The facts are not in dispute: thousands of black Australians never reach the age of 40; an entirely preventable disease, trachoma, blinds black children as epidemics of rheumatic fever ravage their communities; suicide among the despairing young is common. No other developed country has such a record. A pervasive white myth, that Aborigines leech off the state, serves to conceal the disgrace that money the federal government says it spends on indigenous affairs actually goes towards opposing native land rights. In 2006, some A$3bn was underspent "or the result of creative accounting", reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Like the children of apartheid, the Aboriginal children of Thamarrurr in the Northern Territory receive less than half the educational resources allotted to white children.
In 2005, the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination described the racism of the Australian state, a distinction afforded no other developed country. This was in the decade-long rule of the conservative coalition of John Howard, whose coterie of white supremacist academics and journalists assaulted the truth of recorded genocide in Australia, especially the horrific separations of Aboriginal children from their families. They deployed arguments not dissimilar to those David Irving used to promote Holocaust denial.
Smear by media as a precursor to the latest round of repression is long familiar to black Australians. In 2006, the flagship current affairs programme of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline, broadcast lurid allegations of "sex slavery" among the Mutitjulu people in the Northern Territory. The programme's source, described as an "anonymous youth worker", was later exposed as a federal government official whose "evidence" was discredited by the Northern Territory chief minister and the police.
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Foreign governments, especially the US, want the Northern Territory as a toxic dump. The Adelaide to Darwin railway that runs adjacent to Olympic Dam, the world's largest uranium mine, was built with the help of Kellogg, Brown & Root - a subsidiary of American giant Halliburton, the alma mater of Dick Cheney, Howard's "mate". "The land grab of Aboriginal tribal land has nothing to do with child sexual abuse," says the Australian scientist Helen Caldicott, "but all to do with open slather uranium mining and converting the Northern Territory to a global nuclear dump."
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