14 Apr 2008

The NT Occupation – Colour Blindness

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as any Liberal will tell you, is the media wing of the Australian Labor Party. For the most part, insofar as we've been concerned to see the Liberal government replaced by an ALP one, and insofar as we've believed the truth favored this transfer, we've been pleased with the ALP in the foregoing period, for its commitment to truth against the Liberals.

Now that the ALP is in power, we begin to see the danger of this conjunction, however. The ABC remains to the left of and more reliable than the commercial media outlets (with the possible exception of the generally left-liberal-bourgeois-dominated Fairfax broadsheets). This is precisely the danger: people, particularly educated liberals, who are not a politically critical segment of Australian society, but nevertheless have some significant weight, rely on the ABC for accurate reporting and are thus susceptible to being bamboozled by it.

This danger comes into stark view when it comes to the issue of the Australian occupation of the Northern Territory, or rather the current phase of this occupation, in which the limited autonomy of Aboriginal people qua Australian citizens has been drastically rolled back.

On this issue, the ALP federal government is basically indistinguishable from its Coalition predecessor. And the ABC is an uncritical cheerleader for its racist policies. I just watched the ABC's Lateline on this issue. Their story was unbievably partisan. It resembled nothing so much as US media reports from Baghdad which find isolated success stories and present these as representative. Though the ABC did present critical voices, it prefaced these with the line "some people are still critical of the intervention" - essentially misleading the audience into thinking that criticism of the intervention is a marginal view within the Aboriginal community. Conversely, a part-Aboriginal Territory parliamentarian was uncritically presented as an authentic, representative voice of Indigenous Territorians. The local Aboriginal voices in favour of the 'Intervention' were two old men whose English was poor.

The issue of Aboriginal sovereignty and the cultural genocide and expropriation of Aboriginal people dwarfs every other 'domestic' Australian issue - except insofar as saving Aborigines from Australia seems to depend on changes within Australia itself. However, we would argue that co-ordinated strategic resistance by Aboriginal people would go a long way to shattering the hallucinatory fantasy of Australians about Aborigines which is evidence by government policy and ABC coverage.