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Issue #1757      November 16, 2016

Queries over PM’s IAC

Cracks appear to be forming in the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council (lAC), with chair Warren Mundine having a public swipe at the Turnbull government for not bothering to speak with its own advisors before making an announcement about an inquiry into Indigenous incarceration.

Indigenous Advisory Council chair Warren Mundine.

“I don’t know who the dickhead is who actually thought up this incredibly brilliant idea. It’s just a total waste of taxation money,” he told Sky News.

“I just find this a joke, and I’m getting sick and tired of the crap that is coming out of this government in regard to Indigenous Affairs.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Mundine was wrong in his assessment and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion told ABC Alice Springs that the government’s handpicked top Indigenous advisor was “having a bad hair day”.

“What he said is complete and utter garbage,” Senator Scullion said. “Now, Warren and me are good mates and we like having robust conversations, and I can see we’re going to have one.”

The Koori Mail also understands that the most recent scheduled meeting of the IAC was cancelled.

From the outset the IAC, which originally had 12 members but has been reduced by two due to resignations, has been plagued with criticism, with many Indigenous leaders saying it was problematic to hand-pick advisors and that the criteria for selection was unknown.

While the original appointments, made in November 2013, were for three-year terms, there has been no official announcement about what happens next from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C, which administers the IAC) website, with the last communiqué dated February this year.

Earlier in the week, before his spray on Sky, Mr Mundine told the Koori Mail there had been ups and downs, but he felt the IAC was making inroads.

“It’s been almost like a marriage, and love-hate relationships can be frustrating,” he said. “At the same time it’s about getting things to work, making a big difference.

“One of the things I’m happy with is the Indigenous Procurement Policy (where at least three percent of government contracts are aimed at Indigenous businesses), which has improved Indigenous businesses from $6 million to $220 million, so that’s massive.

“I’ve had conversations with government about dealing with northern Australia development, making sure there’s a positive outcome and making sure Indigenous people are at the table, which they weren’t at first in the White Paper process, which was bizarre, when you think 80% of the land is owned by Aboriginal people.

“At the moment, we’re focusing on economic issues, so looking at this conversation around work for the future. We’ve been looking at the mining industry in particular, which is becoming more automatic and robotic, so what does this mean, what are the jobs of the future and how does that affect education.

“We’ve been dealing with issues around community violence. Is just locking people up the answer, is it about community leadership, going through those types of debates and arguments?”

Mr Mundine said the IAC had also been discussing approaches around child abuse, education, particularly for early childhood, governance and climate change for Indigenous communities.

Koori Mail

Next article – Statement – Now – Bring Them Here

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