After a year of dithering and disappointment, Malcolm Turnbull needs to start leading on Indigenous Affairs.
The Abbott Government completely stuffed up the Indigenous Affairs portfolio, and the Turnbull Government has done nothing to fix it.
Mr Turnbull has failed to reverse a single dollar of the $500 million in cuts that Tony Abbott made to Indigenous programs and frontline services. Despite a promise that there would be no jobs or services lost, the opposite is true.
Mr Turnbull has failed to reverse the savage cuts to Indigenous community legal services, including a $3.6 million cut from the Family Violence Prevention Legal Service – a service which helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children escaping family violence.
Mr Turnbull has failed to reverse the $165 million in cuts from Indigenous health programs, including critical preventative health programs.
Mr Turnbull has failed to adequately fund the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – effectively silencing the only national elected representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Mr Turnbull has failed to renew the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, leaving 38 Children and Family Centres facing closure.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government also failed to fund the implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.
The Closing the Gap framework has lost focus under the Abbott-Turnbull Government and has been allowed to drift. They have also axed the COAG Reform Council, meaning there is now no independent monitoring and reporting mechanism for Closing the Gap.
The movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution is entering a critical phase and its success depends on national leadership – this must be a personal priority for the Prime Minister.
While Labor has committed to introducing Closing the Gap targets to address the shameful rates of Indigenous incarceration, the Turnbull Government is sitting on its hands.
And while Labor has committed to double the number of Indigenous rangers employed under the Working on Country Indigenous Ranger Program, the Turnbull Government is refusing to give Indigenous Rangers the long-term job certainty they deserve.
This disappointing record cannot continue. Malcolm Turnbull needs to spend less time following the orders of the right wing radicals in his party and start addressing the real needs of Indigenous Australians as priority for his government.
WEDNESDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2016