“Basics Card’s a Racist Card!” – Picket of FAHCSIA office in Melbourne, 18 June 2010

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), along with unionists, indigenous activists and supporters, staged an emphatic protest last Friday at the Melbourne office of the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs at Casselden Place. A range of speakers detailed the effects of the NT Intervention and the imposition of the so-called ‘Basics Card’ and a large-scale replica was ceremoniously burnt in the forecourt, before a march around the building, including a just-too-late attempt to enter through a back entrance. The above footage includes the preliminaries, the card-burning, and the march; there is more on the Facebook page of the Collective (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91084301876&v=info&ref=ts) and further speeches are on their way.
See also:

For some workers, the struggle will never end
– Andra Jackson in The Age, and

http://maicollective.blogspot.com/

http://www.nuw.org.au/get-involved/campaigns/jobs-with-justice-campaign

Here is the callout from MAIC:

On June 18th we will protest the 3rd year of the Northern Territory Intervention. Kevin Rudd has continued and extended the Intervention policy towards Aboriginal people pushed through in the final days of the Howard era.

The Intervention was based upon the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), indicating the racist basis of the Intervention. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin claims her new Intervention legislation is ‘reinstating the RDA’. This is a lie.

Under the new laws all of the racist Intervention policies introduced by Howard in 2007 will remain in place. Government measures to control Aboriginal communities include:

• Government Business Managers on Aboriginal communities
• Signing over Aboriginal land for 5-40 years before housing or services are offered
• Racist alcohol and pornography bans

People will not have access to the Racial Discrimination Act to challenge these measures.

Welfare quarantines will also remain compulsory for the vast majority of Aboriginal people currently on the system. This manages income spending from welfare payments through a ‘Basics Card’. A recent detailed research report by the Menzies School of Health found income management had no beneficial effect on tobacco and cigarette sales, soft drink or fruit and vegetable sales. Rather, income management has caused racially segregated queues in stores, forced movement of Aboriginal people into urban centres to access money on the Basics Card, and forced work for Basics Card money, harking back to the ‘rations days’.

Send a message at Fahcsia, government department responsible for administering the intervention, that this racist intervention must go!

More video (added 22June):

(Added 23 June):

[Added 29 June] There is now a fuller account of the protest on Melbourne Indymedia, including a link to Joanne Knight’s blog.