There’s lots of news today, now that the Senate has taken up consideration of the Howard government’s legislation to turn back the clock of indigenous affairs fifty years or more. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to be reasonable and non-inflammatory is previous discussions of the Emergency, but tonight I’m tired and angry and ready to write something I could regret in the morning. So I’ll confine myself to passing on some of the information I found on the web today.
First of all, the Parliamentary Library (Parliament of Australia Department of Parliamentary Services) issued an extremely lucid summary of the legislation for the Senators’ benefit today. The Bills Digest lays out in very clear terms exactly what changes to the law would be wrought by the Families, Communities Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Bill 2007. If you want to know exactly what could go down this week, read this document.
Although it is clear that the purpose of the Bills Digest is to summarize the legislation, the Library has done an excellent job of pointing out the problems and inconsistencies inherent in the proposals as well as the potential legal and constitutional challenges this legislation raises. In the end, the authors of the Digest can only recommend that the Senators proceed with caution and deliberation, but I find it reassuring to hear someone in government say that.
Don’t miss Banduk Marika’s passionate editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Lack of respect will not help indigenous children.” Too many people have been entirely too accommodating in their responses to the inflammatory rhetoric of child abuse that is being deployed by Brough. Marika’s short essay is a welcome, measured statement of Yolngu concerns that ought to be listened to.
And finally, if you believe that writing to politicians might make a difference, the Australian Center for Democracy and Justice makes it easy for you. Visit their website for links to email forms that can deliver the message to Howard, Brough, Rudd and more. It’s quick and easy, and you can find lots of good links to further opportunities for political action. You don’t even have to be Australian to participate! Also, have a look at their blog, Darkness at Noon. The latest post lets Kevin Rudd have his say: you judge how much rope he’s paying out here. I hope it’s not enough to hang himself.