SENDS THE ARMY INTO BLACK AUSTRALIA
DEAN RIOLI TALKS ABOUT INTERVENTION
Dean is pictured here with Aicha Saad from Brunswick.
Coming soon - Dean Rioli's view.
FORMER ARENA MAGAZINE MAN AND LA TROBE ACDEMIC DOUG WHITE HAD THIS TO SAY:
Malcolm Fraser has described the action taken against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory as paternalistic. It is a realistic criticism, although these days it is a rare form of paternalism, one rather favoured by Tony Abbott. It is not a defining criticism, for paternalism is a common enough quality of government actions towards Aboriginal people.
The Prime Minister has in effect declared the suspension of ordinary political rights for Aboriginal people living in their communities, and the imposition of military/police rule. Permits for visitors to their country have been suspended, no doubt something welcomed by the tourist trade. Procedures, where they existed, for customary law have been put aside. Welfare payments, until now a right of all Australians, may be suspended without legal procedures.
It is a rare occasion in the European history of Australia for a government to call out the troops, or to threaten to do so, against its own people. It is as if Howard, relishing his role as a petty Bismarck in the Pacific, has turned his efforts internally. One wonders whether this is to become a precedent. Will the troops raid the offices of unions threatening to enrol voters? Will all political demonstrations become a matter of military action, taken as internal support for terrorism? The use of the military and police against Aboriginal people take us back to the early days of occupation, to Eureka, and to actions against unionism in its earlier years. Jon Howard has often claimed a superior understanding of Australian history. Now he is acting on it.
Other forceful actions, ones more likely to be effective, could have been taken by the Prime Minister. He could have begun action to close all licensed premises in the Northern Territory. He could have required all businesses in the NT to employ Aboriginal workers, and for government assisted work training.
It is encouraging that some doctors and others have volunteered to assist Aboriginal people in the NT in their troubles. Many have done so for years without acknowledgement or support from the Leader. Right now it appears that assistance is urgently needed for people fleeing from the police and soldiers moving into their settlements. There is likely to be an urgent need for food, medical assistance and temporary accommodation. One hopes that the NT government will assist. Clearly, Aboriginal people have a different memory of their history from that of Mr.Howard.
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