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National Sorry Day, the fortieth anniversary since the Referendum, and here's the Government's response. Today the Prime Minister implied that "the right to live on remote communal land and to speak an indigenous language" keeps Indigenous people poor. But there is no causal relation between speaking an Indigenous language and living in poverty. In country towns across Australia many Indigenous people live on welfare and speak English.

And on Saturday, Sorry Day, I read that the Govenment is offering the 70 traditional owners of Ngapa (Water) country on Muckaty Station (NT) about $60,000 a year for the next two hundred years to experiment with storing nuclear waste on their land. Or alternatively, $171,000 today to each Ngapa clan member. That's before tax, lawyers and accountants' fees and administrative costs. And traditional owners (all family) of neighbouring country have said that they don't want the future value of their land decreased by nearness to a nuclear dump.

James Packer owns the next-door station, Newcastle Waters. I wonder if he was offered $12 million for a dump. Maybe the price was too low for him. Or maybe the Government didn't ask him because he doesn't need the money, whereas the Muckaty people do. It fits with the Government's idea of social planning - give people handouts like baby bonuses instead of ESL teachers or childcare places. Then they can buy things and fresh food, but still won't have a well-resourced high school with extra literacy and ESL support, and a dialysis unit in Elliott. [The capital costs and running costs for a couple of years would cost more than $12 million].

Pray that the Government has done a good thing - that the families can work it out amicably, and that the money can be used to give their children a better future.

Comments

It seems as if the government is poised to make living in a remote area a crime. Either that or they want to systematically take over the control of these areas -- and push Aboriginal people out--so they won't seem like the sore on the rest of the nation.

Along with Howard, Brough compared urban and remote areas (and presumably urban vs. remote living Aboriginal people):
"Then there is the other side of the coin and those in the remote communities and what's commonly known as the long grass, in other words, the fringes of town."

"And there, there has been not just no progress, but in some cases we've gone backwards."

It's a bit disingenuous to say there has been no progress. Aboriginal organizations have changed the political and economic landscape of many remote areas. Of course that doesn't mean "success," but it's a cop out to lump all of the problems indigenous communities face in remote areas into one bag marked "failure."

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