For some people, all they ever get to know about the Northern Territory is the advertising campaigns to attract tourists and stories of Aboriginal disadvantage. Some people set off up the track in caravans but don't enter into Territory life and so gain little understanding of Territory ways. For many, including quite a slice of Territory inhabitants, it will come as a bit of a shock to hear the Territory described as a Failed State. If you don't think that rings true, you might like to go along with Gerry Woods and his description of a challenged state
For me, I'll stick with the first because I agree with virtually everything that Nicolas Rothwell says in his article. Many times I will read an article on a subject or a place I know well but the article leaves me feeling that I am residing on a planet of one because my own knowledge is so different from what I read. Not with Rothwell's article. He and I inhabit the same reality as far as a description of government and governance in the Northern Territory is concerned. And in case you think this does not concern you, think again. If you are a tax-paying Australian, you are propping up relaxed whitefella lifestyles and Aboriginal disadvantage and dislocation in the Northern Territory. You too can have your tax dollars wasted in the failed Aboriginal housing program known as SIHIP.
Rothwell lays it all on the line from the cossetted and comforted middle and upper classes of Darwin's Northern Suburbs without whom, so the political wisdom goes, government in the NT cannot be won to disadvantaged Aboriginal communities who don't see all the money allocated to their needs by the Federal Government because of siphoning by the NT Government and the bureaucratic padding that is day to day employment in the NT, particularly in mainstream centres outside Darwin.
Miss Eagle's view - after most of a lifetime lived in North Queensland and the Northern Territory and a significant proportion of that lived on the Barkly Tableland, Queensland side and Territory side - is that this has to be seen in the context of historic deprivation by governments of all political persuasions at all levels of remote area communities black and white, with black communities being the worst affected.
Rothwell doesn't say this - but he is not far from saying it.
Let me be quite blunt. Remote Australia pays a huge price
- educationally and in
- housing and
- poor health
I emphasise that when I speak of remote Australia I am speaking both of mainstream and Aboriginal Australians while recognising that the hardest hit are Aboriginal Australians.
I look forward to Rothwell's second instalment when he will outline a new way or ways of governance in the NT.