Intervention Correction

I have got word that amendments to the Northern Territory intervention laws are already being proposed, with some changes likely to appear when the Senate sits from today. The provisions regarding limits on the amounts of alcohol able to be purchased in prescribed areas are proving to be very complex – measuring the total alcohol content of the whole purchase when someone buys a range of different beverages was always going to be messy. Whilst any improvement in the practical workability of the laws in this area are probably to be welcomed, it is impossible not to make the point that making amendments to the law less than a month after it was first passed is a pretty clear sign that they were rushed through far too quickly and without adequate scrutiny in the first place.

It is also hard to escape the conclusion that the government is likely to be acting to make this aspect of the new laws more workable not because it is inconveniencing Aboriginal people, but because it makes things too hard for retailers and puts them at risk of committing a criminal offence inadvertently. No doubt the Senate will be told these new amendments also need to be rushed through and there’s no time to consult on them either.

These processes for making laws are getting more farcical by the day. Time for an election I think.

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12 Comments

  1. Andrew Bartlett:
    Best of luck sorting out all the unholy mess regarding grog. And when that is attended to, there are all the other new problems caused by the “Intervention” to be sorted out.

    Too late though …. this greed-driven “Intervention” has happened. Nobody can now make it unhappen.

    The best you can ever hope for now is that the foreign intervention which will inevitably result from the Howard regime’s “Intervention” [and probably left for a Rudd government to handle] will be under United Nations control.

    That is the least destructive scenario. All other scenarios are far worse – and include the Howard regime launching, by accident and by folly, an incipient civil war.

    Given that Minister Alexander Downer has such a wealth of experience in international affairs and that Minister Mal Brough was an experienced soldier, well-trained in strategy …. why the hell did they allow such a colossal blunder to happen?????

  2. I’m glad that the issue is at least being revisited although I don’t expect the legislation to be amended before the election. In the current poll climate it would be embarrassing for Brough and Howard to have to back-pedal (yet again).

    Best outcome possible would see the senate held by the Greens, Democrats and independents, who can force an increasingly imminent Rudd government to see reason and amend, if not scrap, a lot of this legislation.

    Beginning with CDEP.

  3. Jangari:
    The amending legislation will probably be made public today, but as far as I am aware, it will just be about the grog purchasing limits (driven by concern from Woolies and other retailers I suspect). The government is wanting to get the amendments through this week.

    The retailers are right to be concerned about the current unworkability of the measures of course, but it is typical that the concerns of retailers, and before them fishers, are listened to, but the concerns of Aboriginal people and even the police and health workers, are ignored.

    I agree the CDEP impacts are very worrying. This is actually done directly through government funding, not through legislative amendment, so its harder for the Senate to do something directly about this. However, if there was a balance of power situation, there would be propsect of some leverage being able to be used in this area.

  4. well it did not get the result that was expected so now mabe they think by watering it down they mite be perseved to be caring and hopefuly get a few more votes.
    but the reallity is that it was a political stunt inflicted on the part of our community that needs support more than most.
    its gowing to take years to sort out the mess and cost a lot of money that could be used in a better way helping the ppl who need it most .

  5. These amendments just underline the fact that the only really effective way forward on the Alcohol problems in Aboriginal communities is lots of input and action from the local people concerned. I’ve experienced how effective this can be in Homeland Centres in Arnhem Land, both in “Dry Communities” and “Rationed Communities”. Sure, there is always a little bit of sly cheating, but that gets constantly reined in by the community consensus – a very very powerful part of the “Yolngu Rom” = Aboriginal Law.

  6. This morning a spokesperson from NAPCAN ( concerned with child abuse and neglect)in the NT was interviewed on the ABC on Radio National’s program LIFE MATTERS. She was mainly talking about successful campaigns involving community people themselves and educating them about porography and the harm that can be done but its proliferation around young kids. Reading between the lines, she was also affirming that the successful programs she was reporting on were successful because they involved the people on the ground, and had harnessed their concerns, were done in their way, etc. In other words, to a large degree “self-determination”, i.e. when people realised they could do something about a problem and could do it in their own way, with outside support for developing resources and so on, they themselves can keep it going and be the appropriate person to spot problems before they start.

    Another things worthy of note that she said was that what look like strange strategies can work well, becuase they are driven from what the people need, e.g. kids’ play equipment in the visiting areas in jails. This means that kids are happy and interacting with their parents or other family members while taking part in jail visits, a very important part of keeping families intact and supportive for the kids.

    What a pity this approach was not adopted by the Australian Government … although she said there has been some liaison with the Intervention Mob, and assistance in working out a useful approach rather than handing out leaflets, which, as she said, for obvious reasons, are not so very helpful.
    It would be worth listening to her … http://www.abc.net.au/rn/lifematters/stories/2007/2030094.htm

  7. What do amendments really mean. To me they mean that the silly little beauracrats and government advisors sitting in our national capital are so far from the reality on the ground that they put these ridiculous policies and legislations in place and don’t think out the implications. We’ve seen it all before. Brough and Howard get in touch with reality. It’s shameful how they can always find someone to echo their concerns from within the Indigenous community and call it popular opinion. Political bullying at its best.

  8. Granddad says alcoholics will simply trade their quota of food with others, in return for their quota of alcohol.

    If there’s not enought grog to do that, perhaps a “black market” will spring up.

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