Labor’s continued claim of a $500 million cut to the Indigenous Affairs budget in 2014-15 has been a lie and so it’s not surprising Opposition Leader Bill Shorten didn’t promise to restore it his budget-in-reply speech tonight.
Mr Shorten knows there wasn’t a $500 million cut and so he has no intention of reversing it. Why hasn’t Labor committed to an additional $500 million if it truly believes there was a cut?
Unfortunately, it appears Mr Shorten is using this lie for his own political motivations at the expense of being truthful to our First Australians.
Although the 2014-15 Budget Paper 2 showed a saving of $534 million over five years, a considerable amount of this was reinvested into the Coalition’s Indigenous Affairs priorities.
The Government has written to Labor as recently as December explaining this. However, despite this, Labor persists with its lie.
The modest saving in the 2014-15 budget was achieved through a reduction in duplication, administration and red tape – while essential frontline services were maintained.
The Coalition has been working hard to make Indigenous Affairs a bipartisan portfolio, but Labor’s constant repeating of a $500 million “cut” makes that difficult.
The Coalition’s budget handed down this week has delivered fairness, opportunity and security – for all Australians, especially First Australians.
It includes exciting new measures to support Indigenous businesses, remote communities and Indigenous research and evaluation.
The Government is already delivering on its plan to support and grow Indigenous rangers by expanding the programme to more than 2,600 rangers, investing an additional $15 million in the Indigenous Protected Area programme that will employ a significant number of new rangers and establishing the Specialised Indigenous Ranger Programme.
The Coalition’s investment in Indigenous Affairs is about opportunity. More kids are getting the chance to go to school, more men and women are getting jobs and Indigenous businesses are unlocking the potential of our First Australians. The results speak for themselves.
It’s time for Labor to stop playing politics in Indigenous Affairs and work with the Coalition to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.