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Government's disregard for the remote people of Australia

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Thursday, January 28th, 1988

Chris Miles, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, today said that the Prime Minister's response to the Torres strait Islanders invitation to meet with them demonstrates the

Government's disregard for the remote people of Australia and it's failure to address the real needs of the Aboriginal and islander communities of A u s t r a l i a .

'it is an insult to the Islander people to call for an

Inter-Departmental Committee to tell h i m , s e c o n d-hand, what the Islanders grievances are - they have asked for an

opportunity to tell him di r e c t l y , ' Mr Miles said.

'As a result of the Government's indifference, the Torres

Strait Islanders have been forced to become involved in

making political ambit claims to get the Government to look at their c o ncerns.'

'Only now does it seem likely that the Government will give

attention to their needs.' .

Having visited the I elands late last year Mr Miles said that he appreciated the importance of the region to Australia and the frustrations of the islanders. He said that he was

disappointed that it had to take a threat of secession to

get the Government to visit the Islands.

'in the five years since it was elected the Government has

been possessed by politics - National Uniform Land R i g h t s , a Treaty and the proposed administrative restructuring. Yet in spite of all the propaganda none of the main social

indicators for Aboriginal people have improved under the

Hawke Gove r n m e n t .'

' The delay in this visit shows that, yet again, the Prime

Minister is playing politics with I slander p e o p l e , In the

Bicentennial y e a r , the Government is buying time in a

desperate bid to avoid scrutiny of their hollow performance in Aboriginal A f f a i r s .'