A prominent Indigenous rights campaigner has accused the Federal and Western Australian Governments of racism over community closures while they bail out drought afflicted farms.
By
Robert Burton-Bradley

Source:
NITV News
13 May 2015 - 4:05 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2015 - 8:30 PM

Tasmanian Palawa activist Michael Mansell is criticising the Australian Government for announcing $330 million dollars of drought relief in the budget while refusing to continue funding WA remote communities.

Secretary Aboriginal Provisional Government Michael Mansell asked why were governments bailing out unsustainable farms, while remote Indigenous communities were being closed for being deemed "unsustainable".

"You've got two groups of people in the country, both live in the rural environment, both prefer to stay there which means that is their personal choice. Abbott comes out and says one group, the farmers, will get Federal Government assistance of up to $300 million dollars, but the other group, Aboriginal people, will get absolutely nothing."

"You've got two groups of people in the country, both live in the rural environment, both prefer to stay there which means that is their personal choice," Mr Mansell said.

"Abbott comes out and says one group, the farmers, will get Federal Government assistance of up to $300 million dollars, but the other group, Aboriginal people, will get absolutely nothing."

After the government said it would no longer provide funding to remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia, the WA Government has declared many communities 'unsustainable' and said they could be closed.

There are now fears more closures will follow in the Northern Territory after a similar deal over funding was offered by the Federal Government in last night's budget.

"They are prepared to cut Aboriginal Services; Aboriginal legal aid, Aboriginal health services," said Mansell.

"They're ignoring the high Aboriginal incarceration rates, which are among the highest in the world, they are doing absolutely nothing about giving land back to Aboriginrd, for the 90 per cent of Aboriginal people who are dispossessed."

Indigenous Australian imprisonment rates are around 12 times more than non-Indigenous Australians, even though they comprise less than three percent of the overall Australian population, according to the government's Australian Institute of Criminology.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said that the government's principal responsbility was to make the best decision to repair Australia's budget.

"We need to live within our budget and that's what we're doing," Mr Scullion said, adding that the government was not applying bias.

"We're ensuring from my portfolio's perspective that it doesn't matter where you live in Australia, if you're one of our First Australians then we'll make sure that you're looked after, and re-engage you with a job if you're not in a job, re-enage with education if you're not there, and we'll make sure that you live in safe communities as every other Australian would expect."