In 2006 shifts in government policy caused me to write a a post about the likely effect on remote communities. It ended:
Why does the Government want Aborigines off Aboriginal land? Some probably believe the story that moving to town will make Aborigines ‘fit in’ better with other Australians. But it’s hard to forget that once Aborigines are off their own land, it will be much easier for others to get access to the land. Develop it, mine it, bulldoze it, oh whatever. And the royalties the Aborigines receive will go to pay for patching up the fringe camp societies.
Yes, Aborigines will be refugees. And they’ll be treated the same way that refugees are treated in Australia. With one exception. We can’t deport them.
Today, thanks to Bob Durnan, I read an article (paywall alert!) which shows the desire of the Western Australian government to hasten the depopulation of remote Western Australia, supported by Senator Nigel Scullion. Reason? Costs too much to support them there. No comparison is given with the costs of supporting people to live in fringe camp societies. How do you justify encouraging people to move from dry communities into grog-sodden fringe camps?
Are the WA Government and Federal Government preparing for the likely costs of this removal to the people in the fringe camps, newcomers and old-timers? We don’t know, according to Fred Chaney, senior Australian of the Year for 2014, and longterm advocate for Indigenous people, in an open letter quoted in the article. And so often ‘we don’t know’ means – worst case – ‘someone doesn’t want us to know’, or – best case – ‘no one has thought it worth thinking about’.