Topic: Australian Indigenous Politics
The Northern Territory Intervention refers to a set of legislature that was tailored towards people considered indigenous. However, these legislations were passed without prior consultations from the people that the legislature affected directly. The main aim of the intervention was to ensure that certain human rights are observed and upheld, while others at the same time were restricted. At the same time, it was meant to protect the children from abuse and any other inhumane actions from the larger population. The fundamental role that this intervention served was the realization of development in the general economy.
Wide and dynamic discriminatory consequences of the legislation were evident at the height of its implementation. Indigenous people had their rights chopped off. They had little or no rights to own property and coverage by social security. These indigenous people were subjected to low quality and standards of living, health systems and education. In this regard, their general aspect of life was greatly interfered with. This started right from personal determination to work capacity and ability, through limited access to child rights.
The legislation was amended in the year 2010, in the month of June. In the previous time, the Racial Discrimination Act had been suspended, when the Northern Territory Intervention became operational. With the amendments on the intervention, suspension on Racial Discrimination Act was lifted. Challenges were still at par with the indigenous people because restrictions that the Northern Territory Intervention remained under the Racial Discrimination Act even after the Intervention had been amended. The 2010 amendments therefore did not achieve the expectations of the Indigenous people Australia (Altman, Jon and Hinkson, 2007, Pg.33-35).
Northern Territory Intervention (NTI) was initially brought t book on June, the year 2007. The Howard government was responding to a report that highlighted the abuse and mistreatment of indigenous people. According to the report, ninety seven different recommendations were raised on completion of the report. These recommendations were tailored towards protecting the welfare of the children and the general indigenous population.
Intervention is however not a failure at all the time. There are intervention policies that have greatly been used and consequently produced positive results, serving the purpose for which they were established. Child safety is not the only fundamental aspect that intervention legislations are established for. Welfare management of indigenous people is as well a prime interest of such interventionist policies. Other intervention purposes that may characterize the intervention process, such as the need to empower communities. Other policies work towards achievement of the opposite. Sustainability of intervention programs can therefore not be specified at this juncture, but it is important to note that proper consultations should be done well in time. This not only saves time but it is important to let the community put their views across (Greenstein, 2008, Pg. 467-474).
The intervention measures targeted the indigenous people and entire communities. In the year 2010 the above mentioned amendments were to achieve fairness among the indigenous communities. However, this was not the case at it came to be realized later that the reinstatement of the RDA limited its use amongst the indigenous people. This consequently meant that racial discrimination was far from over as the very laws generated to curb the vice in a way promoted their prevalence (McIntyre SC & Greg, 2007, Pg. 10-14).
The government had the right to forcefully take over land from the indigenous people without prior compensation. Land was issued to them in five-year renewable leases but still during that lease period, they had no control over the land. The government acted like it was pleased, because the enacted laws and regulations that backed the intervention policies could not challenged by the aboriginal people. The same people’s rights towards acquiring and owning other properties other than land were also limited to a given extent. The consequent impacts of this could not be ignored.
Income management schemes were introduced to the indigenous people and part of their welfare payments was quarantined. The effect of this was reduced standards of life as well as deteriorated social security. This consequently affected the health and education systems of these people. The intervention measures were tailored towards realization of fairness in the society, but unfortunately that was not the motive that the measures served.
Self determination was easily crashed by the fact that the indigenous groups were not consulted when policies and other measures about them were being formulated and implemented. Such procedures require intensive consultation and discussion, so as to understand the legal concerns of such processes. The isolated groups need to be granted independence in their activities, and consequently enjoy benefits, freedom and rights just like any other individual in the country.
NTI scrapped Community development Employment Projects, but they were later partially reinstalled. The indigenous people were employed in local firms that were producing to meet the needs and wants of the locals. This showed that the locals needed the aboriginals as much as the aboriginals needed the locals for job opportunities.
Court proceedings did it recognize customary law and traditional practices of the indigenous communities. The level of these communities to seek payment of damages was limited. This characteristic feature of the current situation that formed the baseline upon which the NTI operated is fundamental in the discussion of the way forward in determining what should be done to achieve equity among the human race.
Addressing the problem
Formulation and implementation of laws those are favorable to the indigenous people should be formulated and immediately implemented when loopholes are identified in the system between the government and the indigenous people. Emergency legislation is an important aspect through which this process can begin to take effectiveness.
Proper assessment of the indigenous people’s welfare would be essential in determining the welfare of the aboriginal people. Assessing their welfare from time to time would be necessary in measuring whether he measures taken by the government makes the indigenous individuals better off or worse off (Manderson, 2008, Pg.217-220).
Measures to pursue and develop communities should not discriminate against persons in the country. Pursuing such developmental policies indiscriminately is fundamental to the growth of the entire economy, which is not in pursuit of a single or several marginalized groups in the whole country.
Aboriginal people are denied the chance to enjoy social security. It is important to note that their welfare constitutes the welfare of the entire country. Security is a fundamental aspect of many activities in the economy. Proper security constitutes increased investments in the economy. The indigenous groups hardly invested after the NTI came into operation due the fears it brought into the system. It is therefore important to provide security as a solution to the disparities among the aboriginals (Manderson, 2008, Pg.217-219).
Health and education
NTI marginalized the indigenous from the health and education systems. These two are fundamental in constituting the professional welfare of all individuals. Heath and Education systems should therefore be scrapped from the list that RDA and NTI blocks the indigenous people from accessing. These policies are essential in curbing abuse and discrimination of persons in the country. High capacities of understanding promote this aspect, drawing their baseline from the two systems (Altman, 2007, Pg.33).
Summary and Conclusion
The Government considered the Northern Territory Intervention as measures that were special based on the Racial Discrimination Act. The government tried to justify its actions amid debates that the whole process was not clear, with the interests and motives that the measures served appearing dim. The 2010 amendments included into the legislation clauses that changed the appearance of the NTI but basically the contents remained the same.
The criterion that was used to redesign the interventionist measures so that they are deemed special measures did not meet the requirements of such a process, and it was therefore void and invalidate. With the amendments on the NTI, affected indigenous people were kicked out of the bracket that would relatively have the rights to challenge an unfavorable intervention measure. Consequently, these people would not access remedies for whatever suffering they would encounter from the damages that the intervention measures would cause them. Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) was reinstated in the year 2010 following a successful passage of a legislation that was seeking to do so. However, amid these arrangements, it was further noted that reinstatement of the RDA would not be smooth and straight forward. It was done in such a way that the indigenous people were still not in a position where they had rights to challenge intervention measures and consequently seek adequate compensating remedies.
Altman, Jon and Hinkson, 2007, Melinda (eds), Coercive reconciliation: Stabilize, Normalize and Exit Aboriginal Australia.
Altman, Jon, 2007, ‘Ad Hoc and Bad Land Tenure Reform and the ‘National Emergency’?’ Jul/Aug Balance 33.
Anderson, Patricia, Wild, Rex, 2007, Report of the Northern Territory Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.
Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle ‘Little Children are Sacred’ 2007, Behrendt, Larissa, Cunneen, Chris and Libesman, Terri, 2009, Indigenous Legal Relations in Australia
Blackshield, Tony and Williams, George, 2006, Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials (4th ed).
Butt, Peter (ed), 2004, Butterworth’s Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (3rd ed, Carney, Gerard,The Constitutional Systems of the Australian States and Territories.
Gruenstein, Jenna, 2008, ‘Australia’s Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act: Addressing Indigenous and Non-Indigenous inequities at the expense of International Human Rights?’ 17.2 Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal 467.
Manderson, Desmond, 2008, ‘Not Yet: Aboriginal People and the Deferral of the Rule of Law’, 29/30 Arena Journal 219.
McIntyre SC, Greg, 2007, ‘an Imbalance of Constitutional Power and Human Rights: The 2007 Federal Intervention in the Northern Territory’ 14 James Cook University Law Review 81.
Margaret Abraham, Esther Ngan-Ling Chow, Evangelia Tastsoglou, Laura Maratou-alipranti,2010, Contours of citizenship: women, diversity and practices of citizenship, Gender in a Global / Local World
Gender in a Global/Local World Series,, Contours of Citizenship: Women, Diversity and Practices of Citizenship, Margaret Abraham, New York : Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Heide Smith, 2008, Portrait of a People: The Tiwi of Northern Australia, Chicago: Heide Smith Photographer.
Janet Hunt, 2008, Contested governance: culture, power and institutions in indigenous Australia
Issue 29 of Research monograph, California: ANU E Press.