Break up aboriginal societies, then blame the victims and curtail their rights "for their own good":
Australia's prime minister announced plans Thursday to ban pornography and alcohol for Aborigines in northern areas and tighten control over their welfare benefits to fight child sex abuse among them.
Some Aboriginal leaders rejected the plan as paternalistic and said the measures were discriminatory and would violate the civil rights of the country's original inhabitants. But others applauded the initiative and recommended extending the welfare restrictions to Aborigines in other parts of the country.
Prime Minister John Howard was responding to a report last week that found sexual abuse of children to be rampant in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The report said the abuse was fueled by endemic alcohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and other factors causing a breakdown in traditional society.
"This is a national emergency," Howard told Parliament. "We're dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present."
Howard announced the measures for the Northern Territory, an Outback region where the federal government retains powers it doesn't have over Australia's six states. He urged state leaders to apply similar tough rules in their jurisdictions.
The federal government can change laws in the territory with an act of Parliament, where Howard has a majority that ensures he can implement his policy.
Australia is home to about 400,000 Aborigines. About 60,000 live in the Northern Territory, often in isolated, impoverished communities where jobs are scarce and substance abuse is widespread. The land was returned to them over the past 30 years and accounts for about half the Northern Territory, which is about twice the size of Texas.
The plan angered some Aboriginal leaders, who said it was the kind of government behavior that has disenfranchised Aborigines and created the problems in the first place. They also complained they had not been consulted; the government had not previously indicated it was considering such action.
"I'm absolutely disgusted by this patronizing government control," said Mitch, a member of a government board helping Aborigines who were taken from their parents under past assimilation laws who uses one name. "And tying drinking with welfare payments is just disgusting."