Don’t be fooled by the Labour Government’s new ‘Stronger Futures’ policy – it is no less discriminatory or punitive than the Howard Government’s initial Emergency Intervention into Indigenous communities (I posted a critical review of the ‘Stronger Futures’ consultation process a few weeks ago, here, for those interested). Writers at the Green Left Weekly have aptly dubbed Macklin’s ‘Stronger Futures’, ‘NT Intervention, mark II.’
This morning I was heartened to read an article from ABC’s The Drum, which demonstrates a rare glimpse of media honesty as regards current and proposed policies affecting Indigenous communities:
‘Jenny Macklin has just delivered her second reading speech for the new intervention legislation.
She had sought to soften the ground for this by announcing the new “evidence” which she claimed vindicated her measures, in the absence of any evidence of improving socio-economic conditions.
One of the biggest developments in the intervention is her new punitive measure against Aboriginal parents. Specifically, if Aboriginal children don’t attend school, their parents will have their welfare payments cut. It has been claimed that this is:
Non-discriminatory, targeting non-Indigenous as well as Indigenous parents, but the scheme will be targeted at those communities currently showing poor school attendance rates.
That is to say, it is obvious these measures are targeted at Indigenous communities, but the Labor Government is a bit more embarrassed about openly announcing this than the previous Coalition government.
The Government has not presented any evidence to show that these measures would work. So, they have instead claimed Indigenous communities support these measures. Indeed, the Government’s paper on its consultations claim that communities cried out for these measures. As the Australian story notes, the Government report claims that people who attended the public meetings:
Commented relatively frequently that parents should have part of their welfare or Centrelink payments withheld or their payments reduced if they did not send their children to school.
When asked what evidence she had for her new policy, Macklin replied “the message loud and clear from Aboriginal people, from parents and grandparents is that they want this.”
The trouble for Macklin is that her claims can be tested against the evidence.’
Read the rest of the article here, via Destroying Indigenous communities and cultures – The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).