From Integrated Questions · Uncategorized

Will the Northern Territory become a police state?

As much as I would love to actually devote some time to a proper analysis of this post’s title question, the current hectic schedule that accompanies exam week prevents me from doing so. I may come back to it after things calm down a bit. Though, I suspect that this will have been blogged to death by then.

So, for those who haven’t heard anything about this (where the bloody hell have you been?) here’s a quick link.

There are two quotes (from the front page of today’s The Australian) that I just can’t go past.

PM John Howard: “It is interventionist, it does push aside the role of the Territory to some degree – I accept that. But what matters more, the constitutional niceties or the care and protection of young children?”

Did he seriously just suggest that the constitution can be ignored whenever it so suits us?

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough: “Let’s act, and if we breach the Racial Discrimination Act then we need to deal with that in a legislative fashion. But what right does a child have, when at age three they are being sexually abused and that means, you know, raped. Let’s call it what it is. And it’s not one, it’s not two, it’s unthinkable numbers.”

Arguments about his rhetoric at the end aside, did our Indigenous Affairs Minister just advocate a racist approach justified by rewriting the definition of racism whilst screaming “think of the children, think of the children”?

It goes without saying that something needs to be done about the appalling state of Indigenous welfare and the appalling state of child protection in rural and remote communities. That reaction needs to be considered and planned carefully. A knee-jerk response that destroys the civil liberties of many Territorians is an abhorrent power-grab by the Federal Government. Radical and wide-sweeping reform is called for, but it must be thouroughly researched, painstakingly prepared and properly implemented.

I will hopefully be back within a couple of weeks with some comments on Rann and our Civil Liberties, the state of Amnesty International, and (maybe) this ‘state of emergency’. Happy readings.


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