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Monday, June 25, 2007

Aboriginal insecurity: thinking on vines and fig trees. Part 2. Mutitjulu and the invasion of 2007.

Bob Randall and his daughter, Dorothea, are bearing witness to the insecurity felt by Aboriginal people in one community, Mutitjulu. Bob is a well-known singer and, just twelve months ago, was touring major cities promoting his movie, Kanyini, as well as the art of his wife Hazel Mackinnon. Miss Eagle posted on their Melbourne visit here. This year, Kanyini was voted the best documentary at the Australian Film Festival in London. Bob outlines, as so many communities do, the requests for assistance which have been made to the Federal Government and how those requests have been met with silence and neglect.

John Howard has now discovered concern for Aborigines and, in particular, the abuse of Aboriginal children. John Howard has been a deny-er of Aboriginal abuse - until, it would seem, now. He denied that any abuse of Aboriginal children or people occurred in our lifetime and that, because it did not occur in our lifetime, there was no need to apologise, to say "Sorry".

Now, unless we have all gone Tardis travelling, hasn't the abuse to which he refers occurred in living memory - in the lifetime of present generations? And hasn't he been on watch (well, asleep at the wheel) for eleven years of that period?

Does John Howard not understand that the people of Australia have watched him, listened to him, and remembered every word and inaction? Now that he has discovered Aborigines (well, we hope he has) it all has to be a state of emergency and frenetic activity - like George Bush and the Coalition of the Willing (including Australia under John Howard) invading Iraq.

You may recall, dear Reader, that in Baghdad the antiquities of humanity were looted. Hospital equipment was looted. All without meaningful intervention by the invaders. Could this possibly be a parable/prophecy/metaphor for what might happen in this speedy and hastily put together invasion of Aboriginal communities - which also includes, once more with feeling, the stealing of Aboriginal land without compensation?

In the weeks ahead, what will be lost in this state of emergency? What will be trampled on and looted in the attempt to achieve an outcome as unrealistic as Bush and his neo-cons?

Howard chose not to listen to hundreds of thousands of Australians taking to the streets to voice their opposition to Australian entry into Iraq. Howard has chosen not to listen to Aboriginal people and people working side by side with them for a better life. Howard turned his back on them - and they reciprocated by turning their backs on him.

Howard is sending in the troops, police, and professionals. Funding is not clear. Delegation is not clear. Enforcement under which set of laws is not clear. Howard is after a fix by fiat. And a short term fix at that. Except for the land grab, there is nothing to indicate that Howard, Brough, et al are there for the long haul; nothing to indicate that they will stand shoulder to shoulder with Aboriginal leadership across Australia to bring lasting and intergenerational change. One Noel Pearson does not an economic revolution make.
ABC TV News to-night carried a report that women at Mutitjulu had left the community and gone to the sandhills. The report did not state how many women went or how many women remained at the community. It did not state whether the women had taken their children with them. People at Mutitjulu are a long way from fig trees and vines and it sounds like they are far from security too.
The ABC's 7.30 Report provides a huge dose of reality into Howard's so-called State of Emergency in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. It has shown a National Press Club address by Mick Dodson in 2002 spelling out (well, not quite everything - the most horrifying was omitted by a clearly emotional Dodson) child abuse in Aboriginal communities. Don't you listen, John Howard. Don't you read, John Howard. You certainly did not speak out...until now. Have you been deaf, blind, and mute?