their land on which the vast majority of the non-urban Aboriginal population reside.

    The lack of consideration of this problem is a major flaw in the idealistic ALRA. It is hardly surprising that anybody trying to solve social problems generated by the underlying stagnation in communities (unemployment, housing decay, lack of development, fatalism, alienation, boredom) will decide to confront the iniquitous stuation where the land title in these modern towns is based on a title that seems feudal rather than democratic.

    Old Single Second also whinges that “many of the measures costing money have a temporary six month or so life time/funding, whilst the removal of land rights is far more permanent. Cui bono?” Well Juan old buddy, the stated intent of the Feds is to force the hand of the NTG to pick up some of the ongoing spending, and fair enough too, given the amount of scarce revenue that has been poured into the playground called Darwin by successive regimes over several decades. Brough and Howard have stated several times that they won’t pull the pin on all these reforms if they haven’t achieved lift-off after 6 months. The 6 months is an initial planning timeframe.

    Since Howard has come to office, he has not “been busy taking pretty much everything from Indigenous people that they couldnt nail down”.

    “One of [Howard’s] first acts as new PM in 96” was not “to slash ATSICs funding by an entire third”: he actually cut ATSIC’s budget by $480 million approx. over 4 years – a reduction of about 10%, not one third – but at the same time added this amount to the Indigenous-specific budgets in several Commonwealth departments (mainly DEET and Health). Don’t forget that Carmen Lawrence had begun this process in Keating’s final budget when she thankfully had the guts to take Indigenous health funding out of ATSIC. Howard simply (and justifiably) accelerated the process. This visionary act has led to the growth of productive health programs in the AMSs, unencumbered by the dead weight of ATSIC’s opportunistic wheeling and dealing.

    Be glad and thankful that another person with some semblance of vision and commitment to getting outcomes has happened on the scene.

  26. SJ says:

    One Who Knows Says:

    Since Howard has come to office, he has not been busy taking pretty much everything from Indigenous people that they couldnt nail down…Howard simply (and justifiably) accelerated the process.

    So he hasn’t been doing it, but he’s been doing it much faster. That’s quite a good non-reality-based argument.

  27. Juan Moment says:

    OWK,
    Thanx for your illustration of Lalaland, lets have a look at reality.

    Whether or not the Brough approach addresses the AndersonWild recommendations is largely irrelevant, as the recos are not very good, largely absolving perpetrators themselves of responsibility and failing to recognise that there has been a striking inability and/or unwillingness on the parts of most Aboriginal people to take part in the very risky but very necessary business of confronting the problems head on.

    The Wild Anderson report had what, 97, recommendations in it, arrived after thoroughly investigating the problem of child abuse in aboriginal NT, involving plenty of frontline consultations. I am not sure if you read them all, but I reckon they would have been at least a good starting point. Unlike the ad hoc knee-jerk reaction we get from Howard.

    The recos are certainly not as realistic or strategically arrayed as the circumstances require. They stray far too much into the quicksand of romantic idealism, with their muddleheaded yearning for culturally based solutions that have been talked about for decades, widely tried and usually found profoundly unproductive.

    The recommendations are a mix of differently timed actions, some of them more long term, others for immediate enactment. If you can, please provide specific examples of romantic idealism.
    With regards to your dismissal of culturally based solutions, a clear sign of your handles exaggeration, I recommend you do some further reading. Good starting point might be this piece here where The Council of Australian Government-commissioned report, called “Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage”, spells it out as follows:

    …common success factors in government and community programs making a difference: co-operative approaches between indigenous people and government; a “bottom-up” model of community involvement in designing programs; good governance; and continuing government support.

    If you do not include cultural considerations in your decision making process, little chance of coming up with a long term solution.

    This [Howards] visionary act has led to the growth of productive health programs in the AMSs, unencumbered by the dead weight of ATSICs opportunistic wheeling and dealing.

    Again I have to wonder where you get your information from. I live in the NT and work quite often closely with aboriginal organisations and communities, and from where I am standing it looks like you have no idea what is going down. Howard has been in power for 11 years, over a decade, with many program closures and funding cuts, and this is what is has come to: From ABC News a few weeks ago:

    Gap widens between Indigenous, non-Indigenous Australians
    A new report has found Indigenous Australians are 13 times more likely to go to jail than non-Indigenous people, and that gap is widening.
    The Productivity Commission’s Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report has found there is still a massive gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in various lifestyle indicators, including health, education and employment.
    In health, Aboriginal people are 10 times more likely to have kidney disease and report higher rates of arthritis, heart disease and asthma.
    Aboriginal people are massively over-represented in the criminal justice system, both as victims and offenders.
    They are 13 times more likely to be jailed, with imprisonment rates soaring by 32 per cent over the past six years

    Where are the improvements OKW? For Howard and you to simply blame the states for the dreadful situation is the easy cop out. There is equal fault at play. For the fiscal year 2008, the Howard Government proudly announces:

    The Governments overall expenditure on Indigenous-specific services is expected to be a record $3.5 billion in 2007-08.

    Wow, am I meant to be impressed? This is about as much as the government spends on the purchase of 24 Super Hornet fighters, which alone cost $4 billion, not to mention the $10 billion on some war ships. Leaves one in no doubt where the funding priorities are.

    Be glad and thankful that another person with some semblance of vision and commitment to getting outcomes has happened on the scene.

    And who would that be? John Howard? Hes been on the scene for 11 years. Thats the scary part.

  28. Alan says:

    The question assumes that the contemporary conservative has rational objectives. Nothing could be further from the truth. Howard does not need a motive beyond blind ideology and the enactment of his ideology into law, preferably live on television. If that ideology leads to disaster as this almost surely will, it is the critics, not the policy-makers who merit rebuke.

    Dealing with child abuse makes a more than faintly disgusting variation on patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel.

  29. aidan says:

    How much land are we talking about here?

  30. jimmythespiv says:

    Nobody has mentioned that the land is being snatched for an Area 51 type spaceport where humans can interact with aliens, away from A Current Affair’s watchful eye.

  31. gilmae says:

    That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Away from the watchful eye of A Current Affair? There is no “away” from ACAs watchful eye, they have spies everywhere, disgruntled or otherwise.
    Sauron might have used crows, but ACA utilises a more common species, the Australian Bogan, and there are flocks of them in NT that would take your breath away.

  32. One Who Knows says:

    SJ – what wilful perversion is this that you are making? Shifting expenditure from one department to another is not ‘taking it away’.

    JM – It doesn’t matter whether the report had 7 or 97 or 1007 recos if they aren’t very good. The community consultations were largely peremptory and token.

    As I live in one of the aforesaid communities, and work in others, I was able to gain first hand knowledge of this.

    I don’t believe that The Brough/Howard response is simply predicated on the report or its recos. It may have provided a handy trigger for action which had been long in the planning.

    Specific examples of romantic idealism – for starters:

    19c 29 62 64 71 72 73 74 75 76 79

    The quote you provide from the report, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, does not refer to cultural solutions. It refers to social, structural and procedural approaches to working with Aboriginal people. What do co-operation, community involvement, good governance or continuing government support have to do with Aboriginal culture?

    The ‘visionary act’ I was referring to was clearly Carmen Lawrence’s, not Howard’s. No need to twist things.

    The advances in Aboriginal health have been in relation to rates of infant mortality, live birth weights, immunisation and lower rates of some communicable diseases.

    Prison rates are not directly related to health.

    The fact that Aboriginal people are still greatly disadvantaged does not in any way destroy my assertion that there have been some advances in Aboriginal health as well, mainly due to the work of the AMSs, whose funding has improved.

    The person with some semblance of vision and commitment to getting outcomes who has happened on the scene is clearly Brough, not Howard. Why would I try to maintain that Howard has just happened on the scene, Juan?

    Cheers
    Who Knows

  33. Juan Moment says:

    1. Sorry OKW, but on what fact do you base your accusation that the Wild Anderson commissions community consultations were only token efforts? Can you show me any Howard/Brough inquiries on the matter of child sex abuse in indigenous communities which were more exhaustive and meticulous? If not, dont shoot the messenger.

    2. Your continued insistence that the Wild Anderson report had only useless recommendations in it doesnt float. Lets look at the first recommendation, which even Howard quoted:

    The immediate nature of the Australian Governments response reflects the very first recommendation of the Little Children are Sacred report into the protection of Aboriginal children from child abuse in the Northern Territory which said: That Aboriginal child sexual abuse in the Northern territory be designated as an issue of urgent national significance by both the Australian and Northern Territory Governments.. All action at the national level is designed to ensure the protection of Aboriginal children from harm.

    Funny thing is, Howard only quoted the first sentence of the recommendation, leaving conveniently out the second, which reads:

    It is critical that both governments commit to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people in designing initiatives for Aboriginal communities.

    One and the same recommendation out of the 97, made up of two sentences. Praise the first, spit at the second. I call that very selective reading and twisting advice to suit the political agenda.

    For anyone interested, here are the 97 recommendations.

    3. You mentioned that you live in an Aboriginal community and worked in others. I hope you dont mind me asking which one. I am just trying to make myself a picture of which part of Australia you talking about.

    4. You wrote

    I dont believe that The Brough/Howard response is simply predicated on the report or its recos. It may have provided a handy trigger for action which had been long in the planning.

    Right, is that what you believe? Then tell me, if it is such a national emergency that warrants the deployment of army personnel, why such a long planning stage as you claim? The way you use the terms long time planning and national emergency is almost contradictory.

    A precursor for a long preparation stage is for the Howard government to have known for a long time about the severity of the problem. Why then did it take him or Brough (one and the same) such a long time to act? Doesnt it strike you as odd that he waits for election time to come around to tackle a national emergency for which he had a plan in the making for so long?

    5. Wrt your examples of romantic idealism in the 97 recommendations, hmmm, what did you suggest? And to keep it short, I only write you a response for the first two.

    19c FACS staff must have access to cultural experts who can provide them with cultural advice generally and in relation to specific matters.

    What exactly is it that is romantic about this? Dont you think that when FACS, the gov dep responsible for child welfare, sends out field workers into aboriginal communities, field workers who grew up and live in white Australia and only speak English, that they should have access to some people with cultural expertise and background, who understand the aboriginal language and complex family relationships in aboriginal families? That is the basics OKW, not romantic decoration. If you dont understand the people, how are you going to help them?

    29 – That the Police conduct effective, meaningful and ongoing consultations with individual Aboriginal communities with a view to developing protocols for working with the community and supporting each communitys own efforts at maintaining peace, law and order.

    Again, where is the romanticism in that recommendation? If I detect any starry-eyed visions, then in yours, believing that it would be possible to establish long-term law and order in aboriginal communities without the police closely working with its members to ensure they understand the law.

    Police need to establish links with the community, win trust in order to gain information to find perpetrators or even better, prevent child abuse from happening in the first place. How can you argue against that? Any police officer will tell you that intel is bloody important in their business. No good relation with community No Intel. Are you with me on that?

    6. You wrote:

    The quote you provide from the report, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, does not refer to cultural solutions. It refers to social, structural and procedural approaches to working with Aboriginal people. What do co-operation, community involvement, good governance or continuing government support have to do with Aboriginal culture?

    Sorry, I am not quite sure what you are aiming at, are you asking me what community involvement has got to do with Aboriginal culture? Lets see.

    Aboriginal culture + X = Community Involvement

    Solve for X. Can you do this? I tell you my result if you tell me yours.

    7. You wrote

    The advances in Aboriginal health have been in relation to rates of infant mortality, live birth weights, immunisation and lower rates of some communicable diseases.

    >
    I have to agree, there are slight improvements in the figures for Aboriginal perinatal mortality rate and low birth weights, but they are minor and cant cover the fact that they are still twice the non-indigenous numbers.

    Also, when taking into account the generally accepted reasons for why there is such a disparity in low birth weights, like young adolescent birth rates amongst Indigenous girls, lack of empowerment and control over their lives and other social, economic and political factors affecting Aboriginal women (and families), then any improvements today had to have their origin not just recently, under Brough, but go back to times when ATSIC was still around. You seem to blame any negatives on ATSIC, states and the Aboriginal communities themselves, and credit Brough for any positive outcomes. Doesnt work that way OKW.

    Prison rates are not directly related to health.

    A matter of definition. I believe mental health is very much a factor to be taken into account when discussing the goal of reducing prison rates. If you are interested in the subject, here is a recent Australian Medical Journal article looking into the matter.

    To sum up my argument, let me quote someone who knows definitely more than I do on the subject, and I dare say more than you OKW, Prof. Ian Anderson. Taken from The Age

    I agree with the Prime Minister: we don’t need more talk. But we do need to act on the basis of evidence and the best possible advice. This plan flies in the face of the comprehensive approach recommended by the very report that has finally prompted the Howard Government to action after more than a decade of neglect. Our children deserve better.

    Professor Ian Anderson is the director of the Centre for Health and Society at the University of Melbourne. He attended the summit on violence against women and children convened by John Howard in 2003 and has worked as an Aboriginal health worker, health educator and general practitioner.

    Greetings

    Juan

  34. michael says:

    I think it is a land grab. Howard has already said that if the land is not returned in 5 years, the indigenous communities will be compensated. Why do it? Resolution 24 of the Liberal Party Federal Council in June this year is that Australia should develop it’s nuclear industries to include the full cycle of nuclear activity – uranium mining, nuclear power generation and “worldwide nuclear waste storage in the geotechnically stable and remote areas that Australia has to offer”. http://www.liberal.org.au/documents/Resolutions1.pdf

    The Federal government has also allocated $80m to upgrading SA’s Port River Expressway and associated railroads. I have seen the future and it glows in the dark.

  35. One Who Knows says:

    Up late again Juan? You should get more sleep. So should I.

    Qn: On what fact do you base your accusation that the Wild Anderson commissions community consultations were only token efforts?

    Answer: the hurried visits, lack of notice and preparation, cramped timetables, last minute hive of activity, scramble at the end of the consultation period to cover a lot of communities. After conclusions had been formed maybe?

    Qn: Can you show me any Howard/Brough inquiries on the matter of child sex abuse in indigenous communities which were more exhaustive and meticulous?

    Answer: there have been many references to the long list of enquiries throughout Australia, but the key indicators from my point of view are the longstanding reports of increasing under-age STI rates in the NT.

    2. Juan: You worry that Howard only quoted the first sentence of the recommendation, leaving out the second, but AndersonWild failed to recognise the folly of consulting/involving power structures that may be composed of, or riddled with the influence of perpetrators, the more so when endless consultations followed by no action has already occurred over last 20 or so years.

    The time for recurring consultation is well and truly over.

    3. Qn: You mentioned that you live in an Aboriginal community and worked in others. I hope you dont mind me asking which one. I am just trying to make myself a picture of which part of Australia you talking about.

    Answer: I do mind you asking. I have worked on Cape York, Kimberley, Central Deserts. Plus Darwin, Cairns, and other places.

    4. Qn: if it is such a national emergency that warrants the deployment of army personnel, why such a long planning stage as you claim? The way you use the terms long time planning and national emergency is almost contradictory.
    A precursor for a long preparation stage is for the Howard government to have known for a long time about the severity of the problem. Why then did it take him or Brough (one and the same) such a long time to act? Doesnt it strike you as odd that he waits for election time to come around to tackle a national emergency for which he had a plan in the making for so long?

    Answer: Brough has only been in the seat for 18 months. He has spurred Howard to action. I don’t defend Howard against charges of hypocrisy, neglect, belated action etc. I simply point to the timeless adage: better late than never. The deployment of army personnel is almost irrelevant, as they are simply there for cheap logistical support and a bit of colourful election-period TV effect. The longterm planning I refer to is that emanating from people like Shergold, who have long harboured desires for radical action and experimentation, as they lie trying to sleep and pondering their responsibility and ineffectuality in the face of such dreadful key stats re well-being of kids, women, the aged etc.

    5. 19c FACS staff must have access to cultural experts who can provide them with cultural advice generally and in relation to specific matters.

    Qn: What exactly is it that is romantic about this?

    Answer: the idea that reliable independent ‘cultural experts’ will be available on more than the odd occasion, if ever, is idealistic and romantic. Perhaps AndersonWild make the common confusion between ‘cultural expertise’ and everyday mundane social knowledge?

    Qn: Dont you think that when FACS, the gov dep responsible for child welfare, sends out field workers into aboriginal communities, field workers who grew up and live in white Australia and only speak English, that they should have access to some people with cultural expertise and background, who understand the aboriginal language and complex family relationships in aboriginal families? That is the basics OKW, not romantic decoration. If you dont understand the people, how are you going to help them?

    Answer: you seem to be confusing everyday garden variety interpreters and liaison officers with cultural experts.

    29 – That the Police conduct effective, meaningful and ongoing consultations with individual Aboriginal communities with a view to developing protocols for working with the community and supporting each communitys own efforts at maintaining peace, law and order.

    Qn: Again, where is the romanticism in that recommendation? If I detect any starry-eyed visions, then in yours, believing that it would be possible to establish long-term law and order in aboriginal communities without the police closely working with its members to ensure they understand the law.

    Police need to establish links with the community, win trust in order to gain information to find perpetrators or even better, prevent child abuse from happening in the first place. How can you argue against that? Any police officer will tell you that intel is bloody important in their business. No good relation with community No Intel. Are you with me on that?

    Answer: the romanticism lies in the assumption that “communities” are innocent institutions that are not often controlled by people who are compromised either personally or by their relationships, in regard to the most problematic issues. “Intelligence” is not the issue. Intelligent obtaining of reliable intelligence is the issue.

    6. Answer: All social reform processes necessitate social engagement. There is nothing peculiar to Aboriginal culture that privileges it with magical or advantageous qualities in relation to social problem solving; in fact the opposite probably applies, as the contradictions between Aboriginal culture/beliefs and modernity/human rights are profound and obvious to all but the blind. .

    7. Qn: The advances in Aboriginal health – any improvements today had to have their origin not just recently, under Brough, but go back to times when ATSIC was still around. You seem to blame any negatives on ATSIC, states and the Aboriginal communities themselves, and credit Brough for any positive outcomes. Doesnt work that way OKW.

    Answer: Carmen Lawrence and Michael Wooldridge hived health off ATSIC and into OATSIH in the mid-90s. Get yr act together Juan!

    Lastly: Prof. Ian Anderson doesn’t scare me. Even profs can be wrong, particularly when they are partial to pronouncing platitudes and inanities, and are uncritical of reports such as the inadequate AndersonWild job.

  36. One Who Knows says:

    Who Ha

  37. One Who Knows says:

    OK Keyboard.

    michael “thinks it is a land grab. Howard has already said that if the land is not returned in 5 years, the indigenous communities will be compensated. Why do it?”

    A few obvious Answers to start with:

    1. To get a clearer run on upgrading the infrastructure in the communities, including construction (without delays) of Commonwealth and NT -funded facilities and staff housing;

    2. To enable local enterprises to begin operating in a normal way – including providing the opportunity to Aboriginal entrepreneurs to try their hands;

    3. To overcome the tendency of TOs,and their advocates, to keep things moving at a snail’s pace in regards to many ‘common good’ type activities and developments;

    4. To enable freer movement of people and goods related to addressing the ’emergency’;

    5. To expedite the addressing of environmental health issues in communities

    6. To permit experiments with development of local markets in land and housing.

    Maybe the Liberal Party’s desires for freer paths to nuclear industries is part of it as well, but my reading would put that aspect in the ‘minor sops before elections’ category, rather than in the imminent threat basket.

    I too have seen the future, and it consists of endless funerals, early deaths and ruined lives unless we have immediate drastic actions such as those proposed.

  38. bernard says:

    I’ve only scoured the comments on this thread, so I apologise if this is rather redundant…

    Along with Mark, I believe that the notion of a ‘land grab’ is a valid point of debate and should be cause for concern. However, One Who Knows has hit the nail on the head in terms of the ‘land grab’ being a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

    That being said, *if* it does come about that the abrogation of land rights without proper justification in the scope of the National Emergency does come to bear then this is also cause for rejecting that aspect of the plan. It should also be said that I’m obviously not convinced yet that land rights are being taken away beyond the scope of the Plan. Not yet anyway…

    Nevertheless, the question about whether or not it’s a land grab is missing the point. I do prefer framing the question from the point of view of defending land rights – that land rights should be considered ‘innocent’ until proven ‘guilty’. In other words: why are land rights mutually exclusive to the implementation of the plan? Why can’t Aboriginal people have both? One Who Knows provides compelling reasons as to why this might be necessary, at least in the short-term, but this continually needs to be scrutinised and debated because I’m convinced that it can be done without such measures, albeit in a manner that will probably take longer and cost the government more. But, honestly, when you think about what Fred has discussed in a previous post, we have to date under-invested in Aboriginal communities – as a tax-payer I believe it to be my moral obligation to pressure the government into ensuring proper funds re allocated to the task so that it is done properly and so that we’re not in this same position a decade down the track. In the long term, however, I cannot as yet see any justifications for the permanent removal of land rights.

  39. One Who Knows says:

    Bernard
    A land grab would be a valid point of debate if there were any direct evidence that it.

    Presumably this will be clarified when draft legislation is available.

    In the meantime, we must take Brough and Howard at their word.

    Why are land rights mutually exclusive to the implementation of the plan? Why cant Aboriginal people have both?

    Because the NLC has had 15 or 20 years to come up with a realistic compromise, and has failed to do so.

    Do you really think that Aboriginal people, en masse, can wait decades longer for the chance to have a go?

  40. One Who Knows says:

    Bernard – my last posting would have made more sense if it had read :

    A land grab would be a valid point of debate if there were any direct evidence that this initiative actually might be a land grab, or have anything to do with land for mining.

    My understanding is that Brough is strongly denying that he will tie anything to do with mining into this package.

    Besides, the land councils themselves have proposed significant amendments to the ALRA to facilitate mining agreements and exploration, so it should not be a taboo subject anyway..

    Presumably this will be clarified when draft legislation is available.

    In the meantime, we must take Brough and Howard at their word.

    Why are land rights mutually exclusive to the implementation of the plan? Why cant Aboriginal people have both?

    Because the NLC has had 15 or 20 years to come up with a realistic compromise, and has failed to do so.

    Do you really think that Aboriginal people, en masse, can wait decades longer for the chance to have a go?

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