For the mere sake of wanting something to say, Tony Abbott – that walking, talking suggestion box – sniffed some political opportunism when emerging from the dusty camps of Alice Springs declaring that the place (and just about everywhere else) needed another intervention. News.com were there to capture this Gillard trumping, black fella fixing policy gem. It came under the heading of breaking news. I tend to think that it was more like breaking wind. Full of shit to be more precise. Except for one small bit:
“I accept that the original intervention wasn’t perfect,” he (Abbott) told ABC Television today.
It never was going to be. In 2007, in response to the Northern Territory Report into sexual abuse called Little Children are Sacred, the Howard Government announced a national emergency in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
The ‘NT Intervention’ involved sending police and the army into remote communities, alcohol bans, winding back Aboriginal land rights, health checks for Aboriginal children and the quarantining of welfare payments in over 70 Aboriginal communities.
Aboriginal groups strongly condemned the NT Intervention. The authors of the Little Children are Sacred report also spoke out against the intervention, arguing that its heavy handed, top-down approach was inconsistent with the recommendations in the report.
Forty Aboriginal organisations put forward an alternative proposal for action based on consultation and partnerships with local communities, welfare organisations and women’s groups. This proposal was ignored and the NT Intervention went ahead.
It sure wasn’t perfect. But look who gets some blame:
He (Abbott) said the government needed to get fair dinkum about enforcing current laws, noting that there had not been a single truancy fine imposed in the territory for 10 years.
Yes, let’s have the news.com readers assume that this must be the Gillard Government’s fault. Why wouldn’t the journalist have the morality to report that this comes under the jurisdiction of the Territory Government? No, Tony’s on a roll . . . let’s do some more bashing.
Alcohol is also causing serious problems, said Mr Abbott, who urged retailers to get involved in the solution.
“I would certainly appeal to everyone involved in the retail alcohol trade, from Woolies and Coles down, to ask themselves the question: this might be good for business, but is it good for the country?”
Oh, so now it’s their fault too. The first intervention hasn’t worked because the government fails to impose truancy fines on people who can’t afford to pay them and supermarket giants continue to sell alcohol. Unbeknown to Abbott and news.com (though it was reported in regional media at the time and Abbott was in opposition by then), the food vouchers provided to Newstart recipients in lieu of their allowance were being traded for cash to buy grog, for as little as one-fifth the value of the voucher.
Opposition indigenous spokesman Nigel Scullion, who was with Mr Abbott on the tour, said retailers should be acting now to take cheap grog off the shelves.
Mr Abbott said he was disappointed Prime Minister Julia Gillard didn’t take up his invitation to join him in Alice Springs, saying the issue requires bipartisan support.