PM in wel­fare talks

Pilbara News - - News - Cally Dupe and Colleen Egan

■ 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.

Pic­ture: Glenn Cord­ing­ley

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).

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