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Mick Dodson: the truth under intervention spin
Last night I attended a large gathering at Canberra's Helen Maxwell Gallery to hear the views of Mick Dodson on the Government's intervention in the Northern Territory. ACT Greens Senate candidate Kerrie Tucker was host. Dodson wasn't too hard on Labor; Rudd had little choice but to tick Howard's box or play into hands just itching to wedge Labor on race. Still, Rudd's speech on the matter to Parliament gave him room to clean up the mess if he wins office.
Dodson said that just about every page of the 500 pages of legislation authorising the intervention breaks our obligations under international human rights treaties we've signed up to, particularly the Convention outlawing racial discrimination. Mal Brough (Longman) had admitted he hadn't read the Sacred Children report which supposedly triggered the intervention, and it was a fair bet he hadn't bothered to read 'his' legislation' either. Indeed, it was probably read only by "those brave souls in the Senate who voted against it," he said, including the Greens.
Dodson said he was concerned about the recklessness with which politicians are now prepared to break the scared principle that one does not by law discriminate against people on the basis of their race, and the media's casual acceptance of this trend.
"This is not an intervention, it's an invasion of people's rights and liberties. The only positive is that it is a recognition of government failure."
Because of media laziness, most Australians didn't know what 'the intervention" was really all about. They didn't know that:
* There is no mention of the word 'child' or 'children' in the legislation, which violates the UN Convention of the rights of the child.
* The intervention would not create one new women's refuge or safe house in the 73 NT communities subject to it, despite the fact that only 5% of the communities already had either.
* The intervention would not fund one new child protection worker, or any extra child protection services.
* Instead it would create 725 new jobs in the public service, 300 of which are in Centrelink administering the withholding of ALL Aboriginal people's welfare income, regardless of whether they were good parents or bad, on the sole basis of where they lived. There is no right of appeal, for anyone.
* The intervention would not fund any services for the victims of abuse, or for the perpetrators.
* Assets can be seized from Aboriginal bodies if even $1 worth of Commonwealth funding was in their mix - without any compensation.
* The intervention threw 8,000 Aboriginal people who worked through CDEP (The Community Development Employment Scheme) in exchange for only 1500-2000 replacement jobs.
"This is racist action not for the purpose of helping children, but to wedge political opponents. What troubles me most is the racial discrimination and the incapacity of the media to be outraged by this. Why are we ready to allow this to happen?"
"Australians think it's about protecting kids. The lazy media let that happen. And if you put your head up you get called a child abuser yourself. You get abused for saying, 'Hang on a minute, can we talk about this?'"
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