Aug 27, 2009

Jenny Macklin’s special brand of consultation

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has discovered an interesting kind of consultation involving fences, writes Chris Graham.

Chris Graham

Tracker managing editor

It appears that Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin is a recent convert to the fine art of consultation.

The Age reports this week, under the headline, “Macklin to consult camps over takeover”:

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5 thoughts on “Jenny Macklin’s special brand of consultation

  1. Caroline Armstrong

    It is an illusion surely to think that this should be attributed to Macklin only. This is the action of our Federal Govt, and Kevin Rudd is not sit quietly. He obviously agrees with this action. The ministers are not separate from, but are part of his government. Shame on the government.

  2. SBH

    Chris, there’s two bits I don’t get.

    One is, Macklin previous seemed to try to suggest that town camps were not aboriginal land in the same way that say Maningrida or Jilkminggan are. Is this so? Her suggestion seemed to be that whitefellas should not equate this with the other kinds of land theft that has gone on over the years.

    The second bit which I just can’t find a rational answer for, and forgive the apparent stupidity of this question, is why do you need to aquire the land to build or fix houses? My guess is that this has more to do with bourgeois sensibilities (hence all the chatter about rubish etc) than housing? Is there any rationale or commentary from herself?

    Caroline is of course spot on, Macklin only survives on Rudd’s good grace.

  3. RaymondChurch

    Perhaps Mr Rudd knows something, Ms Macklin is not the only Minister failing to deliver the goods, yet remains in favour. Surely the PM is not counting heads already? Has the red terror made a move? Has he heard a whisper? Time First Dog got nose to ground šŸ™‚

  4. Chris Graham

    SBH: Re your queries, good questions:

    1. The land in and around the town camps is a lease in perpetuity – ie just like any other lease granted to any other organisation in the territory, black or white. The difference is it’s not a 99-year lease, for example, it’s a lease that runs indefinitely (ie that’s the ‘in perpetuity part’). Other Aboriginal land is inalienable Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, so it can’t be bought or sold and must remain ‘Aboriginal’. But both land rights act land, and lease in perpetuity land, can be compulsorily acquired by the crown (indeed all land in Australia can be). So for the purposes of this issue, there is really no difference at all – Macklin is simply trying to confuse the issue by making out the town camp land ownership is a lesser form of title (which it very clearly is not). The test should be – ‘who owns the land?’ not ‘How do they own the land?’ And in this case, the answer is Aboriginal people own it, and government is seeking to forcibly take it.

    2. The government’s spin on this is that in order for taxpayers to have confidence in their ‘investment’ in Aboriginal housing, the government needs to own and control the land. Which is of course complete rubbish. There’s nothing other than political will stopping government from forming an agreement with a community to provide housing. There’s also no good reason to believe that if properly resourced, Aboriginal people can’t maintain their own housing, just like state and territory governments do. It’s a simple mission manager mentality.

  5. Sean

    I wonder to what extent this whole exercise is simply a land grab in order to obtain more land for mining, agriculture and other forms of Western exploitation, while avoiding paying hefty royalties to the indigenous peoples — it’s simply a winding back of recognition of native title by stealth. Who is behind this move then? Follow the trail of cash, as they say, right back to the elites.

    Meanwhile, the Federal govt can’t even provide affordable housing for key workers in urban spaces for Australia, shying clear of doing its own development and not wanting to interfere in profiteering in the market by the usual suspects — megadevelopers, landbankers, mum and dad speculative investors and landlords, the RE complex, and so on.

    We’ve recently seen a surprise handout of $6bn to developers to buy up the stock they otherwise can’t sell at today’s inflated prices for public housing, and to help keep them solvent a bit longer, and start exhausting the carefully acquired landbanks they paid too much for. This was not signalled prior to the election, nor for a long time afterwards, it required a desperate developer rentseeking approach to Canberra. The rest of the affordable housing initiatives out there are a disconnected grabbag of proposals across 3 tiers of government, none of which have borne any fruit yet.

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