Wedge politics or sincere effort?

In the wake of the Northern Territories’ inquiry into child abuse in aboriginal communities, the Federal Government stepped in last week and announced a swag of measures – preempting anything the NT government might have suggested as a response to the report.

The measures are unprecedented – they take back ownership of aboriginal held lands, they ban alcohol and pornography there, they mandate medical examinations of children and withhold social security payments to families unless they show that a designated amount is spent on childrens’ schooling and food.

In effect they formalize a class of people with lesser rights than the rest of the Australian community who must be paternalised for their own protection.

I’m not against measures being taken against child abuse. I’m not familiar enough with the problem to judge if this level of response is necessary or practical.

What I do worry about is that the measure may well have been precipitiously taken just to drum up a crisis prior to the election in November. (and the indications are clear that it certainly was taken without any real thought of the implementation practicalities).  John Howard is a master of wedge politics and he thrives on self-created crises*.

And I worry because I see Howards vision of Australia becoming more and more Orwellian.

I wait with mounting apprehension for his announcement of the extension of reduction in rights to the wider community.

*Back in my IBM days, it was a well-known axiom that the way to get ahead in the company was to quietly and undetectably engineer a crisis in order to look like a hero when you saved the day.

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2 Responses to “Wedge politics or sincere effort?”


  1. 1 Doug July 2, 2007 at 7:36 am

    they ban alcohol and pornography there

    What do your Feds want, full-scale insurrection? The alcohol prohibition alone would be riotously laughable here in the US.

  2. 2 microsoar July 2, 2007 at 8:30 am

    They’ve sent in the police and troops in advance.
    What’s more likely is that there will be a drift of many ingiginous alchoholics to major regional centres where the ban doesn’t (yet) exist. Alice Springs is bracing itself for the onslaught.


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