News & Current Affairs
02 April 2015
by Michael Taylor
Imagine the uproar if the government shut down the water supply to a ‘white’ community
How quickly things change.
In the 1990s the government’s National Homelands Policy encouraged Indigenous Australians to return to their traditional lands where they could live in an environment that provided them with their social and spiritual needs. All that the government expected was that they had secure tenure over this land, that this homeland was their principal place of residence, that support from resource agencies was available, and most important, that the homeland had a permanent supply of water.
Without water there was no funding. Nobody can live without water.
Fast forward to 2015. Western Australian premier Colin Barnett has announced plans to shut down up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities because they are ‘unviable’. Canberra has backed this plan, offering a $90 million enticement to ‘to aid the transition’ in ‘handing over responsibility for infrastructure and municipal services in these areas’.
They were viable in the 1990s, but apparently not so now. The argument is that a number of communities have less than ten residents and shouldn’t be supported. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the communities being small. People were ‘enticed’ to the community under the National Homelands Policy where they could live on the traditional lands that provided them with their social and spiritual needs, which is a far cry from Tony Abbott’s farcical and troublesome claim that it was all about ‘lifestyle choices‘.
These attacks on remote Indigenous communities from both Colin Barnett and Tony Abbott have been widely reported in our media. Sadly, the actions of the government in the way they are going about their business in shutting down these communities hasn’t attracted a whimper.
A resident of one community – Coonana – contacted me with the disturbing news that the government has cut off the water to the community even though people are living there.
Nobody can live without water.
They are doing this to all the communities they want to shut down because their “lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”.
So I guess the choice is to participate in Australian society the way the government wants you to, or die. (That’s social engineering in my opinion). And let’s see that this happens with the convenience of being unreported in the mainstream media.
We seem to be turning back the clock to our colonial past. An Aboriginal elder from the Kimberley region told me that a pastoral station – owned by a British lord – had 20 taps for the gardens alone. The Aboriginal community that lived on the station was provided with just one tap between them. All the community’s water for drinking and washing came from just one tap.
But at least they had water. Now the water is being taken away.
And nobody can live without water.
Imagine the uproar if a government shut down the water supply to a ‘white’ community. But it would never happen: white people are allowed to make lifestyle choices, have a tree change, have a sea change, or live wherever they like.
And all without government, media, or public criticism.
And with water, of course.