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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.



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.