The parliamentary year has officially ended for Tony Abbott and the Coalition government, but questions still remain unanswered for Indigenous ministers.
By
Brooke Boney

Source:
NITV News
12 Dec 2013 - 4:36 PM  UPDATED 13 Dec 2013 - 3:33 PM

Today marks the final sitting of Parliament for 2013; a year that saw Australia field three Prime Ministers in just over six months.

This year also welcomed the proposal of several policies that were put forth to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

The new government established an advisory council headed by Warren Mundine, which will focus on community economic development in the coming parliamentary year.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared his dedication to Indigenous Australians, saying “I want to be the Prime Minister for Indigenous affairs.”

However, recent events in mining and tourism have lead Aboriginal communities to believe otherwise.

Just last week, Rio Tinto announced the closure of its refinery operations in Gove and the value of Ayers Rock Resort was dramatically reduced.

But the government is still in its infancy and plans to conduct three separate reviews aimed at closing the gap early next year.

The first review will assess all government expenditure in Indigenous Affairs, the second will review training and employment programs, and the third will focus on the merger of Indigenous Business Australia with the Indigenous Land Corporation.

In the final days of the 2013 election, Minister Joe Hockey announced that the Coalition would cut $42 million from the Indigenous legal services budget.

Northern Territory Senator Nova Peris revealed her distress following this announcement in Parliament today where she addressed the attorney general during question time.

“I refer to Mr Abbott's pre-election promise that he would be the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Why has the government cut $42 million from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services?” said Ms Peris.

Attorney General George Brandis says his job is to make sure government money is going to the right place.

“As a result of the legacy of debt which we have inherited from the previous government, an unprecedented legacy of debt, economies have to be found. Those economies will have to be found right across government,” said Mr Brandis.

The results from all three reviews are due back in February next year and the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook will be revealed next Tuesday.