Posts tagged 2007
“I no longer claim to know anything
But I still have persistent suspicions.
My greatest suspicion holds that
All my suspicions may prove wrong.
That nothing now seems impossible.
Have a good hearty laugh
And do not dare to mourn me.”
–Robert Anton Wilson
then prime minister, John Howard, and his Indigenous affairs minister, Mal Brough, launched the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) into remote Indigenous communities. With no warning, and no consultation, the federal government moved swiftly to seize control of many aspects of the daily lives of residents in 73 targeted remote communities. It implemented coercive measures that would have been unthinkable in non-Indigenous communities. By deploying uniformed members of the Australian Defence Forces into the communities to establish logistics, the Intervention was designed to send a clear message of disruption and control. The government’s suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act raised further cause for concern. Township leases were compulsorily acquired over Aboriginal-owned land by the Commonwealth for a five-year period. And the permit system administered by Aboriginal land councils to control access to Aboriginal land was revoked. Medical teams were flown in to conduct compulsory health checks on children. Signs were posted declaring bans on alcohol and pornography in township areas. Income management was applied to all community residents receiving welfare payments, and income support payments were linked to satisfactory school attendance. The successful Community Development Employment Projects program was abolished, and employees were forced onto unemployment benefits. The police presence was increased in prescribed communities. And customary law was no longer allowed to be considered in bail applications and sentencing in criminal court cases.
Once there was a fox that wanted to eat a turtle, but whenever he tried to, it withdrew into its shell. He bit it and he shook it, but he wasn’t getting anywhere. One day he had an idea: he made the turtle an offer to buy its shell. But the turtle was clever and knew it would be eaten without this protection, so it refused. Time passed, until one day there appeared a television hanging in a tree, displaying images of flocks of happy, naked turtles – flying! The turtle was amazed. Oh! They can fly! But wouldn’t it be dangerous to give up your shell? Hark, the voice on television was announcing that the fox had become a vegetarian. “If I could only take off my shell, my life would be so much easier,” thought the turtle. “If the turtle would only give up its shell, it would be so much easier to eat,” thought the fox – and paid for more broadcasts advertising flying turtles. One morning, when the sky seemed bigger and brighter than usual, the turtle removed its shell. What it fatally failed to understand was that the aim of information warfare is to induce an adversary to let down its guard. (In 1998, Sergei P Rastorguev, a Russian military analyst, published Philosophy of Information Warfare, which included a lengthy version of this anecdote)