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Monday, 17 March 2008
Page: 1965

Mr TRUSS (Leader of the Nationals) (9:27 PM) —What a disappointing contribution we have just heard. It sought to misrepresent the facts of the situation and to defend the indefensible. The reality is that many Indigenous communities are locked into a lifestyle that offers no opportunities, no productive jobs and no hope. It is distressing to visit communities where alcohol abuse and violence, filth and hopelessness are a way of life. With all the effort and all the funding that has been provided, we should have been able to achieve much more. But all of the abuse and loss of productivity have been locked behind a permit system which has hidden the reality of what has happened. It has been out of sight and out of mind. Poor health, sexual abuse, violence and lost hope have been hidden behind a permit system that has served no-one well.

So much effort has been dedicated to delivering and creating outcomes, but it has not achieved the desired objectives because these communities have essentially been closed to the world. You cannot lock away what is happening in one part of our community if you expect it to progress. Aborigines too are in the world but they do not have to be of the world. That is why this decision by the government to wind back the previous arrangements in relation to banning pornography in these communities is so disappointing. I was appalled to see in the glossy publication about the Rudd government’s first 100 days, a statement in relation to Indigenous Australians which said:

In its first 100 days the Rudd Government has:

• introduced legislation to ban R18+ content in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory ...

The truth is the opposite. They have sought to wind back the bans that were in place, to allow pornography to once again enter into these communities and destroy the lives of people—taking away their opportunities and undermining the safety that we have been trying to build up through the intervention and by providing an effective police and health presence in these sorts of communities. Over the years, what was thought to be right has had perverse effects.

Debate interrupted.