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Rudd's Indigenous commitments lack vision.

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M e d i a R e l e a s e


Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs

5 November 2007

Rudd’s Indigenous commitments lack vision

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said today that Labor’s offerings for Indigenous education, health and economic development are small time spending trinkets that don’t address the fundamental requirements for change.

“Mr Rudd’s commitments pale into insignificance when compared to the Howard Government’s commitment of more than $4.1 billion in 2007/08 alone, which is 70 per cent more in real terms than was spent in the last year of the Labor Government,” Mr Brough said.

“To turn around a problem that has been left to fester for 30 years requires a fundamentally new way of thinking rather than a tinkering around the edges. Labor is not prepared to make the strategic changes necessary in relation to land tenure, law and order and governance that is necessary to ensure that Indigenous Australians enjoy the same opportunities and choices in life as other Australians.

“The funding commitment of $20 million for health programs doesn’t stack up against the Howard Government’s commitment - we allocated $100 million for additional health services in the Northern Territory as part of the Emergency Response to protect children

from child sex abuse.

“This is on top of the record level of funding on Indigenous-specific health programs that is over two and a half times more in real terms than Labor spent in the last year of the Keating government.

“In a classic blunder, Federal Labor is stepping in to give $60 million to the Martin Government for additional teachers. Clare Martin, when offered Federal funding for more police, health services and housing, agreed to cover any additional costs arising for increased demands for education as a result of the Northern Territory Emergency Response. This was the deal but Clare Martin will take the extra money. This is just Mr Rudd bailing out another Labor government.

“Rudd’s promise of secondary hostels smacks of me-tooism. In the last Budget, we provided $50 million for secondary boarding facilities with a contribution of $23 million from the Indigenous Land Corporation and a further $50 million to upgrade existing boarding facilities including Kormilda College in Darwin.

“Labor’s economic development approach offers nothing new. The Howard Government is working with the private sector and not relying on government programs. We have made

inroads into literacy and numeracy. We have supported Centrefarm, as they are proposing to do, from the Aboriginal Benefit Account.

“Labor says it supports the use of land for economic development but has been fighting against our land tenure reforms without success for the past two years.

“They complained we have built the Northern Territory Aboriginal Benefit Account to over $100 million so it is available for large-scale economic activity but they would simply squander this economic nest egg as they did when Robert Tickner was the Minister.

“After all the fuss, they now support the Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation Program and the Howard Government’s $1.6 billion commitment but they have said previously that they object to the exclusive focus on the remote communities and I suspect they would spend a good proportion of this money in the cities and towns, where there are other alternatives, just to keep their mates happy.

“Labor has always been stronger on rhetoric than results. They are not prepared to make the tough decisions and their policies are always dominated by self-serving vested interests. Indigenous Australians deserve much more than that.”

Minister’s media contact: Suzanne Ferguson 0448 829 068