Stronger Futures, Weaker Citizens: Australia slammed at United Nations

Unbeknown to most citizens, a series of powerful, rights-stripping bills are being passed through Australian Federal parliament in the coming weeks, hoping to draw as little attention as possible. These bills are called Stronger Futures legislation, a series of 10-year long federal and state laws detailing mandatory programs the Australian Government will use to control your income, limit your fortnightly salary and dictate what exact shopping items you must buy in order to continue to receive Centrelink (Social Security) payments.

Not only that, the bills seek to dictate how your children should be educated, in what school, and failing that, Low Income payments will be indefinitely withheld from families.

Do I have your attention? Are you a little surprised or concerned you haven’t heard of this until now? Good. You should be concerned… Even though these laws might not affect you, because are not Aboriginal.

Julia Gillard - Stronger Futures Racist, Communist Legislation Bills | Controversial News

Image Credit: AAP ALAN PORRITT

Australia last week was again damned and censured severely by both Amnesty International and speakers at the United Nations for our abysmal treatment of not only genuine refugees but our own indigenous fellow citizens. (Source: http://www.amnesty.org.au/report/comments_2012/28734/) You would think that by 2012 we had matured to a point where the kind of ignorance and communist-like control that had former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formerly apologise on behalf of the nation, would be a thing of the past.

Australians foolishly like to think they live in a forward-thinking country where democracy prevails and human rights are actually upheld so that every Australian Citizen receives equality.

But no. As Western Nations go, Australia is utterly pathetic at practicing what they preach in the election pulpits. Other countries would do well to learn from Australia on how not to constrain and rail-road human rights.

The Stronger Futures bills are an extension of a highly discriminatory, continually debated act called the Northern Territory Emergency Response Act 2007 (known colloquially as The Intervention), and the few people who are educated on these bills – not just in Australia, but all around the world – are very concerned at the even higher extent of blatant racial discrimination about to be shackled upon families for another decade.

If passed, some of the discriminatory measures that would be introduced include:

  1. Total suspension of social security payments for parents whose children do not attend school regularly – for any reason
  2. Up to six months imprisonment for breaching alcohol bans in communities
  3. A continued ban on the use of Indigenous Customary Law in bail and sentencing decisions
  4. Mandatory Income Management Programs to be extended to five new regions
Australia's Northern Territory Legislation - Stronger Futures Bills - Control and Intervention of Aboriginal Lives 2012 to 2022

Let’s dissect these a bit. After all, on first read of that list, you may think some of these are actually reasonable… as long as they don’t apply to you personally.

First point: Suspension of social security payments for parents whose children do not attend school regularly

Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM from such affected Aboriginal communities puts it well:

“There is a reason that children don’t go to school and it is not because Aboriginal parents are lazy or selfish or bad parents. It is because the government schools in our communities are dominated by mainstream culture and systems. These schools are not properly bilingual or bi-cultural and are subsequently, foreign places set up for the repeated failure and teasing of students.”

SOURCE: Stronger Futures Call To Action | Siobhan Marren, UnitingJustice.org.au, referenced June 2012 

The Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory have reported a severe lack of educational services in many parts of the region:

  • Just under 95 per cent of Indigenous communities in the Territory have no preschool located closer than 50km away.
  • Just under 56 per cent have no secondary school located closer than 50km away.
  • And 27 per cent have no primary school located closer than 50kms away.

SOURCE:  Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory (2007), ‘Submission to the Inquiry into the Northern Territory National Emergency response Bill 2007 and Related Bills’ – Submission 125 – page 18

There is also an appalling lack of adequately trained, culturally aware teachers, and a high turnover of staff in remote community schools.

Clearly, the Western education “solution” is not working at all. Some areas are not even at second world standards. Is a better solution then, to set up and recognise a form of indigenous alternative education and hand that responsibility and funding wholly to the indigenous community councils? Such a move requires White Australia to exercise something called trust and faith, recognising that Aborigines are indeed capable of self governance, something we officially, very clearly, do not recognise.

At the very least, if a family – white or indigenous – falls outside the 50km zone from schooling facilities, there should be exemptions to the Stronger Futures punishments and these families should still get their welfare payments.

Imprisonment for breaching alcohol bans

We won’t spend much time on this one. Alcohol and drug use is a problem in every community, and if anything these harsh penalties should be adopted and policed elsewhere, not just in indigenous communities of the Northern Territory. Melbourne is the number one alcohol-fuelled crime city in Australia and yet we continue to see our Aboriginal counterparts as the worst substance abusers.

“Income management”, the friendly way of saying the government will dictate what groceries you buy with your money

What’s this all about? Point four of the Stronger Future legislation states that income management programs are to be extended to five new regions:

“Under the income management clauses of the Stronger Futures legislation, a percentage of an individual’s welfare payment is quarantined for use in purchasing particular goods and services (defined as ‘priority needs’) such as food and housing materials. In order to access money that has been placed into income management accounts, people may be issued with food or goods vouchers, or receive other payments or credits for use in purchasing goods and services. Excluded goods or services cannot be purchased with the funds.”

SOURCE: Stronger Futures Call To Action | Siobhan Marren, UnitingJustice.org.au, referenced June 2012 

Truthfully, as an Australian, I cannot believe the above statement comes from our government. And if you think it’s only Aboriginals who are having such laws forced down their throats, think again. The Stronger Futures Call To Action published by Uniting Justice states:

:These five new regions are primarily non-Indigenous. This decision was made by the Government in an attempt to circumvent the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)” 

because the Australian Government knows damn well that we are currently blacklisted by a huge number of international human rights bodies as among the biggest hypocrites in the world. In extending to these five regions, the government seems to be exercising a loophole to get the legislation deemed “race neutral” by humanitarian organisations.

Importantly, the income management measures that were introduced during the Intervention, (those that impacted Indigenous communities) remain in place – despite ongoing international criticism.

The blanket application of income management means that individuals who are not responsible for the care of children, do not gamble and do not abuse alcohol or other substances, still have their income managed. It’s like saying that these kinds of responsible individuals existing in indigenous regions are a fairy-tales.

Gary Foley, 1971. Image Credit: Kooriweb.org | Intentious

Gary Foley, 1971. Image Credit: Kooriweb.org | Intentious

“The irony of the income management system is that it fosters a passive system of policy development and service delivery while at the same time criticising Indigenous people for being passive recipients of government services. Implementation of a system that divests Aboriginal people of any power to make choices to govern their own financial affairs is severely out of step with principles of both self-determination, and self-responsibility.”  — Tom Calma, Former ATSI Commissioner

SOURCE: Stronger Futures Call To Action | Siobhan Marren, UnitingJustice.org.au, referenced June 2012 

Stronger Futures is constitutional freedom breaching at its purest form, very much a communist sort of legislation. I am embarrassed a government I voted for would do such a thing.

Can you imagine if such income quarantines were on the election issues to be adopted into say, Sydney’s western suburbs? There would be riots. The fact that this is happening so far away from capital cities and so poorly publicized helps perpetrate the incorrect message to white-collar workers like you and I that Aboriginals obviously need our help, that the government is doing this out of desperation. What bullshit. The truth is that the government is not trying.

A real solution?

The way forward is this: families and communities must be empowered to take control of their lives and their futures, rather than being singled out by harsh penalties that serve only to exacerbate the economic injustices that drive much of the disadvantage faced by Indigenous people. It also means people like you and I saying enough is enough: enough of the international embarrassment of living in a country where racism is continually conducted by our own governing bodies. Enough of the sheer ignorance of other Australians who somehow think indigenous communities have equal access and equal rights “if they want”. Enough poorly thought, blanket policies dreamt up by poor or no research, several thousand miles away by Senators. They have not had any success for the past decade and will not have any success in the next.

If you would like to do something to respond to the discrimination the Australian government is about to extend for the next 10 years, you do not even have to be an Australian. You can do it for pure human rights reasons. Send an email, or pick up the phone and make your voice heard.

Here’s the numbers you need:

  • Senator Carr ALP (03) 9639 2798
  • Senator Collins ALP (03) 9890 7022
  • Steven Conroy ALP (03) 9391 4952
  • Senator Kroger Lib (03) 9888 0091
  • Senator Madigan DLP (03) 53312321
  • Senator Marshall ALP (03) 9348 9699
  • Senator Ronaldson Lib (03) 9650 0255
  • Senator Ryan Lib (03) 9326 1088
  • Senator McKenzie Nat (03) 5441 4251
  • Senator Fifield Lib (03) 9584 2455
  • Senator Feeney ALP (03) 9384 6077

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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67 Comments on “Stronger Futures, Weaker Citizens: Australia slammed at United Nations”

  1. Laura
    June 12, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    Insert standing ovation here.

  2. June 12, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    There are three main dilemmas I see here.

    families and communities must be empowered to take control of their lives and their futures

    What does “empowered” mean? I would contend that “empowered” means families and communities are no longer reliant of welfare and are no longer destitute

    if so, what is the path to empowerment?

    I would contend that the community has to have a source of value production: a farm, a mine, a financial hub, a trade center etc. Othewise the wider Australian community are using their taxes to subsidise and thereby encouraging destitution.

    James Sutherland makes a pertinent point on this issue: it is human nature to take for granted what we get for free.

    Just under 95 per cent of Indigenous communities in the Territory have no preschool located closer than 50km away.
    Just under 56 per cent have no secondary school located closer than 50km away.
    And 27 per cent have no primary school located closer than 50kms away.

    Should we move a school next to every household to ensure compliance? Or is it too much to ask that, if you live in a remote community, you must find a means to be near a school, healthcare and services? Already students of all races can be caught by police and cautioned for being truant. Education is important and is arguably the single biggest determinant of a person’s future prospects.

    set up and recognise a form of indigenous alternative education and hand that responsibility and funding wholly to the indigenous community councils?

    I would contend that we should have one law, and one government in this land that all are subject to, regardless of race of creed. If there was an indigenous shire where they elected their own councillors, that would be fine with me as long as they received no “assistance” from the state in its upkeep and maintenance. They should be able to collect rates and provide services. No subsidising of destitution.

    Indeed, if we encourage “alternative education”… will the students of this school be educated in the language of trade (English)? Will they be able to sell their wares to the wider market and thereby empower themselves no longer to be reliant on welfare?

    If the “alternative” education instead further entrenches segregation, I would not be for it.

    Such a move requires White Australia to exercise something called trust and faith, recognising that Aborigines are indeed capable of self governance, something we officially, very clearly, do not recognise.

    I would argue that to have any different standards based on race (including Aboriginality) has its own inherent racial overtones. In Australia we should have one law for all, and one language of trade.

    In twenty years since the Mabo decision on native title, since Kevin Rudd’s sorry… not much has changed for the most disadvantaged of Aboriginal Australians. If you see the “intervention” as an abomination, what would you suggest instead?

    I think the “empowering” bit of your article needs a bit more detail. 🙂

    • June 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      “it is human nature to take for granted what we get for free.”

      No more so than for a white Australian. We don’t seem to exercise equal trust.

      “Or is it too much to ask that, if you live in a remote community, you must find a means to be near a school, healthcare and services?”

      Yes, of course that is too much to ask. Especially when you are asking this of citizens already living on the poverty line. Perhaps if we put as much effort into building infrastructure and amenities in Aboriginal communities as we do for remote mining towns or military towns, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

      I actually disagree with you that there should be one law / one government in this country. There are entire country-sized communities which would do well having their own subset of laws, much like the United States have their own laws. Huge idea, I know. However assimilating Aborigines to the extent that they lose their governance of their own people is plain wrong. What is needed is a clear constitutional divide between federal law jurisdiction and indigenous law jurisdiction within set regions. A federally recognised indigenous council with more parliamentary power, which would, over time, operate in cooperation much like the EU.

      This is my opinion. If you want to apologise to a race and stop treating them as inferior, you simply have to give them equal footing to govern themselves. Yes, it requires giving up some land. I think we’re all clear on that. This is the unavoidable future of “equality” if we’re serious about equality in this country. Anything less than that is bullshit.

      • June 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

        No more so than for a white Australian. We don’t seem to exercise equal trust.

        I agree that the “intervention” should be blind to race.

        Especially when you are asking this of citizens already living on the poverty line.

        Then the same happens when you move them to “reservations” as funded by the state, as they did to the “poor” Red Indians in the United States. It leads to cultural disconnection from their lands and disenfranchisement. Yet if they live so far from opportunity they will be condemned to destitution.

        damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

        I’d say if anyone of any race wants to live a “traditional” lifestyle in a remote outstation, they have to consent to do so without the assistance of welfare from the state, and without easy access to facilities such as hospitals. That would require taking responsibility for that choice, and the consequent worsening of mortality rates as a result. If that despair turns the isolated to alcohol abuse or chroming, them that is their choice as well.

        But the line should be drawn at protecting children from abuse. We are not allowed to remove those, though, isn’t that true? In case we can potentially create another stolen generation? This is confusing… the issue is a complex one.

        building infrastructure and amenities in Aboriginal communities as we do for remote mining towns or military towns, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

        Does that mean that we consent to Aboriginals being pressed into service as miners or as soldiers? In return for this infrastructure being built, what is the return to the Australian economy, and the return to the Australian taxpayer, given that taxes are being used to build such infrastructure?

        Because the funds for those ammenities and infrastructure have to come from somewhere, whether it is through rates from these communities or the output of the industrious. Otherwise we, as taxpayers, are encouraging welfare reliance and the continuation of destitution, yes?

        If a group of Lebanese built a community in the outback in a place with no commercial or development prospects, and demanded the same infrastructure, amenities and services would the taxpayer be expected to foot the bill? Would the taxpayer be expected to indefinitely subsidise the existence of this Lebanese community in the remote outback?

        because maintaining a connection to remote communities is largely subsidised by the taxpayer (and Australia has some of the highest taxes in the world). I would contend that, to make it worth the while, those communities better be producing something such as farming, a factory, a military base etc.

        There are entire country-sized communities which would do well having their own subset of laws, much like the United States have their own laws.

        If a micronation is assembled that is fine. I object, however, to subsidising a micronation through welfare with taxes from the greater nation. That is the difference between a US state and an remote community: the state has the infrastructure in place to pay for its own infrastructure and services.

        The problem with a small community that has its own laws, I don’t think you’ve thought it through. The problem is this: when it comes to a dispute, which laws take precedent? What is the final authority? What is the recourse for appeal? What if the indigenous court insists that the High Court has no juristiction over it? What if the indigenous court takes umbridge to a High Court decision that affects Aborigines?

        And indeed to suggest a separate law entrenches racism and segregation by insisting on difference based on race. The problem with indigenous councils is that they have a tendancy to be wound up due to corruption and continue to preside over the deterioration of the communities they represent. In fact, they have a vested interest in further erosion in the hope that more taxpayer money will be thrown at the issue, including the funding of the indigenous council.

        We are all meant to be Australians. Aborigines have a unique and special place in this nation’s history. I would contend to you, however, that trying to enshrine this is counterproductive to their plight and to the moral fabric of this nation.

        We should be blind to race. We should help the poor. And we should encourage people to be industrious, because that industriousness is used to pay for the services all Australians enjoy.

        Equality of opportunity is very different from equality of outcome.

        At the moment, sadly, I see no clear answer to this problem.

        If you want to apologise to a race and stop treating them as inferior, you simply have to give them equal footing to govern themselves.

        On the contrary, it is not to treat them as “inferior”. Welfare says to them, “we pity you, so here is some money.” Instead, all Australians should be treated the same blind to race and creed. We should treat all Australians as equals. This includes Aborigines.

        I have no problem with welfare for the needy and disenfranchised (Aboriginal or not) provided that that welfare is a means to get them off welfare and to give them the dignity of work. Because subsidising destitution is an exercise in futility, from a moral and financial perspective.

        I’ll probably write an intentious article on why welfare is inherently evil later.

        • James Hill
          June 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

          Richard is right on the money. This is nothing more than typical left wing whining, with little thought to what they’re actually asking for.

          We want people living a remote, tribal lifestyle to have the same health and education costs available to modern city dwellers! And we want to do it in a way that doesn’t alter their lifestyle in any way, shape or form! We also want to do it in a way that doesn’t appear like we’re being condescending and telling them how to live, even though by our own admission these communities are in a crisis and will spiral further into poverty and drug abuse if we don’t forcibly intervene immediately!

          Give me a break. I’m all for improving the quality of life for EVERY Australian, and when aboriginal elders ask for intervention (like they did when they asked for alcohol to be banned in some communities) I’m all for providing them the resources they need to get it done. What I’m not going to do is listen to another activist prattle on about how racist Australia is for doing exactly what they left demands we do: hand over money and not look too closely at how these communities live.

          • James Hill
            June 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

            Oh, and income quarantining and management for welfare payments is already done, specifically for the mentally ill, and the drug/alcohol addicted. Frankly, I’m surprised it wasn’t already happening for people in the aboriginal community.

            • June 13, 2012 at 12:30 am #

              It’s appalling that you’re blanket-equating people of aboriginal race to the mentally handicapped or drug addicted. Pure racism.

              • James Hill
                June 13, 2012 at 9:08 am #

                Don’t put words into my mouth, I was merely pointing out that the government can and does quarantine welfare payments for disadvantaged people that need assistance in managing their affairs. I’m not suggesting for a second that all indigenous people have their income quarantined (and neither is the government, to the best of my knowledge), simply those that obviously need help get help. What’s the alternative, Andrew? I’m assuming you agree with the assertion that we need to tackle drug and alcohol addiction in remote communities? “Empowering” them sounds like a fantastic idea, except that no one here can quite quantify what that means and translate it into tangible policy.

                • June 13, 2012 at 10:54 am #

                  The government *are* enforcing that *all* people who live within certain regions must be subjected to mandatory income management. I don’t see what is debatable about that fact… it’s fact, and it’s wrong, everyone should have a problem with it. The government managing income of people who clearly demonstrate a need of having their income managed is completely not what is going on here. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be an Intentious article.

                  Of course there are smarter ideas on how we could empower the aboriginal community. They all involve relinquishing some white control and granting BACK governing rights to aboriginals. New Zealand’s Maoris have a fixed, reserved percentage of parliamentary seats in government, for example. Hell, even starting with just taking seriously the suggestions of people like Laura above who actually live there and know what would work, better than we do.

                  However those are the contentious and debated ideals I mentioned above. Why? Typical Australians talk like we’re experts on the issue based on what little we read in the paper or what comes out of our opposition leader’s mouth, but this is based on misinformation and falsely painted opinions of these “bludger” people, a perception that is rife also around the refugee issue in this country. Really the bigger issue here is constant misinformation and a real defensive tendency of white Australians to think we’re being stooged or ripped off whenever it’s suggested the government pay 0.007% of our tax payer’s money to anyone but our precious selves in anything but a racially-controlled way. Have a read of what Paul Keating said in this article:

                  http://intentious.com/2012/06/07/politicians-where-are-the-real-leaders/

                  And Stu’s revelation of the bigger misinformation issue in his article http://intentious.com/2012/04/22/but-words-will-never-hurt-me/ as well as the past article on Indigenous issues http://intentious.com/2012/01/30/indigenous-australia-should-be-angry/

                  • James Hill
                    June 13, 2012 at 11:36 am #

                    Yeah, they’re enforcing these protections in remote regions that have systemic drug, alcohol and poverty issues. The Australian government just extended it to five new remote regions that are primarily non indigenous, which, according to this article, is a form of super secret stealth racism. None of these protections are in place for urban indigenous, or indigenous people in stable communities.

                    Remote indigenous communities also have more autonomy than say, you or I, going so far as to have their own legal and arbitration system, and that hasn’t helped the problem one iota. I fail to see how having special parliament seats for a minority of the population will help communities mired in generational poverty and alcohol abuse. Elders of these communities certainly wanted the Australian government to get involved:

                    http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2012/01/18/3410736.htm
                    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/elders-call-for-more-alcohol-bans/2007/07/13/1183833774789.html?page=2

                    What you’re suggesting, to step back and let these communities self police merely puts indigenous women and children at risk for violence and sexual abuse. It will ignore the countless suicides of indigenous youth.

                    • June 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

                      You make good points here and although I think we can EASILY do better than Stronger Futures, I am quick to admit I a) have not studied aboriginal civil engineering, b) have no knowledge of historical precedents or models elsewhere in the world that have worked well in similar situations, and c) wish we had some more people commenting in this forum who DO have all of the above. Then, d) if they were to comment, I wish that instead of debating with them like we know better, we actually accepted and listened. Fingers crossed.

  3. Laura
    June 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    I actually live and work in an indigenous community so remote that it can only be accessed by plane most if the year. The issues that Andrew has written about are right on the money. The school is not large enough or well enough resourced to cater to the whole community. There ate few health care services and no recreational facilities. The community has one general store without much variety and the indigenous people have no other way of accessing good, healthy food. The road to Wadeye is ungraded and very difficult to drive on when it is rarely opened. There are 3000 people living in appalling conditions here and not much is done to improve life here. Richard, I am appalled that you think that people living in these communities have less rights to services than you do. Read the human rights charter – every child has a right to an education, everyone has the right to health services. I think if you went and visited these remote communities you would be shocked.

    • James Hill
      June 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

      How much money would be enough, bearing in mind that the government spends anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 dollars per year per person on the aboriginal community for health, education and welfare (compared to 17,000 per year per person for non indigenous). A disproportionate amount of that money goes to remote communities ( http://www.cis.org.au/publications/ideasthecentre/article/2478-money-well-spent)

      But..money really isn’t the problem, is it? It’s not just school facilities these communities need, but teachers that speak tribal languages because English is still not the main language for many of these communities. How many people are qualified and willing to go out into these communities to work? Do we have enough to throw up a school within 50 kms of every indigenous person in a remote community, as the author of this piece seems to suggest we’re obligated to do so?Throwing money at new schools doesn’t really help when the kids in these schools live in communities awash with drugs, alcoholism and violence. It doesn’t help when these kids are born with fetal alcohol syndrome and are predisposed to alcoholism literally before they’re out of the womb (http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=114&np=122&id=1950)

      I certainly don’t have all the answers, but give the crisis these communities are in, temporarily banning alcohol (the way aboriginal elders in remote and urban communities alike requested the Australian government do: http://melbourne-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/call-to-ban-booze/) and intervening to make sure kids aren’t being abused and are getting to school seems like a good first step. But heaven forbid we appear racist for intervening, I suppose it’s best to leave these communities the way they are. No matter the outcome, racist white australia will be to blame and will be asked to foot the bill.

      • June 13, 2012 at 12:32 am #

        Here we go again with the “foot the bill” and “what do we get in return” ignorance. I’ll make this very short. 1) WE owe THEM, not the other way around. 2) One state spends more money on re-asphalting the ROADS than they do on the entire Aboriginal population of Australia every year. What bill?? It’s spare change.

        • James Hill
          June 13, 2012 at 9:14 am #

          Here we go again with the “if you don’t pay up you’re being racist.” My point is that funding is one small facet of the problem. You and many others seem to hold two mutually conflicting ideas in your head about these communities: you firstly acknowledge that these communities are in crisis and in dire need of intervention, but you’re terrified that if we actually intervene we’ll appear condescending and racist. This is from the link I posted above about current spending on indigenous communities:

          “Some is absorbed by remote education, health, public housing and other services, none of which achieve mainstream standards despite the massive spending. Indigenous schools that receive government funding of more than $30,000 per student (in contrast to national averages of around $10,000 to $12,000) have NAPLAN literacy and numeracy failure rates greater than 90% in contrast to less than 10% for mainstream schools.”

          What do you think will happen if we double the amount spent on indigenous education? Triple it? It’s obvious that our current approach to these communities is failing, and throwing more money at the problem without evaluating our solutions will dramatically fail. If we spent billions of dollars resurfacing our roads and 90% of our roads were still unfit to drive on, would you give more money to the people in charge of surfacing the roads, or would you take a look at the methods we’re using?

          • June 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

            The reason this article exists is because any basically educated idiot can see how poorly thought and lazily implemented the Stronger Futures legislation items are. There’s no contingency, no exemptions, no recognition, and most importantly, no positive reinforcement for families who ARE doing the right thing. All it is are blanket punishments. A moron could have written up a fairer set of plans. I have no problem with helping Aboriginal culture achieve a fair go in this country, but “intervening” with a set of bills like this that SO obviously carry an ulterior long-term agenda of oppression and rights-stripping until they’re backed into a corner, is not something I want to be a part of, no. Frankly, unless it’s improved we deserve to be called racists.

            • June 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

              The “all stick no carrot” point is fair comment.

              The “racist” part is not fair comment.

              PS: you’re not a moron :), so what are “a fairer set of plans”?

              The whole “rights rights rights” thing gets tiresome as well if it’s part of an entitlement mentality.

        • June 13, 2012 at 10:59 am #

          WE owe THEM, not the other way around.

          James put it very succinctly but I will add five questions to you

          1) does every migrant who enters this country owe “them”?

          2) what do we owe “them” precisely?

          3) why is there even an “us” and “them”? aren’t we all meant to be Australians?

          4) When exactly will this debt be repaid? i.e. will we owe them “forever”?

          5) Is servicing this “debt” actually helping their situation?

          I would contend not, despite the sorry, despite the money thrown at the issue, despite the “intervention”…

          indeed it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. If you lose either way it’s probably better to be damned if you don’t and save the money for places you can actually make a difference.

          Whether you are indigenous or not, if you are a disadvantaged Australian, you should be assisted regardless of race. And , when you are relying on the charity of others, you should be grateful for any assistance rendered, even if you do not get what you want. You can ask, but if it is not your money to spend, a poor person should be grateful for anything that is given. Otherwise they would be able to pay for their own choices in the first place, yes?

          The entitlement mentality sickens me. Magic pudding indeed.

          2) One state spends more money on re-asphalting the ROADS than they do on the entire Aboriginal population of Australia every year. What bill?? It’s spare change.

          If by spending spare change on these communities, and we make the situation worse (how much “spare change” have we spent already?) would you keep spending that money?

          Money you could have spent on hospitals, schools, community housing and opportunities for the disadvantaged in other states? Because money is finite, it is limited and you can only spend it once, you seem to say “spare change” as if money comes from a magic pudding. There is a bigger picture here that both you and Laura are missing.

          What would be smarter would be to give remote communities to run themselves *without* funding from the teet of the public purse. Because the easiest money to spend is other people’s money.

          • June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

            1) does every migrant who enters this country owe “them”? – No, but everyone who chooses to become a citizen opts into relinquishing 0.000001% of their taxable dollars for strengthening and sustaining Aboriginal life.

            2) what do we owe “them” precisely? – Clearly, Aboriginals want and deserve stronger representation in federal parliament so that fucktarded schemes like Stronger Futures aren’t dreamt up by some white idiot sitting at their desk in Canberra. If Stronger Futures is to be implemented in Aboriginal areas, it should be Aboriginal politicians that implemented it. Indigenous australians have been going on, and on, and on, and on about treaties, embassys and wanting involvement and recognition in politics as long as I have been alive. Still they don’t have it. Even New Zealand kicks our ass in this area.

            3) why is there even an “us” and “them”? aren’t we all meant to be Australians? – No, we don’t live in a raceless utopian world. Why is there Asian food? Shouldn’t there just be food?

            4) When exactly will this debt be repaid? i.e. will we owe them “forever”? – See point 2, and yes, we will be funding Aboriginal towns and Aboriginal parliament (when it happens) forever, like we fund everything else in this country forever. Sorry that we’re so poor here that we whine like tightasses over a few million dollars. Maybe if Melbourne foregoes their $200million fireworks this New Year’s Eve we might be able to afford to fund some Aboriginal regions.

            5) Is servicing this “debt” actually helping their situation? – Not at the moment, no, which is the entire point of the article.

            • June 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

              5) Is servicing this “debt” actually helping their situation? – Not at the moment, no, which is the entire point of the article.

              That is the crux of this article. Doing what we are doing now is not helping, intervention, welfare, “rights”, the lot of it.
              You would say we should give Aboriginals the right. Sure, let’s do that. Give them $2 million lump sum, let them work out the community.

              That is it.

              No more subsidies. Let them determine their own destiny. Debt is paid.

              I am of the position it’s better to give a person business, rather than welfare. Yet at the same time I can think of several other propositions more profitable than investing in Wadeye. If I were an investor, would I put my money in Wadeye?

              I tell you solemnly the time when Wadeye and other towns like it will rise out of “poverty” is the time when investment and opportunity exist in those towns. NOT by indefinite hand outs. NOT by the government “picking winners.”

              Indefinite hand outs simply create then prolong the poverty trap, because within them there is no dignity. We have forty years to see that in action.

              1) does every migrant who enters this country owe “them”? – No, but everyone who chooses to become a citizen opts into relinquishing 0.000001% of their taxable dollars for strengthening and sustaining Aboriginal life.

              I have an ideological objection to paying welfare indefinitely, as I state above. It basically prolongs the poverty trap.

              2) what do we owe “them” precisely? – Clearly, Aboriginals want and deserve stronger representation in federal parliament so that fucktarded schemes like Stronger Futures aren’t dreamt up by some white idiot sitting at their desk in Canberra.

              I would contend that if people did not need hand outs, they would not be in the palm of bureacrats in an ivory tower. The politicians are beholden to the voting electorate, and the electorate pay taxes. They want value for the taxes they have to hand over, hand over fist. I’m happy to pay taxes myself, but I take umbridge when those taxes are spent on socially fashionable projects or otherwise flushed down a toilet for stupid things (such as pink bats). Taxes are parasitic, and we should be paying less of them.

              Indigenous australians have been going on, and on, and on, and on about treaties, embassys and wanting involvement and recognition in politics as long as I have been alive. Still they don’t have it. Even New Zealand kicks our ass in this area.

              There is an enormous mire in separating law for one group from another. Why not allow Shariah law, for instance? What if they subsequent law is more leniant than the conventional law, could one claim a particular ethnicity to get more leniant treatment? The breadth of this mire is endless and, I would contend, would not solve the issue of poverty which is not a racial issue.

              3) why is there even an “us” and “them”? aren’t we all meant to be Australians? – No, we don’t live in a raceless utopian world. Why is there Asian food? Shouldn’t there just be food?

              You confuse the insistence of equality under law for an insistence of homogeneity. Everyone is free to have their own culture, but they must all obey the same rules and the same laws. That is what it means to have equality under the law, and racial equality.

              I do not begrudge a man who decides to pitch a tent indefinitely in a park and to legally hunt his own food. That may be his culture, and it is his choice to practice it, good on him. That is fine, the issue is that when he starts demanding a hospital near his tent, the taxpayer begins to wonder why they should pay for it. Why doesn’t every taxpayer have a hospital next to their house? Birthright? At what point does this birthright cease to be relevant, and at what point does the inherent merit of the person become the only determinant?

              4) When exactly will this debt be repaid? i.e. will we owe them “forever”? – See point 2, and yes, we will be funding Aboriginal towns and Aboriginal parliament (when it happens) forever, like we fund everything else in this country forever.

              Then you will be subsidising and prolonging their suffering and their plight, forever.

              I would contend that it is better to give a man your business, than your charity.

              Point taken that we should be spending more on helping the poor. But we have to find

            • June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

              There are better ways to spend $200 million than on fireworks, I agree with you. Unfortunately our political system (democracy) ensures that money is spent on items that get politicians re-elected, rather than on any true leadership. You effectively wrote an article about it.

            • June 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

              become a citizen opts into relinquishing 0.000001% of their taxable dollars for strengthening and sustaining Aboriginal life.

              To be clear on this issue, I should address the fallacy represented by your number, which represents a budget of roughly $22 million per year. Do you really think you can fix the problems of all indigenous Australians with that little money?

              Already the “INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO” of the Federal government comes up to 77 Billion Australian Dollars and we still have problems.Given that part of that money is for paying the wages of… not nice people in the govt departments that you believe are part of the problem.

              Already the government announced cuts so that they could bring the budget “back into surplus.” I would say from this we can conclude two things

              1) We are throwing plenty of money at the problem, far more than 0.000001% of gross income, and we are still experiencing the same problem. That is poor value for money.

              2) If every person in the nation asked for a dollar for their cause, that would be a lot of dollars! Given that it’s better to spend money on indigenous affairs rather than fireworks, I would still contend to you that we are giving far more than what you suggest, and we are still failing.

              There have been spending cuts to defence, green building initiatives and company tax cuts, in the pursuit of surplus in the 2012 Federal Budget. If all of this was “spare change”, why are there still cuts?

              In fact, by expanding spending on welfare, we are entrenching this disadvantage by creating an entitlement mentality. Nothing worse than throwing money at the problem, then taking money away and causing a ruckus.

              3) Ergo, the problem needs a creative solution, not a “more money” solution.

              Hence your “magic pudding” economics underpinning this article needs work. No, it is not just “spare change”. You need to flesh out what “empowering” actually means, and how much it will cost the taxpayer.

              To be fair, that money is being used to fund the Intervention. What would you use the money for instead?

    • June 13, 2012 at 11:33 am #

      Firstly, let me commend you Laura for going out there and making a difference. I have no doubt that the situation is as grave as you describe, but I would contend to you that “more of the same” as has been happening for the last forty years will not remedy the issue. The taxpayer throws money at the problem… the problem gets worse. I remember what we talked about well, and some of our more colourful disagreements.

      Richard, I am appalled that you think that people living in these communities have less rights to services than you do….
      Read the human rights charter – every child has a right to an education, everyone has the right to health services.

      The sense of entitlement in these posts rankles me, the expectation is that someone else will pay for Wadeye’s services. The mathematics of this disagrees with you. Cold and dispassionate, true, but we don’t have a money tree or a magic pudding- we need to allocate finite resources for maximum community benefit. Resources are finite… every person could do with “more money” to get everything in their life perfect. Nevertheless, we have to make do with what we have, and whatever we can produce.

      There are thousands of similar towns across Australia. Australia doesn’t have the funds to build state-of-the-art schools in every one of them, especially at 6x the cost… the cost of flying materials in, fuel and transportation , the cost of paying attractive wages, the cost of the infrastructure itself. If I had to run 10km of cable to service one home, or 100m of cable to service 20 homes, which one would be more cost effective?

      If those 20 homes produced $2 million worth of wages and output, and that one home 10km away was on benefits, which is the wiser choice for the investment? Which would stimulate the collection of more taxes for further investment into services? Given we have to keep that home 10km away from falling off a precipice, we have to understand that there are no money pits, magic puddings or money trees in Australia. So subsidising that home is a rearguard action and, in some ways, an exercise in futility.

      We could spend $1 million / 6 helping the 2000 people of Wadeye, OR we could spend $1 million building new facilities in a larger regional town such as Shepperton. Mathematically, it doesn’t make sense, what does make sense is consolidation of communities so that services can be concerntrated, around viable commercial locations. The reason that mining towns can do this is because there is money to be made and they can afford to pay for their own road surfacing. You are captive, Laura, to your sentimentality.

      If you want to accept someone else’s money, you have to accept that it has to be largely on their terms.

      I would contend to you that Wadeye would have to become a “mining town” or a “military town” rather than simply being the “largest indigenous community in the northern territory.” That is when regional towns like this will determine their own destiny, such as in Western Australia where an Aboriginal community has used its native title to grant mining rights. It should be defined by industriousness rather than by activism, then the private investment and the services will come.

      It may be an opportunity to farm and sell to the Indonesisans to the north, for example.

      The pertinent question is … why isn’t anyone investing in Wadeye?

      Is a person who only speaks Murrinhpatha able to attract investment from Sydney?

      Will throwing taxpayer money at the issue, like has happened in the last 40 years, solve the problem?

      • June 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

        Rich you’ve got a very capitalist/strong right viewpoint that is unbalanced. Investing in a town is not always about it returning a profit. States and nations invest in culture, in humanitarian aid, for much more important reasons than that. Wadeye, and the very tiny percentage of the thousands of towns across Australia, are towns on the “culturally endangered” list. Yet we pour more money into maintaining and preserving our national parks (revenue sinks) than we do our traditional culture. Your dangerous perception is the same that sees the Kayapo in Brazil displaced in favour of something that drives a monetary return to the Brazillians. http://intentious.com/2012/02/17/kayapo-damned-brazil-government-oks-hydro-plant-condemns-40000-lives/

      • June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        All else I can say is thank God you don’t work in civil engineering or town planning. Or perhaps if you had studied that, you’d see other reasons to fund areas rather than economical return on investment.

        • June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

          I will summarise and say, there is a problem here where towns like Wadeye need more support.
          Is it up to us to subsidise and support the town indefinitely, in the knowledge that subsidising this support is prolonging the problem?

          The most successful towns are built in smart places with access to ports, to industry and to opportunities. Those are the most ready remedy for poverty.

          instead, you ask to keep the town as some sort of “memorial” where the people are preserved without services because “that’s where they belong.” If that isn’t treating someone as “inferior” in a demeaning way, I don’t know what is.

          you fail to address this point, or my questions. You say my view is “unbalanced”, I would contend your view is illogical. Mathematically it is implausible. The heart strings are all you really have, and I would say that tugging at those for forty years has entrenched, not solved the problem.

        • June 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

          You appear to be upset when the economic reality of what you are presenting comes to bite. The mathematics and economics are against the welfare state and paying too much for government departments to make a mediocre mess of the issue.

          Nobody wants to be told they have to take responsibility for the issue, even responsibility for themselves.

          Nobody wants to be told they have to make sacrifices, such as those made for the sake of the intervention, or that to expect equivalent services in a remote community is ludicrous.

          Nobody wants to hear that the money they’ve put aside with good intentions has been squandered on a failed experiment.

          Some hard decisions will be required. Sacrifices will be required. Tough leadership will be required. You wrote in an article yourself how that is sadly absent from politicians today, and I am telling you: no, you can’t have that, in that spirit.

          The reason politicians are the way they are is because people don’t want to hear that message, “no, you can’t have that.”

          Perhaps it is good that I don’t work in civil engineering.

  4. Anonymous
    June 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    Richard, I implore you to come to Wadeye and see the third world conditions that people are living in, 20 or more people shoved into a falling down house, a school that has 4 condemned classroom so that there has to be more than one grade shoved into the one classroom, 16 chairs and tables for a class of 40 children. Did you go to school like this? Would you? I cannot believe that you believe that because it has been this way for 40 years it is okay. And if this money has been thrown at schools in these remote communities like you say it has, why is the school in such a bad state of disrepair? There are no state of the art resources in my classroom, just some falling apart furniture and a white word that has seen better days. It’s not good enough for anyone, no matter where they live.

    One point in the arguments I don’t understand though, why are we talking about migrant funding here? Aboriginal people are Australian and therefore should be entitled to the same education as any other Australian, regardless of their first language.

    I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take your economic goggles off and actually put yourself in these people’s shoes. They want the best for their children. They want a good education, better than what they are being provided. These communities are being failed and it is not okay to say that they do not deserve as good an education as anyone else in thr country because they happen to live in a remote area.

    • June 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Richard, I implore you to come to Wadeye and see the third world conditions that people are living in, 20 or more people shoved into a falling down house,

      1) where did this house come from? 2) why are the citizens forced to live in this house? 3) why do they not have the means to build / rent their own house that is not falling down?

      a school that has 4 condemned classroom so that there has to be more than one grade shoved into the one classroom, 16 chairs and tables for a class of 40 children.

      Who funds the school? The NT government? Name the school. I will check that it is receiving the same funding as other schools of its kind around NT. Note also that , by being in a remote area, the cost of delivery is exacerbated by remoteness so the same funding will have a significantly smaller outcome.

      Did you go to school like this? Would you?

      No, my parents would have moved me to a better school, even a public school where the fees are minimal. If they had to move cities or countries to do it, they would have. If they had to work three minimum wage jobs to get the money, they would have. If they felt that the school I was not attending didn’t challenge me, they would have enrolled me in a different school. And they did.

      I cannot believe that you believe that because it has been this way for 40 years it is okay.

      I never said such a thing. What I said is that throwing money at the problem for forty years has had abysmal results, wouldn’t you agree? The intervention is the latest attempt at resolving the issue beyond funding for these issues. Despite the creation of ASCI, despite MABO and native title, despite sorry… conditions in Wadeye are still the same. There is no miracle cure.

      That is what I rankled about. What we have done for forty years clearly isn’t working. And Andrew’s suggestion to ditch the intervention is just more of the same, in my view.

      I never said And if this money has been thrown at schools in these remote communities like you say it has, why is the school in such a bad state of disrepair? There are no state of the art resources in my classroom, just some falling apart furniture and a white word that has seen better days. It’s not good enough for anyone, no matter where they live.

      The funding question above will help resolve the issue. If I have to call the education mininister and the indigenous affairs minister, I will do it.

      One point in the arguments I don’t understand though, why are we talking about migrant funding here?

      Because all funding is finite. Are you suggesting that funding for Aboriginal issues takes precedence over funding for asylum seekers for instance? To clarify, I don’t believe that welfare should be divided on race. It should be determined by how needy the reciepient is and should be blind to race. I cannot say why because of the laws in this country that stifle free speech.

      Aboriginal people are Australian and therefore should be entitled to the same education as any other Australian, regardless of their first language.

      There is the word “entitle” again.

      Regardless of their first language is fine, as long as their first language is not their only language. English is important as well for their education, development and commercial prospects.

      The students of Mowbray are “entitled” to education as well, yet their school is closing. Everyone can jump up and down and say “me me me me.” The cold facts are, there isn’t enough money going around. Already there is a blowout on housing arriving asylum seekers… are they any less deserving of funding?

      I would ask you this. How much is the community of Wadeye willing to meet half way, or 3/4 way to fixing the problems in that community?

      I will repeat again. The true answer is this- communities such as Wadeye have to become economically sustainable: to have opportunity, private investment and the tax receipts at the shire level to build the appropriate infrastructure. Until this is rectified, the town will always face the problem that the welfare and funding from government is woefully inadequete.

      I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take your economic goggles off and actually put yourself in these people’s shoes.

      Then I ask you solemnly, what are they willing to do to achieve this? What are they willing to sacrifice, and what are they willing to give in order to achieve this?

      Because everything has a price. I know you hate to hear it, but you acknowledge it every time you pay an insurance premium.

      It is well and good to say “economic goggles”, but until destitute remote communities own the problem, they will never take ownership of the solution. They will always expect somebody else to fix it. Families from other cultures are willing to move to big cities, to work below minimum wage and shunt significant amounts of money into their children’s education. From what I hear, it seems that conversely there is an expectation that the arch-angel Michael will appear in Wadeye and grant everyone their every desire.

      These communities are being failed and it is not okay to say that they do not deserve as good an education as anyone else in thr country because they happen to live in a remote area.

      I will say it again. If a man in a remote area demands a hospital is built next to his house, is he entitled? Should we build a hospital next to every house in Australia? Are we “failing” the Australians we don’t build a hospital near, even if they live on top of a mountain?

      That is the problem with entitlement.

      • June 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

        I just don’t get you Richard. By your own ideals we should immediately stop all funding of the hundreds of thousands of government housing low income people in every city. Is government assistance making it POSSIBLE for people to get a better future? Well that’s the idea. Even though some ride the system, others do everything they can with it and it’s not enough.

        • June 14, 2012 at 8:49 am #

          I just don’t get you Richard. By your own ideals we should immediately stop all funding of the hundreds of thousands of government housing low income people in every city.

          Le sigh, come on. No. I never said that. You are building a straw man, and it is very close to a smear.

          In summary, I said this:

          1) short term, we should help the poor to lift them out of poverty so they are no longer reliant on welfare

          “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

          This will never be 100% successful, but we must try. If it means making being in welfare being as uncomfortable as possible, so be it. If it means finding people meaningful work, so be it even if it means shipping them out to estates to address a fruit picker’s shortage.

          If it means giving them an education so that they have the means to start their own businesses, so be it. An education that does not grant additional opportunities (e.g. by not teaching English) is a pointless exercise that extends poverty.

          2) we shouldn’t pay welfare based on race, but on need; whether they are indigenous in remote communities, asylum seekers, the homeless, children with cancer, the destitute, etc

          3) we should find a means to build communities where opportunities exist so that they don’t have to come begging to bureaucrats in ivory towers, cap in hand. Because the “welfare” that these people receive have strings such as an “intervention” tied to it, yes?

          4) If we don’t build the communities as per point 3, they will again fall into disrepair

          5) We have to allow for failure, and for people to experience pain based on failure. We have to encourage people to take responsibility for their decisions and problems, rather than asking for someone else to fix it.

          For example, why aren’t there many carpenters in Wadeye? I’m sure their work would be endless and he would be well paid if they are in demand. If no one is willing to invest in creating many carpentry businesses, one has to wonder why.

          Even though some ride the system, others do everything they can with it and it’s not enough.

          It is never enough, for these three reasons:

          1) investment in any one field (e.g. asylum seekers) suffers from diminishing returns. By paying welfare we aren’t fixing a problem, we’re stabilising a wound and creating an addiction to welfare

          2) paying welfare over the long term is entirely ineffective, as can be evidenced with the significant investment in indigenous issues that appear to not have improved the situation at all.

          3) we need a longer term solution. The intervention is an attempt at that. I do not like it either but I think the solutions you have presented thusfar are flawed replacements because

          1- they require indefinite funding from the public purse, feeding the welfare addiction above

          2- they create a microstate with its own complexities and juristiction for no discernable gain

          3- it has been attempted before and the situation didn’t improve at all; in fact the situation worsened

          Given those 3 points above, I suggest you need a better proposal.

          • June 15, 2012 at 11:17 am #

            Haha, the Straw Man is the latest buzz word around here. Well I’m not trying to do that, sorry, just trying to use your ambiguity to stimulate a more specific response, which this is. I agree with many of your points above. We differ in that I also think we ought to build opportunities where communities exist – as well as the other way around. Especially when that community is a rare, culturally rich community that holds value (not monetary value, humanitarian value. Traditional, cultural value).

            • Richard Lee
              June 17, 2012 at 6:36 am #

              I agree that communities should have traditional cultural value. But those communities should not be subsidized out of the public purse. I don’t see Chinatown and its inhabitants, for instance, getting extensive government funding to “preserve its cultural value.” The businesses and dwellings are inherently self sustaining, and self-pruning.

              Whether the indigenous decide to sell kangaroo skins or operate a nuclear waste facility, their situation will improve when their settlements are economically sustainable. Culture requires people to maintain, but towns require money to maintain. If they are dependent on the government in a safe Labor seat, they will discover that the funding is pulled whenever Labor needs to shore up a marginal seat.

              The answer isn’t to force representation in parliament (I contend that this is racist because it sets it on ambiguous birthright, rather than merit). The answer is to set up industry that plays to indigenous strength so that, when they are not working, they can continue to express their culture. Like every other Australian does, without having it subsidised by a fickle government, and without the addiction to welfare and the sloth that that entails. To be independent is to have dignity; and I would contend that “having seats in parliament so we can vote for more welfare” isn’t actually being independent.

    • James Hill
      June 14, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      If Laura’s account is true (and there is certainly no reason to believe otherwise), it suggests a serious anomaly in the funding provided by the government, and how that funding is distributed and used in the community. Whether the issue is bureaucratic red tape, corruption, or simply how the funds are allocated and prioritized, it’s a discrepancy that should be cleared up. I wonder if there are any papers available that go into detail on how the money is used.

      • June 14, 2012 at 11:21 am #

        I agree, hence my offer to, once I have the name of the school, call around and ask about those funding priorities.

  5. Laura M
    June 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Whoops I did not mean for that comment to be anonymous! Sorry

  6. Laura M
    June 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    The school in question is Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. It was very much underfunded by the government for 40 years. Look up the news and you will see it took a four year battle to get
    $7.5 million dollars to build four new classrooms in the school. Where did the money go? Well some was delegated to building a pier in Darwin! Other money just disappeared. It has been worked out that only 58% of the funding that was to go to the school in the last 40 years has made it to the school. This school has only become a CEO school in the last 5 years, before that it was a government school. As for the state of housing it is all to do with the fact that getting resources to Wadeye is very difficult. As I have said the road is ungraded and therefore most of the year things need to be barged in. If the government actually tarred the road that would make life a bit easier for everyone. We have to also remember that the indigenous people have been shunted to these areas by European expansion across the country.

    One comment of yours that does anger me Richard is the insinuation that the people of Wadeue expect the government to do everything for them and do nothing for themselves. That is such an ignorant assumption. Until recently Wadeye had their own council, this however was disbanded and replaced with a Shire that stretches from Wadeye to Katherine. the head of the Shire is Katherine. If you look on a map you will see that there is no road from Wadeye to Katherine. How are the people of Wadeye supposed to be represented at these meetings if it is near impossible for them to be there. If these communities are wanted to be independent then why disband their councils and take all their decision making capabilities off them. I would say it is all about control.

    You have mentioned mining a couple of times Richard. I ask you, would you want someone to come in and dig up your back yard? Or make a big hole in the middle of your town. There is actually a gas plant in Wadeye, so the town is more “financially viable” than you know. Get facts before making assumptions about the worth of a people and their town. I don’t agree with your measure of worth by dollars and cents.

    • June 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      $7.5 million dollars to build four new classrooms in the school. Where did the money go? Well some was delegated to building a pier in Darwin! Other money just disappeared. It has been worked out that only 58% of the funding that was to go to the school in the last 40 years has made it to the school.

      Democracy at work. Obviously buying votes in Darwin was more important than investing in Wadeye. I agree that it is disgraceful but it is forseeable. I would suggest it is because that the ALP was trying to fight off loss of the seat of Darwin and they lost in the 2010 federal election to the Country Liberal Party. The rest of the territory is a safe Labor seat, so funding is de-prioritised. You watch as funding is always biased to seats in marginal electorates.

      Funding is always targeted at that which will gain the most votes or most funding from external donations.

      PS: 58% of what number?

      getting resources to Wadeye is very difficult. As I have said the road is ungraded and therefore most of the year things need to be barged in. If the government actually tarred the road that would make life a bit easier for everyone

      I bet you if there was a plantation, a factory, a farm, a mine, or a military base that required transport for industry, the road would be tarred very very quickly.

      You have mentioned mining a couple of times Richard. I ask you, would you want someone to come in and dig up your back yard? Or make a big hole in the middle of your town.

      The NIMBY culture halts progress in Australia. We are afraid to build big things. We are afraid to make sacrifices.

      If a mine near Wadeye would save the viability of the town and give it the opportunity and prosperity it deserves, would you support it? If destitution continues from lack of opportunity, will you accept responsibility for the opportunity cost of opposing the mine?

      Money doesn’t come from money trees. You need money to fix the problem. Where will the money come from, precisely? Would you like to beg the politicians who are authorising the intervention for money? Indeed I think they are going through with the intervention to ensure they get value for money, i.e. they genuinely believe the situation will improve

      One comment of yours that does anger me Richard is the insinuation that the people of Wadeue expect the government to do everything for them and do nothing for themselves.

      There is no want for a mine. They don’t want to move to a place with more opportunity. There are complaints that the school and housing are inadequete. Who is meant to fix this? Somebody else?

      What is there to insinuate? You did a great job of painting the picture for me. I didn’t have to insinuate anything.

      Until recently Wadeye had their own council, this however was disbanded and replaced with a Shire that stretches from Wadeye to Katherine. the head of the Shire is Katherine. If you look on a map you will see that there is no road from Wadeye to Katherine… If these communities are wanted to be independent then why disband their councils and take all their decision making capabilities off them

      I would suggest this consolidation occurred because the Wadeye council does not generate enough tax receipts to justify its maintenance as a separate government entity. I agree the consolidation is ham-fisted but it is a symptom, not the root cause of the problem. If you can’t afford to pay to maintain your own council, you’ll have to settle to for one in Katherine.

      Because to exist a council has to collect enough rates, and has to pay staff and maintain facilities. The Wadeye council didn’t have enough receipts to tar its own road (which Federal governments are oft to do, but notice that they prioritise servicing vibrant commercial centres first). If the rates aren’t enough to maintain office in both Katherine and Wadeye, then they will use Katherine’s staff to administer Wadeye and halve administration costs.

      Funny how it comes back to money, doesn’t it? Unless you would fund the council’s expenses from your teacher’s salary. If I find a former counsellor, I can ask them why Wadeye council was wound up. I would suggest it’s because of the reasons above.

      We have to also remember that the indigenous people have been shunted to these areas by European expansion across the country.

      This is false. The vast majority of the Indigenous population live in Sydney, 30% in 2006. As to the accuracy of these figures statistically… I can’t discuss this in this country due to our laws that curb freedom of speech.

      There is actually a gas plant in Wadeye, so the town is more “financially viable” than you know. Get facts before making assumptions about the worth of a people and their town. I don’t agree with your measure of worth by dollars and cents.

      Obviously this gas plant is not creating enough jobs and money to justify the building of graded roads- the miners are willing to pay big money to have the infrastructure built in remote towns. So your claim of “financially viable” is shot. Do locals staff the plant, particularly the local indigenous population? One plant does not opportunity make, or so it would seem. Even in the Latrobe Valley (which admittedly is not as remote) services are better because of the smaller cost of transport, even though “they only have a coal plant”.

      There are lots of public / private partnerships happening in the world e.g. native title that says , “yes you can build that mine, but in exchange you fix our school and build a road.” That should be happening more and there should be more than one gas plant to ensure this.

      You don’t have to agree to my measure by money, but you still need those dollars and cents, yes? You disagree with it yet you still want it. I want Wadeye to get it, but I don’t want it to come from a source of funding that is sustainable, and not to the whims of bureaucrats who are only interested in paying once-off bribes re-elected.

        • James Hill
          June 15, 2012 at 11:14 am #

          For a link that isn’t behind a paywall: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-06/wadeye-school-education-funds-agreement/4055650

          They have received 7.7 million dollars in hush money rather than have the government fight discrimination claims. FTA:

          “Half of its population of 2,500 is under 18 and only a fifth of them regularly attend school.”

          7.7 million for 250 active students. That’s 30,800 per student, on top of all the other educational benefits allocated to them. I hope Wadeye use that money wisely, because it’s no doubt come at the expense of other remote communities and outreach programs. The government’s pockets are not endlessly deep, and they certainly don’t have millions of dollars for every country school.

          • June 15, 2012 at 11:31 am #

            “Given the chance, given the right tools, given the right information, we are people that can do things for ourselves,” traditional owner Mr Nganbe {of Wadeye} said.

            “We have done that and we will continue to do that.”

            There you go.

            • James Hill
              June 15, 2012 at 11:34 am #

              The school has a 20% attendence rate for its school aged children. I sincerely hope having facilities helps raise that number, but something tells me that there are much larger issues keeping children from attending school.

          • June 15, 2012 at 11:41 am #

            James, it’s hugely in error to divide the money by the CURRENT ACTIVE students when the whole point of the money is to make it possible to educate potentially ALL the students of the town, rather than the 1/5th that are currently over-capacity stuffed into the dilapidated classrooms currently.

            Don’t you think a much higher percentage would attend school if the school could actually cope with more? I wouldn’t send my kids to a school either if there was next to no hope they’d actually be in a condition to learn anything there, packed into a room with less than 50% chance of even having a desk or a chair, or enough teachers to run the needed programs.

            Come on. No wonder so many don’t bother.

            Now a much more ACCURATE figure that’s based in reality, is to divide the school funding by the number in the town needing education.

            That makes it 7,700,000 / 1250 = $6160 per child/teenager requiring education.

            • James Hill
              June 15, 2012 at 11:54 am #

              We’ll see who’s figures are more right. I sincerely hope you’re correct and every kid that needs to be educated will start attending class regularly. How are we going on breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction in this community? We’re not allowed to intervene to keep alcohol out of those communities without appearing racist, so let’s hope the money empowers them to stop drinking.

            • June 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

              I agree with Andrew on this comment, we should fund and build the school to support that capacity, rather than using it as an excuse to clip funding and, in doing so, make the problem worse.

    • June 15, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      We need to elect a government open to putting a percentage of parliamentary seats in Aboriginal control: just like they’ve done in Northern Ireland, New Zealand and elsewhere. That’s the absolute answer that will lead to proper solutions in the long-term. Thanks for the detailed comment Laura 🙂 One thing that better representation in government would control: “Other money just disappeared.” — this would be more avoidable if the money was funded with more control on where. Sounds like someone wrote a blank cheque for use in the whole region rather than specifically bankable by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Rookie mistake? Or more a case of not giving a rats?

      • James Hill
        June 15, 2012 at 11:39 am #

        I think that’s totally the wrong way to go. We do not need force race quotas onto the institution of democracy. It entrenches the “us and them” attitude of mainstream Australia vs the indigenous community. It creates sinecure positions available to a select few by sheer dint of their bloodline and will no doubt be used and abused the way lilly white academics have abused other positions meant to indigenous Australians. It elevates a select few to an elite position at the expense of the very people you’re trying to help.

        • June 15, 2012 at 11:46 am #

          We do. The model has worked for many other nations, it’s the only way to accept reality and make actual progress. We do live in a world of “us and them” and there’s no point pretending there’s “only Australians” when very clearly, in practice, there is an “us and them”. Diplomacy and fairer compromise only happens when BOTH / all parties come to the table and exercise debate on legislation in parliament. Of course the Aboriginal people must want to do this, too. Having just a tent embassy and refusing to work with Canberra in an official capacity (if they were allowed to) isn’t going to help solve any problems either. But I think the tent embassy exists today only because they DON’T have representation in parliament. Go and read about the parliaments of other countries who have done this. It’s a real step forward and white Australia would lose absolutely nothing by extending this offer.

          • June 15, 2012 at 11:56 am #

            It hasn’t worked. Look up NEP in Malaysia. It breeds sloth and value determined by birthright, not merit; quotas have that effect, see the Victorian police force. And it actually discourages fixing the root cause of the issue, which is actually poverty.

            That is what I dislike, the insistence that we should be divided into tribes when really, we are all Australians and all human beings. There really shouldn’t be an “us” and “them”.

            James comments are valid. To paraphrase a famous phrase: “all of citizens are Australians but (apparently) some citizens are more Australian than others.” To base policy on a guilt complex that entrenches entitlement mentality is very very foolish.

          • James Hill
            June 15, 2012 at 11:58 am #

            You want us to live in a world where we hope that funnelling billions of dollars will make these communities into a utopia, but we have to also “accept” reality and put race quotas in for our political leadership. How many million Han Chinese or Vietnamese live in Australia? Why don’t they get their own race quota for parliamentary seats while we’re at it? Or are they meant to just toughen up and integrate into mainstream Australia? More importantly, why do you think the needs of indigenous communities can’t be served via the democratic process? What if the residents of these remote communities felt a white resident would better serve their needs and wanted to elect them to parliament? Should we deny them their vote?

        • June 15, 2012 at 11:49 am #

          the way lilly white academics have abused other positions meant to indigenous Australians.

          Be wary about the way you put things.
          http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/rda1975202/s18c.html

          I will repeat again that the fix should be based on need, rather than on race, to insist otherwise is racist.

          That being said, the fix is always what is most expedient to politicians and how much support they can canvas. The only way to buy a politician is with either votes or taxes / donations. If Wadeye shared Port Hedland’s title as the “engine room of Australia” and had more than one concrete and one gas plant, if it had significant foreign investment, many of its problems would disappear.

        • June 15, 2012 at 11:51 am #

          See this person here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_for_Families,_Community_Services_and_Indigenous_Affairs_(Australia) she should be Aboriginal, and the Ministry should be split out so there’s a dedicated Minister only for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships. How come the Minister for Women’s Affairs can only be a woman, but the Minister for Aboriginals isn’t an aboriginal?

          • James Hill
            June 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

            For the record, I vehemently disagree with the women’s affairs minister having to be a woman. It runs totally counter to the notion of a representative democracy. I don’t intend to correct that error by piling another minority quota onto our government. What an appalling state of affairs.

  7. June 25, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Great piece – very powerfully written… Of course, you have ripped off entire sections of submissions and statements written by UnitingJustice Australia (http://unitingjustice.org.au/justice-for-indigenous-australians), so I am not surprised at the high quality of the piece. Did you honestly think that no-one would notice? Seriously??

    • June 26, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      “oh noes, Andrew Beato’s writings look like my churche’s submissions!”

      sarcasm aside, provide quotes proving plagarism. I have skimmed those submissions and, while the topics are broadly similar, Andrew’s words are his own.

      • Anonymous
        June 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

        Hi Richard, I am the author of the pieces you refer to – Sasha is a student of mine who emailed me this morning pointing out the similarities. I don’t ‘out’ people for plagiarism or make unsubstantiated claims on a public forum like this. I emailed Andrew privately and asked to discuss the matter. I can’t take responsibility for what someone else has written here, and am happy to engage with Andrew individually on the matter. Thanks.

        • June 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

          Thanks for your response.

          Sasha’s teacher, Sasha has levelled a serious charge. I do not mind such charges are laid, but ask for evidence as soon as such a charge is presented; at this point his claims are unsubstatiated, hence are unwelcome. From this point I will leave you to discuss this with Andrew in private.

          • Anonymous
            June 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

            I completely agree, Richard – which is the only reason that I responded publicly to your comment. As I said, I am dealing with the matter privately and hope for a prompt resolution. Best / Siobhan.

            • June 27, 2012 at 12:04 am #

              Hi everyone, yes I’ve been emailed by the author of the http://unitingjustice.org.au/ article and very politely stated her concern based on one of her students above making the highlight and pointing it out to her. I’ve taken the claim seriously of course, and as is the nature of Intentious, happy to engage in the matter completely transparently here for our readers.

              Now, at this moment I still haven’t actually read Siobhan’s article yet (I’m assuming it’s actually this PDF? http://unitingjustice.org.au/justice-for-indigenous-australians/submissions/item/723-inquiry-into-the-stronger-futures-in-the-nt-legislative-package) …and it’s the first time I’ve actually visited this URL or heard of it, so if sections are actually reproduced here without citing the article I do have a good suspicion how it has happened in this case. As I emailed to Siobhan a couple of hours ago;

              “Hi Siobahn,

              Thank you for contacting me here at Intentious. I have not actually read your article yet however I will check it out and certainly credit/source any passages that cite or paraphrase yours.

              What I think occurred here is that the idea for, and many of the arguments presented, came from a lengthy and interesting Facebook comment stream on a friend’s link to info on the legislation. While I did some digging around of my own I also (with permission) relied on big paragraphs of comments a particular friend had written explaining why she shared my opposition to it. With her consent, she didn’t want to be named in my article but said I could use parts if I thought it well said, and expand on it.

              What I (foolishly) didn’t check was that she had not written her own comments but, it seems, pasted from yours, I guess because it says everything she needed to say. I still haven’t actually gone to your article yet but I am certain that if paragraphs are similar or identical, that’s how it’s happened.

              Point being, it wasn’t deliberately or knowingly ripped off. I apologise.

              Therefore I accept my poor research and practice in using comments that I did not write has led to this happening and have learned a lesson here.

              Are you happy if I add a few Source links to your article by title and author, where appropriate? Or would you prefer I take down the article?

              Thanks again and I hope you continue to find interesting content from our budding social network of authors on Intentious. All the best opposing the Stronger Futures legislation, I am very glad we share a common cause.”

              She responded that she’s happy with some citation/source links and certainly doesn’t want the article taken down.

              So for those concerned, rest assured I will read through that piece and of course cite reference to those parts that are blatantly copied. However, I must stress it’s not unusual for two people opposing a particular legislation to have the same arguments as to why they oppose it — and these arguments and opinions are indeed my own and shared by many others — first hand accounts go to show this.

              Cheers,

  8. June 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    The fact these laws passed unchallenged in parliament overnight in the midst of the offshore processing Senate debate is blatant proof this nation care about the human rights of immigrants/refugees enough to apparently move MPs to “tears” in parliament, but not one iota of a fuck is given about our own Australians.

  9. Richard Lee
    July 21, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    I saw this morning on Channel 10 a documentary “Diamond in the Rough” about Rio Tinto, the Argyle Diamond Mine, and the local indigenous population. They didn’t just give welfare, they were giving apprenticeships and an opportunity to work, and respect to the locals; in return the locals compromised to allow for the mine, realised they were getting better money than the woeful funding from the government, the mine remains profitable until 2018. The true test will be to see if the Aboriginal community endures after the mine closes, and at least they are armed with money, facilities and apprenticeships to maintain their community.

  10. July 27, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Indigenous employment rates have fallen. This may be further distorted by increasing numbers of Aboriginals who are not visibily identifiable as such and who live in urban areas being pooled in these statistics, hence masking how bad the unemployment rate is in rural areas. Estimates are that only 22 out of 100 adult Aborigines have work.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/policies-fail-to-make-dent-in-aboriginal-joblessness-20120726-22v5m.html#ixzz21lUNRXlP

  11. August 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Bob Brown is opposing a gas hub in the Kimberley on environmental grounds because of whales and dinosaur footprints. This would deny the local Aborigines the opportunity to lift themselves out of destitution without being reliant on welfare and handouts. An Aboriginal Eldar, Rita, goes and hand-delivers a letter to Bob saying. “don’t treat Aborigines as museum pieces.”

    We shouldn’t be subsidising the Aboriginal way of life, we should instead encourage them to develop prosperity of their own, independent of the state. They don’t need more regulation or more welfare- they need opportunity to determine their own destiny.

  12. August 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    It appears that a landslide victory in the Northern Territory to the Country Liberal Party is expected tonight. One note is that four Aboriginal conservatives are on the billing ticket, including the ex-Labor Indigenous Affairs Minister Alison Anderson and Bess Price. Seeing that Bess is an outspoken advocate for the intervention, this is a show of tacit support for it, even among Aboriginal voters (she is now behind by 60 votes during counting and it may take days to resolve).

    Further to our discussion here, the amalgemation of the local municipal councils is a mistake because the new “super shires” are not financially sustainable. Independent MP Gerry Wood says Labor broke its promise, and people on the ground are saying that there is anger in the shires around Darwin with, quote:

    the sad fact that Darwin seems to get a lot of things, like a wave pool, and out here there are bad roads, waste and mismanagement and no employment.The issues are huge, but the people want change, because they have had enough of the same old, same old.

    Other quotes:

    Labor has shown to hold aboriginal development back after all the decades of so called help.

    And an article in the Australian that has picked this:

    Mr Maralampuwi is a former Labor man….A staunch Catholic who proudly states he has worked his whole life, Mr Maralampuwi’s views are resonant with those articulated by other traditional leaders such as Noel Pearson, Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Lindsay Bookie.
    followed a long period of contemplation, in which he came to believe Labor policies he once supported were in fact “condescending”…. ”Labor has not taken Aboriginal people’s desire to work seriously,” he says.
    It records a change in thinking by some leaders, away from the welfare paradigm that has dominated for so long, and towards returning power and responsibility to local people and expecting them to work in return…

    As I have said earlier: don’t expect Government to save you. The Aborigines need to vote for the people that will empower them to save themselves. That means getting off welfare, getting the commerce and investment in and building the community they want for themselves.

  13. September 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks fine
    but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other
    then that, great blog!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Political football season 2012 – mid year review « open fire - June 18, 2012

    […] in the Northern Territory, the Gillard government has extended the plan, rebranding it Stronger Futures.  Indeed strong is apt, when referring to the criticism the plan has received from the UN, Amnesty […]

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