The Greens and indigenous issues in the 2007 election

The following is a couple of comments I posted (amongst others) on Greensblog in response to what has been the Greens only indigenous policy platform for this election, their indigenous health policy. See – “Australia’s Duty of Care”.  

The policy was released on the same day as the A.L.P.’s official campaign launch and failed to get coverage in the media.

I have criticised the Greens before for neglecting indigenous issues in their campaigns, this was my open letter to the Greens following the 2006 Qld. state election – here and now I have criticised them again.

Here are the comments –  

1/ 

I just got a Greens leaflet in my letterbox at home in Brisbane. It is titled “Greens commitments to peace, justice and human rights”.

Absolutely nothing about Aboriginal Australia.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Palm Island death in custody.

The leaflet says the Greens “will oppose the death penalty, torture and mistreatment” What about opposing these things in Australia?

It says “The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq is a disaster built on a lie” What about the illegal invasion and occupation of Australia?

This Terra Nullius consciousness allows the Greens to whinge about human rights abuses overseas while ignoring the reality before their white noses here in Australia.

2/

For those people who do not know me, I am not an Aboriginal person, my grandfathers country is Tipperary, Ireland.

I am not taking cheap shots at the Greens in support of some other party. I have indeed endorsed Andrew Bartlett in Queensland on my blog because he has done the hard yards in Aboriginal affairs, especially stolen wages and he has made indigenous affairs his prime policy for his election platform.

However much of my above critique of the health policy can be (and has been) equally aimed at the Democrats policy. Bartlett has a much more comprehensive policy platform than the Greens but it is all still just tinkering around the edges of something that needs a radical change of direction.

The Greens have played a brilliant role on climate change. They have provided real leadership in the nation. The Greens started on this issue over 10 years ago when it was a marginalised fruitloop idea and not taken seriously. But the Greens did not back off, they pushed and pushed and pushed. They had education campaigns – active outreach to the community. They consistently included carbon reduction as a key policy platform. Today the Greens can not only say “we told you so!” but have credibility to demand the next obvious step, enforcible reduction targets and the rejection of coal and nuclear, even though it is still unpopular and requires radical social change.

Only the Greens can play such a role on indigenous issues.

Even if the Democrats were to survive this election they couldn’t do it. They can only tinker with the status-quo as they did on the original native title legislation which, even in its original form, was a mechanism for extinguishing, not enforcing Aboriginal rights and interests.

The ALP must entrench the interests of both international capital and a racist and conservative population, they cannot head in the right direction.

ANTAR play an important education role – Their Close the Gap campaign has informed Green, Democrat and Labour health policy this election.

However the real task is self determination – for Aboriginal Australia to be calling the shots. Not just being consulted or giving input into policy frameworks but to be actively managing land, economy, public services and all aspects of Aboriginal life. This will require a change in land law, public service design and delivery and a whole range of social structural re-engineering.

The Greens need a policy for this re-engineering.

A Treaty, self determination, land rights, alternatives to prison, compensation, etc. These are all things that will not flow naturally out of the present indigenous debate. They will require leadership, a leadership that must be willing to, at first, adopt a radical, marginalised, controversial policy framework that is holistic, intellegent and in essence true.
Then push and push and push.

Just like what the Greens did on climate change.

If the Greens do not take this leadership on indigenous issues in parliament and in community education, like they did on climate change, where will this leadership come from?

The Aboriginal leadership – the family and tribal elders, the community councils, the intelectuals and statespeople are all in place ready to go right now but they have no resources to do anything. Where is the point of engagement with white Australia that can bring about the necessary changes?

If not the Greens, who? If not now, when?

It is simply a matter of priorities.

Too late now, but maybe a indigenous issues could be included amongst the core platform at the next federal election? I am bitterly dissapointed that it was not this time, again.

JT

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Filed under Aboriginal, australia, ecology, politics, reconciliation

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