Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Labor’s Indigenous policy – positive steps but still reflections of the past

"Labor’s proposed new Indigenous policy is a welcome catch up to the Howard Government’s approach to Indigenous affairs, but there are extremely worrying signs," Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said today.

"The proposal to create a new ATSIC indicates Labor is still stuck in the failed ways of the past. Re-creating an elected representative body will achieve nothing. Surely Labor knows that ATSIC was a key cause of the rorting, inertia and compromise within Indigenous affairs.

"The Howard Government supports, and is willing to work with, representative bodies that are formed from the ground up – by Indigenous people themselves, rather than bodies that are imposed on indigenous people by Canberra.

"Labor’s continuing support for a new ATSIC shows they are still stuck in a rut of trying to appease everyone and being too scared to make the tough decisions that are needed to make a real difference to the lives of Indigenous people.

"I am pleased that Labor has finally embraced land tenure reform to allow Indigenous people to enjoy one of the basic rights that most Australians take for granted – the right to buy a home.

"The Howard Government agrees education is critical to the future of Indigenous people. Federal Labor now needs to take the challenge up in this area to its state and territory colleagues.

"Only this morning we see Federal Labor MP, Warren Snowdon, claiming 5000 Indigenous kids in the NT don’t have access to secondary school. Mr Snowdon was part of the last Federal Labor Government and is President of the NT Labor Party. What has he done to address this issue?

"Labor’s ‘new’ approach will also be tested in regard to the permit system. Will Labor be willing to support moves designed to normalise Aboriginal townships?"