ABC presenter Julia Christensen: The Federal Government has confirmed that it will continue funding a federal taskforce that’s been investigating allegations of child sex abuse in the Northern Territory for the last few years. The commission’s work was due to end because the government said it was too expensive, they couldn’t afford it. But now Prime Minister Rudd and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin have stepped in to overturn the decision which will be welcome news, because there was a lot of criticism earlier this week that the taskforce, which is part of the Australian Crime Commission, was being disbanded. Kim Hill is the CEO of the Northern Land Council.
Kim Hill good morning.
Kim Hill: Good morning Julia and good morning listeners.
Christensen: You’re not so pleased with this news, why not?
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Hill: No, put things into perspective Julia. I mean my response in regards to the comments made by Professor Langdon and Mr Warren Mundine, who don’t live or have any cultural affiliations to the Northern Territory. I’m just disappointed to see that indigenous leaders perpetrating the myth that indigenous people are overwhelmingly criminals in nature. And it’s not true. And if these people do believe that there are child abusers in their communities well bring that to the attention of the police.
Christensen: What’s your feeling about the taskforce, do you not support it?
Hill: No look the taskforce, and my understanding in regards to trying to capture or get evidence to prosecute child abusers is very difficult, in nature, because it’s difficult for the families and it’s difficult no doubt for the victim’s family to provide that evidence for courts to get prosecutions or police to get prosecutions. So it’s a sensitive issue we’re dealing with. And it’s not a question about the Australian Crime Commission and what they’re doing; I think police officers are doing a fantastic job out there. The issue is for us, is the enforcement issues.
Christensen: Well Warren Mundine has said that he’s only interested in the safety of children and if that makes him a racist then he’s happy to be a racist. Are those the sorts of comments you’re talking about?
Hill: No, you know, that’s Warren and if Warren’s got problems with his aboriginality that’s his problem.
Christensen: What do you mean?
Hill: Well no-one’s calling him a racist are they?
Christensen: Well you’re suggesting that he has no right to speak.
Hill: Look again, he’s a self promoted aboriginal leader. People have said to politicians, particularly down south, this gentleman and others do not speak for aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.
Christensen: Do we need this bickering, I mean shouldn’t we just be getting down to the issue of child abuse and throwing as many resources as we can at it instead of bickering as to who is and who isn’t an Aboriginal leader and who can speak?
Hill: No look again, in my press release yesterday, and it hasn’t been reported, that it’s particularly disappointing that the real opportunities to overcome indigenous disadvantage are being missed by some commentators. And I do want to, you know, I do care for aboriginal women, they are one of the most beautiful women in the world, our children are beautiful and we need to protect our children. However it’s disappointing that people want to try keep their status within society, and you know, trying to represent the most disadvantaged group in this country, our leaders in the Northern Territory are well equipped to deal with that.
Christensen: Well Sue Gordon spoke out when it was reported that the Crime Commission Taskforce was being dropped, she said she wanted it to stay. Does she have a right to speak Kim Hill?
Hill: Look at the end of the day in regards to the Australian Crime Commission, my understanding is that their funding was coming to an end. Okay, people want to see enforcement issues, particularly in areas of child abuse, the whole issue of children being neglected. I support a number of initiatives under the intervention, no doubt the cleaning up of rubbish around the communities, the car bodies which are littered throughout our communities, the nutrition program, the housing program, there are some really good initiatives under the intervention. However, I go back to the point that, you know, it’s disappointing to see that indigenous leaders perpetrating that the myths of indigenous people particularly here in the Northern Territory are overwhelmingly criminals in nature.