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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 288

Indigenous Advancement Strategy


Senator DODSON (Western Australia) (14:00): My question is to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Scullion. I refer to the Australian National Audit Office audit on the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, which points to the deep flaws in the strategy, including substandard design, poor risk management, inadequate consultation, sloppy record keeping, breaches of Commonwealth probity requirements and no evidence of improved outcomes for Indigenous peoples. Will the minister now admit the aim of the strategy was to slash $534.4 million in funding and not to improve services to Indigenous Australians?


Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:00): First of all, I would like to acknowledge that it is a very comprehensive report. It is a historical report. It is a report about matters that took place 2½ years ago. I am sure the Auditor-General would not appreciate the senator both misleading the Senate and verballing him when he says that the report said that there is no evidence to show improved outcomes. The report says nothing of the sort. You cannot continue to just say things and expect people to believe them. He says we cut out of Indigenous funding $536 million. I actually had to write to Linda Burney and I am not sure, brother, if I am going to have to write to you. But we have said time and time again in this place that that is simply not correct.

Senator Cameron: On a point of order, the senator should refer to people in the other place by their proper title.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, that is correct, Senator Cameron. I will remind senators that you do need to refer to members of the other place by their correct titles.

Senator SCULLION: My apologies for that, Mr President. I cannot recall from this place what the name of her electorate is. I thought Ms Linda Burney would have cut it. I am genuinely not—

Senator Wong: Just call her Ms Burney.

Senator SCULLION: Ms Burney, thank you for that.

If I could just correct the record again, the cuts at that time were less than five per cent. It was half of that number. In fact, the amount of money that you have quoted, listed in your speech, is the half of the total amount of the cut that was used to provide this report, to put that in context, Senator. This is bureaucratic report, a very important report for bureaucrats about what box was ticked and what box was not ticked. One of the most important omissions in this report, which we will be talking about in the months to come, is the omission of how we actually judge the outcomes on the ground. This is about how the bureaucracy behaved. What is really important to me is what actually happens to the people on the ground and how we make that assessment. (Time expired)







Senator DODSON (Western Australia) (14:03): I rise to ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Why should Aboriginal people believe the strategy benefited their communities when the audit found:

…administration processes fell short of the standard required to effectively manage a billion dollars of Commonwealth resources.