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1855 All Over Again

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.



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Jun. 22nd, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
i dunno, to me all he says is the basic, commonsense stuff, and he avoids making an comment on the political motivations of the situation--which to me are quite important here.

of course, doing so does take away any spotlight that might help the situation, but in this case, i think the spotlight needs to be shone right back on the government for this.

but then that's me, i guess.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 06:42 am (UTC)
I saw this last night and just.... ack!

There are the oddest parallels between it and the lj strikethrough.

All I can think is I wouldn't particularly wish to be a child in a community where some portion of the adults are going through alcohol withdrawal.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)
that's what the police are there for, cause that at all won't make matters worse...
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
what impresses me about this, you know, is how, even with aboriginal community leaders and people within these communities who do want help for the very real problems--even with these people asking for more funding and more help for years and years and years--

what impresses me is how howard can make one step away from taking aborigine kids away and putting them in a safe environment and not blinking ONCE.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:08 am (UTC)
Yeah. It's just mind blowing, and then, all at once, it isn't at all. For all the same reasons that this is seen as a election ploy, whereas in my mind, it's the sort of thing that would make someone lose office.

This is the bit that got to me:

Local police officers were accused of turning a blind eye to a "rampant informal sex trade" between Aboriginal girls aged 12 to 15 and non-Aboriginal local mineworkers, who paid the girls in alcohol, cash and other goods. Alcohol was used as a "bartering tool" by black and white men for sex with under-age girls, the report added.
From the Guardian.

Because I don't see anyone jumping up and down about restricting alcohol sales to those non-aboriginals, or restricting when and where they can drink, so as to avoid it being used to buy sex with minors.

Edited for fixing code.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:38 am (UTC)
yeah, i saw that article. the fact that no one is limiting things to white people doesn't surprise me at all.

the whole thing is disgusting, really, but it surprises me not one bit from the politicians we have. somewhere along the line, we took a few steps back as a country, i think.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:46 am (UTC)
Did you see This article in The Age.

It's so close to the issue of stolen children that it's hard to even make fun of it.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
Um, that was The Oz. I'm getting my offensive articles all mixed up.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 06:47 am (UTC)
Regarding the photo, I had the same exact thought.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:11 am (UTC)
awful, innit?
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:18 am (UTC)
If you could see some of the other posts on my friends page today, you'd understand how happy I was to read yours - even though it was brief. Friends-lock ethics prevent me from re-posting, sadly.

I just can't believe how many hate-filled, ignorant comments I've read today regarding this situation.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:35 am (UTC)
trust me, i'd believe you.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
Jesus, Howard is a fucking psycho and almost as bad as Bush.

On what grounds can he put these restrictions *only* on a certain group of people? I mean, what if we restricted the freedoms of Christians since there have been so many exposes of priest molestations?

I do think the Aboriginal leader's response about the cause of the abuse being caused by the Government's treatment of them is a little bit of a sidestep and a better response would be for them to come out and say "let us deal with this problem and support us" rather than punishing them. How big a problem is child abuse in Aborginal cultures and what sort of abuse are we talking about? Is it any more prevalent than amongst whites?
Jun. 23rd, 2007 09:51 am (UTC)
i'd probably say howard was a bit worse than bush, actually. he's a lot more calculated and manipulative, for example. to the point that most media response to this has, in fact, been positive.

there is no grounds that he can do this--except, of course, that it's australia, and it's been going on since it became australia.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
I don't think you can possibly judge from Howard's public posturing what the real outcomes will be. For example I find it hard to tell whether "compulsory medical checks" is just the racist voting-call translation of "readily available medical services".

The tone of the announcement disgusted me. By what right can anyone address a whole geographical region like an abusive parent dressing down an unruly teenager? "You haven't done your assimilation like you said you would, so you're grounded until further notice! And there will be no allowance for you without a full attendance sheet from your teacher!"

Media response seems to largely praise Howard. I was a bit shocked by how positive towards the whole thing the SMH editorial today was.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
i'm not shocked by the media response. after all, the media never criticised him over the children overboard thing, which i thought was nothing short of blatant bullshit political spin. nor have they called him on any of the other lies and shit over the years.

as for the real outcomes? who knows. i doubt they're be any 'real' outcomes that benefit anyone.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 10:26 am (UTC)
I'm inclined to go along with Noel Pearson's take on the issue, even if he's not black enough for some leftists these days. The point that serious abuses are occurring right at this moment is a very strong one, and the point that genuine Aboriginal self-determination, assisted as necessary by the government, is the only solution is also very well made.


I don't think debating the issue from the perspective of what Howard hopes to achieve politically is appropriate, to be honest. I also believe that high level policy will have far less impact on the situation than the actions of ordinary people in the region.

None of this goes to reduce my general disgust at the government's rhetoric or the timing of the announcement.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)
i know the problem regarding aborigine children is real. my mum works in DOCS--some of the stories she can tell, man, they break your heart. i also know that something, really, needs to be done--but i'm not yet convinced this is the way to do it, mind you.

personally, i do think debating it from the perspective of howard's political gains (any political gains) is worth doing, but i guess i think this because the problem has existed for years now, and i simply don't think this little attempt of a bandaid will do anything real. it's a political move, at least to me, but i don't see a problem with people wanting to discuss it in ways that will be beneficial for the problem that exists.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:06 am (UTC)
No policy ever produced by the whole spectrum of mainstream politics in this country has improved the situation. So regardless of Howard's right-wing crap it's not clear how the detail of yet another policy is even relevant.

As Pearson argues, policy-making at arm's length, and the best possible ideological outcome of an argument between two urban blogger white guys cannot have any lasting impact. For the situation to meaningfully improve the means must be put in the hands of indigenous community leaders and indigenous parents.

I have nothing but spite for Howard -- I'd spit on him in church -- but it has been truly shitting me to see people making the similarities to Tampa, the blatant wedge politics of this announcment, the emphasis of discussion.

Yes, Howard's a complete cunt who will stop at nothing to retain power and continue funnelling money and privileges to the wealthy in the name of Gods he doesn't understand, who's gulling a pack of contemptible xenophobe swinging voters into following his latest "tough stand", who's taking up the invitation to have a free swing at society's most disadvantaged with gusto. Who knew?

And I've fucking had it with Rudd if he doesn't at least quibble with the detail on this one. Fucking Labor collaborators. I thought better of him six months ago.
Jun. 22nd, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
What in the Holy Jad is with the photograph? Are Rod McGuirk, his copy-editors and respective editor(s) trying to intentionally provoke negative reaction? Tosspots the lot of them, I tell you.
Jun. 23rd, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
they probably only have druggie aborigines or dancing aborigines on file.
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