Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said today his reappointment in the Turnbull Joyce Coalition Cabinet was an opportunity to deliver on the fundamental changes the Coalition had put in place to improve outcomes for First Australians.
Minister Scullion thanked the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, for the faith they had in him to continue implementing the Government’s Indigenous Affairs agenda.
“Following the 2013 election, the Coalition Government took the significant step of elevating Indigenous Affairs to the priority it should always have had in the national policy arena to address the declining results that Labor had presided over,” Minister Scullion said.
“The position of Minister for Indigenous Affairs became a standalone portfolio within Cabinet – the first time this had occurred – and the administration of the portfolio moved into the most important decision-making agency in the country, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
“This provided significant benefits as we moved to implement an agenda based on what Indigenous communities told us they wanted – with the key priorities to get children to school, adults into work and maintain community safety.
“We have already seen significant progress, including a reversal of declining school attendance rates through our Remote School Attendance Strategy, support for almost 42,000 jobs for Indigenous Australians and important investment in community safety measures across remote communities.
“Despite this success, I am absolutely committed to redoubling my efforts to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.
“Improving the delivery of our key programmes and policy will be critical to achieving this progress. The Government will not accept lower standards for Indigenous Australians and will demand results from our agencies as well as from our partnership with state and territory governments and communities.
“I look forward to working across the political divide with Opposition and cross-bench parliamentarians in a spirit of goodwill in the 45th parliament to deliver on the key priorities in the portfolio.
“I call on the Opposition and cross-benchers to listen closely to the wishes of Indigenous communities, especially in relation to the Coalition’s proposed reforms to support the local delivery of remote employment services through our Community Development Programme.
“Since our return to office, I have already met with the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, and I look forward to meeting with other key representative bodies and communities over the coming months to listen to their priorities.
“As I have often said, there is only one portfolio I want – and that’s Indigenous Affairs. My absolute commitment is to work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to improve the lives and opportunities available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This is the standard I have set and I will be judged by the results that we deliver.”