Letter to PM Rudd following his attack on an Aboriginal member of the Legislative Assembly of the NT

Dear Mr Rudd,

I was appalled by your attack on Ms Marion Scrymgour for her speech opposing the Liberals invasion of the Aboriginal communities. She knows much more about what is happening in Aboriginal communities in the NT than you and the Malignant Broughs of this world.

The intervention in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory announced in June is an initiative in Aboriginal policy, albeit one that returns us to the 1960s (See Altman, J. and Hinkson, M. (eds.) [2007] Coercive reconciliation. Arena, North Carlton). Minister Brough has even re-established the old ration voucher system for groceries that I had to utilise when I worked as a social worker in the NT Welfare Branch.

In late June 2007 I wrote:

Howard’s failure to address the practical problems confronting Indigenous people is a disgrace. Over the last 11 years the Government he leads has not significantly improved the health, housing, sanitation, employment, nutrition and even access to clean drinking water confronting the majority of Indigenous Australians in most rural and remote areas.

To rub salt into the wound he has denigrated those who have requested he come to terms with the need for symbolic reconciliation. He has refused to say “sorry”. He has demonised those who have sought self-determination for Indigenous Australians.

Now, in the dying days of his government, he is again attempting to stir up a storm of moral panic about the mess that confronts many Indigenous communities in rural and remote areas of this continent. It’s time he admitted that his government’s policies and actions are a substantial part of the practical problems facing Indigenous Australians. (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=604

If you want to do things which will assist Indigenous people then you must do things with them not impose plans upon them.

Dr John Tomlinson


Written early in 2009 after Rudd refused to end the NT Intervention.