Mal Brough gave an address at the National Press Club yesterday in which he claimed that land rights have actually impoverished indigenous people in this country and that ‘communism’ – though certainly not in the political sense of the word – doesn’t work. You can read all about it here.
He is in effect blaming the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA) for the conditions in communities around the country, thereby mitigating himself and his government for the blatant inaction over the past eleven years and at the same time, providing a rationale under which to legitimately take apart the ALRA.
Of course, the gradual dismantling of the ALRA has been underway for some months now, probably since the government began bribing Tangentyere council to gain control over their town camps, something that continued with the coercive actions in having Nguiu council agree to similar conditions. But until now they’ve left themselves open to criticism for doing so. Now they can turn around and claim, since the ALRA has done nought but impoverish aboriginal people, that they are doing the right thing in getting rid of it.
We now have clear and unequivocal evidence that this entire debacle was about undermining land rights from the beginning, but until yesterday the government hasn’t grown the courage to ‘fess up to it. This of course became obvious for most of us, when all aspects of the intervention plan that would have any effect on the causes of the problem became swamped by those aspects that concerned land only. In their defence though, they couldn’t very well have come out from the beginning and said that the ALRA was their target, since that had nothing to do with the report at all and they wouldn’t have been able to
hijack it use it as a justification.
Make it appear that the intervention is about kids being sacred and all the rest of it. Make it seem that their strategy will focus on stopping people from drinking and taking drugs. In the meantime, gradually introduce measures into the legislation that would enable the forcible seizure of land, and then ram the legislation through a Coalition-stacked parliament without due process, such as any form of debate, apart from a token one-day senate hearing, citing the imperative to act fast “when the safety of children is concerned”.
Do all that and you’ll have abolished land rights before breakfast.