07 September 2010

MAIC Response to Re-elected Gillard Government

Media Release -- 7 September 2010

The appalling state of Aboriginal affairs has been thrust back into the spotlight with the formation of the new Government.

The announcement of the re-election of the Gillard Government saw Aboriginal self-determination and employment at the forefront of negotiations.

The MP for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott stressed the disadvantage that Indigenous people experience in areas all around Australia. The MP for Kennedy, Bob Katter, is also on record as being highly critical of the state of Aboriginal housing, the lack of self-determination and dearth of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people in rural areas.

The ‘Wild Rivers’ policy was a controversial issue for the Independents and is a policy that reaffirms the broader crisis in Aboriginal affairs. The focus on market driven policies and punitive individualism has only seen ‘The Gap’ between white and black Australia widen.

Noel Pearson, Director of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, has been an outspoken mouth piece for the right-wing ideas implemented by successive governments. Though used as prop for parliamentarians on both sides of politics, his views are widely discredited amongst Aboriginal Australia. Mr Pearson’s punitive approach has been shown to have failed, with clear negative outcomes across the board when resources have been withdrawn from vulnerable Aboriginal communities. 

The Northern Territory Intervention was one of the most significant issues at the last election in 2007. Three years later, the conditions of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have degenerated even further.

Spokesperson for the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), Mr Alex Ettling said “There has been no accounting for the disaster that the Intervention has had on Indigenous people in Northern Territory”.

Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC) is campaigning for the scrapping of the Intervention and an increase in funding and self-determination for Aboriginal communities. Mr Ettling says “If the Government is serious about improving the conditions of Aboriginal people in Australia, they need to shift away from the racist paternalism that has creeped back into Aboriginal policy making”.

Mr Ettling said “We support ‘jobs with justice’, rather than the arrangements under the Intervention that have seen people like Peter Inverway, a construction worker from Kalkarindji working for $4/hr plus a ration card”.

MAIC opposes the system of welfare quarantining which is punitive, ineffective and a racist throwback to the 1950s. MAIC also condemns the abolishing of bi-lingual education which is undermining Aboriginal culture. MAIC demands Aboriginal communities in the Out Stations and Homelands be fully resourced and serviced, and an end to the ‘hub towns’ policy. Furthermore, MAIC supports the full application of the Racial Discrimination Act to the Intervention laws to allow them to be challenged in the High Court.

On October 30, there will be a protest in Melbourne against the racism of the NT Intervention. This will be part of a national protest that weekend, with demonstrations planned for Alice SpringsSydney and Perth.