The truth about the Northern Territory Intervention….was it really about saving the children ?

The  NT Intervention was a $587 million package of legislation that made a number of changes affecting specified Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. It included restrictions on alcohol, changes to welfare payments, acquisition of parcels of land, education, employment and health initiatives, restrictions on pornography and other measures.The package of legislation introduced included:

  • NorthernTerritory National Emergency Response Act 2007.
  • Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Payment Reform) Bill 2007.
  • Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment. (Northern Territory National Emergency Response and Other Measures) Act 2007.
  • Appropriation (NorthernTerritory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 1) 2007-2008.
  • Appropriation (NorthernTerritory National Emergency Response) Bill (No. 2) 2007-2008.

In order to enact this package of legislation, several existing laws were affected or partially suspended, including the :

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
  • Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.
  • Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).
  • Northern Territory Self-Government Act and related legislation.
  • Social Security Act 1991.
  • Income Tax Assessment Act 1993.

Text courtesy Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

In May 2012 the United Nations heard significant criticisms from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegations over race-based laws currently being considered by the Australian Government.

The delegations are rejecting the argument of the Australian Government that the race laws are ‘special measures’ and are therefore not racially discriminatory.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is currently in session at the UN Headquarters in New York, has been told that Australia is introducing new laws which treat Aboriginal people differently from all other Australians.

The Northern Territory ‘Stronger Futures’ Bills will extend the 5 year ‘intervention’ laws, which were first enacted in 2007, for another 10 years.

Images from 2008 Convergence on Canberra

Jenni Hubert and Elaine Peckham caamapwphoto 2022

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