This essay concerns two experimental governmental interventions undertaken in Ceduna, far west South Australia. The first scenario involves a local council initiative, which I argue was designed to expunge public spaces of the presence of disturbing Indigenous bodies, which elicited local disgust. The second case involves a current federal government trial of stringent welfare reform measures. I argue that this case was framed primarily in terms of suffering, which arouses compassion and demands intervention. Thus the essay explores how disgust and respectability, suffering and compassion, as well as alterity, circulate and come to settle on different Indigenous bodies. Focussing on the governing of Indigenous people, I use these two policy experiments to track the state's penalization and abandonment of, interventions into, and concern for Indigenous lives in a single setting.
- welfare reform