The ALP in the Northern Territory paid the price for its arrogance, incompetence, infighting, racism and it’s long term diversion of Aboriginal funds to prop up its flagging popularity in Darwin’s northern suburbs. The Territory Labor Party was allowed to get away with the diversion of monies because it, in large part, went along with the Howard/Brough Intervention into 79 remote Indigenous communities; it also went along with the Jenny Macklin extension of the Intervention under Rudd and then Gillard.
In the end Aborigines living in rural and remote parts of the NT gave up on Labor both at a Territory and at a Federal level. Warren Snowdon has been on a nice little earner and will retire on a very large parliamentary pension when he loses the seat of Lingiari at the next Federal election. I well remember being told by ALP heavyweights throughout the late 1980 and early nineties that the blue collar voters had nowhere to go – these apparatchiks then spent a decade trying to regain the trust of those who had morphed into Howard’s battlers. No doubt the intellectual flyweights running Federal Labor at the moment thought that Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory had nowhere else to put their vote.
Aborigines are a generous and forgiving people but they like the rest of us can see through humbug. The incoming leader of the Country Liberal Government, Terry Mills, acknowledged that he gained power because of the change of thinking in Indigenous communities. He appears less arrogant than many of his CLP predecessors and could be in power for a very long time if he pays attention to the aspirations and ideas of Aborigines living in remote communities. Major challenges he faces are to control the red necks in his party, turn the hysteria of their (anti-Aboriginal) law and order campaigns into a process of community harmonisation and develop his sobering-up rehabilitation programs in ways which help problem drinkers increase their self-respect.
Written in 2012
Copyright © 2020 John Tomlinson