NT Plan Read ’ems: “white man’s burden”, Howard’s poll plunge, and reactions from Pat Turner and Lt Gen Sanderson

Here are your Northern Territory Aboriginal “emergency plan” read ’ems for today! I’ve included excerpts, but do read the whole articles for context and elaboration.

Mark Lawrence: The white man’s burden: Howard’s attack on Aboriginal self-determination

Excellent post on the new paternalism, Howard’s “white man’s burden” mentality and his “classic ‘Pauline Hanson’ lies about Aboriginal self-determination, resources, and “special treatment”.

The Howard-Brough plan clearly attacks self-determination through such moves as seizing control of 70 Aboriginal controlled communities and townships in Northern Territory and forcing Aboriginal parents to meet stringent conditions in return for their welfare and family support payments. All this on top of the “law and order’ approach of sending in extra police and military to spearhead the “campaign’. This is the “shock and awe’ aspect of the Howard-Brough plan, (the overtly militaristic tone in the government spin is no accident).
By effectively saying ‘your way failed, now make way for our way ““ we will do what is needed to protect children,’ Howard is simultaneously trying to wash his hands of over a decade of neglect, chronic under-funding (and in many cases de-funding), and destabilisation of organisations, initiatives, resources and basic services for Indigenous people by his government, and blame the problem on Indigenous people and their leaders to justify his jackboot actions.

It also allows him the grandiose (or rather grotesque) gesture of taking up the white man’s burden and inviting the rest of Australia to join him.

[I’ve been brewing a post myself on militarism and ‘othering’ in the NT plan – bear with me.]

Herald Sun: Howard suffers poll backlash

“The poll found most believe Prime Minister John Howard’s interest in tackling widespread sexual abuse of Aboriginal children has more to do with the coming election than with genuine concern about the problem. Only 25 per cent of voters believe Mr Howard genuinely cares about the issue, the poll found. And 58 per cent are cynical about the intervention, believing it has been motivated by the looming election.”

The Australian: PM’s plan is ‘to seize land by stealth’

John Howard’s seizure of indigenous land for five years has been labelled a backdoor way for the Government to force Aborigines to sign up to 99-year leases for private home ownership.

Pat Turner, a former head of the now-defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, warned yesterday that the takeover could lead to indigenous people losing their lands altogether. “Redressing child abuse and enabling our children to live safely and healthily in our communities has absolutely nothing to do with land tenure,” she said.
Ms Turner believed the reason John Howard called the intervention a national emergency was because he wanted to get hold of Aboriginal lands ceded to them under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act of 1976. “I believe that’s why the Prime Minister called it a national emergency, because the Land Rights Act has a national interest clause,’ she said.

ABC News: Former Army chief hits out at Indigenous plan

A former head of the Australian Army and Western Australian governor has criticised the Federal Government’s crackdown on child abuse at Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Lieutenant General John Sanderson is now a special adviser on Indigenous affairs for the Western Australian Government.

The Army has sent troops into remote Indigenous communities but Lt Gen Sanderson says Aboriginal children do not need soldiers “kicking footballs and playing the guitar”.

He says they should also not have to endure the uncertainty of compulsory acquisition of their land. Instead Lt Gen Sanderson says the communities need ongoing development funding so they can live on their land, get educated and participate in the global economy on their terms.

Transient Languages & Cultures: “The Right Thing To Do’? – Jenny Green (a Central Australian linguist)

Going further back, some of those old people, and their parents, were subject to anthropological investigations of the 1930s. These involved procedures such as the taking of blood, and various other measures of bodily functions. Some of those old people believed, albeit with interpreting, that they were being tested to assess their status as human or “other’, and that the outcome was linked to the availability of work on cattle stations. Part of my point is that it is really important to place these recent developments in some sort of historical context, and also to be aware of how various measures, however well intentioned, are understood in the targeted communities.

[Read the whole post, though.]

Categories: culture wars, indigenous, Politics, social justice

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