Mal Brough approached his appointment to the Indigenous Affairs portfolio with all the zeal of a wild-west lawman intent on “cleaning up the town”.
He began shooting from the hip on day one, and now it appears that he has more than one bullet lodged firmly in his foot.
The stewardship of Indigenous Affairs has passed from a minister who seemed to have only a passing interest in Aboriginal issues, to one who generates ideas like a Catherine-wheel.
For readers unfamiliar with fireworks, the Catherine-wheel rotates as it burns, shooting out sparks in all directions, and producing merriment, consternation and the occasional bushfire.
Brough is the minister who had the Indigenous violence summit without inviting Indigenous leaders.
The same one who is currently monstering Mutitjulu, instead of sitting down with the leaders of this troubled community to help them sort things out.
He’s the bloke intent on nobbling the big Northern Territory land councils.
The minister is looking increasingly accident-prone as he lurches between ill-considered utterances and half-baked ideas for economic miracles.
Witness the million dollar mistake: in late June, Brough made the incredible claim that a million dollars in cash from the sale of illicit substances had been found in just one remote community.
It wasn’t true, of course, and the minister eventually retreated from this excited outburst, saying that he had “failed to check his facts”.
But it beggars belief that someone who has now visited quite a number of these communities could imagine that there might be a million dollars in cash lying around. Where would it be kept? In a biscuit tin in the town clerk’s office? Secreted away in the exhaust pipe of a rusting car-body?
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the minister really has no feel for this stuff.
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