A Grave Mistake – Debate on NT Intervention laws draws to a close

I’m writing this from the Senate chamber, where debate is drawing to a close on the package of laws relating to the Northern Territory intervention (although the laws also include some other matters which affect people outside the Territory). It will pause at midnight tonight, and we’ll resume tomorrow morning (Friday) to conclude the debate.

The government has refused to consider any amendments. Noel Pearson, normally seen as a big supporter of the government’s moves in the Territory wrote on the weekend that “it will be a grave mistake for the federal government to be as intransigent to amendments to its bill as those who have opposed the intervention entirely.” Unfortunately, their intransigence throughout the process has been total.

Following are a few quotes from the government Minister in the Senate debate on the Northern Territory intervention measures, demonstrating what the government’s attitude now is to the Little Children are Sacred report.

“I say though that, whilst the findings of the report were very distressing and compelling, the recommendations contained in that report were just proposing more of the same.”

” In terms of the recommendations of the Little children are sacred report, frankly, I think that most people who have had much to do with this debate and those who have considered both the shocking content of the report and the recommendations could not help but be underwhelmed, Senator. I do not think that you should be anything but disappointed.”

“In terms of the report, if you look at this whole suite of recommendations I think you will see that they are behind us.”

UPDATE (17/8): The final vote on the Bills happened just before 12:30pm. I supported the 2 Bills appropriating funds, but opposed the 3 substantive Bills.

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  1. Senator Andrew Bartlett:
    This well-meaning but bungled “intervention” will ineviably cause far greater interventions.

    By allowing these bills to become law, your Parliament will be sending open invitations for the whole world to intervene directly in Australia’s internal affairs and issuing open licences for all-and-sundry to carve up the Commonwealth of Australia.

    By allowing these bills to become law, foreign intervention will become inevitable …. on the pretext of protecting Australian Aborigines from the resurgent evil racist White Australia regime …. but with the real aim of each country getting control of as much of Australia’s abundant resources as rival countries will allow.

    Your fellow Senators can prevent this tragedy happening …. all it will take is for each of them to put the integrity of the Commonwealth Of Australia above blind obedience to a current party boss and to party whips. That’s all. No heroics needed; just a bit of moral courage and firmness.

    Thank you, Senator Bartlett, for your own efforts to help our Aborginal fellow citizens and for what you have done to prevent a catastrophe overwhelming Australia.

    Graham Bell
    [an ordinary ex-Digger]

  2. is there a debate?

    i thought the laboral party just issued directives…

    still, i suppose it’s pleasant to preserve these quaint medieval customs, the songs, the dances,the photo opportunities for tourists. and of course, watching oz school children can be told this is ‘democracy’, being carried out on behalf of their elders. so the charade goes on, the pollies of every party take their places, sing their songs, and settle national policy in secret.

  3. Thank you, and Senators Allison, Brown, Crossin, Evans, Milne, Siewert and Stephens, for the many hours you have put in to trying to get the Government to see reason about its intervention. It is a tragedy that the way they are going about it will doom the intervention to a bitter failure – but the bitterness will be felt by the Aborigines, far more than by the politicians who vote for it.

  4. It is the most defammatory thing possible to hear people from the major parties accuse Senator Bartlett and his colleagues of not caring simply because they wanted to debate the legislation properly. Like so many other issues, you and your colleagues were talking about this when it wasn’t fashionable. if anyone delayed intervention, it was the major parties when they stopped listening to you all those years ago.

  5. Andrew Bartlett:

    The tragedy has begun.

    It is a tragedy for ALL Australians …. nothing now can prevent the inevitable.

    You and your fellow Senators who stood against this dangerous blunder on Friday 17th August 2007 can hold your heads high.

    Thank you for showing real care for our Aboriginal fellow citizens.

  6. All Aboriginal persons in the Northern Territory need now Industrial type Safety Helmets.Christian manna is about to fall Brough style.What you cannot duck..you have to wear.We are all awaiting the symbolic truth that isnt attached to reality to guide the manna down.Take heart,in the fact, no sense of humour will help you,levity has been replaced on Earth by the brands of Christianity from the wide body of John Howard s Church.You will see the Governmental Billy Graham… Geo W.Bush landing in other parts of Australia soon, our Australian goannas cannot be challenged by his presence..they are Johnny come latelies.

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  9. Thanks Senator Bartlett for your dissenting opinion inside the report. You were spot on about the “verballing” of those who advocated consultation and avoiding dangerous preciptous reactions

    I thought the majority parts of the report (Key Issuess and Committee View) disgusting in that they did not mention the CONTENTS of the “Little Children Are Sacred Report” (one had a passing reference inside a quote from a submission, and the other merely noted it as the instigator of the response), and thought they misrepresented the majority of submissions. Yes, the overwhelming majority of the submissions did “support the intent” of the bills, but then to say “some were strongly supportive of the package itself” rather than “most thought the package was a crock and criticized the bills for doing nothing in line with the Anderson-Wild report”.

    I’ve never seen such strong opinion evidenced by more than 150 submissions in under 24 hours, and to misrepresent the overwhelming thrust of such strong opinion (by highlighting the few supporting the bills rather than the many against) is pretty close to lying.

  10. I think it was Bob Brown (forgive me if not) who said that it was important that it be in the Hansard of hte Senate that the government were warned, tha we as a nation did know, or shoudl have known, what was happening. Will we be asked by our children or grandchildren how we could have let this happen, as the “good Germans” were?

    A very sad day … my only hope is that Rudd intends to reverse it … but I don’t know why Labor could not have been ready – being caught flat-footed on Tampa I can understand slightly, but for God’s sake how many more voices did they need to have telling them that there are serious problems in SOME aboriginal communities and so plan ahead to have a decent policy – well advised, well consulted upon etc. It says to me that they don’t care.

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