Australia's prime minister announced plans Thursday to ban pornography and alcohol for Aborigines in northern areas and tighten control over their welfare benefits to fight child sex abuse among them.
The plan angered some Aboriginal leaders, who said it was the kind of government behavior that has disenfranchised Aborigines and created the problems in the first place. They also complained they had not been consulted; the government had not previously indicated it was considering such action.
"I'm absolutely disgusted by this patronizing government control," said Mitch, a member of a government board helping Aborigines who were taken from their parents under past assimilation laws who uses one name. "And tying drinking with welfare payments is just disgusting."
"If they're going to do that, they're going to have to do that with every single person in Australia, not just black people," she said.
Howard said the sale, possession and transportation of alcohol would be banned for six months on the Aboriginal-owned land, after which the policy would be reviewed. The child abuse report found drinking was a key factor in the collapse of Aboriginal culture, contributing to neglect of children and creating opportunities for pedophiles.
Hardcore pornography also would be banned, and publicly funded computers would be audited to ensure that they had not downloaded such images. The report said pornography was rife in Aboriginal communities and that children often were exposed to it.
Under Howard's plan, new restrictions would be placed on welfare payments for Aborigines living on the land to prevent the money from being spent on alcohol and gambling. Parents would be required to spend at least half their welfare on essentials such as food, and payments also would be linked to a child's school attendance.
Howard also called on state governments to send police to the Northern Territory to address a shortage on Aboriginal land there and offered to pay their expenses.
And this, incidentally, is the photo the ABC ran with the article--
--because Aborigines are either a tourist attraction or a 'national problem', and never real people in the eyes of the government or the media.