The last 13 years of my time has been given to improving the chances of employment for the Kimberley’s indigenous population. Consistently on the wrong end of ‘do-gooder’ leftist policies where entitlement to welfare has been the main agenda, we may now get a government that can make the change that’s sorely needed. This is a big step for former Labor stalwart Tony Mundine.
(I am in the middle of helping start a new Aboriginal owned and operated business in the Kimberley with a view to provide considerable employment and other business opportunities. )
Good move Tony Abbott (copied in full due to paywall): Tony Abbott’s indigenous vision takes shape
- From: The Australian
- August 10, 2013
TONY Abbott has declared fixing Australia’s greatest “national failure”, dire indigenous disadvantage, will be one of his personal priorities if he wins office, and has secured the agreement of former ALP president Warren Mundine to deliver generational change.
An Aboriginal leader who once hated the Opposition Leader’s “Tory politics”, Mr Mundine has agreed to head a super advisory board on indigenous spending, projects and policy, reporting directly to the prime minister, if a Coalition government is elected.
In a dramatic shift away from Labor politics and ideology on indigenous affairs, Mr Mundine would directly drive a philosophy of lifting the dire living standards of Aboriginal communities through commercial development and self-help.
The Coalition’s emphasis on lifting conditions in Aboriginal communities will shift from land rights to ensuring “all children go to school, all the adults are working or in work-like programs and the ordinary rule of law runs through those communities”.
Mr Abbott has staked the success of his prime ministership, should he win the September 7 election, on working with Mr Mundine and his advisory board to “galvanise people and the government to ensure the goodwill and investment” towards indigenous Australia delivers a “better outcome” than they have for the past two decades.
He said that despite the nation having come a long way in the past 50 years on indigenous affairs, average Australians were “profoundly uneasy about the one great failure in our national life, arguably the only failure in our national life”.
“Quite frankly there are, even today, parts of remote Australia that are like Somalia without guns,” Mr Abbott said in an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian yesterday.
“I think we will be an incomplete country unless we do better than we have thus far and I do believe white and black Australians have to march into the future together in a way that we rarely have in the past.”
On the eve of attending the Garma Festival in the Northern Territory today, Mr Abbott said he had to be focused on addressing indigenous advantage from the “very beginning” if he was elected prime minister.
“It is very important to focus from day one on a relatively small number of things if you want to make a difference,” he said.
Mr Abbott said the Coalition had to stop the boats, fix the budget and address infrastructure spending, which was seriously neglected. But, if elected, he wanted to add taking “reconciliation to a new level” and embedding the idea of personal responsibility as he had in government with the work-for-the- dole program and the Job Network.
In promoting indigenous affairs to one of his top priorities, Mr Abbott said there was no longer institutional racism in Australia and he believed most Australians saw Aborigines and Aboriginal culture as an “adornment” to the nation.
But he added: “You still have the dreadful fact that life expectancy is almost 20 years less for indigenous Australians, that educational attainment is significantly lower and unemployment rates are between 50 per cent and 300 per cent higher. I want to be the prime minister for indigenous affairs.”
Mr Abbott, who has visited remote Aboriginal communities for years as a backbencher, minister and Opposition Leader, has vowed to spend a week in a remote community as prime minister – as a “hands-on volunteer”. He is committed to moving indigenous affairs from the mega-department of Families, Housing, Communities and Indigenous Affairs and put it under his own control.
The Opposition Leader will announce Mr Mundine’s acceptance as the head of the advisory board which will report directly to the prime minister, providing advice on all aspects of indigenous affairs and the ability to “go public” if the board thinks the government is not properly handling the issues.
“Warren has a tough-minded view of what needs to happen,” Mr Abbott said. He described the proposed advisory board as an “agent of change”.
While Mr Mundine has been a critic of Labor’s approach to indigenous affairs, describing the long-standing attitudes as treating Aborigines as “sacred koalas” and promoting a “cargo cult” of “welfare poison”, he has been highly critical of the Howard government’s intervention in the Northern Territory communities, describing it as Mal Brough “sending in the tanks”.
Mr Mundine, who quit the ALP six months ago after becoming disillusioned with Labor’s failure to recruit an indigenous representative in parliament, supports Mr Abbott’s vision for Aboriginal Australia and is prepared to work with any prime minister to end indigenous disadvantage.
He will today reveal a radical four-tiered plan to rewrite Aboriginal affairs by abolishing scores of statutory indigenous governance bodies, which he says hinder development, opening up communities to the outside world and excising townships from the communally owned land system to create private home ownership and business development. Mr Mundine, the executive chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce, will deliver a keynote speech at the Garma Festival, in which he calls for dramatic changes to land ownership to create more economic opportunities.
Mr Mundine’s steadfast view that commercial development offered the only chance for indigenous communities to escape poverty has long stood in opposition to the rights-based agenda of the Labor Left.
Mr Mundine, 56, has been talking to Mr Abbott for years, but a friendship between the two men blossomed in 2008 when Mr Mundine was asked by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to negotiate with Mr Abbott over the reintroduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory.
Mr Mundine and Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson have been at the vanguard of a new leadership that has disowned the welfare mentality.
Additional reporting: Patricia Karvelas