Tony Abbott’s claim to be a ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ has been exposed as a hollow platitude.
His Budget of broken promises has gutted more than $500 million from programs that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
No true Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs would be so heartless about one of the most important policy challenges facing our Parliament.
The Prime Minister has broken the fundamental commitment he made to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples before the election:
“Should the Coalition win the election, Aboriginal people will be at the heart of a new Government, in word and in deed.”
TONY ABBOTT – SPEECH TO THE SYDNEY INSTITUTE – 15 MARCH 2013
This broken promise goes to the character of the Prime Minister. He gave solemn commitments to Indigenous Australians, and he has not kept them.
Under the sneaky cover of ‘streamlining,’ this Budget of betrayal does not explain where most of the $500 million in cuts will fall. This has left service providers out in the cold, and Indigenous people and communities facing an uncertain future.
What we do know is that Tony Abbott has abandoned Indigenous early education, which could see the closure of up to 38 Children and Family Centres.
He has ripped more than $165 million out of Indigenous health programs over the next four years.
And he has cut $15 million from the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – an empowering voice for Indigenous Australians and the only national representative body.
Closing the Gap is a national journey that depends on co-operation and support. Tragically, this Budget puts at risk all the progress that we have made.
After six years of unprecedented investment, national goodwill and sustained effort, real progress has been made in a number of target areas.
In government Labor invested $5.5 billion in health, education, housing and essential services, welfare reform, recognition and advocacy, and Indigenous languages and art.
We are on track to reach the Closing the Gap target ensuring all Indigenous four year olds in remote communities have access to early childhood education.
We are on the way to having mortality rates for Indigenous children under five by 2018.
Closing the Gap requires more than words. Whether we will succeed or fail will depend on a relationship of trust and support between the Commonwealth Government – and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia.
WEDNESDAY, 14 MAY 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Leader’s Office Media Unit 02 6277 4053
Madonna Oliver (Neumann) 0416 199 808