Saturday, 30 June 2007

Howard's "land grab" of Aboriginal settlements. Is it wrong?

I know what I believe. I believe that John Howard is taking control of land in Aboriginal Settlements for reasons other than the stated reason - of preventing child abuse. It is all too far-fetched to be true.

John Howard does not agree with me. Well, of course he doesn't. But at least he has been forced now to come out and deny the story - for what a Prime Ministerial denial is worth, from John Howard.

The SMH said (30 June 2007) : "The Prime Minister, John Howard, has dismissed as "ludicrous" allegations his plan to tackle child abuse in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory was a cover-up for winding back land rights.
"Earlier this week Pat Turner, a former head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, accused the Federal Government of using child abuse as "the Trojan Horse to resume total control of our land".
"Mr Howard said he was not "trying to take anything from anybody". "This idea that we're stealing a generation - we're protecting a generation; this idea we're grabbing land - we're trying to secure the future for these people."
- end of quote.

OK, why is John Howard resuming control of Aboriginal Leases? What has this process got to do with stopping child abuse? It is far from clear what the rationale is.

It is not just the "prattling classes" of the "Blogosphere" who think there is a problem with the Howard plan. Even nice, conservative, reasonable Michael Duffy thinks there is.

He writes (SMH 30 June 2007) "For 11 years this Government largely ignored the horrific plight of so many Aboriginal Australians. (It says it's acting now because of a recent report on child sex abuse. Many reports have said the same things over the past decade.)"
Good point, Michael.

His article is entitled: "Lessons from Iraq absent in (sic) PM's solution" (Michael is not a good grammarian - absent from would be better, Michael.). He starts off:

"The invasion of the Northern Territory proceeds well. Convoys have been dispatched, beachheads secured, and our television screens again show armed Australians in uniform being nice to shoeless children of colour.

"On the home front, the white feather is being used to ridicule dissenters. The modern version of the white feather is the claim, as put by the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Mal Brough, on The 7.30 Report on Wednesday, that those who question any aspect of what the Government is doing are really saying "let's do nothing".

"So all in all, John Howard's military solution to the problem of Aboriginal disadvantage is going well. But then, wars do tend to go well in their early stages."

And what do I think is behind it? Mining interests, and a deep-seated desire to destabilise the Northern Territory Government, and a desire to make himself look "decisive" in the lead-up to the forthcoming election. Why do I mention mining interests? Well, one of the key ingredients in the plan is this:

"Introduce legislation to acquire a five year lease over prescribed Indigenous communities, with just terms compensation with this to include, but not be limited to, communities of 100 people or more located on:
Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (ALRA) land;
located on a form of freehold title issued by the NT Government to Aboriginal corporations and known as Community Living Areas.
Other communities
may also be prescribed by the Minister on the basis of advice from the Taskforce."

Source: Mal Brough's Press Statement of 21 June 2007.

This constitutes a key part of the Federal Government's on-going war against Native Title. They are desperate to disrupt Native Title, and replace it with 99 year leases. Why? Because it makes it easier for Mining interests to negotiate mining activities.

Why else?

This has little if anything to do with abuse of Aboriginal children. In fact, the removal of the permit system, if anything, facilitates abuse - at least the prostitution of children by outsiders, (e.g., mine workers and taxi-drivers) in return for drugs, and sniffable petrol, which was clearly identified in the "Little Children are Sacred" report. Be prepared - it is a huge file. But this website seems to work. The NT Government website which is the official host site appears to have crashed.

Finally, I note that the authors of this report (Pat Anderson and Rex Wild QC) state:
"It is critical that both Governments (NT and Federal) commit to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people in designing initiatives for Aboriginal communities" P7.

That sentence is in the Foreword of the Report, Mr Brough, in case you have not read that far into it.

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