Sunday, 2 August 2009

Barb Shaw and her spirited intervention

Barb Shaw with Alice Springs in the background

I love this photo of Barb. In fact, I think it is brilliant. Her image overlays, hovers over a birds-eye view of Alice Springs like a spirit hovering over and embracing the land. And, in fact, this is what the spirited Barb Shaw is doing right now.

Barb has been a vocal critic of the Northern Territory Emergency Response commonly referred to as The Intervention. Barb lives in rented housing at Mount Nancy Town Camp on the northern outskirts of Alice Springs. Now she has become a central figure in a legal challenge to Jenny Macklin's take-over of the town camps of Alice Springs.

When the Rudd Government came to power in 2007 and was sworn into government in 2008, it made an apology to the stolen generations which had never been forthcoming from an Australian Government. We, the Australian people, were beguiled by this. We were relieved that what had been longed for for so long had now happened. It was as if we breathed out, relaxed. A new government, in its honeymoon period, had put first things first and apologised. But we were beguiled and optimistic. We let the Rudd Government off the hook.

You see, while the apology was the first thing that should have been done and was done, there was a next thing to be done. The next thing to be done was to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act which the Howard Government had suspended so it could could carry out its military intervention in the Northern Territory.

My view is that those of us who welcomed an Australian Labor Party Government could not have imagined that a social democratic government could continue - with little deviation - the 21st century assimilation policies forced on Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory by John Howard's Liberal-National Party coalition government

Twenty months after Kevin Rudd came to power, we are looking at a huge mess in the Northern Territory. Reports are that not one new house has been built in the NT and, as early as this week, the Northern Territory Government could fall if Alison Anderson crosses the floor.

The Rudd Government has been continually urged, to the point of embarrassment, to re-introduce the Racial Discrimination Act. It now intends to do this in October. Leading up to this process is a series of flawed consultations with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory which have led to anger from the communities on one hand and failed attendance because of poor notification or lack thereof.

Does this, dear Networker,
sound like a political and social debacle to you.
It sure does to me.
As someone who has been a Macklin watcher
and thought she was rather good at public policy,
I am aghast.

But back to Barb and her spirit made restless by living under the draconian Intervention. For the details of legal intervention taken by Barb, please see National Indigenous times reports here and here.
A reminder to Macklin.
Northern Territory Aboriginal people
are not myalls just in from the bush.
They are Australian citizens wanting
a secure and peaceful life
with the same rights and entitlements
as other citizens.
And they have friends.

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