Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Brough calls on Beattie to go further with Indigenous agenda

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie’s support for shared responsibility agreements with Cape York Indigenous communities is a welcome development," Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said today.

"The Australian Government has been working cooperatively with the states on shared responsibility agreements (SRAs) and the latest comments from the Queensland Premier indicate that he recognises the problems in Indigenous communities and that the SRA approach can be an effective tool in tackling them.

"The Australian Government will continue to work cooperatively with the Queensland Government and would be only too happy to sit down and discuss what we can contribute to the SRA, if it is proposing real solutions.

"I’m particularly pleased that Mr Beattie now seeks my involvement given that late last year he agreed to, but subsequently declined, a meeting with me to discuss Indigenous issues. However, these discussions cannot wait until April, as Mr Beattie suggests. I am currently seeking a meeting with Mr Beattie for this Friday, as soon as I return from Parliament.

"My focus in discussions with Mr Beattie will be to encourage him to get serious about tackling the toughest issues, particularly land tenure.

"Until this critical issue is seriously addressed, there can only be incremental improvement in these communities.

"Fundamental land reform is imperative to opening up opportunities for Indigenous people. It is only by providing Indigenous people with purpose and the real potential for a positive future that problems such as alcohol and other substance abuse can be seriously tackled.

"People living in many remote communities are currently denied individual property rights. Why should they not have the same opportunity as other Australians to own their own homes and businesses?

"Queensland should look closely at the Australian Government’s amendments to the NT Land Rights Act as a possible way forward.

"Land tenure is an issue that should be high on the Premier’s agenda for tackling disadvantage in Indigenous communities in Queensland and the Australian Government stands ready to assist."