Think about this for a moment. Our society is being run on the profit motive. If an activity does not produce a profit, it must either be changed so someone can make a profit from it or it will be cut. If you have a business or if you are working for someone who is making a profit, you are a valued member of society.
On the other hand, if you are not running a business, or if your services are not needed by someone to make a profit, you are what the Germans called a “useless mouth”. Spending on people who cannot support themselves is called “welfare”. All political parties, Greens included, have worked to cut government funding for public schools, public hospitals, single parents, the unemployed, the homeless, Aborigines, older Australians, people with disabilities, etc. Yet nobody dares to cut the billions of dollars of subsidies given to giant corporations and the wealthy through superannuation and negative gearing. Nobody calls these subsidies "welfare for the rich".
So what do you expect to happen in a system that worships profit at the expense of any human value? Australia is being run like a corporation. Pay workers as little as possible. Bring in cheap labor to replace local workers. Send any activity off-shore that can be carried on more cheaply in another location. So what hope do wayward young people have in Darwin or anywhere else? No jobs, no training, no services, no hope. No Royal Commission is going to find that austerity and worshiping nothing but profit provides the perfect breeding ground for problems austerity cannot possibly solve.
ONLY THE VERY WEALTHY ARE DOING BETTER
Many people will look at these events in Darwin and be distressed for “those other people”. However this is a narrow and short-sighted assessment. Things are slowly getting worse for most people, just as the social “safety net” is being removed. This means that more parents will face financial difficulties and their children will be more vulnerable to the cycle of poverty, drugs and crime, which can strike any family.
Consider the fate of Harriet Wran. She was battling mental illness and a crippling drug habit. She was found guilty of “harbouring, maintaining and assisting heroin addict Michael Lee in the days after he murdered small-time drug dealer.”(1) This means she assisted a murderer after the fact. Has any of the youths in Darwin been convicted of such a serious crime? Did any of them have a father with an Australia-wide political reputation and respect?
If you have money or are connected to people with money, you are valued and protected, like Harriet Wran. It is easy to see a racist story to these events in Darwin, but we need to look at this more carefully. For years Australia has had a growing division between the wealthy and those with little or no wealth. This is not going to get better any time soon, and will certainly get much worse, as all our political parties are committed to cuts in public spending on “welfare” no matter what. Even though the economy is growing year by year, the hours worked per Australian resident has been falling since 2008, and is lower now than it was in 2001.(2) This means that while our population is growing, the jobs - seen as hours worked – have not.
What do you expect to happen when there are fewer and fewer jobs and support for unemployed and homeless is cut? What is going to happen to the children of the people sacked from General Motors Holdens, Ford and Toyota? What is going to stop your child or grandchildren ending up in a privatized penal facility? This is the only way our profit-oriented society can deal with the increasing social problems we face. The abuse in Darwin is not just a problem for “them”. It is a problem for all of us, as our leaders take us down the US path of austerity and corporate rule. The US solution is more and more privatized prisons. What makes you think we will be any different?