‘Hunted like dogs’ by Intervention

Mrs Kunoth-Monks makes a point during the show, flanked by NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson (left) and moderator Tony Jones.

 

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Last night’s Q&A on the ABC was hugely useful for understanding the popular national debate about Aboriginal issues: Its perverse uselessness, to be precise.

 

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks (pictured) commented on the Federal Intervention, costing millions of dollars, in the wake of the chilling “Little Children are Sacred” report into abuse and neglect. Recalling the arrival of the army, police and bureaucrats in her home town of Utopia, she said governments need to have a “diplomatic relationship” with Aboriginal  people and “not to come out and hunt us like dogs”.

 

Moderator Tony Jones did not ask for an explanation nor elaboration.

 

It was a notable addition to Mrs Kunoth-Monks’ vocabulary: last week she accused Australia of “ethnic cleansing”.

 

Was the Darwin audience outraged? No way. It applauded. Profusely.

 

The tweets were ecstatic:-

 

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks was great on #qanda last night. So honoured to hear her speak at our women’s luncheon in Melb last week.

 

Aboriginal Australia should be allowed to control its own destiny. Protect Aboriginal homelands – simple. Stop the NT intervention.

 

It’s our national shame. Tragic irony in a town called Utopia. Paternalism – white folk thinking what’s best for black folk.

 

Close the Gap is failing because mainstream Australia is still consumed by selfishness and greed.

 

I’m sorry Rosalie.

 

Our country flag should be half mast after Rosalie’s story.

 

There is something utterly compelling about Rosalie. Love you, Rosie.

 

White Aussies need to do what we don’t do well … shut up and listen – and pay, that Tweeter could well have added, as the nation is spending $1.7b on Aboriginal housing.

 

Chief Minister Paul Henderson made a point of that during the show. Did he get applause? Not much.

 

Mrs Kunoth-Monks made no bones why she had invited Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, to Utopia: to get global publicity.

 

Being from India he would understand poverty, opined Mrs Kunoth-Monks.

 

Has she ever explored how many hundreds of millions of Indians would consider as an extravagant windfall the unearned handouts to  of welfare recipients in Australia, generation after generation? Nope.

 

Mr Shetty, one of a long list of instant experts on Aboriginal issues, obliged, and so did much of the media which can’t seem to get enough of this stuff.

 

Mr Henderson said his government provided a “fantastic school, middle and senior, as good as anywhere” to Utopia, but it’s no good for kids who don’t get sent to school, every day. It’s the water and the horse story. Mrs Kunoth-Monks made no comment.

 

According to the listing in the Federal Government’s MySchool Utopia has a population of 900. Mrs Kunoth-Monks’ estimate was 1200.

 

Just 95 children were enrolled in the Utopia school in 2010, operating in several communities.

 

That seems to be an extraordinarily low enrollment. And of that number, only 77% attended, that’s about 75 kids using a $4m school with a budget in 2009 of $3.3m. MySchool puts 92% of the kids into the bottom quarter of socio-economic advantage (ICSEA).

 

The NT Department of Education and Training figures (the school is listed as Arlparra High School) are worse. Enrolment benefited from the inclusion of outstation schools: 2009 – 107; 2010 – 158, 2011 – 121. But the attendance figures are 85.4%, 70.4% and 65.9%, respectively.

 

All this brings us to the elephant in the studio: Self-help. Any takers?

 

Mrs Kunoth-Monks said her people would like to get off the welfare cycle and stand on their own two feet, but she did not give any detail on what this would take.

 

So let’s repeat the questions we put to Mrs Kunoth-Monks on Monday.

 

Utopia has had a thriving art industry for a couple of decades.

 

Where did all that money go? Nearby TiTree is one of The Centre’s most prospective areas for horticulture. It had and still has major vineyards and other plantations.

 

There is plenty of water and cheap back-loading freight to Adelaide. How many of the unemployed in Ms Kunoth-Monks’ communities have worked or are working in these enterprises, constantly hampered by having to bring in labour from interstate, whilst being surrounded by hundreds on the dole?

 

How many plantations have been started by Ms Kunoth-Monks and the other local elders?

 

How many cattle are they running in this prime beef producing area? How many of the men are continuing the proud tradition of Aboriginal stockmen – as workers on surrounding cattle stations, or in their own enterprises, on the vast stretches of land given to them under landrights?

 

How come Aboriginal-owned cattle stations in Ms Kunoth-Monks’ neighborhood are leased out to white pastoralists?

 

Where is the citrus plantation that’s been on the drawing board at Utopia for the best part of two decades? Meanwhile Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said in Alice Springs this morning the Aboriginal people want “their kids go to school and get a decent education, having jobs for local people and tackling alcohol abuse are the priority issues for them in building a stronger future.

 

“People believe parents should be responsible for their children’s regular attendance at school.”

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

4 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Graham Goodman
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Erwin, I think your article is very fair comment.

    View Comment
  2. Hal Duell
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    “Ethnic cleansing”? “Hunted like dogs”?
    Is there a film experience in the offing here, because it sure does sound like Hollywood. Or Bollywood. Could Camp Dog Millionaire be coming soon to a cinema near you?

    View Comment
  3. Paul Parker
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

    The ABC promotes misunderstandings, indeed contributing to their becoming widespread public misunderstandings.
    Utopia is owned by a corporate entity.
    Commonwealth legislation required this.
    Rosie Kunoth-Monks is a prominent activist shareholder (aka “Traditional Owner”) in the Aboriginal Land Rights NT (ALR-NT) corporate entity which owns Utopia land.
    These landowning corporate entities, managers, and boards, are all accountable, perhaps legally responsible, for their gross mistreatment of their tenants.
    When are they called to account ?
    ABC certainly fails, or just refuses, to call them to account.
    The ABC misrepresents these issues to blame only government. Government shares responsibility for much of the confusion.
    Yet the ABC clearly understands corporate entities and ownerships elsewhere.
    Why does the ABC play so dumb for ALR(NT) communities? Is it an act of racism?
    Appears the ABC, our human rights commission, and amnesty, use the same style blinkers when looking for racism.
    Government actions and inactions make it responsible for so much ongoing damage done to so many families.
    Constantly we hear that ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
    Stop constant excusing, exempting, these corporate cowboys from their responsibilities. Then problems shall be addressed. Until then improvements shall remain hard to see.

    View Comment
  4. DN
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Well said Erwin – I think that it is high time some who make these outrageous statements are called to account.

    View Comment

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*