Sunday, November 18, 2007

COMMENT: It's good to see someone is benefiting from the NT intervention ...

Apparently the only way a government can fight child abuse in indigenous communities is to put aside the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act. Yep, welcome to 21st century Australian conservatism. Where 3 decades of bipartisan legislative consensus can be thrown aside with little complaint from either side.

This exraordinary legislation was passed at lightening speed through both Houses of Federal Parliament in mid-August. We are told that indigenous Aussies are benefitting from the intervention. That may well be true. But there is one group certainly benefitting.

The Weekend Australian Financial Review reported on 18-19 August 2007 that ...
Commonwealth public servants have leapt at the offer of a $37,000 allowance to work as "business managers" in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, but there are concerns about whether they have the commitment and expertise for the job.

At $37K a pop, who needs commitment? The report continues ...

The business managers will be the government's representatives on the ground following the takeover of NT Aboriginal communities.
Heck, I'd jump at the opportunity of grabbing a $37,000 payrise just to 'represent' the Commonwealth up north. Here, Mr Brough, you can have my CV!

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough said this past week that 300 applications for the positions had been received, far more than the government was looking for ...

Placements are for a period of up to 12 months, with the managers given the opportunity to return home every three months.

And what to the people on the ground, most affected by the intervention, think of all this?

But indigenous communities, which have to hand over control to these outsiders, have questioned how these public servants will perform and complained of lack of details regarding their duties ...

At one of the targetted communities, Yirrkala, council co-ordinator Adrian Rota expressed frustration at a lack of detail regarding the business managers.

The Laynhapuy Homelands Association represents 19 "outstation" Aboriginal communities in north-east Arnham Land ... Deputy CEO Ric Norton said the recruitment could attract ambitious but unsuitable public servants.

Kevin Rudd has already committed the ALP to continuing with the intervention should his party win next Saturday. Let's hope a Labor victory leads to a greater degree of consultation with the communities on the ground.

Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf

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