Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Labor’s Left Wing Will Not Give Up Control of Indigenous Affairs Agenda

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said today that Labor will be hard pressed to release the stranglehold that its left wing has had over Indigenous affairs policy over the last 30 years.

Reports of opposition spokesperson Jenny Macklin saying ideology is dead for Indigenous Affairs is just rhetoric.

“Kevin Rudd and Jenny Macklin say they want to focus on practical results more than symbolic gestures.

“That’s fine, but Peter Garrett in a recent address at the Press Club, mainly focused on symbolism. He said that one of Labor’s action items to kick-start reconciliation was –

“…exploring new ways of engaging the community, for instance, supporting street naming ceremonies …” (Garrett – 16th August 2006)

“Labor has also said that they would create another ATSIC. They would call it something different, but it would be a small, powerful elite to take the place of governments dealing directly with local people.

“Rudd, Macklin, Garrett and Snowdon voted against the township leasing plan which we introduced as part of our amendments to the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The plan had the support of the Northern Territory Labor Government, but not Federal Labor.

“In the debate on the Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act, Warren Snowdon attacked the township leasing plan that had been put forward by the Northern Territory Labor Government. He said that private home ownership is not really an issue for remote Aboriginal people and said we should simply pour in an additional $1.3 billion of taxpayer money.

“They were prepared to stand in the way of residents of these towns being able to have normal property rights and own their own homes. They have an ideological problem with this and even though it is a voluntary scheme, their main argument revolved around process.

“Ms Macklin can mouth platitudes that mirror the Howard Government’s approach to practical reconciliation, but as always, Labor policy is dominated by vested interests and they will not be able to tackle the hard issues like law and order and individual responsibility.

“Macklin’s words and empty promises are no substitute for the Government’s proven commitment to practical reconciliation.”