Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink was at an Amnesty International debate at Charles Darwin University on June 15, defending the position that “tough love” was necessary to reduce youth crime in the NT. As he was speaking, a 16-year-old was successfully breaking out of the Don Dale youth detention centre. According to an ABC News report, this was the eleventh break-out from the decrepit detention centre since August last year — showing that “tough love” is not working.
Legal experts have criticised new child protection laws pushed through Northern Territory parliament on February 18 for not including safeguards to protect Aboriginal culture and risking a repeat of the damage done to the Stolen Generations. The new legislation allows children who are removed from their parents by the Department of Children and Families to be placed on Permanent Care Orders, which would mean that their carers would have control over most decisions to do with the child, free from judicial or DCF review.
The defection by three Aboriginal members of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the Palmer United Party (PUP) has the potential to topple the Country Liberal Party government. The three rebel MLAs — Larisa Lee, Alison Anderson and Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu — left the CLP on March 27, saying it was failing to deliver outcomes for Aboriginal people in the NT. The three were part of the “bush bloc” that brought the CLP to power in the 2012 election, taking the necessary seats from the incumbent ALP to form government.
“You don't want a wimp running border protection,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on February 21. “You want someone who is strong, who is decent, and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent.” Abbott was defending immigration minister Scott Morrison for his actions and comments after a young asylum seeker was killed in the Manus Island detention centre on February 16.
The Northern Territory government released the draft report of the independent Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory on February 7. The government’s website says the review aimed to “get an informed understanding of the impact of current programs and initiatives”. If the report’s recommendations are indicative of government intent, education for remote Aboriginal children in the NT looks set to suffer more blows.
Hundreds of residents rallied on January 26 in response to a proposal to build a large residential island between 200 metres and one kilometre off Nightcliff Beach. The proposal, dubbed “Nightcliff Island”, was revealed in Northern Territory parliament in June last year. Approval has only been given for exploration at this point but environmentalists are concerned about the impact on fauna-rich mangroves in the area.
The company responsible for running many of Australia’s refugee detention centres, Serco, has been accused of ordering asylum seekers not to speak to the media as the federal government moves to deport more asylum seekers to their country of origin. Asylum seekers in the Darwin Airport Lodge (DAL) detention centre have been subject to intimidation and several have been moved to Christmas Island after speaking to the media.
One of the more disturbing images on federal election night was that of Coalition MP-elect Barnaby Joyce welcoming mining magnate Gina Rinehart as the special guest to his election party. Few things could reveal more clearly the strong connection between corporate power and government under Coalition rule. It is worth noting some of the policies that Rinehart is promoting for the Northern Territory because, let’s face it, they are likely to happen. One of her big ideas, which Kevin Rudd adopted before his election defeat, is the creation of a northern Australia tax haven.
Real Talk: Aboriginal Rappers Talk About Their Music & Country By Mat Ward 100 pages Download for free Australian hip-hop pioneer Urthboy told The Music Network last year: “I was asked to write about the state of hip-hop in Australia. I’d prefer to shine a light on what may be the future of it: Indigenous Hip-Hop. “Indigenous artists carry a profoundly engrossing and intriguing story for international audiences, yet it’s barely understood by many Australians.”