The Rudd Labor Government’s symbolic election commitment to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act will come with a $400m price tag – nearly two thirds the amount allocated for its Indigenous housing program.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said the Government should be focused on delivering its unfulfilled commitments as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, instead of announcements that will deliver no benefits.
“The welfare reform bill extending income management across the Northern Territory is designed purely to satisfy an election commitment to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, but where are the houses our First Australians were promised?” Senator Scullion said.
“The only part of the Act that was suspended by the previous Coalition Government was that which would prevent mandatory income management.
“Under the Government’s new legislation income management is retained and expanded to even more welfare recipients. What has changed is that some of the most vulnerable members of the community will not be automatically protected by income management.
“Instead of spending $400 million to satisfy a symbolic promise, the Rudd Government should focus on delivering tangible benefits to Indigenous Territorians by building the houses the Prime Minister claimed were so essential in his apology speech.
“The living standards in remote communities will not improve until these houses are delivered and it is a disgrace that the Government is still relying on symbol over substance in its approach to Indigenous Affairs.”
Download media release:
$400m to satisfy symbolic Indigenous election commitment 22.6.10.pdf