New Zealand MP Scours Howard Over Aboriginal Intervention
Sacred Arnhem Could Become Backpackers Paradise
A New Zealand member of parliament has cut loose on Australian prime minister John Howard over his logistically, ideologically challenged plan to seize control of more than 60 Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Hone Harawira, of the New Zealand Maori Party, claims that comments by John Howard, his ministers, and the one-sided media blitz over shocking child abuse, alcoholism and societal breakdown in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities has defamed and ostracised indigenous men :
"If I was an Aboriginal man in the Northern Territory I would feel like absolute s**t right now," the Maori Party MP said today.
"I would have the leader of my country saying I am an alcoholic, I am into pornography, I am into sexual abuse. All I would want to do is go out and smash someone."
Howard last month announced radical measures to tackle problems including abuse against children and women, and poverty in remote Aboriginal communities.
They include bans on alcohol and pornography, quarantining welfare payments, abolishing a permit system that limits access to remote communities, and mobilising extra police and troops to help address abuse and other problems.
"All Howard has done is generate more anger and bitterness in the Aboriginal community, a lot of which is going to be internalised," Mr Harawira said.
"I said John Howard is a racist bastard trying to impose racist policies on a people who can't fight back," he said, adding that he stood by those comments to air tonight.
Mr Harawira slammed Howard for ignoring reports issued ten years ago that revealed similar problems in Aboriginal towns and camps. Harawira, like the majority of Australians, views the intervention as an insidious publicity stunt related to the forthcoming federal election, which current polls show the Howard government is expected to lose.
That fact that so many white men are involved in the abuse of Aboriginal children barely surfaced amongst the hammerhard media coverage of indigenous communities in the Northern Territory in the past few weeks.
Only a few days ago, a report was published on how white men were buying sex from young Aboriginal girls in Darwin in exchange for cigarettes and beer. It received minimal media coverage.
Aboriginal men from all over Australia have been heard on talk back radio in the past two weeks talking of the glaring looks and verbal abuse they are now getting from white Australians since the child sexual assault report, championed by Howard, hit the headlines.
While government ministers and officials have been seen entering at least ten Aboriginal towns and camps in the past two weeks, we are yet to see any of them turn up in white mining camps, awash with alcohol and hard core pornography, to tell them to leave the Aboriginal children alone.
Meanwhile, the Northern Territory government has announced it will back the Northern Land Council in a legal challenge to Howard's intervention :
The Chief Minister, Clare Martin, led growing criticism of the intervention yesterday, saying seizing control of townships and scrapping the permit system did not make sense and would not stop child sexual abuse.
"So while we're working broadly with the Federal Government on the important issues of health, of tackling alcohol abuse, of tackling pornography, we will not support the removal of permits," Ms Martin said.
"It does not make sense, it is not supported by this Government and by Aboriginal Territorians, and we do not support five-year leases."
The Federal Government will seize control of 73 remote indigenous communities and introduce the most radical measures in decades to end indigenous neglect.
The Northern Land Council's chief executive, Norman Fry, said the compulsory acquisition of private property without consultation was discriminatory and could not be justified. He predicted that removing the permit system would subject tribal Aborigines to rampant tourism or rampant journalism.
"Removing the permit system will mean a free-for-all, with Arnhem Land instantly becoming the world's most sought-after backpacker destination, an exotic must, with busloads of tourists leaving Darwin for remote communities every day."
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