I’m in the Northern Territory throughout this week, meeting with as many groups as I can to get a sense of the views about the federal government’s intervention in the Territory. I’ll write some more at the end of the week, but as I noted recently, it is now more than a month since the intervention into Aboriginal communities was announced, so I am interested in what actions have occurred on the ground to implement the ‘national emergency’ that was declared at that time, and what engagement and consultation there has been with the people and groups who will deal with and in some cases carry out the long-term implementation.
I am told that legislation relating to the intervention will be tabled on the first day Parliament resumes, on Tuesday of next week. I don’t have any idea what will be in the legislation or what issues relating to child abuse it will seek to address – whether it will deal with welfare payments, alcohol, pornography, or some other matter. It is also possible that it will have nothing at all to do with addressing child abuse and improving social order, and simply deal with the unrelated issue of weakening Aboriginal land rights and abolishing the ability for Aboriginal communities to control who comes onto their land.
The Senate will sit for two weeks, followed by a three week break which will include the APEC summit, before the Senate resumes again. Hopefully the government will not prevent a Senate Committee from having some opportunity to examine and consult the community about the details and consequences of whatever is in the legislation, rather than try to railroad it through under the pretext of needing it for the ’emergency’. No one in Darwin who I met with was aware of what might be in the legislation, but I’m in Alice Springs from now until Friday, so perhaps I’ll get a different picture there.