Wild Rivers resignations, a backward step

The debate on Wild Rivers is has taken a backward step with the resignations of two of the advisory committee members, including the Chair of the Committee throwing in the towel and claiming the committee is no more than a rubber stamp for Labor, state and federally, to ensure that the Cape is opened up for future development.

Throwing in the towel is a boxing term and an acknowledgement of defeat. There may be only two resignations involved, but throwing in the towel doesn’t necessarily have to mean that they are defeated.  Only that their argument hasn’t got the numbers. In situations like this, it may only need one person to throw in the towel for the issue to move on.

No need for a mass exodus as “blackfella’’ seem to do when they don’t want to lose face with their supporters.  And the all too predictable “if you go bro I will go”.  That is defeatism, mob-mentality and old politics. Instead it may mean you recognise early that consensus has not permeated around your position, or that the issue is not worth pursuing any more.

The same situation also comes into other committees and boards. When people feel frustrated they walk away, rather than get better at negotiating.

The earlier you can come to this point then the more likely you can put forward a position closer to your own position. By recognising this you can then move the discussion forward and not get into trench warfare over single and at times distracting issues.

Some boxing trainers have thrown in the towel early and ended the career of boxers. Others have benefited from the experience and gone on to fight another day and learn from their experience.

Throwing in the towel by the Chair and committee was obviously bought on by frustration because they were getting beat up by the Bligh government supporters on the board. It’s not unusual to set up so-called advisory committees to advise government; it’s a common strategy used to get their program through. My experience of over 20 years on various advisory groups is that when the chips are down and the advisory committee moves to a position that the government or a peak body doesn’t agree with, then irreparable wounds open up and good people step away, leaving long-term relationships and respect for others on the advisory group in tatters. It does not worry the Bligh government in this situation; they just appoint another couple of Jacky Jackys.

Already the recriminations have started, fueled by the mainstream press seeking to muddy the water by getting the view of pro-development lobby on the advisory committee.

The Cape has to develop, simple as that, any economist worth his or her salt will tell you that. Any person who has to drive those roads during the wet or dry will tell you that.  Any kid with an Ipod or mobile phone will tell you that. Development is the key to building capacity in the communities of the Cape. The Cape is flat and stagnant in terms of what it can do and should be doing for the regional and national economy.

Imposing a Wild Rivers legislation on a resource rich Cape York and putting a cap on resources and locking up assets is just “looney”.

It’s obviously ill conceived, and in terms of the Aboriginal people,  condemns them to subsistence living conditions seen only in the third world.

Government and business should recognise indigenous talent as a force in future development.  Get out of this mindset that an ‘intervention’,  ‘wild rivers’ or ‘income management’ will fix education, health, housing, and alcohol problems.

It’s the system that’s broken, stupid.

We need to abandon the welfare reform process, and Wild Rivers. Now that’s a good start then maybe we can see the Cape develop an economy of state and national importance.

It’s close to the growth centers of Asia, but that’s another story.

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