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NT intervention makes impact on voters -

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NT intervention makes impact on voters

Broadcast: 06/11/2007

Reporter: Murray McLaughlin

In the Northern Territory, where only two House of Reps seats are at stake, the great unknown
ingredient of the campaign is the Federal Government's emergency intervention into Aboriginal
communities.

Transcript

KERRY O'BRIEN: Back to politics and the campaign. This time to the Top End where only two house of
reps seats are at stake. And the great unknown ingredient of the campaign there, the Federal
Governments emergency intervention into Aboriginal communities.

In the Labor seat of Lingiari taking up most of the territory outside Darwin where the intervention
is impacting more, nearly 40 per cent of the voters are Indigenous. The sitting members seems to be
hinting that Labor will wind back key elements of the intervention although Kevin Rudd is adamant
that a Labor government will hold the line. The country Liberal Party candidate in Lingiari says
the election will be a referendum on the intervention.

The other Territory seat is Solomon based around Darwin and held by the CLP. As Murray McLaughlin
reports the intervention is having little effect in Solomon beyond the introduction of new liquor
laws.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Behind this fence is the Bagot community. An Aboriginal enclave only 10 minutes
drive from Darwin's CBD. About 400 people live here. There are many other enclosed housing estates
across Darwin, but this fence so offends Federal indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough that he
wants to l pull it down.

MAL BROUGH, INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS MINISTER: It's appalling circumstances when a government of any
persuasion puts a fence up between one part of its community and the other and lets what goes on
behind it, hide behind it.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: Hi, Mal.

MAL BROUGH: How are you?

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: I'm very well thank you.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Bagot is on the list of more than 70 Aboriginal communities in the Territory
which the Federal Government is taking over.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: How are the people going to get on if they want to have a party or something?

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Mr Brough came to Darwin the weekend before last, the intervention had little
direct impact in the northern capital.

MAL BROUGH: This is hard, this is challenging but it is also rewarding and mealy-mouthed words from
Mr Rudd are not going to cut the mustard.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Back in August, Labor voted outright for the emergency legislation which
underpins the federal intervention.

In Darwin at the weekend, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was still embracing all its aspects.

REPORTER: On the question of the intervention, just how far would a Labor Government roll it back?

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: Well we don't intend to roll it back at all.

WARREN SNOWDEN, LABOR MP, LINGIARI: They've done all sorts of stupid things because they've done it
in a hurry without talking to people.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: But the prospect that a Labor Government would roll back crucial aspects of the
intervention is just what the sitting Labor member for Lingiari is offering. Warren Snowdon is also
critical of the way the intervention has been managed.

WARREN SNOWDEN: This law was passed without any discussion or consultation or negotiation with Yapa
anywhere in the Northern Territory.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Warren Snowdon's electorate covers the whole Northern Territory beyond greater
Darwin and incorporates all but a few of the Aboriginal communities under intervention. Here at
Yuendumu in the Tanami desert 300 kilometres from Alice Springs, Warren Snowdon is on friendly
ground. Addressing a meeting of elders and traditional owners from the Walrlpiri tribe.

Mindful that Labor support for the emergency legislation offended many of his Aboriginal
constituents, Yapa people, Mr Snowdon is selling the line that Labor now has a different tack.

REPORTER: What are the main point of difference between Labor and the Government on this
intervention question?

WARREN SNOWDEN: There are significant points of difference. The question of CDEP, the question of
permits, the issue of how people deal with their land, they are very important differences.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: CDEP is the community development and employment program which the Federal
Government has abolished in the Territory because it needed CDEP workers to move on to welfare so
that their income could be quarantined as part of the intervention.

ADAM GILES, CLP CANDIDATE, LINGIARI: I think there's a lot of people who are employable, a lot of
people who haven't been in the work force because of things like CDEP.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Warren Snowdon's opponent in Lingiari is the country Liberal Party's Adam Giles.
A public servant in charge of the central Australian office of the Department of Employment and
workplace relations, the very agency which used to administer CDEP. Snowdon has a margin of 7.7%,
and Giles concedes the campaign will be difficult.

ADAM GILES: It's going to be quite difficult because Labor's been campaigned against the
intervention and what this election will be in Lingiari is a referendum between the Country Liberal
Party and Labor, with the Country Liberal Party supporting the intervention, putting in $1.3
billion and trying to make a real difference in the Northern Territory.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Warren Snowdon is campaigning to restore CDEP and the permit system which
restricts access to Aboriginal communities quickly brought Mal Brough to central Australia.

MAL BROUGH: The Coalition is committed to the long term of delivering the full suite of services
here. That does include CDEP, that does include the permit system.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: And with this intervention, yes, I support it.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The women of Hermannsburg west of Alice Springs gave unqualified support for Mal
Brough for the aims of his intervention.

ABORIGINAL WOMAN: We want the grog tap turned down and drug dealing wiped out. We want all the kids
to attend school and learn how to behave themselves properly.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: But only the day before this visit, 50 men who had been on CDEP at Hermannsburg
had lost their jobs and been moved on the welfare.

ABORIGINAL MAN: I'd just like to know why the intervention was done without any feeling, you know.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: But to Mal Brough the principle of quarantining and managing income trumps any
benefits that communities may have derived from CDEP.

MAL BROUGH: If there's less money for grog, less money for drugs, less money for gambling and
there's more food on the table then you've got a really good starting point for people to start to
see differences.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: In Alice Springs 10 days before the election was called, Labor had promised to
reinstate CDEP.

JENNY MACKLIN, OPPOSITION INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS SPOKESWOMAN: Getting rid of the CDEP in the Northern
Territory remote communities will actually make communities, parents and children, more vulnerable.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: But back in Alice Springs yesterday, Jenny Macklin seemed to be hedging her
bets.

REPORTER: Kevin Rudd has indicated that he isn't going to roll back any parts of intervention and
that would seem to be at odds with your comments last time you were here.

JENNY RUDD: Kevin Rudd has made very clear that we intend to implement the intervention.

KEVIN RUDD: We support the intervention. It's a difficult decision, it's a controversial decision,
I don't back away from it. It's the right thing to do.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: In the urban electorate of Solomon, a few small indigenous communities like
Bagot are about to be put through the intervention hoops. And the intervention is affecting the
whole voting population.

Alcohol purchases above $100 now require identification and a declaration about where the alcohol
will be drunk and the cause of tracking grog runners.

In Solomon held by the Country Liberal Party with a 2.7 per cent margin, the Labor candidate is
detecting resistance.

DAMIEN HALE, LABOR CANDIDATE, SOLOMON: People having to show ID for the $100 laws, you know, it
does and having to fill in the paperwork and regarding the privacy of where they're going to
consume the alcohol, their addresses.

REPORTER: Can I just ask David the alcohol laws the $100 limit has actually hurt your campaign?

DAVE TOLLNER: I don't believe it has.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Dave Tollner is probably right. The new laws, it seem, are being observed in the
breach. As Darwin based journalist Lindsay Murdoch found out when he arrived at his bottle shop
counter with a trolley load of wine and no ID.

LINDSAY MURDOCH, "THE AGE" & 'SYDNEY MORNING HERALD": I said I'm sorry, I'll have to put some of
the bottles back to get under the $100 limit. The guy at the cash register said look, don't worry,
I will split it into two transactions, both of them under $100 and I walked out with $170 worth of
wine.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There are laws and laws and the penalty for a licensee who fails to record those
details is a fine of $44,000. Murray McLaughlin with that report.