Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Howard's NT safari

Would'nt you know it, Howard's used his first visit to remote aboriginal communities in NT since he announced his new paternalism to tell local communities that they'd better get with the program or face a bleak future.

It is a little difficult to grasp just what the joys of joining Howard's version of the 'mainstream' hold out to remote communities, but we have it on his authority and in his own words: "Unless they can get a share of the bounty of this great and prosperous country, their future will be bleak". That is probably true, but how does signing up to this bizarre intervention guarantee them a fairer share of our country's 'bounty'?

From a distance it seems a recipe for further marginalization, disempowerment and impoverishment. Are all those resources currently encamped in the NT to become a permanent and expanding feature of the remote landscape? For the life of me I can't recall one instance where local communities have been properly consulted and made genuine partners in this exercise. Their views have been ignored, their leaders sidelined and their rights ignored or trampled upon - all in the cause of treating this 'national emergency'.

The great white leader has visited, spoken, and, in a sad tradition of great white leaders promising much and delivering little, will return to his mainstream comforts to ponder his great beneficence and compassion. Again, we see the 'man of the people' being tough on the weakest groups - refugees, Muslims, black fellas and the poor.

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