Private property will save Aboriginal culture, not destroy it

By Helen Hughes, Mark Hughes and Sara Hudson

Australians are fed up. Despite expenditure of vast taxpayer funds – some $5 billion annually on top of normal education and health, etc – Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in remote Australia continue to live without jobs, on welfare, and in appalling public housing. Alcoholism, poor health, and violence are the consequence.

Private Housing on Indigenous Lands, released this week by The Centre for Independent Studies, cuts through to the causes of Indigenous dysfunction – the denial of individual property rights (private home and business ownership) – on Indigenous lands. Private Housing proposes that individual landowners be identified so they can receive the benefits of their land rights rather than allow these to be wasted by land councils and other communal organisations. A kick start to private property rights is proposed by giving long-term public housing tenants the choice of taking ownership – at no cost – of their dwellings, which are often mere shacks.

In mainstream Australia, private and communal property rights are complementary. Australians can get a job, own a house, and start a business side by side with sharing communal property such as schools, hospitals, roads and parks. This two sector economy is denied to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders on Indigenous lands. By only enabling communal ownership, a communist system has been imposed on these lands.

The benefits are appropriated by a small elite – the nomenklatura – who live in nice houses, while the regime fails to deliver decent housing to everyone else. Indigenous townships are like Omsk without the snow. Most are lucky to have a single shoddy communally owned supermarket, and there are no thriving coffee shops and other businesses of country towns. Criticism of communal landownership is attacked as being ideologically unsound, not on the basis of factual evidence.

The fact is that private property rights are essential to Indigenous economic development. Without private property rights, family and social dysfunction will continue. Indigenous languages are dying out and culture is under threat. Economic prosperity will encourage a revival of Indigenous languages, literature, art, music and dance. Pride will replace despair.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 19 Dec. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

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