There will be a ‘puny’ one-day Senate committee of inquiry into the legislation and the committee will report to parliament early next week.
The three bills – which allow the government to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land in the Territory for five years, in addition to compulsory control of how individual welfare payments are spent – was submitted by Minister Mal Brough on 7 August.
You have no doubt seen the TV news cameras focus on the massive swag of paper – over 500 pages – tabled in Parliament. What DOES it contain? Without doubt it should be reviewed…let’s NOT make the decades-old, unresolved issue of how to give our Indigenous people equal opportunities into a political ‘wedge’!
The ABC reported:
“Northern Territory Labor Senator Trish Crossin is on the reviewing committee and says the hearing … is a bit pointless. However, she says (it) will probably show up some problems with the bills. ‘It’s an inadequate process, the Labor Party has supported it though because to have a look at these bills was better than not doing so.’ she said.”
Given such short notice many key people such as Nanette Rogers and Noel Pearson can’t make it. The Inquiry will be held in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which is not the usual Senate committee that deals with matters related to the Department of Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
“Every Aboriginal person receiving welfare benefits in the Northern Territory who lives in one of the 73 communities targeted for intervention will have 50 percent of their entitlements controlled by government bureaucrats, regardless of their past spending habits…legislation (will give) extraordinary powers of control over the lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, including the power to have government officials sit in on the private meetings of Aboriginal organisations.”
There is SO much to consider – blanket legislation cannot be practicable. What is needed is something like the Study Circle approach to ‘difficult dialogues’ used succesfully in the US to help with race relations there.
I heard Friday morning on AM that artists from the 100 strong Aboriginal Art Centres are protesting that they have not been consulted and yet this is a hugely successful Aboriginal industry, worth some $400,000 million pa I was told a recent visit to several Centres in the NT and WA.
I was SO impressed – not only by the art – but by the professionalism of the Centres and the passion and care of the Art Centre Coordinators. Artists sit on committees which run these Art Centres under the aegis of:
ANKAAA -Association of Northern, Kimberley & Arnhem Aboriginal Artists – a non-profit, Incorporated Aboriginal Association. ANKAAA works across the Aboriginal Art Industry focused upon delivering services:
Desart, the Association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Centres which aims to:
My small group of Didgeri Air-Art tourists could see that artists are being encouraged to work in a professional manner, while respecting cultural ‘barriers’. Young people are learning that there is a future in painting and income from art is helping fund things like a new swimming pool at Balgo. (One third from Art Centre income and the balance from mining royalties).
At Balgo the Culture Centre had received a grant for a program to train young people in photography while at the same time capturing cultural images for posterity. In conjunction with the Adult Ed section of the Balgo School, a further grant is being sought to teach these students film editing.
Check out the art and the professional websites of these Art Centres:
“When the Prime Minister announced his radical ’emergency’ plan for Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, people welcomed the commitment to tackle the incidence of child abuse, but the jury was out on the actual worth of the plan. Well, now the jury’s back in — and the verdict? It stinks.
The Senate will vote on these laws on Tuesday — and we want a true debate on our hands. Send them a message now that we expect them to stand up for the rights of Indigenous Australians, and respect the integrity of their parliamentary chamber.”
Click here to join their campaign www.getup.org.au/campaign/NoRubberStamp“.
The Federal Department of Education, Science and Training funded a Fulbright Scholarship for Dr Mark Brophy to spend four months in America to follow his doctoral interest in Study Circles. The idea was that he should come back to Australia and start the ball rolling here with community-wide dialogue.