Wednesday, June 27, 2007



Fighting back

Australian Aborigines angered by John Howard's transparent attempt to use them for wedge politics are fighting back - by threatening to close Uluru to tourists. Meanwhile, others who remember the abuses of the Stolen Generation are simply going bush. And I can't really blame them. After over two hundred years of genocide, racism, oppression and neglect, there's a significant distrust of the federal government - and John Howard's policies haven't done anything to reduce it. Here's one example of how it's "helped" the community of Mutitjulu:

Five years ago, when local and visiting youths addicted to petrol fumes regularly terrorised this community, elders say they could not even secure funding for street lights to make the place safer. When concerns emerged that a man was endangering children, they could not get help from authorities to remove him. He is long gone, but despite this - and the arrival of fumeless Opal fuel and a rehabilitation effort that doused the petrol sniffing crisis - a "national emergency" now summons police and military.

"We look up to the Government to help us," Donald Fraser said yesterday. "Now the Government has become a camel, and kicked us out."

In one of the many intricate dramas complicating the political story of the Howard intervention, Canberra tossed out the Mutitjulu community administration eight months ago and replaced it with a Perth firm. But a month ago locals succeeded in dumping the firm through an appeal to the Federal Court. "Why has the Government taken this radical action immediately after the Federal Court finding?" Harry Wilson asks.

In an case, Fraser says, the people are frightened of the federal police coming "because we do not know what they look like". They know their police, he says, and are confident about them. According to Fraser and Wilson, and Bob Randall, a senior elder, Mutitjulu has atrophied in the months since the Government assumed nominal control. They point to the new child care centre next door to the meeting place, closed for the duration. They complain that the education of teenagers at the community college has been compromised by the failure to fix accommodation for boarders, forcing the disruption of teaching as the students are rotated through limited beds.

Work programs, including rubbish clean-ups and the collection of wood to warm homes during freezing desert nights, have stopped. "John Howard has done a Robert Mugabe on our citizens," says another local, Mario Guisette. "He has called martial law on his own citizens."

(Emphasis added)

If a government takeover means losing your essential services, then you can't really blame people for resisting it.

Despite the attempts of racists to spin it that way, opposition to Howard's plan is not about protecting abusers. It is about dignity, respect, and control over their own communities; about getting actual assistance with real problems, rather than having them used as a shoddy excuse for another land grab.

5 comments:

back in the 1990s the high court established that pastoral leaseholding did not extinguish aboriginal title to lands.

this meant that a bunch of farmers were raising sheep and beef in desert country that may have been owned by aboriginal clans.

howard legislated to ensure that aboriginal title was extinguished, thereby preventing any chance of aboriginal owners acquiring title and lease monies.

numerous aboriginal clans could have become financially independent in such a move. howard also watered down the negotiating position of aboriginal groups over mining rights on their lands. again, this reduced the amount of money entering aboriginal communities.

australia is today extremely wealthy on the back on mining revenues. aboriginal people do not get to share that wealth, except as hand-outs.

Posted by che tibby : 6/27/2007 01:30:00 PM

Che: australia is today extremely wealthy on the back on mining revenues. aboriginal people do not get to share that wealth, except as hand-outs.

Which people then criticise them for taking. Another case of blaming the victim...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/27/2007 01:42:00 PM

Anyone seen this?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Proposition

Posted by MERC : 6/27/2007 02:04:00 PM

the propositon is a great film. nick cave really wrote a doozy with that one.

much better than "the tracker", which has a similar depiction of aboriginal people.

Posted by che tibby : 6/27/2007 02:39:00 PM

I make a point of seeing all films, books, art with Aboriginal Australian references (Maori TV has some good stuff on occasionally). I think it may be some time before we see a film that powerful here, about here.

Posted by MERC : 6/27/2007 03:27:00 PM