Sunday, June 24, 2007

ABC 's Insiders on Howard's punitive solution to indigenous child abuse in the NT

I frequently listen in to the ABC's Insiders, a weekly take on federal politics. It is an interesting dynamic with sun-tanned Barry orchestrating a panel of ' journos' from the right wing columnist set (mostly paid by Murdoch), the Fairfax stable and from the public broadcasters. The entertainment is mainly generated by an exposure of the abject silliness of the right-wing set, turning themselves inside out to support Howard and attack Rudd, and the fun the panel has sending up the latest bloopers from our political representatives. All pretty light weight really.

Today we had a serious discussion of Howard's strategy to punish social dysfunction and hardship, as manifested in child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory. I sent the Insiders website the following comment:

"I can't believe that seasoned journalists can be so naive as to believe Howard is not playing politics with this issue. Fran Kelly sounded like Alice through the looking glass. Gerry sounded his usual pained apologetic self ('no one understands just how clever I am!')

It is not difficult to work out the politics. If its not asylum seekers its the weakest minority in our society under the hammer. The fact that child welfare problems are a function of decades of paternalistic repression and neglect that has robbed traditional communities of their dignity and cultural pride, and the resources they need to enable local solutions, does'nt figure in the Howard/Brough punitive stance.

Aboriginal community leaders and advocates have been crying out for self-determined solutions to problems of social and economic disadvantage for decades and getting 'white fella' rule in response. This crisis cries out for a multi-layered strategy that focuses on education and other forms of prevention, not punishment (except where criminality is proved). The compulsory medical checks component is draconian and offensive.

This has 'Tampa' written all over it. Can anyone sniff an election in the wind? I would not be surprised if Aboriginal land rights are threatened down the track under this backward looking power grab."

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