One of the lines of argument thrown around by people supporting Howard’s intervention is that critics are only too content to harp on about the intervention and not present solutions.
It seems to me that this is a non-argument. In general the critics do have a solution and in fact, the report itself has over 90 recommendations and even if some of the recommendations are a little sparse on implementation, others have a lot of meat behind them. The problem is that the recommendations are complex, the solution time frame often too long for the public (and it is difficult to fault their impatience given the issue) and most of all, are viewed as ideologically suspect by the government, never mind that the recommendations are the result of many years of hard-won experience and consultation.
Critics of the intervention at last seem to be getting some media space with the Age finally taken a more critical stance. Their arguments bear weight, the one that strikes me as the strongest being that if the people view the new staff on ground as intruders, how can they be helped?
Sure, grog running laws, public drunkenness, public violence, a curfew for children, and perhaps even school attendance laws may be enforced but only for the time that the increased police presence is there. This is assuming there are enough facilities to house even more aboriginal people. As for sexual abuse, it’s much more difficult to enforce reporting unless doctors and health workers are given access.
But then, I guess at this stage, all the intervention is concerned about is law enforcement and punishment. I can only hope that rehabilitation and other longer term solutions as provided by the report will be implemented in the “stabilisation” phase.