Minister for Intervening in other people’s affairs,
There are some pretty incompetent ministers in the Gillard government but you are the stupidest. After reviewing your actions in relation to the NT Intervention since 2007 and your new policy of intervening in Indigenous communities announced on 14/11/11, the Deagon Institute has decided to award you the Institute’s prize for the Most Ridiculous Federal government minister for 2011.
The reasons the panel gave for selecting you is that you have gone on record as supporting evidenced based social policy yet refuse to listen to Indigenous people in the affected communities; you refused to listen to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Professor James Anaya; you refused to listen to the Rudd government committee set up to review the Intervention; you refuse to listen to many Australian Indigenous leaders and human rights advocates such as the retired chief judge of the family court, you refuse to listen to progressive academics who have worked with Indigenous Australians throughout their life and you refuse to listen to any Territorians or other Australians who understand that the Intervention is an invasion of Aboriginal land which denigrates and demoralises many Indigenous people in the affected communities. The panel noted in passing that “There is none so deaf as those who do not wish to hear.”
There are many reasons for the poor attendance of Aboriginal children in Territory schools the primary one is the frequent racist nature of the Commonwealth and Territory governments responses to Indigenous children and their parents, the failure of the education system to provide a culturally appropriate curriculum and school environment, the failure to develop culturally appropriate teaching styles and economic pressures on Indigenous families. Threatening to withhold social security payments from Indigenous families if their children don’t regularly attend school solves nothing. As Professor Robert Goodin points out you stand in the same relationship to the highway man who says “money or your life”; you are saying “modify your behaviour or starve”. Your attempts to bludgeon the Indigenous community into compliance with your white agenda has been the problem in this country for 223 years.
The panel also noted that despite some cosmetic changes and some mean and tricky legal wording the Intervention continues to be blatantly racist and like all other policies that promote racism your current Intervention policy continues to erode the humanity of those who impose such policies on others. Your extension of racist policies onto other low socio-economic groups and individuals (in order to persevere with your original racist action, in maintaining the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act, and continuing to impose particular penalties on Indigenous people) may allow you to proceed with unconscionable actions without those affected being able to invoke the protections of the Racial Discrimination Act but it does not make your actions honourable.
The Intervention was racist when Brough and Howard introduced it and it is still racist. The panel that awarded you the Institute’s prize for the Most Ridiculous Federal government minister for 2011 has suggested the Deagon Institute create a special award and has shortlisted you to be considered for the Most Racist Federal government minister for 2011.
I will advise you further on this second award early in December.
Copyright © 2021 John Tomlinson