• Indigenous Advisory Council chair Warren Mundine (AAP)Source: AAP
PM Malcolm Turnbull has decided to keep the Indigenous Advisory Council set up by his predecessor. The council's chair, Warren Mundine, talks to NITV News about what it has in store.
By
Myles Morgan, Natalie Ahmat

Source:
NITV News
23 Sep 2015 - 5:49 PM  UPDATED 23 Sep 2015 - 6:58 PM

Excerpts from an interview between NITV News presenter Natalie Ahmat and Indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine.

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Natalie Ahmat: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has decided to keep the Indigenous Advisory Council set up by his predecessor, Tony Abbott.

The council's future has been under a cloud since the dumping of Mr Abbott. We'll be speaking to Warren Mundine, the head of the advisory council.

Natalie Ahmat: Warren, you and the council will be meeting with Prime Minister [Malcolm] Turnbull soon, what should his Indigenous priorities be?

Warren Mundine: At the end of the day it's about improving the socio-economic standing of Indigenous people. So it's about closing the gap, but it's about more than that. It's about bringing Indigenous people into the Australian economy and bringing them into the global economy because now we're in a global world, you know, jobs that have to compete in a global market place. 

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So front and centre we'll be focusing on the economy as [Malcolm Turnbull] said in his speech last week and his speeches ever since then, and about the role we have to play in that.

And of course to have an economy, to have jobs, to have things happening within a community that's improving its lifestyle, you have to confront education, you have to confront community safety...you have to confront health and you have to confront a number of other issues as well.

Natalie Ahmat: A common criticism of the council is that it simply agrees with government policy and achieves little as an advisory group. What are some of the council's actual achievements over the last two years?

Warren Mundine: When you're on an advisory council I think that's a bit of an misunderstanding what an advisory council does. Just about every minister at state, federal and territory level have advisors that they work with and they advise what they feel is the best way that things should be done and the way the ministers or the prime minister or premier should be reaching their targets. Then the premier, the minister or the prime minister make a decision finally at the end of the day.

"That's something like $1.2 billion that will be going into Aboriginal communities on an annual basis, that's the potential"

So you look at some incredible stuff that has been done, so you look at the procurement policy. Now by 2020 that's 3 percent of federal government contracts will be going to Indigenous businesses. That's something like $1.2 billion that will be going into Aboriginal communities on an annual basis, that's the potential.

We know that Indigenous businesses hire out of one hundred they have to have 70 of them who are Indigenous. So that's employment opportunities that will happen.

Then you look at how we play the role in the Northern Ausatrlaia development. If you're going to win the battle in education, the big battle is about getting the kids to school, so it's about working with parents, working with communities for that to happen.

"The big battle is about getting the kids to school, so it's about working with parents, working with communities for that to happen"

Then of course that's also working with state and territory governments in regard to the education that Indigenous people need in regard to their language, their culture, the maths and sciences and the English course we have to have if you're going to compete competitive in the global market place. [They are] a number of those types of issues that we've been moving forward on.

Natalie Ahmat: How will the council work with peak Indigenous bodies like National Congress, NACCHO and NATSILS?

Warren Mundine: Well I've always encouraged that we as a council and individual do work with these councils. I'm a member of Congress of Australia's First Peoples and I do praise the work of Kirstie Parker.

And I encourage those conversations to continue. But they're only one many other organisations, you know NAACHO...and I've always encouraged the prime minister and also ministers to work with those Indigenous groups.

One thing we're looking at in the recognition campaign is how do we get the prime minister how do we get the convetion groups out there  working on recigiontion to have those conversations with community groups and community leadership.

Malcolm Turnbull secures the Indigenous Advisory Council's future

 

Myles Morgan: From future unknown, to forward planning.

With a new prime minister, the future of the Indigenous Adivsory Council wasn't guaranteed. Now, a call from Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed its future, and plans are in place for a full meeting with the prime minister next month.

There are 11 advisers on the council: Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

They range from successful businessman and chair Warren Mundine to senior Yolngu leader Djambawa Marawili, Cricket Australia's next chairman David Peever and University of Western Sydney Chancellor Peter Shergold.

Of course, the twelfth member is the Prime Minister himself.

It was Tony Abbott who created the council when he first came to Government in 2013. It's sometimes incorrectly assumed the Council is representing Indigenous people.

It isn't. It was created to advise.

But, there is the perception it's a representative because Tony Abbott mostly ignored other peak bodies during his time as Prime Minister.

The council's brief is broad: Get the best education for First Nations kids, improve employment, land ownership, reconciliation, empowerment and preserve culture.

But, new prime minister, new priorities.

Malcolm Turnbull: Our values are free enterprise, of individual initiative, of freedom. This is what you need to be a successful, agile economy in 2015.