Growing Together: Land Rights and the Northern Territory Intervention

Queensland University of Technology
Publication Type:
Journal Article
M/C Journal, 2010, 13 (6), pp. 1 - 9
Issue Date:
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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term coalition comes from the Latin coalescere or `coalesce, meaning come or bring together to form one mass or whole. Coalesce refers to the unity affirmed as something grows: co together, alesce to grow up. While coalition is commonly associated with formalised alliances and political strategy in the name of self-interest and common goals, this paper will draw as well on the broader etymological understanding of coalition as growing together in order to discuss the Australian governments recent changes to land rights legislation, the 2007 Emergency Intervention into the Northern Territory, and its decision to use Indigenous land in the Northern Territory as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. What unites these distinct cases is the role of the Australian nation-state in asserting its sovereign right to decide, something Giorgio Agamben notes is the primary indicator of sovereign right and power (Agamben). As Fiona McAllan has argued in relation to the Northern Territory Intervention: Various forces that had been coalescing and captivating the moral, imaginary centre were now contributing to a spectacular enactment of a sovereign rescue mission (par. 18). Different visions of growing together, and different coalitional strategies, are played out in public debate and policy formation. This paper will argue that each of these cases represents an alliance between successive, oppositional governments - and the nourishment of neoliberal imperatives - over and against the interests of some of the Indigenous communities, especially with relation to land rights.
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