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How paternalistic, how racist, how demeaning

By JDB Williams - posted Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Again the Aboriginal community is used as an experimental pen for political and social engineering. First, the Aboriginal community; then the rest of the Northern Territory; then the rest of Australia's pensioners - all this charade to simply justify the government's attempt to appear righteous in getting rid of Howard's racist anti-discrimination provisions yet, in reality, still enabling it to have control over Aboriginal people and, through duress and economic bribing, secure leases over their valuable mineral wealth.

Committed Labor voters will find it hard ever to vote for Labor again as this is at best mere sanctimonious humbug; and the altruistic veneer daubed over the process did not prevent the United Nations clearly seeing such antics as racist.

On the CDEP issue, Macklin's implausible comments (listen to her ABC radio interview with Fran Kelly on June 16, 2010) are a joke. Removing the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) funding in remote communities, or even rural and urban centres, has resulted at best in only one in five formerly employed Aboriginal people within their communities finding employment, with the rest having no security or vision for the future. They have been cast upon the unemployment provisions which are vulnerable to the intrusive management plans which heighten further government control.


How paternalistic, if not racist. How demeaning. How thoroughly soul destroying! Multiply this by the thousands of CDEP venues and it is creates a destiny of despair. What Luddite mentality - part of the residual convict mentality that is still evident in the hallways of Parliament House in Canberra.

The current pragmatic government's problem, similar to Howard's introspective preoccupation and previous metamorphoses of Westminster boy's club enclaves, is the inability to come to terms with the fact that Aboriginal people should be allowed and enabled to live in “country”, that is within their ancient “nations”.

Why? Because when deprived of their livelihood and food source due to European squatters enforcing their “rights”; imposed fencing; mining claims; and denial of language; these factors all undermined the local community's, and their individual nation's, viability.

The cost to retain Aboriginal people within the former boundaries of their nations should be borne by the dominant beneficiaries of their plight: not, for example, the removal of Aboriginal youth from Cape York to pick oranges in Leeton, New South Wales, far away from home - as in Noel Pearson's amateur attempt at social engineering. But rather, sensible, responsible and insightful parochial plans to keep Aboriginal people within country and gainfully employed.

There should be comparable plans to the CDEPs to provide appropriate local and positive opportunities or else Aborigines should be adequately compensated by the conquering power for their inability to redress the wrongs of their own presumptuous ethnic cleansing. This would retain culture, self esteem, language and economic viability.

When it comes to Aboriginal affairs in Australia the “challenge of the century” for Australians - long before Ruddism distracted the nation about the pressing problem of the world's polluted atmosphere - should have been efforts for the retention of Aboriginal people within their own national homelands. To assess this onerous task another national think-tank could have been called, which comprised of genuine, local Aboriginal people together with the nation's best economists and planners - not millionaire manipulating self-serving mining magnates - to find ways to responsibly maintain each dispossessed Aboriginal Nation and to enable its people to live and be educated within their homelands. This is the antithesis of the current government design for Aboriginal people in the NT.


Ironically, the European Union helps out Greece in its financial trouble but individual Aboriginal nations, decimated by earlier European greed and lack of understanding, are forgotten people in their own lands or within an ever growing urban Aboriginal diaspora. Aboriginal nationalists find themselves now left out of the economic equation and excluded from mercantile opportunities, relegated to an economic scrap heap.

Further concentrating their impoverishment and oppressed state they even have to endure enforced management supervision in how they should pick through their own meagre rations to survive, ostensibly ensuring that no alcohol is found or used. For those in the community, who through no fault of their own find themselves desolate, despondent and defeated and, regretfully, seek to anesthetise their saddened lot through the introduced Western opiate of alcohol, even this attempt to lesson their sense of dread is denied - a legitimate balm for their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

The least this government and this nation can do is to attract the best non-political brains and the most capable visionaries to meet with locally appointed representatives from within the Aboriginal nations to redress the wrongs meted out to Aboriginal societies: to find positive ways to give a sense of hope and future, enabling Aboriginal people to remain in country, within their national boundaries, with constructive plans for the future. This,  without having forced assimilation to the avaricious and competitive world of contemporary, unfettered, capitalistic exploitation as the only available option for the future of their race.

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About the Author

JDB Williams is currently the Sydney Site Co-ordinator for the International Indigenous Resilience Research Project.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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