Parallel universe

Saturday, 14 July 2007 

An article by Patrick Dodson in The Age highlights the muddled thinking coming from the land rights bureaucracy and why their strategy is doomed. He fails to see that by accepting the premise of Howard’s intervention that there is a child abuse epidemic in the NT (despite the lack of evidence), he invalidates the system he defends.

One reason why they may not be seeing this is because land rights activists are so used to using ‘victimhood’ politics to lobby for funding that child abuse is just being seen as an extension of it. But of course it isn’t. It goes too far and raises the whole question over individual responsibility. For example, he repeats a common claim that the existence of a child abuse epidemic should lead to more funding for housing, as though over-crowding was a sufficient excuse for adults in the house to allow this type of thing to happen.

This has led to a strange parallel debate between the land rights bureaucrats and the media who are taking the child abuse claims at face value. An example was an interview with one such activist on The 7.30 Report last week where, while she talked about long-term funding plans, the interviewer kept on asking why someone should not act immediately to protect children.

Fortunately for the land rights activists, the agenda of the government is not as clear as they claim. While the government wants to sweep away the land rights agenda, it has nothing to put in its place – and certainly not assimilation. To do so would require a normal level of basic amenities that Howard is clearly in no mood to provide as shown by the paltry costings he has earmarked for the venture.

Despite how the activists like to flatter themselves, this intervention is not about their agenda but the government using it to gain control of the election campaign. The script has not gone as Howard planned and he has failed to capitalise on it enough to use against Labor as shown by the cancelling of the special sitting. It did at least gain Howard some much-needed moral authority and stop Labor’s anti-politics strategy – for a while. But even that is now starting to return on the issue of grocery prices and now the PM’s aircraft as signalled by the return to the national media of Labor’s spokesperson on Public Accountability – the dreaded Penny Wong.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Saturday, 14 July 2007.

Filed under Tactics

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