by Metiria Turei
The UN Human Rights Committee has condemned the 2007 Howard Government Northern Territorial Intervention. The intervention was a response to a report on child abuse in NT “Little Children are Sacred”.
There were protests all over Australia and in NZ condemning Howards intention to legislate for government management of the aboriginal land, much of it having potential for uranium mining, while refusing to invest in education, housing or long term medical care for the aboriginal communities. The Greens in Aussie and NZ played a part in raising the human rights abuse concerns of aboriginal communities as did Hone Harawira, who famously went ‘walkabout’ to talk to the aboriginal communities over there.
The Report from Human Rights Committee: Australia agrees that the intervention was discriminatory:
The State party should redesign NTER measures in direct consultation with the indigenous peoples concerned, in order to ensure that they are consistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1995 and the Covenant.
The original Howard response included legislation for five year government leases over aboriginal owned townships, introduction of police from interstate, alcohol bans, quarantining of social security payments and market based rents for community housing. At the time the most rational response came from the
Combined Aboriginal Organistions with facts about the real circumstances of these communities. For example that an
additional $60 million a year was needed over 10 years to provide teachers; 99% of all Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have no substance abuse service and 99% have no dental service. Only 54% have state funded primary care services and 47% have an Aboriginal primary health care service more than 50km distance away.
And that there is an estimated
shortfall of at least 4,000 homes, which the Northern Territory Government conservatively estimates would cost $1.4 billion to provide.” The construction of which would “provide jobs for many community members, resolve shortages of skilled construction workers in rural and remote areas.
And of course, with the 5 year leases over the territories, the government is now able to lease the land to miners, looking to profit from the uranium in the area.
Its great the UN has identified the gross discrimination of the intervention and that groups like Amnesty International continue to campaign on this. We have yet to see what Rudd will do about it though.