It cannot be denied there are tragic problems in some remote Aboriginal communities, and on that I commend Lateline to all but you really should read The National Indigenous Times as well, especially Wadeye: The truth of the matter.
But is the answer a new paternalism, as Tony Abbott claims? Well, his ideas do deserve to be looked at, but — and here I think I am actually being conservative in the proper sense — I think it is also a fact that we have seen a failure too of the superficially hard-nosed approach of “practical reconciliation”.
It seems to me that Paul Keating’s 1992 Redfern Speech is as relevant, true and seminal today as it was the day it was spoken, when it broke new ground in the reconciliation process. If the present government had not turned its back on the absolutely necessary symbolic actions that speech exemplified and foreshadowed they might be in a better position today to handle the problems of dysfunctional communities with integrity and honour. But that was not to be.
See my page on Indigenous Perspectives and these earlier entries here.
See No thank you, greets Abbott’s call for new paternalism (Herald 22 June 2006.) Mick Dodson, a man the Howard government foolishly sidelined in 1998, makes an excellent point:
“Minister Abbott looks to paternalism for the answers to violence and other problems as though we have never moved beyond this horribly discredited approach,” said Mick Dodson, the director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University.
“Instead of promoting the view that Aboriginal people are hopeless and incapable, it is time we shaped solutions around indigenous success,” he said.