The sober analysis of Rod Cameron threw a bucket of cold water over the enthusiasm, the tumescence that is dripping from pre-election analyses.

ANOP pollster Cameron described Monday’s poll which had Labor’s two-party preferred vote rising by 4 percentage points in two weeks as an event that, “defied reality”.

What about massive opposition to APEC? By 8:00am yesterday, government buses heading into the city were at a standstill for the entire length of the Harbour Bridge, and beyond. Here was a sight never seen before in Sydney; gridlock on the Harbour Bridge. There would be plenty of Kath and Kim “Bloody Howard” expletives uttered by those commuters.

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But what’s with the demonstrators? If you frame your shot right you can fill a TV screen (just) with what is seen to be “large protesting crowds” but dozens (150 max) do not make for an Antipodean version of the storming of the Bastille. A reality check is in order here as well.

Away from and before APEC, in Melbourne over the weekend, the Bennelong Society held its annual conference. The press didn’t cover it. Concerned with Aboriginal policies this year’s conference was called “The Task Ahead”. One speaker, John Reeves QC, a member of the Federal Government’s Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce addressed the connection between the ideologically charged word “intervention” and getting decent fairly priced food for remote communities. He said this:

Of course the community stores in the past have been plagued by problems with local traditional owners wanting kickbacks, for example, from the store. That’s led to an increase in prices in the stores, it’s also meant that if people don’t toe the line and pay the kickbacks then their permit is withdrawn.

Louis Nowra, in accepting the Bennelong Award at the conference, said it would take 30 years to get it right. And the Reverend Doctor Steve Etherington said it would be 15 to 20 years before a work-ready generation is even possible.

That means decades of bipartisan support for “intervention”. To deny this is to defy reality.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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