Of Course It Would Not be Done in Dickson! Why Howard's Battlers Disengaged from the Northern Territory Emergency Response

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Borderlands E-Journal, 2009, 1, 8 (1), pp. 1 - 19
Issue Date:
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In the name of Aboriginal children, the Howard Government created the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) and thus began a form of apartheid affecting almost seventy per cent of the Northern Territorys Aboriginal population. The NTER facilitated the quarantining of income support payments, the dismantling of protection against unlawful discrimination and the wholesale acquisition of Aboriginal lands. When announcing the NTER, John Howard denied that it was racially motivated, and suggested that had the same circumstances occurred in the middle class suburb of Dickson, similar action would have been taken. While it is outrageous to suggest that any government would ever seize the property interests of middle class families as a response to allegations of child abuse, the Prime Ministers reference to Dickson was nonetheless instructive. This paper will argue that forces within the electorate, such as an obsession with home ownership and the criminalisation of poverty, provided the real impetus for the NTER, rather than genuine crises within Aboriginal communities.
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