People, not politics

Wednesday 28 June 2006 2:25 AM

Unsurprisingly Tony Abbott has won few sympathetic hearers with his appropriation of the term "paternalism" in proposing a revolution in indigenous policy. However the Minister's crude vocabulary should not be allowed to obscure some weighty and thoughtful questions, which merit careful answers rather than peevish dismissal.

To just what extent we can positively manage the lives of indigenous Australians in the midst of a culture vastly at odds with their own, I know not. But considering how manifestly ineffective most efforts to date have been, much debate on the subject is distinctly lacking in humility. Workable solutions require open and patient discussion. Now is not the time for zealous blame-shifting or glib defensiveness.

I don't know whether Federal government moves to increase legislative and bureaucratic control of Aboriginal communities is really in the people's best interests. But I also wonder whether the cry for self-determination at all costs represents considered strategies for the well-being of our indigenous brothers and sisters, or whether it's merely a mantra serving no end but political correctness.

We expect indigenous culture to simply live within our own. We need fresh, creative and life-giving ways for this to happen. We've had enough political ideology from all sides.