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Concern has been expressed about the re-posting of the Randalls' statement about Mutitjulu which was sent to me for circulation. So I've removed it. You can read it here at Crikey, and it is commented on in The Age. See also this article in the Brisbane Times, in which Donald Fraser, a community member, is quoted:

"We look up to the Government to help us.Now the Government has become a camel, and kicked us out."


Addition: Noel Pearson's impassioned pleas have received, rightly so, much airtime. Go here for an opposing but equally impassioned response from an Indigenous person - Jennifer Martiniello's plea provides yet more reason for the Federal government to spell out precisely what it intends to do to the Indigenous communities it is taking over.

The statement by the Randalls in no way constitutes "a statement from Mutitjulu community". It is simply a statement by two individuals who have lived and worked there for some of the time over the last few years, are distantly related to some of the native title holders, and have views that are sometimes shared by some others at Mutitjulu. They are not elected representatives of the community. Their statement is replete with typical exaggeration: the Administrator was appointed a bit over one year ago, not two. The health service, under Mr Randall's management, had been without a permanent doctor for some years already when the Administrator was appointed, and this was probably one of the reasons that the Commonwealth moved on the situation. Credible accounts say that the health service has been working far better than it was prior to the Administrator being appointed. There has been a staff turnover, but this itself seems to have contributed strongly to the improvements. The 5 star hotel is not permitted to sell takeaway alcohol to non-guests. People from the community have been detoxing at DASA in Alice. The grog runners to date all appear to have been community residents, so the permit system is hardly part of the solution in this case. A Randall family franchise for a coffee cart is hardly the key to the community's economic future. The dialysis proposal is hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up and a similar amount to maintain and run each year, and it is an indication of poor faith for the issue to be characterised in this extremely simplistic way. How it can be imagined that any jobs for locals would be created from this dialysis project eludes me. Is one of the unemployed a specialist dialysis nurse? To say that the clinic is 'effectively closed' is misleading at best, but probably constitutes what is called an old-fashioned lie, and I am reliably informed that the claim about the STIs not being mainly local is plain wrong. The claim that there is "no money, no help, no doctor and no government support" could be politely termed bullshit. I could go on and on, but I will spare you. How do people get away with this crap?

Thanks for the careful commentary. Mal Brough mentioned some of this on the 7.30 Report last night. It does show the need for stronger local government (ie clarity about who can speak for the community), and for much greater accountability of the local government (ie not letting people get away with lies).

Should have clarified that it was not a statement from the "community" but from members of. Thanks for your comments "one who knows". I feel a bit uncomfortable about being associated with this statement which I forwarded in response to people asking me "What are people in communities saying?" as this was the only statement I had come across at the time.

One Who Knows?

Crikey, are we supposed to simply believe you as well? At least the letter from the Randalls had their name on it.

Who are you and why/how do your know? Make it credible and I'd be happy to give your comments some time.

David, I agree that anonymity detracts from the authority one can accord to a comment or post. But there are many people who cannot express their views publicly for good reasons. And yet these views may be important. So, 'OTK' - no need to respond to the question in David's comment. We want comments that contribute to the discussion, regardless of whether they have named or anonymous authors.

Ok Jane, I can accept that anonymity is sometimes necessary to avoid persecution - 'OWK' i'm sorry you're in that position.

The problem though, is that OWK's comments are framed in a divisive and dismissive manner, and I don't believe they contribute productively to the discussion.

To try and contribute to the discussion myself, I think the Randall's comments and views are relevant and important. Perhaps they are not expressed well and contain contentious points - but their experience as members of the community is of vital importance.

Perhaps the coffee cart is a good start. Getting a dialysis machine could provide training opportunities that could lead to employment. Removing alcohol from the area makes it less accessible (selling to guests only is not a failsafe method).

Sure, the Randalls may not be spokespeople for the entire community, but they're part of the community and deserve to have a voice as well.

We need to hear from as many different voices as possible, as every community is different, and there are differences of opinion within every community. Perhaps the cacophony of voices will penetrate Parliament house, so that they realise there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.

I hope that happens. Thanks for all your work Jane and for keeping this blog.

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