PM in welfare talks
■ Tony Abbott says welfare reform talks with Aboriginal leaders in Kununurra revealed although almost-cashless “healthy welfare cards” were not the whole answer to a better future for indigenous people, they were a “very important” step forward.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with Aboriginal leaders in Kununurra late last month was held after extensive talks with respected indigenous leader Patrick Dodson in Broome.
Mr Abbott said his parliamentary secretary, Alan Tudge, had been “doing a lot of work” with Wunan Foundation chairman Ian Trust about trialling the card in Halls Creek and Kununurra.
“All the indicators are that they want this because they want to lift their people up by the bootstraps,” he said. “They want their people to face the future with confidence and pride and this debit card will help that to happen.”
Under the State Government’s plan, leadership groups have been assembled in the Pilbara and Kimberley. The groups will take advice from strategic regional advisory councils, including Aboriginal leaders, on providing services.
A reform unit under Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier will oversee the project and also report to Regional Development Minister Terry Redman and Child Protection Minister Helen Morton.
Mr Abbott said the almost-cashless welfare cards “were an important part of a better future”.
“All of the serious leaders of indigenous Australia know that sit-down money has been poison,” he said.
The trial could be extended to other Aboriginal communities, such as Kalumburu, if the Halls Creek test succeeds.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott got more than he bargained for when he was presented with a pair of budgie smugglers from Broome Surf Lifesaving Club official Jodie Lynch during a visit to the town with Federal Liberal Durack MP Melissa Price (left).