Indigenous Affairs




Rowse, Timothy

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NewSouth Publishing


John Howard took until his fourth term to actualise his preferred approach to Indigenous affairs. As he says in his autobiography Lazarus Rising: ‘our last year in government finally saw a paradigm change. It was as if the dam had finally burst and much of the approach which had held sway for a generation, or more was swept away. Howard is referring to taking over Indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory – known as the Northern Territory Intervention. This package, announced on 21 June 2007 by Mal Brough, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, included the following items: alcohol restrictions on Northern Territory Aboriginal land; controls on welfare recipients’ expenditure (Basics Card); linking welfare payments to parental performance in getting their children to school; compulsory health checks for Aboriginal children; acquiring certain townships on Aboriginal land through five-year leases; increasing police presence in certain communities; new rent and tenancy arrangements for households; additional funds for housing; banning X-rated pornography in prescribed communities; ending the permit system for defined areas within Aboriginal lands; phasing out the Community Employment Development Projects (CDEP) scheme, to encourage people into ‘mainstream’ employment; appointing managers of all government business in certain communities. I will not revisit the debate about the Intervention. I will instead locate it in its party-political context and point to five legacies of Howard’s approach to Indigenous policy.






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The Desire for Change, 2004-2007: The Howard Government, Volume IV

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