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Brough's inclusion in Indigenous 'war cabinet -

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ELEANOR HALL: He is the Howard government minister who hasn't gone quietly.

Former Indigenous affairs minister, Mal Brough, lost his seat at the last election but he's clearly
not ready to retire from politics just yet.

In his latest foray onto the airwaves, Mr Brough has revealed that the Opposition Leader Brendan
Nelson wrote to the Prime Minister asking for Mr Brough to be included in the bipartisan cabinet
that is to address Indigenous disadvantage.

But there's speculation that his inclusion would be a deal-breaker for the Opposition's support of
the commission.

Mr Brough has been speaking to Donna Field in Brisbane.

MAL BROUGH: I have indicated to Brendan Nelson that I would be happy to serve. Not just under any
circumstance. I don't wish to be silenced but wish to actually add in a bipartisan fashion.

But I am very disturbed that nothing seems to have occurred - not just in relation to myself - but
most importantly, nothing seems to have occurred about taking the whole issue forward in a really
decisive fashion.

DONNA FIELD: So your application has basically been put in but you've heard nothing back from the
Rudd Government?

MAL BROUGH: Well, I wouldn't call it an application. Brendan asked me was I interested and when I
was overseas, and I said look, I'm taking him on face value. He stood in the Great Hall of the
Parliament, next to the Prime Minister and said we are as one on this issue.

I've got to honest. I have stated before, I doubted his sincerity there and then when he opened the
dispatch box in the Parliament, invited Brendan Nelson to co-chair this working group or whatever
he called it. But then to see no action since then and Brendan has clearly been speaking to him.

I've made it clear to Brendan that I would be happy to serve, but nothing has happened. I'm
continuing to do work with the Indigenous issues in this country which remain as stark as ever.

DONNA FIELD: If you're not included on this so called "war cabinet" to address Aboriginal
disadvantage, does that mean that the Liberal Party won't make it bipartisan? That it will not
support the effort?

MAL BROUGH: Well, that's just not a decision for me. Whilst I am obviously active member of the
Liberal Party, I don't make those decisions, but I would say if Mr Rudd and his colleagues say that
Mal Brough should be excluded because I am a member of the Liberal Party, and that is somehow
unacceptable, then that just makes a lie of his comments that this should be bipartisan, and it
also flies in the face of what we did as part of the Howard government in having Warren Mundine who
went on to be president of the Federal Labor Party and who made a very valuable contribution to the
National Indigenous Council.

So, you know, if we are serious about this, we bring people to the table who, I guess, such as
myself, that have highlighted the plight of this issue, has got a record of putting money into it
and has continued to be sought, my advice continues to be sought by many and varied parties.

DONNA FIELD: So what are the key ideas for you, that you would want to bring to the table to see
addressed in this type of committee?

MAL BROUGH: Well, you know, this war cabinet taskforce, whatever you call it was said that it would
be talking specifically about housing. And you know, the very strong point that needs to be made is
that you can not divorce any single issue and deal with that and think that you are going to have a
comprehensive answer.

Housing is wrapped up with education. It's wrapped up with hope. It's wrapped up with governance,
law and order, management of those properties, and if we don't actually deal with the whole
plethora of issues simultaneously then what we do is we put our finger in one dyke and find that
the water gushes out another hole.

But that water that is gushing out is actually in the form of people committing suicide, people
continuing to self-harm, people continuing to have destruction in their lives, either to themselves
or to others.

ELEANOR HALL: And that is the former Indigenous affairs minister, Mal Brough, speaking to Donna
Field. And the Federal Government says the make-up of the Commission is still the subject of
discussion.