Of dunnies, icebergs and blackfellas (part 1)

A few years ago, some members of the ALP’s Left faction were battling to change the entrenched practice whereby its ministerial nominees were always allocated the federal aboriginal affairs and immigration portfolios.  One anonymous Left Caucus member referred to these portfolios as the “poisoned chalice” while another reckoned being awarded them was equivalent to being appointed the “toilet cleaner on the Titanic”.

Whether the Left lost that particular internal battle or whether wiser heads within the faction prevailed I don’t know, but in the new Rudd government portfolio allocation announced last week the convention was maintained.  Jenny Macklin and Senator Chris Evans, both members of the Left, scored aboriginal affairs and immigration respectively.

A brief look at the factional allocation of immigration and aboriginal affairs might even be relevant to a present day analysis.  In the early days of the Hawke government, there was no convention of allocating these portfolios to the Left.  The Right’s Clyde Holding had Aboriginal Affairs until 1988, and a passing parade of Right faction movers and shakers drew the short straw of Immigration: Chris Hurford, Susan Ryan, Mick Young, Clyde Holding and Robert Ray.

It wasn’t until 1988 that Hawke gave the Left’s Gerry Hand a classic hospital pass by allocating him both portfolios.  They’ve stayed with the Left ever since. (Strangely enough, Howard intially took a similar approach, allocating these portfolios to “wets” like John Herron, Amanda Vanstone and Phillip Ruddock.  Ruddock hastily jettisoned his “wet” pretensions, of course, and later Howard appointees Brough and Andrews were anything but “wet”, at least in ideological terms).

In aboriginal affairs, the changing of factional allocation resulted in Gerry Hand’s disastrous application of “self-determination” principles, when he decided to combine the old DAA and ADC to form ATSIC under a popularly elected indigenous body which became a byword for waste, incompetence, nepotism and downright corruption until it was eventually abolished by Howard with Labor support in 2005.  Otherwise, the administration of indigenous affairs continued largely unaltered, with ministers paying lip service to the rhetoric of self-determination and a welfarist “rights culture” approach of aggrieved entitlement, but without any corresponding significant increase in real funding, conferral of real substantive rights or any real attempt to tackle entrenched and increasing social problems in indigenous communities.

The picture in immigration, however, was rather different. 

Under the Right’s assorted nominees, Labor’s approach to the immigration portfolio had mostly been characterised by a semi-open door policy towards family reunion and, to a lesser extent, refugee and compassionate applicants.  It was cynically seen as a useful adjunct to the ALP’s multiculturalism agenda, a way for Labor to cement the ethnic vote in key electorates and for the Right to enlist acquiescent new Party members for branch-stacking purposes.  That approach led directly to the Vietnamese and Middle Eastern ghettoes and associated crime gangs which continue to blight Sydney and Melbourne to a considerable extent,  and to Geoffrey Blainey’s remarks about the pace of immigration and its effects on social cohesion (which had John Howard permanently tarred as a racist when he later unwisely expressed agreement with them).

Once the Left’s Gerry Hand inherited the immigration portfolio, however, the approach changed quite dramatically.  Instead of a laissez-faire policy,  Hand presided over a drastic rewrite of the Migration Act 1958 (into a form which it basically still retains) and implemented many of the draconian anti-refugee measures that lots of Howard-haters erroneously associate with the Coalition.  Mandatory harsh detention of asylum seekers without visas, for example, and tight restrictions on their ability to access judicial review.  Indeed, Hand’s words on announcing the former policy are just a wordier version of John Howard’s infamous “we will decide who comes here and the terms on which they come” rant a decade later.  Hand said:

I believe it is crucial that all persons who come to Australia without prior authorisation not be released into the community. Their release would undermine the Government’s strategy for determining their refugee claims or entry claims. Indeed, I believe it is vital to Australia that this be prevented as far as possible. The Government is determined that a clear signal be sent that migration to Australia may not be achieved by simply arriving in this country and expecting to be allowed into the community.

Why such a hard-headed even authoritarian approach to immigration, but a soft-hearted and woolly-minded approach on indigenous affairs?  Shouldn’t the plight of both asylum seekers and aborigines have engaged the compassion of self-proclaimed seekers of social justice like the Socialist Left?  I suspect the answer lies in the fact that it has always been much easier for members of the Left to construct a private narrative which allows them to dismiss asylum seekers as just “queue-jumping” economic migrants (despite the palpable absence of a queue) and potential petty bourgeois members of the aspirational classes who would inevitably side with the capitalists and steal workers’ jobs if allowed into Australia.  Being tough on them was an act of class solidarity for Hand and his successor Senator Nick Bolkus, which also happened to coincide with the  increasing desire of corporate Australia to skew the migration mix away from family reunion and refugees and towards skilled and business migration streams.

It was much harder for members of the Socialist Left to construct a narrative which could justify a tough-minded approach on aboriginal affairs policy.   However, maybe that is now starting to change.  The Australian newspaper reported on the weekend that:

NEW indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin plans to negotiate with the states to replicate parts of the Northern Territory intervention around the nation, vowing to do whatever it takes to improve Aboriginal lives.

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Ms Macklin said she was not interested in ideology, only outcomes, and that she has ordered her department to collect hard data on the progress of the intervention to provide information for a 12-month review.

Ms Macklin refused to attack the Howard government’s approach to indigenous affairs, and indicated that radical policies might be applied across the country, provided they had been shown to work.

The Left jumping into bed with Mal Brough?  Could it really be true?  Perhaps Macklin and the Left have finally latched onto a narrative that allows their consciences to deal with taking a tough-minded, pragmatic approach to indigenous affairs.  Senior Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton expressed it quite powerfully last week, in an op-ed piece which also expressed qualified support for at least some of the principles of the Brough intervention:

Those who did not see the intervention in the Northern Territory coming were deluding themselves. It was the inevitable outcome of the many failures of policy and of the strange federal-state division of responsibilities for Aboriginal Australians. Added to this were the general incompetence of the civil service and the non-governmental sector, including some Aboriginal organisations, lack of political will and the dead hand of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

The combined effect of the media campaign for action and the emergency intervention has been a metaphorical dagger sunk into the heart of the powerful, wrong-headed Aboriginal male ideology that had prevailed in indigenous affairs, policies and practices.

It’s time for the voices of women and children to be heard. It’s time for both the federal and the Territory government to stop playing politics with the lives of the vulnerable and shut down the alcohol take-away outlets, establish children’s commissions and shelters in each community – as Noel Pearson has suggested – and treat grog runners and drug dealers as the criminals that they are. Otherwise, they will all have the blood of the victims on their hands.

In other words, the Left can now take a tough approach on indigenous issues, because it is standing up for oppressed Aboriginal women and children against the “powerful, wrong-headed Aboriginal male ideology”.  Of course, that’s what Brough also argued, but it’s much easier for members of the Labor Left to accept when it comes from someone like Langton.

Nevertheless, Macklin has left herself plenty of wriggle room as to the extent to which she ends up embracing Brough’s initiatives, and has already indicated some specific measures that will be scrapped or radically changed:

However, Labor will change some aspects of the intervention program, including modifying rather than abolishing the CDEP Aboriginal work-for-the-dole scheme and reinstating the permit system that regulates non-indigenous access to Aboriginal communities. 

In this (and a planned part 2) post I’ve set myself the ambitious aim of examining the key Brough Intervention initiatives to assess which should be retained by Labor either with or without amendment, which should be scrapped, and what other programs and policies should be considered to attack the specific issue of horrendous levels of violence and sexual abuse of women and children in indigenous communities, and the more general problems that beset indigenous society.  

Although Brough completely ignored it except as a rhetorical pretext, the Little Children are Sacred report isn’t a bad place to start for initiatives specific to the child sexual abuse issue, and the recent Productivity Commission report Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators  is an excellent source for more general policy guidance in indigenous affairs.  The latter report emanated from a COAG iniative in 2003 and is the result of 4 years of co-operative analytical endeavour between Commonwealth and State instrumentalities in examining existing indigenous affairs programs to ascertain what sorts of approaches work and which ones don’t.  It was published in June 2007, at exactly the same time Brough was announcing his Northern Territory Intervention.  Yet Brough ignored it too! 

 What makes for good indigenous affairs policy?

Productivity Commission Chairman Gary Banks gave an address about the Commission’s report to the OECD World Forum shortly after Brough and Howard announced their intervention in a blaze of electorally-driven publicity.  It received almost no publicity in Australia, but Banks’ observations nevertheless provide a useful framework against which to assess the elements of the Brough intervention.  Some of Banks’ observations clearly support a shift in policy approach in indigenous affairs, with a greater emphasis on a “mutual obligation” approach (evident in some aspects of the Brough intervention). Banks says:

To convey the shifting policy approaches over time and their mixed contributions to the outcomes that we observe today, would require more space (and knowledge) than I have at my disposal. However, it is now generally recognised in Australia that aspects of the policy approaches since the late 1960s, while well motivated and directed at desirable ends, were implemented in ways that have had some perverse, even disastrous, consequences. In particular, equal access to statutory minimum wages and unemployment benefits effectively deprived many Indigenous people of employment, and left them dependent on welfare. …

Growing recognition of past policy failures a recognition shared by many Indigenous leaders together with an apparent worsening of the circumstances of many Indigenous communities, have contributed to a new commitment by Federal and State governments to overcome Indigenous disadvantage. At recent ceremonies celebrating the 1967 referendum, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition recognised past failures and the need to do better …

In addition to the agreed need to forge whole-of-government approaches …, key elements of the new policy approach include:

  • shifting from passive welfare to mutual obligation, or shared responsibility
  • fostering economic development and a greater role for private property
  • improving governments ability to interact with Indigenous communities in program design and delivery
    improving Indigenous governance
  • recognising the need for differentiated approaches to deal with the diverse circumstances of Indigenous people.

Of course, not all elements of the new approach have been universally welcomed or accepted. Some, such as changes to community land title, are highly contentious. But their introduction has been facilitated by a shared recognition by governments and Indigenous people alike that past policies and institutions have not delivered that in important respects some have made matters worse.

When it comes to listing the attributes of indigenous programs that the Productivity Commission had found worked (versus those that didn’t), it immediately becomes evident that the Brough/Howard intervention paid scant attention to the lessons of experience:

Our analysis of the things that work, together with consultations with governments and Indigenous people, identified the following factors that many of the success stories have had in common:

  • cooperative approaches between Indigenous people and government (and the private sector);
  • community involvement in program design and decision-making a bottomup rather than top-down approach;
  • good governance; and
  • on-going government support (human as well as financial).

The Brough intervention was characterised by a complete lack of co-operation with Indigenous people and other governments.  It was imposed on the NT government by deliberate ambush (carefully announced after Brough inquired and confirmed that Clare Martin would be caught unprepared with her key advisers in the air on the way to a meeting with his departmental officers in Canberra) with no advance consultation whatever with Aboriginal people, and certainly no community involvement in program design and decision-making. 

Consultation and co-operation

Although the Brough intervention doesn’t even make a pretense of consultation or a co-operative approach, my own fairly extensive experience in working with indigenous communities as a lawyer over 20 years or so suggests that very few government initiatives have actually succeeded in engaging indigenous people or led to genuine agreements characterised by informed consent or a real sense of community “ownership” of proposed solutions.  My own experience largely mirrors that of Toni Bauman, who recently wrote in Australian Opinion Online:

Responses to the Commonwealth Governments national emergency approach to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have often emphasised the need for consultation.1 And yet, it might not be consultation that is actually required, at least in the way it has been practised, as something done to Indigenous people. Looking back over the last 25 to 30 years, I see what is often referred to as the failure of self-determination (where consultation was the buzz word) as resulting in part from a lack of culturally competent and engaged Indigenous problem solving, decision-making and negotiation, rather than a lack of consultation as such.

The incapacity of governments to engage with Indigenous communities and arrive at meaningful, sustainable and owned outcomes through highly specialised skilled facilitation and participatory community development processes has troubled me for many years. The modus operandi of consultation has mostly been one-way communication in meetings in which talking heads drone on, poorly explaining complex information and concluding by asking: Everyone agree?. The response: hands raised half-heartedly and barely perceptible nods. Outside the meeting, participants typically have little or no understanding of what they have agreed to, the possible repercussions of agreement, or the short-, medium and long-term resources available for implementation requirements.

I see no change in this approach in the fleeting glimpses of national emergency Indigenous community meetings on national television. Moreover, the Commonwealth Government appears to see consultation as wasting time in its national emergency.

Poor decision-making and problem solving processes in which Indigenous people have been required to make decisions in a vacuum have repeatedly led to unsustainable outcomes for which no one takes responsibility, despite the Commonwealth Governments mutual responsibility, agreement-making and partnership policies. …

The missing link in government approaches to Indigenous issues is thus an adequately resourced infrastructure of community decision-making, engagement, problem solving and negotiation, based on the understanding that outcomes will not be sustainable unless they are owned by the Indigenous people involved. In the past, one solution which has often been proposed by Governments is for public servants to have cultural awareness training, but this is only a very small part of the answer. Being aware of issues which impact on Indigenous people does not equate to the necessary skills of engagement and communication, and not all individuals will be suited to effective engagement with Indigenous people. Moreover, governments and government departments themselves have major organisational communication problems and a range of cultures within them which give rise to internal misunderstandings and conflict which have a flow-on effect to Indigenous communities. These in turn intersect with those of other departments as whole-of-government approaches flounder.

Having outlined the underlying principles that must inform any successful approach to tackling indigenous policy issues (including child sexual abuse), I had intended embarking on an analysis of each of the main aspects of the Brough/Howard Northern Territory emergency intervention plan.  However, this post is already too long for most readers, so I’ll leave that point-by-point analysis for part 2 in a couple of days time. 

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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MichaelH
13 years ago

You make a good point about “consultation”, which is often just a meeting where visiting govt. workers tell Aboriginal people the basic paramenters of what has already been decided and ask them if they’d like to tag along.

The results of this are visible in the prevelance of “meeting fatigue” in remote communities. Though it’s not so much the meetings that are the problem, but the sense that nothing happens after the meetings.

There is too much ad hoc consultation and too little work on building effective capacity in Indigenous governance.

Liam
Liam
13 years ago

Ken, I’ve nothing to disagree with on the sections where you’ve discussed the functions of the indigenous affairs Ministry.
However, I’d like to take you up on a few bits of this paragraph:

Under the Rights assorted nominees, Labors approach to the immigration portfolio had mostly been characterised by a semi-open door policy towards family reunion and, to a lesser extent, refugee and compassionate applicants. It was cynically seen as a useful adjunct to the ALPs multiculturalism agenda, a way for Labor to cement the ethnic vote in key electorates and for the Right to enlist acquiescent new Party members for branch-stacking purposes. That approach led directly to the Vietnamese and Middle Eastern ghettoes and associated crime gangs which continue to blight Sydney and Melbourne to a considerable extent…

First of all, the nexus between Immigration and Multicultural Affairs was a lot older than the Hawke and Keating Governments, and the semi-open door policy was a lot more semi-open and closely tied to multicultural affairs under Fraser, possibly the leader of Australia’s most admirable Government yet in immigration matters. Until Whitlam the Commonwealth Immigration department exercised almost all of the functions of migrant settlement and assimilation/integration.
Secondly, the Liberals (in NSW at least) have reaped just as much trouble from their cynical ‘ethnic’ branches as Labor has. The ghost of Lyenko Urbancich hasn’t been laid yet.
Thirdly, and most importantly, the assertion that refugee and compassionate applicants led to so-called ghettos and crime gangs is an accusation straight out of yellow journalism. Long before the ministers of the Labor Left had Immigration portfolios, identical scares existed around other migrant groups. Italians brought knife-wielding mafiosi into Melbourne’s markets, Germans brought escaping Nazis, and so on and so on.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

That was long, but worth reading all the same.

The consultation which you suggest is necessary will be a lot of painstaking work. Step one would be finding (ie hiring) the resources to actually do it!

And I wonder how much difference there will be between the touted community shelters and orphanages, and whether there is any question of history repeating. Not to say that it doesn’t sound like a good idea!

I’ll look forward to the second part.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Thirdly, and most importantly, the assertion that refugee and compassionate applicants led to so-called ghettos and crime gangs is an accusation straight out of yellow journalism. Long before the ministers of the Labor Left had Immigration portfolios, identical scares existed around other migrant groups. Italians brought knife-wielding mafiosi into Melbournes markets, Germans brought escaping Nazis, and so on and so on.

Um, and an immigration policy biased towards family reunion with little if any emphasis on skills lead to clusters of poorly-skilled minorities with little English who struggled to assimilate and formed, er, ghettoes.

Not a hugely controversial conclusion I would have thought.

The controversial part is drawing conclusions from it.

Liam
Liam
13 years ago

The controversial part is drawing conclusions from it.

Quite. A concentration of minorities is simply that, whether it’s Vietnamese in Fairfield, Jews in Bondi, Chinese in Chatswood or poor whites scattered up the Central Coast. ‘Ghetto’ is in the eye of the beholder.
I should add that the postwar British assisted migration scheme, which is lauded so often as a success, was almost identically formed as a family-biased policy with no emphasis on skills and no post-arrival assistance.
BTW, I echo everything you said in #3, Patrick: I’m really looking forward to Part 2.

Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
13 years ago

Fantastic post Ken. Like others I look forward to part 2.

It may seem like drawing a long bow, but reading your piece I thought about the stuff I’ve written here about feedback as a fundamental of economic life. It’s a fundamental of virtually all life.

One of the reasons we’re buried in red tape is that governments are very bad at inviting and then actually responding to feedback.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
13 years ago

Well, Jacques, I think an average Ken Parish post is pretty much a BBP winner in any circumstance. This one exceeds expectation and is, in my opinion, fulsome redemption for his OTT initial reaction to the flawed but circuit-breaking NT intervention.

I hope someone forwards this post – and Ken’s number – to Jenny Macklin’s office.

John Rawnsley
13 years ago

A seismic shift has occured in indigenous policy and this is confirmed by the bi-partisan support of certain elements of the intervention.

As to the question of self-determination for indigenous peoples the international work is significant. Self-determination is useful when it applies to programs and projects that share knowledge and apply indigenous knowledge and design at its core. However, promoting it as an over-arching policy framework fails to account for the inter-dependant and integrated nature of social networks. That is why individual capabilities are also important (a merit based education, safe communities, et cetera) because they recognise the space of social frameworks after we account for those aspects pertaining to self-determination.

More analysis here…
http://rawnsley.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/ik-economy-and-development-concepts/

Leading on from the last part of Ken’s blog one way to assert greater community ownership and control is to invest in a strategic approach to the indigenous knowledge economy…

http://rawnsley.wordpress.com/category/ik-economy/

patrickg
13 years ago

Yeah Liam’s already picked up on it, and I hate to stop you when you’re on a roll Ken but:

that approach led directly to the Vietnamese and Middle Eastern ghettoes and associated crime gangs which continue to blight Sydney and Melbourne to a considerable extent,

I know evidence can be a tiresome bother at times, but care to cite any? That’s a bloody long bow at best, and frankly racist at worst.

If you care to take a look into the research about this, you will see in fact that it doesn’t bear that conclusion out in any way, shape or form. I will try and find it for you – Australian study, but not sure if it’s online.

Unfortunately dude you’ve fallen for two cardinal errors: 1. Believing what’s reported in the news as representative and 2. Paying attention when it’s a wog or a gook, but not so much when it’s a skip.

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

Seems like Ken is making a late push to increase his representation in the BBP07 selection.

I’ll treat that as a nomination, Jacques.

patrickg
13 years ago

Ah, here it is.

You have to pay for it, but I’ll quote the abstract, my bolds:

n recent immigration policy debates in Australia, it has been asserted that Asian immigrants concentrate in ethnic ghettos, thus posing a threat to the social cohesion of Australian society. This assertion has been based mainlyon selective observations made by anti-immigration groups. Nevertheless, it is more or less consistent with expectations of an ecological succession model that has guided studies on patterns of housing consumption behaviour of new immigrants in the West.

The ecological succession model contends that new immigrants concentrate in ethnic ghettos or low-cost housing areas and will move to good neighbourhoods only after they improve their socio-economic position in the host society.

Using data from the 1991 Housing and Location Choice Survey conducted in Melbourne and Sydney, the article shows that the assertion concerning the poor housing condition of Asian immigrants in Australia is unfounded. There is no ecological succession among them because they lived in good neighbour-hoods in Melbourne and Sydney shortly after their arrival in Australia.

The ecological succession model is a valid framework for poor immigrants from Indo-China, but it does not apply to patterns of housing consumption behaviour among well-to-do immigrants from North and South-East Asia.

Though tangential, this is a much more complicated issue than you seem to credit, and not something to be tossed off blithely as an aside.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

The ecological succession model is a valid framework for poor immigrants from Indo-China, but it does not apply to patterns of housing consumption behaviour among well-to-do immigrants from North and South-East Asia.

That’s the weakest contradiction I’ve ever seen. In fact, it sounds like positive endorsement of Ken’s point.

And he isn’t igmoring skips, it’s just hard to say you have an ethnic ghetto that largely consists of the wholy city.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

The most promising sign yet that Rudd Labor has no interest in the Luvvies’ Culture Wars is Julia Gillard’s statement that Australia was ‘settled’ by the British, not ‘invaded.’ The fact that a Federal Education Minister even has to get involved in such an issue is a sign of just how debauched the AEU is. If anybody can put a broom through the motley n’er do wells, it is Gillard (mini-Maggie). You Go Girl!

MichaelH
13 years ago

It wasn’t just the Productivity Commissions’ recommendations on “What Works” that the Federal intervention ignored (or rather, did just the opposite of them). It’s own justifcation, the emergency (invoking Hurricane Katrina as the example), for ignoring that advice also flies in the face of recognized practice.

The principles of disaster and recovery management empahasize the importance of local involvement and control in the emergency response to disasters. This is primarily for simple practical reasons – locals understand the situation, resources, and people best. External agents are brought in, but even then, co-ordination and consultation at the local level remains vital. The local element is recognized as important for longer term reasons as well – it’s known to reduce the traumatic effects of a disaster on a population by maximising people’s sense of control over the situation.

Ignoring the best advice on “what works” by appealing to the idea of an emergency situation, possible only by also ignoring the principles associated with that, doesn’t inspire much confidence. And what I’ve seen on the ground only confirms my doubts.

patrickg
13 years ago

Thats the weakest contradiction Ive ever seen. In fact, it sounds like positive endorsement of Kens point.

Not really. The point is: poor people live in high crime suburbs, rich people don’t. Middle class people not usually. This is a pattern that holds regardless of ethnicity.

Couple that with research that shows – quite clearly – that immigrants are far less likely to break the law than their whitey counterparts, and you’ve got yourself an argument there.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

patrick g

immigrants are far less likely to break the law than their whitey counterparts, and youve got yourself an argument there.

Ah dude, you would do well to know that the vast majority of immigrants are, er, er, “white.”

Tom N.
Tom N.
13 years ago

Just adding my thanks for a great post. The second instalment is eagerly awaited.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

patrick g

Interesting how you are silent on that other group of non-immigrants; aborigines.

Philly
Philly
13 years ago

If you are not Aboriginal, and you patently are not, then who gives a fuck about your opinion on any matters indigenous?

patrickg
13 years ago

John, I don’t know anything about indigenous issues or policy, I feel I’m marginally more qualified to talk about immigrants. Make of that what you will.

Ken, thanks for taking the time to write a really a great, in-depth response, with what I totally agree is a digression to your original post.

I accept your contention that Lakemba, etc. do indeed have high numbers of certain ethnic backgrounds. And that ethnicities commit crimes.

I’m familiar with the study by Mukherjee – you’re right, that is the only really good Australian study (though there are a couple of others), there has been some international research that’s quite interesting. I would, however, say that the case that immigrants – any immigrants – commit higher crime rates is a highly debatable one at best. Given your familiarity with the subject you would be well aware of the problems of studying this, as all the studies actually report are not crime rates, but arrest rates. Mukherjee included.

Moreover, I totally reject your assertion that the word ghetto has a reasonable or common definition that doesn’t include poverty and crime. Here is one. Poverty, crime and desperation play a huge role in that definition, and I looked at three other dictionaries that didn’t substantially differ.

By the commonly accepted definition, many – if not the majority – of ethnic concentrations do not, in fact, occur in ghettoes. I live in one such suburb.

It was a bad – and frankly racist – choice of words – nothing to do with being politically correct or otherwise. It’s cool, you wrote a great post, the fact I’m nitpicking this at all is a testament to that, but I feel that such prejudices, even small ones like this, should be called out.

Nabakov
Nabakov
13 years ago

If you are not Aboriginal, and you patently are not, then who gives a fuck about your opinion on any matters indigenous?

If you are not thoughtful, and you patently are not, then who gives a fuck about your opinion on any matters thoughtfully explored here.

“an immigration policy biased towards family reunion with little if any emphasis on skills lead to clusters of poorly-skilled minorities”

But really really really motivated to work hard and build a better life for their next generations. See USA circa 1850s to 1910s – Irish, Jews and Italians in particular. And who can really predict the skills we’ll need by 2050?

Yep, I join with Geoff, James and Jacques in nominating this post for BBP07.

“The Brough intervention was characterised by a complete lack of co-operation with Indigenous people and other governments.” is pretty the core of it. Meet the new Canberra solution. Same as the old one.

However, I do join others in suggesting Ken that you’re perhaps overemphasising the formation of ghettos as a general negative. If you moved to China next week, I doubt you’d settle in a suburb far away from any mart stocking some domestic home comforts and staffed by english-speaking staff.

“The Cronulla riots, Middle Eastern gang rapes and Lebanese crime gangs”

That’s the worst we can come up for the downside of Australian immigration policies?

I reckon that stacks up pretty well against some of the shit that’s gone down in the EU and the US over the past century. As I recall, our last serious murderous racial battle involving non-white immigrants was Lambing Flats over 120 years ago. Hell, we killed more yanks during the Battles of Brisbane and St Kilda in WW2.

Compare and contrast with other OECD racial explosions from the sixties to mid nineties alone. 50 plus dead during the 1992 Rodney King riots. And no one’s ever accurately counted the hundreds of dead Arabs that choked the Seine in October 1961 when the Frog security apparatus went berko as the Algerian War went critical.

All in all, I reckon Australia, under governments of all stripes, has generally handled the immigration thing pretty well.

The most promising sign yet that Rudd Labor has no interest in the Luvvies Culture Wars is Julia Gillards statement that Australia was settled by the British, not invaded.

Oh FFS, you obsessive petulant little prune, why don’t you and Philly get a chew toy together.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

I also nominate this for BB07, if that needed saying.

Re ghettoes, I could be wrong, but didn’t that start with Jewish ‘enclaves’ to use a neutral word, first in Venice and later anywhere the Nazis went. I have always thought that it referred to a place where an ethnic group was more or less forced to live.

Since these days the only pressure that ‘forces’ people to live together in that manner is lack of cultural and linguistic assimilation, ie ethnicity, we end up with a correlation with crime and poverty, the very existence of which (anecdotally) proves Ken’s point.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

All in all, I reckon Australia, under governments of all stripes, has generally handled the immigration thing pretty well.

This is absolutely right. Having seen some of the alternatives, I think Howard’s handling of Hanson was magnificent. The la-la land treat her with public contempt and dismiss all her ideas approach would work if she hadn’t had any support for those ideas – but she clearly did.

pablo
pablo
13 years ago

Looking forward to part 2 and a couple of thoughts to begin. Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs also used to get a rating from their ‘subjects’. Clyde Holding was rated pretty highly but Gerry Hand soon superceded that. Knowing Robert Tickner I can vouch for his enthusiasm and commitment – he previously worked as a Aboriginal Legal Service lawyer – but was swamped by the Hindmarsh Bridge affair. I am still at a loss to fully understand the Labor Opposition attitude toward abolishing ATSIC. Brough had a full-on Whitlamesque crash-through-or-crash approach and would have to rate a post on his own. A man for the times?
Amongst all the valid criticisms the abolishing of all CDMP work projects seems illogical. Reading anthropologist Gillian Cowleshaw’s ‘Black Fellas White Fellas’ and the Burke experience, you get a fairly clear eyed view of how the participants ran the program to their advantage. You can probably bet that there was wide variability in this area. Maybe there is need to consider the view that indigenous Australia is ungovernable or that there are just simply limitations to what the ‘government country’ (white Australia) can do. It isn’t necessarily an argument for self-determination but an admission, not of failure but of difference.