• A traditional smoking ceremony held for Tony Abbott in Cape York in 2015. He has accepted a role as special envoy on Indigenous affairs. (AAP)Source: AAP
Tony Abbott has accepted an offer to become Scott Morrison's special envoy on Indigenous affairs.
NITV Staff Writer

29 Aug 2018 - 10:04 AM  UPDATED 29 Aug 2018 - 10:04 AM

The appointment of former prime minister Tony Abbott to the newly-created position of "special envoy on Indigenous affairs" has been criticised as a failure to listen to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Mr Abbott was offered the envoy role as an olive branch after being left out of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's ministry, in an effort to heal the wounds of last week's damaging leadership coup.

Mr Abbott has cautiously accepted the job but outlined a list of demands.

"What I expect to be asked to do is to make recommendations on how we can improve remote area education," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"In particular, how we can improve attendance rates and school performance because this is the absolute key to a better future for Indigenous kids and this is the key to reconciliation."

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But Indigenous Senator Patrick Dodson has once again been extremely critical of the move.

“The First Nations people have asked the government for a voice and we get Tony Abbott!” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“First Nations people have been asking to have a voice where their views are put forward themselves rather than by some sort of intermediary whose record quite frankly is appalling.”

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Ron Little, co-chair of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, said the appointment was absolutely wrong.

"Tony Abbott's record speaks for itself," he said.

Work to improve education, employment, health and other outcomes for first Australians during Mr Abbott's time as prime minister did not involve nearly enough consultation.

"There wasn't enough conversations with communities on the ground to listen to their needs and work out solutions and work with them," Mr Little said.

The Warringah MP hesitated before accepting the role as he wasn't sure exactly what it would entail and didn't want to step on the toes of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

With AAP

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