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So some white people think Abbott should be given the Indigenous Affairs portfolio

If Tony Abbott wants to be Minister for Indigenous Affairs, we should have a look at his credentials for the job, widely spruiked by many white people.

But what do the Indigenous community and their advocates think?

In 2008, Aboriginal elders travelled for three days to get to Canberra to put their case for businesses in remote communities to a Parliamentary committee; Tony Abbott walked in late, didn’t apologise, sat down and then fell asleep. Needless to say, nothing came from their journey.

In August 2013, 1 Deadly Nation had this to say:

Tony Abbott volunteers in Indigenous communities we are told, he goes for a week a year and these statements of “fact” are usually then followed by a barrage of holier than thou tripe about how much Mr Abbott could teach the rest of us….

In August of 2012 Tony Abbott did indeed go to Cape York…for 2 days! It was a working bee of sorts and some of Australia’s business leaders were taken along to volunteer as well. Photos of Abbott with tools in hand were taken and the myth of Abbott the saviour of the Black man had a wonderful photo op. Abbott charged $9,636.36 tax payer dollars to fund the hire of a private charter flight for the 2 days. I don’t know about you, but when I volunteer to hammer in a few nails for a day or two I don’t ask the people of Australia to cough up 10k. That isn’t volunteering, that is the most expensive labourer in the history of Australia.

On another one of his trips to an Indigenous Community Mr Abbott was off to sell his version of the Wild Rivers Legislation to the traditional owners it would impact. Not quite volunteering as such, but policy is good and spending time in Indigenous communities is to be encouraged if it results in consultation that means that locals get their message across and this results in positive policy changes. So just how much did Mr Abbott listen to the local people of the Indigenous community he visited? How much was this reflected in his policy? Because hey, we know (or are told) he has the ear of the Black man…

”We do not support his shonky Bill,” said activist Murrando Yanner of the Carpentaria Land Council. ”We think it is badly drafted and legally unenforceable.” ”He will leave unhappy,” said Mr Yanner, who supports the existing Wild River legislation. ”His new Bill is a dogs breakfast.’

Well, that didn’t go to plan. It was neither volunteering nor listening to the locals. That trip cost we the tax payer $32,545.00 in flights alone and was for just one night!

So when weeks are days and days cost tens of thousands of dollars and volunteering is photo ops and not listening to the traditional owners of the land you have to rename these volunteering trips. Tony Abbott’s very expensive, tax payer funded, private jet flown, not listening tours of outback Australia.

Next time an LNP member or journalist drops the “Abbott volunteers for weeks in Indigenous communities” line, call bullshit and then refer them to the figures. Three days and nearly $45000 in flights alone…, if that’s volunteering the rest of us are really doing it all wrong. Many of us, some one million odd Australians, do volunteer every year for community organisations, they slog their guts out, donate large amounts of money and never even ask for a thank you. The audacity of this public lie should be even more shocking when we remember that Indigenous life expectancy is at third world levels and Mr Abbott is racking up huge bills to do nothing about it while claiming credit for work he simply doesn’t do!

But did it improve when Tony took over being both the PM and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs?

Budget 2014: $534 million cut to Indigenous programs

More than 150 programs, grants and activities defunded

More than $160 million of the cuts will come out of Indigenous health programs. The health savings will be redirected to the Medical Research Future Fund.

Further cuts include a $3.5 million cut to the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples will not get $15 million earmarked for the representative body over the next three years.

Funding for Indigenous language support announced in the last budget will also be cut by $9.5 million over five years.

No commitment to the National Partnership Agreement for Indigenous Early Childhood Development which will likely lead to the closure of 38 Indigenous childhood development centres across the country.

New funding announcements include $54 million allocated to police stations to be built in seven remote Indigenous communities in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia over the next four years.

In response to cuts of $15 million from legal aid commissions and $6 million from community legal centres, all seven Attorneys-General signed a letter calling on Senator Brandis to reverse the existing cuts made to legal services, and guarantee no further funding reductions would be made to Legal Aid Commission, Community Legal Centres, and the Aboriginal Legal Service.

“These proposals will affect the most vulnerable members in our community, including foremost women and children who are victims of, or at risk of family violence, as well as Indigenous Australians,” the letter said.

“It is difficult to reconcile these actions with the Prime Minister’s recent recognition of the importance of tackling domestic and family violence and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as national issues.

“Cutting funding to the services which help these vulnerable members of our community, at this time, is short sighted and ill conceived.

“Such a move will further set us back decades in tackling this important issue.”

And it only got worse….

In March 2015, Mr Abbott backed a plan in Western Australia to close more than 100 remote communities and move more than 1,000 people, saying “what we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices“.

But Indigenous leader Noel Pearson told the ABC remote Indigenous communities deserved an “extensive” explanation and not “off-the-cuff” comments.

“I think it’s a very disappointing and hopeless statement by the Prime Minister, quite frankly,” he told The World Today.

“I just think it’s very disrespectful to cast fear into these communities through a kind of policy thought bubble rather than a considered position from the Commonwealth Government as to the future — the anxious future — of these remote communities.

“He has got no plan for the future of these communities in the event that they close down. And I’m just bitterly disappointed to hear this deranged debate go on in the substandard manner in which it’s being conducted.”

Chair of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine said it was not as “simple” as the Prime Minister had described.

“These people are actually living on their homelands and it affects a lot of things, it affects their cultural activities, it affects their native title, it affects a number of areas,” he told Radio National.

“It’s not as simple as… if someone from Sydney decides to have a treechange and go and live in the bush. It’s about their life, it’s about their very essence, it’s about their very culture.”

I don’t think Catherine McGregor is the person who should be recommending who should get the Indigenous Affairs portfolio and I certainly don’t like her reasoning that it is the only way to make Tony behave. Rewarding bad behaviour leads to very poor outcomes. How about we ask the Indigenous community who they would like to be their Minister. On the real track record, as opposed to the air-brushed media version, I doubt they would choose Tony.

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31 comments

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  1. Anon E Mouse

    Well that would be one way for the Lib/Nats to quash any hope of getting the Indigenous vote.

  2. townsvilleblog

    Ken Wyatt is a federal LNP MP, why not give the Ministry to him to look after his people, or is he a typical tory and only thinks of himself?

  3. Clean livin

    The “lifestyle” bit got me. Never mind the funding of private schools. Surely they are so called lifestyle choices!

  4. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    There are far too many of these ex-forces people turning up in public life foisting their (usually rightwing) opinions on the rest of us. We really need our forces to be politically non-partisan, and I’m rather disturbed that they are increasingly being quite brazen in how quickly they spout their views once they’ve left the service.

    But you are right. Tony shows no empathy whatsoever for Indigenous people. Like his decision to be the minister for women, I think he took on the portfolio as the worse kind of bad taste joke. The reality is that he wants the defence portfolio as it better aligns with his Churchill fantasy.

  5. flohri1754

    Thumbs up townsvilleblog and Clean livin!

  6. Kaye Lee

    Abbott might like to get his photo taken with Indigenous communities but he shows absolutely no understanding of them and even less respect for them. His whole focus is on the big stick approach. In early 2015 it was reported that they had spent more than $45 million dollars on truancy officers with absolutely no consideration of the hurdles kids face in getting to school or interest in the outcomes they achieve when there.

    “Some of them are living in tin shacks and old cars – they’re not living in houses with hot water and that’s what people aren’t perceiving, It’s a lot harder to get a child up at 7:00am to four-degree weather and there’s no hot water or anything in the house and no warm clothes.”

    They also linked welfare payments to school attendance.

    “A grandmother will tell us that they’ve been fined several times and there’s nothing they can do about it,” she said.

    “They just basically accept the fine and pay it off, but the kids still don’t go to school.

    “They try their best, but the kids are just not listening. They probably can’t afford to have their money taken off them because they’re feeding all the kids whose real parents are not on the scene.”

  7. Roscoe

    I wonder how much his volunteer bush fire fighting costs us or his ‘charity’ bike rides

  8. Kaye Lee

    I wonder how much George Brandis is spending on yet another inquiry into Aboriginal incarceration rates when he could jusr read the plethora of recommendations that have already been made.

    In Western Australia, it costs more than $120,000 a year to lockup a prisoner. One quarter of the Western Australian prison population is comprised of fine defaulters, almost half of whom are Aboriginal. Aboriginal people who are already disadvantaged are more vulnerable to being fined and are less likely to be able to pay. As a result they accrue debt and their licenses or registrations might be cancelled without their knowledge.

    Listen to the Aboriginal people, involve them, and invest the money into communities rather than prisons.

    The following gives some wonderful suggestions on how ro reduce incarceration rates

    How can we reduce Aboriginal incarceration rates?
    Community empowerment
    Adequate legal representation
    Employment and leadership
    Recreation programmes
    Circle sentencing
    Community Corrections orders
    Healing programmes
    Justice Reinvestment (JR)
    Stop being tough on crime
    Make prisons culturally appropriate
    Shifting blame

    https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/law/reducing-aboriginal-incarceration-rates

  9. Gangey1959

    Suitability of one mad monk for Federal Indigenous Affairs portfolio:

    Racist
    Mysoginist
    Not Australian
    Paedophile school dropout
    Deeply religious
    Lifestyle choisist
    IQ of somewhere between 2 and that of a 3 week old dog turd.

    Perfect
    NOT

    Go for it talcum. We dare you.

  10. Gangey1959

    @ KayeLee.
    In 2007, after consulting the local Council, I REbuilt my shed so that I could be better self employed. I was told I didn’t need a permit. I was wrong, and the resulting $30,000+ in fines and demolition costs had to be paid.
    I was able to work them off, along with some of my traffic fines, with what in Victoria is called a Community Based Order instead of X days in jug. I worked with a bunch of similar individuals of questionable moral fibre on the Puffing Billy train line, clearing tracks, cutting timber, collecting rubbish, etc.
    Surely the Indigenous population in WA would be suitable for similar community work. It would keep them out of jail, reduce costs, input into their own communities, and reduce their ”supposed” debt to society.
    It is not something for violent or anti social criminals, but it means that no one has an ever increasing financial burden that cannot be paid, and ends up with an incarceration record which gets in the way of future employment if nothing else.

  11. keerti

    Except that in Western Australia adolescents are regularly accused and questioned by police just because they were in 5k of the offence! That leads to resentment and eventually they do something and get caught. Easy to see where the cycle begins.

  12. guest

    Kaye Lee,

    when the lazy, costly behaviour of Abbott is listed, even with regard to only a part of his brief let alone the whole PM role, it becomes less and less impressive – perhaps disgraceful..

    We understand better why he proved himself to be unsatisfactory as a PM – and why Turnbull saw reason to usurp his position.

    What Turnbull has achieved, however, is blindingly, obviously equally disastrous in a different way – and seemingly beyond redemption.

    We live in interesting times.

  13. John Kelly

    He’s a leading contender for the “Greatest Waste of Space Award” for 2016. Kevin Andrews a close 2nd.

  14. FreeThinker

    Abbott would like to have a Minister’s salary again so as to more substantially fund his ‘lifestyle choices’.

  15. diannaart

    What a disgusting little drone is Tony Abbott.

    All just a game to him, people’s lives, well-being, future hopes and dreams, Abbott does not think in such terms about others. I wonder if he has ever done something for someone completely unselfishly, just because he could, not because there was something in it for him.

  16. Kaye Lee

    dianna,

    I am reminded of when Tony went to fight fires not so long ago. He tweeted that he was going to do it so the cameras would be there and then commandeered a vehicle to drive it 100m while the cameras were rolling.

    Paul Daley at the Guardian also wrote about this today in a story titled “Abbott wants to be Indigenous affairs minister? Well, he ain’t qualified for the job” …..

    Then came his ridiculous assertion in mid-2014, that: “I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled, great southern land.”

    I guess that’d be why colonial “settlers”, soldiers, militias and others saw fit to kill, by some accounts, up to 60,000 Indigenous people on the um, “unsettled”, Queensland colonial and immediate post-federation frontier, alone. Never mind the rest of the continent.

    Abbott would soon compound his habitation fallacy with this insult to Indigenous Australians: “The arrival of the first fleet was the defining moment in the history of this continent. Let me repeat that: it was the defining moment in the history of this continent.”

    Did you get that the second time?

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/postcolonial-blog/2016/nov/03/abbott-wants-to-be-indigenous-affairs-minister-well-he-aint-qualified-for-the-job

  17. lawrencewinder

    Hmmmm.. some essayists don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha , either!

  18. paulwalter

    Stop complaining.

    Shouldn’t Tones have a “lifestyle choice” also?

  19. Alan Baird

    Yes, Tony sure has a slippery grasp of genuine history, no doubt relying on Downton Abbey as his “reliable reference” for a world view. I loved his praise (to Mt Abe) of the fabulously (a literally accurate descriptor!) honourable way the Japanese behaved during the 2nd World Unpleasantness. Despite all the above negative comments about Tone being unfortunately on the money, we need to address the perfect synergy an Abbott leadership resurgence would bring to the parallel universe that is rapidly forming world wide! It does NOT take a huge leap of the imagination to perceive a reincarnation of the thirties right now. Throughly non-benevolent dictatorships are extant, eg. Putin plus a slurry of only slightly less potent potentates amid the post CCCP wreckage, a noisome group of African despots, east European hotheads and any number of newly erupted volcanoes (Duterte etc) coming to a failed state near you. If Mr Trump gets up, we’ll have already overthrown the Weimar Republic and a 30s-repeat-Fourth Reich-like era could be under way. Of course, Mr Trump has already received rumblings of what could turn into effusive praise from Mr Abbott so a comeback could be RIGHT on time! All of them will be simultaneously Religiously Right-wing and Viciously Regressive-Repressive. That famed shirt-fronting of Putin (I guarantee!) turned into a sloppy bromance the moment Tony gazed into Vlad’s eyes and recognised a kindred spirit. Can you imagine Tone’s reaction to Pussy Riot invading a George Pell sermon at St So-and-so’s Cathedral? A conniption fit perhaps? No! A perfect fit for current circumstances I say, especially if Trump wins. Tone can then round it all off by conferring a Duchy on the Queen! She’ll be more chuffed than Phil was with his knighthood. No! Make that a Duchy and bar! David Flint would approve and it warms the cockles of my heart too. We are all VERY amused…

  20. Alan Baird

    PS. In the New Order, Tone will have to give stern orders to Matthias to cease and desist ANY comments about “Economic Girly-Men” considering the person who gave him his latest leg-up.

  21. helvityni

    ….at least Tones should know better than to keep his suit and tie on when he goes walkabout…

  22. diannaart

    Alan, love your work

    In the New Order, Tones, Vlad and Donald are anointed as the holy trinity by George Pell, flanked by a John Howard cherub.

  23. Alan Baird

    Diannaart,
    I hope you’re thinking of Team Oz with that comment and that the names are in (descending) order of importance and that the John Howard cherub is back-dated to get rid of the eye-brows (and other baggage).

  24. diannaart

    Alan

    Indeed, with one exception – cherub Howard’s eyebrows, the little thing needs them to remain aloft over the trinity, Howard doesn’t and never has had wings; non-core, I believe.

  25. Brastos Malvo

    Here is a list of just some of the decisions Abbott made regarding indigenous Australians (fully supported by Turnbull as were all Abbott’s decisions and policies). This list comes primarily from Sally McManus’ site on ‘Tony Abbott’s Wreckage’.

    – Cut off water to indigenous Australians so they have to move out – March 2015. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced the state will close 100 to 150 of the 274 remote communities in WA. He has stated that the WA government will not pick up the shortfall once Federal funding ends in July 2015.

    – The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia are also under threat due to the withdrawal of federal funding. Communities in the Northern Territory have already been closed, having devastating consequences on those who have been removed from their lands. Attack after attack on the welfare of indigenous communities has been made by the Abbott government – 24 November 2014.

    – Breaks an election promise to a publish a proposal for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people and establish a bipartisan process to try to bring about recognition as soon as possible within the first 12 months of Government – 19 September 2014.

    – Cuts all funding to Vibe Australia, the Indigenous organisation responsible for creating and producing the Deadly Awards, Deadly Vibe and InVibe magazines, Deadly Sounds radio, Move It Mob Style TV and deadlyvibe.com.au – July 14, 2014

    – Slashes funding from the Indigenous Health Budget – 13 May 2014

    – Cuts funding for Indigenous language support – 13 May 2014

    – Abolishes the Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the only elected representative body for Indigenous Australians – 13 May 2014

    – Cuts $500 million from indigenous programs over five years – 13 May 2014

    – Axes funding to Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Incorporated, the only Indigenous peak body advising on early childhood issues for Indigenous people in NSW – 25 February, 2014

    – Pays hundreds of indigenous workers in his Department up to $19 000 less than non-indigenous workers doing the same job and cuts the budget for the representative body the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples causing two-thirds of the staff to lose their jobs – 15 February 2014

    – Cuts Indigenous legal services by $13.4 million. This includes $3.5 million from front line domestic violence support services, defunding the National legal service and abolishing all policy and law reform positions across the country – 17 December 2013

    – Abolishes the position of co-ordinator-general for remote indigenous services – 17 December 2013

    – Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community – 14 September 2013. This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013 in a live recording.

    – Breaks an election promise to publish a proposal for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people and establish a bipartisan process to try to bring about recognition as soon as possible within the first 12 months of Government.

    – Gets rid of the Indigenous Water Advisory Committee

    – Silences the Northern Australia Indigenous Experts Forum on sustainable Economic Development

    – Cancels the Indigenous Development effectiveness Initiative Steering Committee

  26. Kaye Lee

    Brastos,

    You could add to that list that, whilst slashing funding to Aboriginal legal aid, they were providing millions to assist businesses and farmers to fight native title claims. It was one of the first things Hockey announced in his December 2013 MYEFO

    2015-16 budget

    The Government will provide $5.8 million over four years to extend the Native Title Respondents Scheme. The scheme provides assistance for the legal costs of respondents to native title claims, and assists industry representative bodies with Native Title Officer costs.

    This measure extends the Mid‑Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013‑14 measure titled Restoring Native Title Respondent Funding.

    http://www.budget.gov.au/2015-16/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-05.htm

  27. Michael Taylor

    And don’t forget too, that he once said that the English discovered Australia (or something like that).

  28. Brastos Malvo

    Kaye Lee.

    WOW. Thanks for that.

  29. Brastos Malvo

    Here is a list of just some of the decisions Abbott made regarding Indigenous Australians (fully supported by Turnbull as were all Abbott’s decisions and policies). This list comes primarily from Sally McManus’ site on ‘Tony Abbott’s Wreckage’. (Don’t forget the many Australian jobs that were dissolved in this process and this is just a tiny part of the Liberal National Party’s attack on Australian jobs, casting hundreds of thousands into poverty and a number into homelessness. The Government ‘Homeless Help Line’ now tells you that the number of homeless people is too great and they cannot help. ‘Go and sleep in your car’.):

    – Cutting off water to indigenous Australians so they have to move out – March 2015. Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced the state will close 100 to 150 of the 274 remote communities in WA. He has stated that the WA government will not pick up the shortfall once Federal funding ends in July 2015.

    – The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia are also under threat due to the withdrawal of federal funding. Communities in the Northern Territory have already been closed, having devastating consequences on those who have been removed from their lands. Attack after attack on the welfare of indigenous communities has been made by the Abbott government – 24 November 2014.

    – Breaks an election promise to publish a proposal for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people and establish a bipartisan process to try to bring about recognition as soon as possible within the first 12 months of Government – 19 September 2014.

    – Cuts all funding to Vibe Australia, the Indigenous organisation responsible for creating and producing the Deadly Awards, Deadly Vibe and InVibe magazines, Deadly Sounds radio, Move It Mob Style TV and deadlyvibe.com.au – July 14 2014.

    – Slashes funding from the Indigenous Health Budget – 13 May 2014.

    – Cuts funding for Indigenous language support – 13 May 2014.

    – Abolishes the Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the only elected representative body for Indigenous Australians – 13 May 2014.

    – Cuts $500 million from indigenous programs over five years – 13 May 2014.

    – Axes funding to Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Incorporated, the only Indigenous peak body advising on early childhood issues for Indigenous people in NSW – 25 February, 2014.

    – Pays hundreds of indigenous workers in his Department up to $19 000 less than non-indigenous workers doing the same job and cuts the budget for the representative body the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples causing two-thirds of the staff to lose their jobs – 15 February 2014.

    – Cuts Indigenous legal services by $13.4 million. This includes $3.5 million from front line domestic violence support services, defunding the National legal service and abolishing all policy and law reform positions across the country – 17 December 2013.

    – Whilst slashing funding to Aboriginal legal aid, provided millions to assist businesses and farmers to fight native title claims: ‘The Government will provide $5.8 million over four years to extend the Native Title Respondents Scheme. The scheme provides assistance for the legal costs of respondents to native title claims and assists industry representative bodies with Native Title Officer costs. This measure extends the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-14 measure titled Restoring Native Title Respondent Funding’ – 2015-16 Federal Budget.

    – Abolishes the position of Co-ordinator-General for remote Indigenous services – 17 December 2013

    – Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community – 14 September 2013. This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013 in a live recording.

    – Breaks an election promise to publish a proposal for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people and establish a bipartisan process to try to bring about recognition as soon as possible within the first 12 months of Government.

    – Gets rid of the Indigenous Water Advisory Committee.

    – Silences the Northern Australia Indigenous Experts Forum on sustainable Economic Development.

    – Cancels the Indigenous Development effectiveness Initiative Steering Committee.

  30. ian

    how it is he is still having a job is beyond imagination. what a joke if this was north korea him and his family would of been executed !

  31. Luisa

    “Because hey, we know (or are told) he has the ear of the Black man…” seems to me he does not have the ears of the Black man and anyway they should have his ear

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