Malcolm Fraser implemented Self-Government for the NT in 1978 as, his words, “an experiment” in the Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia.
This experiment was done without the slightest preliminary study of social and environmental impacts, nor any examination of the moral and ethical considerations in relation to First Peoples.
The culturally one-sided form of government was imposed on First Peoples by the Commonwealth Governmemt without the freely given consent of First Peoples. There was no plebiscite regarding this crucial aspect of self-determination.
The Paul Everingham CLP government, from 1978 on, wasted no time in getting stuck in to “black-bashing”. That set the “white master” tone for the last 4 decades, notwithstanding ALP governments and a number of indigenous people occupying government positions within the non-indigenous power structure.
The time to take a long hard look at the impacts of this experiment on the well-being of First Peoples, and to ask them what needs to be done to improve their well-being, was some decades ago.
I feel we have passed the stage of calling for an inquiry into Fraser’s experiment. It is a neo-colonial arrangement which, if it belongs anywhere, belongs in the past.
Of course, no such real reform action has ever been contemplated by any Australian Government. I doubt if it ever will – without a real peoples movement forcing them to catch up with life’s realities.
New Peoples Movement
We need to design, in a genuine spirit of cultural partnership with First Peoples, a new model of governance for the well-being for the whole of life in the NT.
This peoples movement for change will not originate with the Commonwealth Government, nor the Northern Territory Government. Nor can those on the payroll of the state act as spokespeople or leaders of a peoples movement. They speak a familiar master narrative all to well.
This new peoples movement starts with us and can only be maintained by us (despite the apparent odds being stacked against us).
New forms of representation,co-existing sovereignty, two-laws, recognition of indigenous law, proper management of country … there is a long backlog of issues which a lazy political system, grown fat and seeking to buy more time for its outmoded ways, consigned to the “too hard” basket.
New – and leaner – times are upon us.
So, my question is “What next?” in this 21st century real life challenge?
Bruce (Japaljari) Reyburn