A New Deal for Indigenous Australians

By Tudge, Alan | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, December 2011 | Go to article overview

A New Deal for Indigenous Australians


Tudge, Alan, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


Liberal MP Alan Tudge says we need a new approach to dealing with remote Indigenous disadvantage.

There is a tacit deal for remote indigenous Australians that is not working.

Indigenous Australians have been supported for the last 40 years just to exist in a place of their choice, as a guilt-ridden nations act of compensation for past mistreatment. Low requirements of participation in education and work have been part of the deal.

I do not intend any disrespect in so plainly stating this. But to improve policy we must be truthful about its deep foundational roots. Subsidised indigenous disengagement is not simply an accidental policy tendency; it is a policy principle based on tacit agreement which has the force of an unwritten constitution.

Every government program and policy works within the confines of this deal. Government not only subsidises living in places that are not economically self-sufficient but it has created incentives, particularly in housing, that actively encourage immobility and disengagement.

There would be no reason to bring this up if the tacit deal improved indigenous Australians' lives, but the social and economic results are appalling. Students are three to six years behind mainstream levels, work is almost nonexistent, violence and abuse is unacceptably high. In the last 10 years, $35 billion of government expenditure has achieved almost nothing, as revealed in a Finance Department report earlier this year.

The government is tinkering at the edges, attempting to normalise social housing and quarantine welfare payments. Such policies make no difference to the basic principle of the deal: governmentfunded disengagement.

In mainstream Australia, townships that are not economically viable begin to shrink. Economic forces create an underlying disincentive for depressed communities to continue in their present state. Sometimes residents will create new opportunities to reinvigorate their communities. But either way, the economic forces are inescapable.

Remote communities are immune to such forces. Entire communities are built on government payments and services. Individuals do not need to look for work outside their communities to continue to receive welfare, which effectively means they do not need to look for work. If the population grows, we consider there is a housing shortage that the government must address.

We have built a system that preserves a status quo of settlement in remote regions, irrespective of internal dysfunction or economic forces.

JOBS IN REMOTE COMMUNITIES

Official rhetoric on remote economic development does not confront the problem.

The only academic theory of employment in remote communities is the 'hybrid economy' model developed by ANU Professor Jon Altman. Professor Altman envisages that indigenous people can make a living by combining three economies: customary food-gathering, government support (including employment in environmental services) and private sector income such as art production.

Altman concedes that a hybrid economy cannot close the income gap, but argues that it is a viable choice for people who don't have mainstream values, aspirations or needs.

Making assumptions about cultural difference is not a sound basis for policy. In the modern world, reliance on subsistence activities and limited involvement in the real economy is just as impossible for indigenous Australians as it is for other Australians.

Land-based economic development, promoted by leaders in Cape York and the Kimberley, is in principle a more realistic idea than living halfway between traditional subsistence and modernity. The intention is to involve indigenous people in existing or potential businesses in remote areas such as primary industries, resource development, high-value tourism or fishing.

The problem is that only a minority of people have the inclination or the skills to see a future in land-based development, or to be involved in business development. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A New Deal for Indigenous Australians
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.