Friday, March 10, 2006

Australia changes course on aboriginal policy

ONE of the worst frauds perpetrated in Australia occurred over the last 30 years of the 20th century by the rights and reconciliation lobby who claimed they had a solution to the deprivation of indigenous Australians. All Canberra had to do was admit the crimes of the settlers, apologise for the stolen generation, accept all Aborigines' unique link to the land, and spend money - a great deal of money - on indigenous issues. And anyone who did not agree, especially about the money bit, was reviled as a right-wing racist... [And yet] Aborigines continued to live shorter, poorer lives than most Australians. And substance abuse and domestic violence made family life a misery in too many communities.

It has taken Aboriginal voices, notably those of Noel Pearson, and recently Labor Party president Warren Mundine, to discredit the obsession with symbolic issues. Instead of passive welfare, Mr Pearson wants to encourage indigenous Australians into work and education, by reducing individual welfare benefits if necessary. And rather than maintain the pointless fiction that all indigenous social problems are due to the destruction of traditional tribal life, Mr Pearson says drunkenness and domestic violence are immediate issues that need urgent answers. In the past few years, the Howard Government has begun to act on his ideas.

Read the whole editorial

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