|Down but not out|
Phil (consummate politician) Ruddock has moved his pieces into position for the
final play against Geoff (the Bruiser) Clark. The ATSIC chairman has been
suspended for 'misbehavior', and is likely to have his position terminated if
and when his appeals against charges of obstructing police and 'riotous
It has taken the Howard government years for their
'enough rope' strategy to work, and it has been expensive and wasteful. Now,
finally, it seems to be paying dividends - The Bruiser is down, and after the
count, he'll be out.
The Bruiser only really understands two strategies - threatening and
attacking, so his next move was predictable. The sneering Irish bully claimed
his suspension was an attack on Aboriginal people, then blasted the ALP and Democrats for not
doing more to help him. The ALP did good mileage from grandstanding about
Aboriginal rights when it was fashionable, but they can now see the writing on
the wall: Geoff aint election '04 material, and they would just like him to go
away. Even the squishy Democrats are a reluctant to climb into bed with the
public face of Aboriginal violence.
Clark's behavior is a clear indication that achieving Aboriginal
'self-determination' though giving money to a pseudo-democratic
Aboriginal-appointed structure (ATSIC) has failed. No more can ATSIC be
considered an 'alternative government' - ATSIC is a government department
and its employees, like
servants, can be sacked.
In the dizzying '80s, phrases like 'self determination' met the politically
correct criteria, but it's now obvious to the swinging voter that it was a
failure. Giving money to poor people is an attractive
concept - after they get it they are a little less poor. Unfortunately, it
ignores the main cause of poverty: making poor financial decisions. The idea
that people will squander and waste their own money, but spend other people's
money wisely would be laughable if it were not believed by the left.
And the future of ATSIC? Well, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect it to
work at least with the efficiency of the rest of the public service (not
actually a high expectation). The Coalition will let it wither on the vine
until electoral frustration will allow it to pull the drop lever. In the
meantime they will get just enough rope.