Sep 032007

Reading through this article on Noel Pearson’s opinion of political imbalance on the ‘welfare state’ poses some interesting questions.

Pearson flatly decries the welfare state as being the sole cause for the downfall of his people and culture. Frankly, while I agree with his postulation that individual responsibility lies at the core of the indigenous issue, I can’t believe that he would support a dismantling of welfare support. All well and good to climb into bed with conservatism, in the hope that some tough love will resolve the problems which are slowly destroying aboriginal society and culture. However, when you climb into bed with an ideology headed up and exercised by a man who openly states that unless indigenous Australia merges with mainstream Australian society, it has no future, how can you hope to sustain a culture?
I’m in total agreement with Pearson that simply doling out money without controls or guidance is not the solution, but neither is removing all means of self-determination, as the Howard government has done in the Northern Territory. No permit system, forced surrender of land rights and suppression of culture is not the way to encourage membership of mainstream Australian society. More pointedly, it’s a recipe for ensuring a form of cultural genecide. Ideologies, especially political ideologies are not a valid means of assessing which policies are, or have been, right and which are or were wrong. Embracing conservatism now simply can’t be put forth as the ultimate panacea, especially when one considers that conservatism has clearly ignored contentious indigenous issues for the past 11 years. We shouldn’t forget that Conservatism dismantled ATSIC, virtually casting indigenous self-determination to the winds. Certainly, when viewed from this angle, Pearson’s laying of blame at the feet of left-socialist ideologies is plainly flawed.
All that said, Pearson’s plan of attack, his postulation that creating an understanding of individual responsibility and the necessity for the individual to embrace ownership of their own existence and their impact on those around them, is the only way forward for not just indigenous Australia, but for all Australians, be they black, white or brindle. That, is mainstream Australia. Not the mainstream which John Howard speaks of, which is simply a surrender of Aboriginal Australia to the ways and wiles of white Australia, removing and solving forever the problematic issues of Aboriginal culture, as conservatism see them.

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