Abbott calls Anaya an 'armchair critic'

Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Tony Abbott has called the UN special rapporteur James Anaya an 'armchair critic' following his comments on the NT intervention.

A United Nations expert who described intervention into remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory as discriminatory is an "armchair critic", opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Tony Abbott says.

The UN's special rapporteur on indigenous rights, James Anaya, on Thursday said the NT intervention measures, including compulsory income management and blanket bans on alcohol, are "overtly discriminatory" and further stigmatise already stigmatised communities.

"I think this is the kind of nonsense we are used to from these armchair critics," Mr Abbott told ABC Television on Friday.

"Sure things aren't perfect there now but they are a lot better than they were.

Intervention has been good

"The intervention is something which really has been good for our country and been good for the Aboriginal communities."

He defended the quarantining of indigenous welfare payments to ensure they are spent on necessities.

"If there are any concerns about the impact of this measure ... why don't we extend it more broadly?" Mr Abbott said.

"I think that would be the way to solve the problem, not to drop the measure."

Reinstate the Act

Prof Anaya has called on Labor to "swiftly" reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act, which was suspended by the former Howard government so the intervention's more extreme measures could be rolled out.

But Mr Abbott warned this could trigger an "army of publicly-funded human rights lawyers" to start challenging different aspects of the intervention in court.

New body

Prof Anaya's comments came hours after a proposed new indigenous representative body was unveiled by Australia's Aboriginal social justice commissioner Tom Calma.

The body will be independent from government and operate as a registered company, comprising an eight-member national executive, a 128-seat national congress and an ethics council.

Mr Abbott said Mr Calma's proposal lacked teeth and combined the worst features of its predecessors, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and the National Indigenous Council.

"If you are going to elect a body, you've got to give it something worthwhile to do," he said.

"If it's only going to be a policy advisory body, why go to the time and trouble of electing it?"

Source AAP

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