It is with great disappointment that East Arnhem Regional Council President and Councillors feel the need to respond to recent comments made by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
In a recent interview with ABC Radio, Prime Minister Abbott made statements regarding the ongoing financial commitment by Government and subsidising by taxpayers of remote Indigenous Communities.
“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” said Prime Minister Abbott.
East Arnhem Regional Council President Mr Banambi Wunungmurra is saddened by these and other comments made by the Prime Minister, who recently spent time in East Arnhem Land experiencing the ‘lifestyle’ of our people.
"He is presenting a very narrow view. A view we interpret as a threat to all Indigenous people in Australia" said President Wunungmurra.
"Statements such as these from our PM is embarrassing and on coal face appear highly discriminatory and ill-advised.
Slamming the door on these communities does not close the gap. There are more than than just jobs involved here. To infer that education and health are of little concern to Indigenous people living in remote communities is greatly offensive. We work tirelessly to improve the living conditions and access to these services, our people taking great pride in not only providing these services on the ground, but driving the improvement of community lifestyles.
Spend five minutes in one of our recently cyclone ravaged communities and you will see the community spirit which has shone through. It’s an ‘all hands on deck approach’ which community members, whether as a paid employee, or purely through their will to forge forward through the devastation, have embraced" continued Mr Wunungmurra.
President Wunungmurra concludes, “It is unsettling to hear Mr Abbott reiterate his point, emphasising individuals rights to be free to live where they choose, but within reason and within what is acceptable to the taxpayer. The Prime Minister does not have thousands of years connection to the land, our land and cannot truly expect to speak on behalf of every Australian, especially the first people who have, as history shows, natured and cared for this land.”
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Public Relations Coordinator - Katherine Hollis, 0457 518 772