Protesters targeted the offices of federal minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin on January 11. They were angry about federal Labor’s cut to sole-parent incomes and refusal to raise the Newstart Allowance. Sole parent Rose Ljubicic initiated the protest. She organised another protest on December 24 last year, sparked by receiving a government letter telling sole parents to cut up their pension cards on December 31. Macklin told journalists on January 1 that she could live on the Newstart Allowance.
In the early hours of June 29, the Australian Senate passed legislation that is expected to entrench assimilation, disadvantage and racism for another decade in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal leaders across the NT declared a period of mourning after the new laws – called Stronger Futures – were passed as they reel from the decision, take stock and plan to up the ante in their fight against the latest neoliberal assault on their communities.
Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin has dismissed the findings of a Menzies School of Health Research report that found “income management” has failed to improve the health and wellbeing of the people it targets. Income management was implemented by the then Coalition government in August 2007 on 73 targeted remote Aboriginal communities as part of the Northern Territory intervention. Under the scheme, 50% of welfare recipients’ income is replaced with a Basics Card, which can be used to only buy food, clothing and medical supplies, and only in certain stores.