Don't believe the hype

I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed Boyd Hunter’s public lecture on August 3, on the topic that Indigenous policy should be based on evidence rather than hyperbole. Much of the talk focused on critiquing work coming out of the Centre for Independent Studies, which isn’t always carefully grounded in good datasets like the NATSIS. My question afterwards was on what the Left should learn from the evidence, that might lead it to revise its hyperbole.

Boyd didn’t nominate a particular issue, but another audience member suggested land rights — the theory being that the Left in the 1970s had a view that access to land would make a big difference, yet the health outcomes for remote Indigenous communities are not improving faster than urban Indigenous communities. But perhaps the Left has already learned this lesson: land rights seem to be lower on the priority list for Indigenous campaigners now than they were even as recently as the 1990s.

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4 Responses to Don't believe the hype

  1. WeekbyWeek says:

    Granted Mabo was a brilliant piece of social policy, the connection (correlation) between land rights and a fundamental improvement in health and economics of Indigenous people and communities was never satisfactorily proven.

    In many ways, the Left was rather lazy in its pollicy prescriptions. Like now?

  2. BJE says:

    ‘land rights seem to be lower on the priority list for Indigenous campaigners now than they were even as recently as the 1990s.’

    Perhaps this is because there were some successes with regards to land rights as a concept. Land rights do not have a basis purely in the economical. Pending the legislation before the Senate this week, land rights may once again rise to an issue of prominence.

    Notwithstanding this, any contribution focussed on promoting evidence based policy development in Indigenous issues is welcomed.

  3. Geoff R says:

    HREOC publications and the Deaths in Custody RC did and have stressed the importance of using land for economic benefits and the limits to what is possible here. I would count them as part of ‘the left’. But I agree that much popular discourse on both the ‘left’ and ‘right’ is fact free, appeals to reconciliation or the sprit of enterprise have their place but they don’t get us far.

  4. derrida derider says:

    What BJE said – the economic effects of land rights were never going to be large (and, yes, there were people who said otherwise and, yes, they were dead wrong). They may even have been negative by discouraging people from exiting remote areas.

    But there were and are non-economic arguments for them.

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