Over at Troppo Armadillo Ken Parish has an excellent article on Kicking Sacred Cows and the associated misconceptions, general ignorance and politically correct stifling of the Aborigine debate. His trigger was an article by John Hirst They are both worth the read, particularly the thread at Troppo Armadillo. Some wonder at the implication that the last three decades of policy has been found to be at fault and others are surprised that some wonder. I would like to think that Aborigine society should be treated the same as the rest of Australia as far as is possible. That is, education and medical services should be provided by the State Government with Federal funding, and local issues, such as provide to me by the Brisbane City Council should be provided locally. The first problem encountered here is the fact that my local council charges rates and from that income stream provide me with sewerage, water, waste disposal and more. Rate payers who live in towns across Australia generally have an income and own land that can be taxed in the form of rates. I'm not sure this is always the case in the Aborigine communities. Wayne Wood says the answer is;
As discussed in my blog 'The Mystery of Capital', I believe the solution to many of the problems in Aboriginal communities lies with the recognition and registration of land title.
Which is all well and good but there must be a market for land to have value. How many people would want to buy a block at Yuendumu? Obviously some land has value but while all land doesn't, then the standard Australian system of collecting rates will not work. One answer is detailed in the post below. The Government and the Army have a programme that installs services and teaches locals how to maintain them but it's not broad enough (only eight communities developed so far) and is not quick enough - the problem is now. Hirst says;
In traditional Aboriginal society, goods were shared, but in a highly structured and ritualistic way. A kangaroo would be divided by unvarying rule, a certain portion going to a certain relative. The sharing was among kin. There was no generalised ethic of sharing.
Good nomadic hunting/gathering policy but fails all 21st century standards. There has to be an arbitrator to reapportion benefits that traditionally go to the stronger family/tribal/tribal elder groups to all the community. Services are for all and all are responsible. Otherwise the new septic sewerage will cease to operate at the first break down and no one will repair it. The medical centre will become run down and stay that way. Finance the services and finance the maintenance and if the local community doesn't have the expertise to manage maintain the system then bring the expertise in. Continuing the thread, reader Norman writes;
Some of the attitudes to which you refer, Ken, aren't all that different from those found in sections of the "white" community too. The relevant difference is that members of these sections of the general community don't manage their community's infrastructure and/or finances.
Yes they do Norman. They hold elections and elect someone to manage the service for them. We have a proven template for providing communities with all services. The division between Local, State and Federal responsibilities in this area has been worked out over hundreds of years and, by and large, it works. Let's stick to this time proven plan and where local problems occur, adjust to cover them as all good planners do.

One comment

  • The ‘remote communities’ concept is a murderous joke. I seem to recall that there’s something in the dole laws which says if you’re not prepared to move to get a job the dole gets cut off. That should be applied to all Australians.
    Continuing with ‘remote communities’ just prolongs the agony.