I was going to write about the drop off in higher education enrollments (or rather the odds of Ross Gittins and I agreeing on something – twice! First flat taxes and now higher ed), but then a conversation with a friend sparked me off on the special treatment of aboriginals.
The recent promotion of outgoing Minister of Defense, Senator Robert Hill, led to a cabinet shake up, reshuffle and mixing of ministries. Something you may not have heard, because it affects less than 2 per cent of us, is that the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC) has been ripped out of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, and placed into the hands of the Department of Family and Community Services.
Immigration is no longer responsible for aboriginals, Centrelink is.
The message the OIPC tells us is loud and clear: our indigenous brothers are different, they can’t cut it like the rest of us, and need our help. They need a special government Office to deal with their special needs. Please, its insulting.
The OIPC looks after all things touched with the aboriginal brush (or should that be finger paint?). Land rights and native title are handled by this Office and not the Attorneys General. Aboriginal health policies are formulated under the guidance of this Office, and not the Department of Health and Ageing. Aboriginal education polices, this Office, not the Department of Education, Science and Training. Economic development, drug use, aged care, fringe benefit taxes, interpreter services, Abstudy, indigenous educational scholarships, the public services’ diversity in employment scheme, the petrol for face-washing scheme, aboriginal arts funding, home ownership. When Bambang gets sick of our drug trafficking and invades us al a the US and Colombia, will the Northern Territory be protected by the OIPC too? Even last night at the Australia Day fireworks, they started with a special aboriginal display, before the rest of us were invited to take part!
Apart from the duplication of government (in 2005 the Office cost, get this, $3.14 billion dollars), the OIPC doesn’t seem to producing the goods: “It is distressingly apparent that many years of policy effort have not delivered desired outcomes, indeed some important respects of Indigenous people appear to have deteriorated or regressed. Worse than that… areas identified as critical to overcoming disadvantage in the long term remain well short of what is needed” (Gary Banks, 2003, Chairman of the Productivity Commission, and Chairman of the Steering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth/State Service Provision).
And to tackle slipping trends and long term shortages- we’re going to change which Canberra suburb our bureaucrats’ll sit.
Here is a novel idea. Lets ask why Whitey Ford and his multicultural mates have been so successful, while aboriginals (in general) have faltered? Its because we’ve been left the hell alone. To get into university, we’ve had to study and work hard. To stay out of gaol we’ve had to obey the law. To stay healthy, we haven’t needed a government petrol bowser as a quid pro quo to wash our faces.
Self responsibility is a wonderful thing. It gives you a sense of pride, ownership and dignity. It is a door to the rest of the world. Rather than treating the “first Australians” as a inferior race with such paternalistic policy, lets treat them equally. This reverse racism sure isn’t working, and its costing me a fortune in tax.