I think it says a lot about public attitudes towards the old, left wing, arguments about aboriginal issues that this article run at the ABC Drum website by an aboriginal activist bemoaning the lack of "empowerment" (amongst other platitudes we've heard many times before) being at the core of aboriginal problems in the Northern Territory is met (for the most part) with strong cynicism in the comments.
Fortunately, I think it is fair to say that the Labor Party is just not as captured by this rhetoric as it used to be. But of course, they remain the party most likely to be hampered somewhat by internal conflict over how much weight to give to ideology to the detriment of outcomes.
Walter Shaw might also be impliedly giving permission for politicians to drop something that I am sure many people find annoyingly political correct:
Politicians and bureaucrats love to open speeches with: "I would like to pay respect to the traditional owners of the land in which we are meeting here today, both past and present."It seems to me that many people would welcome a politician who at least modified the policy as to when this should be said to something like this: "If I know a local aboriginal community leader of some note is present, I'll say it. But if I am addressing general group of people, and the function has no connection whatsoever with issues of aboriginality or entitlement to land, I'm not going to continue mouthing a tokenistic formula of no import to the occasion."
But these are just words, and they are tokenistic words at that. They do not reflect the real actions of government. The 'present' they refer to is no different to the past.