One of the striking features of the government’s intervention in Aboriginal communities, embodied in the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 was how rapidly the ostensible motive of intervening to tackle social problems, most notably child abuse, was swallowed by the ideological push to refashion property rights, taking over land owned by Aboriginal communities, with the presumed goal of turning it into individualised private property
A question that’s come up a couple of times and to which I haven’t seen an answer is how this squares with the Constitutional requirement for “just terms” in acquisition of land and other property, and also the statutory requirements of the Lands Acquisition Act (unless these have been overridden by the latest legislation). Is there anyone with a legal background who can comment on this?
Update Several commenters suggest that the focus on the land grab is a reflection of the left’s concern with process issues or political advantage, and a lack of concern about child abuse. So it was striking to read in yesterday’s Crikey a pice by Anna Lamboys saying that that with half of the government’s six-month time frame completed, there are now some figures on
(a) the number of arrests for child sex abuse laid as a result of the intervention
(b) the number of referrals to child protection authorities
Results are over the fold
To quote Crikey’s source on child health, the federal health check teams are only “skimming” the childrenâ€™s health profiles, with absolutely no guarantees by the Commonwealth of follow up, let alone a long term approach to primary health care in the bush.
“The teams are not picking up the levels of childhood illness we know already are out there.
“Itâ€™s a fraud â€“ you couldnâ€™t have designed a better system to sweep illness under the carpet. All the hoopla gives the public the impression that something real is being done.
“In fact by understating the real levels of chronic diseases on communities â€“ which anyone can see in the rates of hospitalisation and early death â€“ it lets the Commonwealth off the hook in terms of really increasing health resources for Aboriginal people.
“It wonâ€™t even lead to a band aid solution.”
Of course, this kind of intervention always produces claims and counterclaims. But the government’s decision to use an emergency in health and law enforcement as the pretext for radical changes in the entire structure of communities and property rights virtually guarantees the failure of the original mission, and that failure is now playing out.