NT intervention 'a big lie'

Jeff McMullen. Photo by Sabine Kacha.

Journalist Jeff McMullen used his speech at the September 8 Building Bridges forum at Parramatta Town Hall to condemn ongoing government support for the NT intervention.

He told the 50-strong forum: “The Northern Territory Intervention has been the most damaging policy inflicted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people since the policies of the Stolen Generation.

“The viciousness of the intervention, launched in June 2007 and stumbling on today, is that preposterous big lie which says that whole communities of Aboriginal people abuse their children, that Aboriginal parents en masse are incapable and irresponsible, that Aboriginal women cannot responsibly manage their meagre family budget, that Aboriginal men are all wife-beating, child molesting, drunken, apathetic relics of a past hunter-gatherer society that is finished.

“Let me say it again as I did in August 2007 when the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act was passed. This is a vicious, big lie.”

McMullen also talked about recent suggestions that Aboriginal Australia might be recognised in the constitution, but said there was a need for this recognition to go beyond words and into action.

He listed three events that revealed the level of racism in Australia: the compulsory acquisition of Aboriginal land for mining in WA; the ongoing NT intervention and the debate around the Wild Rivers legislation in Queensland.

He condemned the “Culture Warriors” who attacked Aboriginal culture while claiming they were concerned about the welfare of Aboriginal people. He slammed those who said this without showing empathy or evidence, which he said were essential for working together for the common good.

McMullen described his experience working as a journalist for 60 Minutes from 1984. He said he tried to raise Aboriginal health issues all through his career, but found little support from government.

[A full version of Jeff McMullen’s speech can be read at www.greenleft.org.au/node/45333 .]