Indigenous services underfunding explained; ECAJ claims increase in anti-Semitism [except for violence and graffiti, which has decreased]

Sorry, oh loyal readers. Other commitments and so on mean I’ve been too busy, and have had to devote energies to the intervention and climate change elsewhere.

This is a fucking outrage.

THE Northern Territory Labor government has for the past five years diverted $2 billion earmarked for indigenous disadvantage and other key services to mainstream spending in marginal Darwin seats. Detailed figures obtained by The Weekend Australian reveal that hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars provided by the commonwealth and intended for indigenous health, homelessness, delivery of services and families have been used to service debt and bolster superannuation payments.

The figures come as the Territory government continues to defend its handling of the $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Project, which has so far failed to result in one new house being built, despite $45m being spent in the first 15 months of the project.

The new figures, revealed in 2009 Commonwealth Grants Commission papers and raised this week by conservative indigenous politician Adam Giles, show the Territory government has consistently failed to spend its allocation of GST money from Canberra as intended.

The report on assessed revenues and expenditure shows the Territory government has underspent by $2.17bn on key social services over the past five years: in 2003-04, by $275m; in 2004-05 by $319m; in 2005-06 by $448m; in 2006-07 by $507m; and in 2007-08 by $625m.

In services to indigenous communities alone, the Territory government has on average underspent by 54 per cent.

In 2007-08, the commission assessed the amount needing to be spent on services to indigenous communities as $253.4m, but the CGC report found the Territory spent only $139m.

In the same period, the Territory spent just $71m in the critical areas of families and community services, less than a third of the recommended spending of $216m.

For homelessness, the government had $66.7m available but spent only $17m, almost a quarter.

Conversely, the figures show that the NT government was overspending on superannuation, debt, and culture and recreation.

In 2007-08, the commonwealth assessed the Territory’s superannuation costs at $256m but the government spent $358m, a jump of 40 per cent.

The CGC found $13.7m had to be spent on debt. Instead, the Territory government spent $103.4m – almost eight times the assessed amount.

The amount overspent on culture and recreation was $39m.

Mr Giles, the Country Liberals’ indigenous policy spokesman, used parliamentary sittings in Alice Springs this week to call the government to account. “Where did the money go?” he said. “It went to pay back excessive debt of $90m. It went to pay back $358m of superannuation in one year.

“What sort of a government can spend $358m on superannuation of its 17,000 public servants, but only spend $98m on roads and $1m on transporting rural school children to school?”

Mr Giles accused the government of overspending on urban infrastructure projects in Darwin’s northern suburbs to win voter support. “They’re spending money on pork-barrelling rather than delivering services to rural and remote areas,” he said.

There are so many reasons this is obscene that I fear I will explode if I start. I’ve been working on analysing the consultations and government reports on them, and will try to formulate them in some sort of public friendly form.

I don’t believe anything ECAJ says about anti-Semitism. They are not a credible source. They claim a massive increase in anti-Semitism: double what it was last year, to 962 reported incidents. Presumably, this includes whenever anyone is to the left of Likud. They go on to claim:

”On the positive side of the ledger, there was a marked decrease in reports of physical violence against Jewish individuals and property, with 27 incidents compared with 58 and 46 in the previous two years. Twenty-seven is the average in this category over 20 years”.

So in the most serious category which can actually be monitored, there was a decrease in anti-Semitic attacks. Okay. I hope they release their latest report online soon. I had a brief glance at last year’s one. They had a section on “The Left”. It included Phil Mendes analysis of this dreadful phenomenon, and quoted as proof of the evil those comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa, and accusing Israel of being based on ethnic cleansing. Actually, in a way its striking that there were 27 incidents of graffiti AND assault. By any rational measure, this means anti-Semitism is fairly marginal in Australia. Considering the report the other day about the pervasiveness in schools of racist bullying, it’s a little remarkable that anti-Semitism can be given such prominence in the media as some sort of alarming new emergency. If anti-Muslim prejudice were given the same loose definition that ECAJ gives anti-Semitism, I imagine you’d find the most incredible amount of anti-Muslim prejudice in Australia. You wouldn’t have to look far at all.

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