Wednesday 20th of June 2018

rattus real estate .....

rattus real estate .....

Long-serving Sydney political journalist Alex Mitchell writes:

This is the last throw of the dice for John Howard. He is doing one big favour for the mining industry that he has faithfully served in public life for the past 30 years, by rolling back Aboriginal ownership of their tribal lands.

Cynically, cruelly but utterly predictably, he’s doing it under the hypocritical colours of humanitarianism. (Very similar to the invasion and occupation of Iraq sold as “spreading democracy”).

In his four terms as PM, he has starved indigenous health, education and housing of funds, abolished ATSIC and pointedly marginalised the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio.

This particular pre-election pitch is aimed at Lateline viewers, readers of The Age and The SMH and ABC stalwarts, the demographic that constitutes Australian (small “l”) liberalism. These are the feeble-brained, hand-wringers who are congenitally incapable of separating the wood from the trees. They are types currently heard sobbing: “I’m no fan of Mr Howard, but at least he’s DOING SOMETHING!”

Yes, he is: he’s giving the mining giants the leg-up they need to start exploring, digging and quarrying in indigenous lands in the Northern Territory and then elsewhere.

He is being aided and abetted by Kevin Rudd’s craven behaviour. Instead of falling into line with Howard’s agenda, he should have demanded complete details of the plan, the highest-level briefing, sought face-to-face meetings with Aboriginal leaders, state premiers, police and army officers and taken the lead in a national debate.

Instead, he mouthed pieties such as “I’m taking Mr Howard at his word” and “I believe the Prime Minister when he says he is responding to a national crisis” etc etc.

Has anyone realised that these are almost the same words used by Kim Beazley when he backed Howard during the Tampa scam?

By his pusillanimous approach, Rudd has vacated leadership on the tragic issue of rescuing Aboriginal communities and given Howard the opportunity to play his sickening Father of the Nation role.

Paul Keating, you were right about the Rudd team of fixers, hucksters, flyweights and spineless opportunists.

Alex Mitchell

weapons of mass hysteria .....

‘The Prime Minister's Apocalypse Now descent upon the Northern Territory might carry more conviction - even some conviction - if he hadn't conned us so often before. Think children overboard, think Tampa, think the "Pacific solution", think weapons of mass destruction, think Saddam Hussein's people-shredder, think war on terrorism, think the draconian sedition laws, think David Hicks, think all those alarums and excursions that Howard, bare-faced, has stage-managed over the years with the principle political aim of keeping the punters nervously grateful for the smack of firm government.

Then ask yourself if there is any more reason to believe him this time around, when he proclaims that Aboriginal child abuse is a national emergency. The answer is a qualified yes. It is indeed a national emergency. The Little Children Are Sacred report is stark evidence that indigenous communities in the Territory and elsewhere are trapped - let's employ Howard's own imagery here - in the Hobbesian hell of lives poor, nasty, brutish and short.

But this is hardly new. It has been an emergency for a very long time. Most of us are at least dimly aware that Aboriginal existence has been an infinite tragedy since about 1813, when the white man's alcohol killed the wretched Bennelong. What a grim irony that it has taken the member for Bennelong 11 years in government to work out that something drastic needs to be done.

This is where the sudden, impulsive theatrics fall apart. Almost inevitably with Howard, the something drastic was to send in the police and the army. He had the incoherent notion of compulsorily subjecting every Aboriginal child under the age of 16 to an invasive and, I would imagine, terrifying medical examination to detect sexual abuse.’

Histrionics Up North As Moral Compass Veers South

rattus rules .....

another Crikey item …..

Editor of The National Indigenous Times, Chris Graham, writes:

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, is many things to many people. But first and foremost he’s a politician.

That's not meant to be a compliment. It's meant to explain why he took $100,000 from the nation’s poorest, most desperate citizens (Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory) and gave it to the organisers of a cultural festival in his own Queensland electorate of Longman.

And it's also meant to explain why the Minister then signed a letter which falsely claimed the expenditure had been approved by an Aboriginal advisory committee.

Such are the claims on the front page of today’s National Indigenous Times and reported by Michelle Grattan in The Age and Laura Tingle in The Financial Review. Here are the facts.

The festival is called The Dreaming, and was staged in June 2006 in the small community of Woodford, a town which happened to sit in Mal Brough’s electorate at the time.

The money was taken from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA), which holds mining royalty equivalency payments for mining that occurs on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory. By law, money from the account can only be used for the benefit of Aboriginal people in the Territory.

An advisory committee had been asked to approve $186,000 for funding for The Dreaming, but delayed the decision on the basis that it was unclear who was actually getting the funds. The committee asked for more information, as responsible committees should do.

But just a few weeks later, Mal Brough wrote to the committee and told them they’d approved the funding.

Minutes of the advisory committee meeting very clearly contradict Brough’s version of events.

Yet the pork-barrelling continued. In addition to the $100,000 from the ABA, The Dreaming also secured a further $280,000 from Brough’s department, (Family and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs – FaCSIA).

That’s despite the fact that the previous year – when Amanda Vanstone was minister - The Dreaming was knocked back for funding from the Indigenous affairs budget.

Here’s a few other salient points to remember:

This is the first time in the 30 year history of the Aboriginals Benefit Account that money has been spent outside the Northern Territory in this way. And it just happened to be in the electorate of the politician who signs the cheques – if that doesn’t warrant further scrutiny, I don’t know what does.

It’s Mal Brough who has been screaming from the tree-tops about the failings of the NT government in misusing Indigenous affairs funding. And it was Brough who said he would "spend whatever it takes" to save Aboriginal kids. Maybe he could start by arranging for the $100,000 to be paid back?

And it was Brough who, in January this year, was accusing Aboriginal people from the Northern Territory of misusing mining royalties.