Monday, August 27, 2012

Why have aboriginal people in the bush turned against Labour?

Northern Territory Votes, August 25, 2012

The swings against Labour to the CLP (Country Liberal Party) indigenous candidates in the Northern Territory bush are enormous.

Arafura 17% swing to Francis Maralampuwi Xavier
Stuart 16% swing to Bess Price
Arnhem 29% swing to Larisa Lee
Namatjira 29% swing to Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson was a former Labour Minister but she resigned from the Labor Party in August 2009 over the failures of the Strategic Indigenous Housing Infrastructure program.

The money spent on aboriginal people needs to actually assist aboriginal people and not the public servants who are meant to be assisting aboriginal people. Another way to say the same thing: "The historical pork-barrelling of Darwin's white folk from blackfella budgets is likely to be much curtailed"

Francis Maralampuwi Xavier:
His decision to stand as a CLP candidate followed a long period of contemplation, in which he came to believe Labor policies he once supported were in fact "condescending".

"Labor has not taken Aboriginal people's desire to work seriously," he says.

Casting an arm towards groups of people gambling in the dust on welfare payment day, he continues: "Look, many people here, no jobs, playing cards. That's what I want to change."
- Indigenous leaders desert Labor for CLP
Some more extracts from The Australian coverage:
Ms Lee said she had won her seat in large part on the back of dissatisfaction with NT Labor's shire reforms, which centralised control of local government and left the new "super shires" effectively bankrupt. Her opponent, Ms McCarthy, presided over the changes.

"The first thing is to give people back their voice," Ms Lee told The Australian yesterday. "Over the weekend, people have shown they need change, they want change and so they've voted for change."

Ms Price echoed those views, saying that while each community in Stuart had its own issues, dissatisfaction with the shire reforms was a common theme. "People tried to convince Labor it wasn't working, but it fell on deaf ears," Ms Price said. She said the voters of Stuart had told her that, as a traditional woman born and raised in the bush, she would better understand their issues.
- Left sent message as Northern Territory Labor rule ends
However, it is clear the (CLP) party's dramatic victory records a shift in bush sentiment towards local control and the traditional lines of Aboriginal authority. It also records attempts by indigenous people to clasp the political process and mould it for themselves.

Voting in all major indigenous settlements in the Top End recorded a pronounced swing towards local language-speaking candidates.

The result leaves the CLP as a party of the bush and the working-class outer Darwin suburbs, while the public service strongholds of inner Darwin bought into a fear campaign and stayed with Labor.

Labor looks likely to have only one or two Aboriginal members, while the CLP ranks will be much more evenly weighted. It's hard not to imagine Aboriginal ministers. The historical pork-barrelling of Darwin's white folk from blackfella budgets is likely to be much curtailed.
- Northern Territory cry over loss of faith in progressives


Bill Kerr said...

For a better informed article on this issue than mine see NT election 2012 – a watershed moment in Australia’s history? by Ken Parish

Bill Kerr said...

Another good analysis: Was the NT election outcome a shockwave or a regional ripple? by Rolf Gerritsen
Professorial Research Fellow, Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University

"the major reason Labor lost was that the CLP pursued a canny strategy for the bush. Credit for this must go to Alison Anderson and the CLP leader Terry Mills. When Anderson left the Labor Party in 2010 she initially sat in the Legislative Assembly as an independent. She was evaluating the possibilities. Anderson did a deal with Mills that if the CLP would allow the communities, rather than the party machine, to select the candidates and would listen to the communities, then she would join the CLP. Labor was caught napping. Their Aboriginal candidates were pre-selected by the party machinery; they were Darwin-focused and unable or unwilling to challenge the fiscal status quo"