CLOSING townships is not the answer to improving health, lifting education standards and tackling dysfunction in indigenous Australia, experts declared, as community leaders rounded on Tony Abbott’s description of life in remote centres as a “lifestyle choice”. It may not be the answer but it is an answer. In making the statement below Abbott has wound up the Left generally and the indigenous industry specifically. Everyone with a finger in the pie, whose livelihood depends on the indigenous industry, are up in arms. There is also a huge amount of traffic generated by the “Hate anything Abbott says” brigade who spend their days littering the twitter wilderness with profanities and inanities.
Speaking on ABC Radio in Kalgoorlie on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said governments could not “endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”. “It is not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise lifestyle choices,’’ the Prime Minister said. “It is the job of the taxpayer to provide reasonable services in a reasonable way.”Sorry, he’s right! “It is the job of the taxpayer to provide reasonable services in a reasonable way.” The “culture” and “country” that people use to justify outstations doesn’t feed anyone. It literally keeps them down; keeps them in third world conditions and encourages the factors that keeps them starring in stats about incarceration, disease, women and child beating and worse. It doesn’t help them and when the government, hobbled by the obscene debt left to them by the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd debacle, question what is basically reinforcing failure, people scream. The answer can’t include reinforcing failure; it must includes health service, education and jobs. No jobs in a ten house camp on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. There are hundreds, if not thousands of towns across Australia that have closed down. When the jobs run out, people with half a brain run out as well and go to where the jobs are; where they can educate their kids and where they can access reasonable medical services. Why is it that some Australians aren’t subject to that supply and demand factor that creates, then closes towns as industry, mining or agriculture come in then move on. The debate started when the West Australian government announced the closure of up to 150 of the state’s 282 remote Aboriginal communities. Premier Barnett has repeatedly claimed many of these communities were economically unviable, saying some only have 10 people living in them. Is the government really expected to fund a group of ten people living in the desert and provide reasonable services in a reasonable way? A school and teacher for a couple of kids; a medical centre…a nurse; an industry with jobs? Or is everyone happy just to give them sit-down money to eke away their lives, and the lives of their kids, in an environment that encourages substance abuse just to get through the day? Some obviously are but I’m not. I want to help them and reinforcing failure doesn’t help anyone. We need a debate; a rational debate without ideology or emotion. Let’s have one and help our Aussie mates.