It’s Crap Tony

It’s not so much a failed state Tony, as a failed Howard Brough election eve policy. To now try and distance yourself from Howard and Brough and call for another Intervention, on the premise that the Territory is a “failed state” is Crap Tony.

The disappointment is that a Labour government without a social conscience won an election, which saw the back of Brough and Howard. Rather than roll back the Intervention and engage with Aboriginal stakeholders. Labor choose to continue to breach international human rights accords, driving people from communities into camps and creeks on the fringes of towns, from Port Augusta to Darwin.

The Intervention resulted in an exodus from communities akin to a refugee crisis. Aboriginal people drifted into secondary towns like Coober Pedy in their hundreds, they came like refugees, with there mere belongings, to Alice Springs, Mt Isa, Tenant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. An additional 3,500 Aboriginal people in Alice Springs is testament to a failed policy.

They are sleeping rough, income-managed, being discriminated against, and racially abused, even by their own television station Imparja. The commercial station was forced to withdraw socially unacceptable advertisements about Aboriginal people running on its station. An action by an Arrente man to the human rights commission was needed to bring Imparja to account.

What has Imparja, the Aboriginal owned Television Station, done in the past 25 years to lift the self esteem, and improve the situation of Aboriginal people? What is its programming doing to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage?. Its high profile Board and employees are comfortable, in there nice homes with their high salaries and LCD TV’s

The failed state, Tony, has its genesis in the CLP governments in the Territory. Their failure, to direct Commonwealth funds targeted to Aboriginal communities over decades created the beginnings of a “failed state”.

Noam Chomsky writing in the Khleej Times “Superpowers and failed States “ wrote,

The definition of “failed states” is hardly scientific. But they share some primary characteristics. They are unable or unwilling to protect their citizens from violence and perhaps even destruction. They regard themselves as beyond the reach of domestic or international law, hence free to carry out aggression and violence. And if they have democratic forms, they suffer from a serious “democratic deficit” that deprives their formal democratic institutions of real substance. One of the hardest tasks that anyone can undertake, and among the most important, is to look honestly in the mirror. If we allow ourselves to do so, we should have little difficulty in finding the characteristics of “failed states” right at home.

Yes Tony, the situation in the Northern Territory does have the characteristics of a failed state.

So what do we do?  It is clear that the Intervention has failed. The housing project in town camps is also a failure. It fails to deliver the real jobs to Aboriginal contractors and Aboriginal people. Real jobs for Aboriginal people are Aboriginal people working at all levels.

There is a tendency for Aboriginal corporations to set up building companies. This is a failed practice and should not be supported by government. These practises are largely welfare projects and use much needed welfare money to build so called Aboriginal enterprises. It is a welfare model that has failed; the first thing they do is employ white people in the top jobs and blackfella gets the job of sweeping up, kowtowing to a white boss.

Mr Abbott says special alcohol laws have worked to stop people drinking in remote communities in the Territory and there is no reason they could not work in Alice Springs.

Yes, agree that “special measures” should apply to everyone in the Territory. Grog should be served on licensed premises, ban all takeaway grog in the Territory, and close down animal bars. Do that and maybe we have a way forward. The businesses and concerned tourist  operators that contributed to those advertisements on Imparja may not like that approach.

Tony made this point “I think that as with the Intervention, when you’ve got a serious social crisis you’ve got to take serious measures to address it,” he said. “We have a Commonwealth budget of about $350 billion a year. If this was to cost $10 million or $20 million or even more than that, I think that is the kind of money that a reasonable, decent, prudent government can find.”

The letter also discusses making participation in school compulsory. Couldn’t agree more, but how do we do that, with a curriculum in town that does not support bilingual education? With some communities of reasonable size without a high school?

Tony says there needs to be more police, more teachers and insistence on work-for-the-dole and alcohol-management measures.

On the insistence of work for the dole; well there was a healthy work for the dole scheme running on communities before the Intervention. It was closed down on many communities, and downsized on others to a few participants. Communities need access to the grants commission like any other shire to build their own infrastructure on communities and create real jobs.

Mr Abbott now says a new Intervention would need to be guided by Indigenous leadership.

That is all well and good Tony, how do you take the tribal politics of nepotism and cronyism away from any carve up of jobs and money. How do kids and historical Aboriginal people get a fair go?

“A failed state” Australia has failed Aboriginal people since it settled the land, the failed state is because of the theft of land and assets, government inaction, mining companies, pastoralists, businesses and supermarket grog barons.

What’s the solution?

There’s no one solution to the problems Aboriginal people face, just like there isn’t for most things.  But I would start by challenging white people in the Territory, and in the rest of the country, to ask themselves what they would be prepared to give up to try and make a positive future for the current and next generation of Aboriginal people? 

Because, if a strategy or policy is discriminatory, if it applies to black people but not to white people, it’s never going to work.

I think grog is the biggest factor and the first step is to deal with that. Would you whitefellas  be prepared to let go of your fierce attachment to grog?  Would you support a ban on takeaway grog for all people, not just blackfellas or people in some communities? 

You could go to a pub or a club, or a restaurant and have a drink, but when it’s time to go home its time to go home and do something else.

You could have normal hours for pubs and clubs. The drinking culture has to change, if you have not had enough grog by midnight, then you have a problem.  

Would you support pubs and clubs and restaurants telling anyone that they’ve had enough when they’ve had enough?   Including you?

What would you be prepared to do, to be able to stop pretending you’re not part of the problem?

We don’t need another intervention, we need to halt the one we got, Jenny is looking tired and needs to go, Labour needs new ideas. Give the community back some dignity and stop that apartheid basic card.

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