Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has called on the South Australian Government to take responsibility for servicing its Aboriginal residents, just as it does for non-Aboriginal residents.
“The South Australian Government is the only state under the Municipal and Essential Services Programme that did not reach an agreement with the Commonwealth Government to take responsibility for its residents in remote Aboriginal communities,” the Minister said.
“I am concerned that the Weatherill Government believes that it has an obligation to provide municipal and essential services to South Australia’s white residents, but does not have such an obligation to its Aboriginal residents.
“Does Minister Hunter really believe that Aboriginal communities should not receive the same services as other residents in their state?
“Why does the South Australian Government fund rubbish collection for white South Australians at one end of Yorkey’s Crossing Road in Port Augusta but not for Aboriginal residents at the other end? Why does the South Australian Government take responsibility for white residents in Coober Pedy, but not for Aboriginal residents that live in the suburb of Umoona?
“Surely the South Australian Government does not base its service delivery obligation on whether an Aboriginal person or a non-Aboriginal person owns the land.
“Minister Hunter’s claim that the Commonwealth is walking away is deliberately misleading. The Commonwealth’s offer to the South Australian Government represented over three years of funding for those communities that would have benefited more than 1500 Indigenous Australians living in remote South Australian communities outside of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. I am continuing to work separately on arrangements for the APY lands.
“The Commonwealth also agreed for funding to continue until 30 June 2015 to give the South Australian Government adequate time to transition to meeting its obligation.
“It is encouraging to hear that Minister Hunter recognises that these areas need special attention because they have no local council to service them. These communities have been forgotten by the Weatherill Government for too long and I call on the South Australian Government to consider amendments to its own Local Government Act to incorporate these areas to support municipal services reform.
“The Commonwealth Government already provides GST revenue to state and territory governments to fund local government services like municipal and essential services through Financial Assistance Grants. The funding that each state government receives is provided to support local government services for all citizens, and should not be used to discriminate on the basis of race.
“Any decision about the closure of Indigenous communities in South Australia will be a matter for the State Government.
“I remain committed to working with the South Australian Government to ensure it takes responsibility for servicing its Aboriginal residents just as it provides services for non-Indigenous residents.”
Download media release:
2014-11-14 Minister Scullion SA MUNs.pdf