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Racism & the Media: The lie that built the NT Intervention 31-8-10

Media Release: Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney - Tuesday, 31 August 2010


After 3 years of failed policy - forum exposes the lies that

started the NT Intervention


Forum: 'Racism and the Media: The lie that built the Northern

Territory Intervention.'

Two of the central figures in a major media and government scandal which erupted in the lead up to the launch of the Northern Territory intervention will speak in Sydney on Friday night in their first ever public engagement together.

Tjanara Goreng Goreng, a former Howard government official turned whistleblower and Chris Graham, the founding editor of the National Indigenous Times, will speak at a public forum at the University of Technology, Sydney from 6pm Friday, September 3 (at the University Hall in Building 4, 745 Harris Street, Ultimo.

The forum is being hosted by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), an organization which has led the public campaign to expose the lies and failures of the Northern Territory intervention.

Goreng Goreng and Graham will talk on ‘Racism in the media: the Lie that Built the Northern Territory intervention', an expose about a fraudulent ABC Lateline program which aired in the lead-up to the intervention, entitled ‘Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous communities'.

The Lateline story helped the federal government mount the case for the NT intervention. But as the pair will reveal, the story was built on a gigantic fraud. The scandal surrounding this story has already destroyed several careers, sparked a series of parliamentary brawls and high level government, an apology to federal parliament, not to mention police raids on homes in Canberra and Central Australia.

Goreng Goreng will provide her first person experience as one of the whistleblowers who helped expose the government fraud leading up to the intervention. She'll also discuss the personal cost of taking a stand - Goreng Goreng's home was one of those raided by police, but it was far from the highest price she would pay for speaking out.

It was Chris Graham's reporting that led to the raid on Goreng Goreng's home, and several others. He'll provide an insight into the ABC story, and detail a series of startling frauds perpetrated on Lateline viewers.

The spotlight on Lateline's reporting has already seen an ‘anonymous youth worker' unmasked as a ministerial adviser, and a doctor caught prescribing Viagra to an alleged paedophile. Graham promises new information on Friday night.

"The scale of the fraud perpetrated by Lateline, and the determination of the ABC to whitewash this scandal and avoid any further scrutiny will leave your head spinning," said Chris Graham.

"If you think you know what media behaving badly looks like, then you need to think again.

"Lateline's reporting led directly to the greatest human rights abuse against Aboriginal people certainly of my time, and probably in the last half century.

"The Northern Territory intervention has harmed Aboriginal people; it's caused starvation; it's seen a dramatic rise in reports of self-harm incidents; it's driven children away from school; it's wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. In short, it's been a disaster for the nation's most disadvantaged citizens, the people who could least afford it.

"The media has always played a crucial role in creating an environment where governments can get away with race politics during election campaigns. In this case, the government couldn't have done it without Lateline."

Jean Parker from STICS said: "This federal election the Aboriginal communities in Central Australia have sent a clear message to Canberra - ‘stop the intervention!' With up to 40% swings towards a clearly anti-intervention candidate the country must listen. The Labor government's expansion of income management has been sold as an end to discrimination, but for Aboriginal communities who have had their land and self-determination stripped away under the intervention, these amendments offer nothing."

This week the Australian Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes has called for the Racial Discrimination Act to be fully restored in relation Aboriginal communities in the NT. Shamefully the Labor government under Minister Jenny Macklin continued the discrimination inherent in intervention laws.

"The intervention is an outright return to assimilation, but many well meaning people have believed the government's claims that the policies are designed to help," continued Jean Parker.

"And ABC Lateline's dishonest reporting formed the basis of that myth," continued Chris Graham.

"I've worked in the media for more than 20 years, almost half of that in Indigenous affairs, so I already had a pretty mixed view about the conduct of many of my colleagues.

"Even so, I've always had a very positive image of ABC news and current affairs. It was one news source I felt I could really trust.

"I don't feel that way anymore."

Forum 'Racism and the Media: The lie that built the Northern Territory Intervention.'
6pm Friday 3rd September UTS, University Hall - entrance in Harris St, opposite the ABC at Ultimo.

For comment -
Chris Graham: 0407 555 328
Jean Parker STICS: 0449 646 593