Tony Abbott saying he'll take a slow, research-based approach to his new Indigenous envoy role has been met with criticism.
10 Sep 2018 - 1:49 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2018 - 1:49 PM

Labor MP Linda Burney has doubled down on her fierce criticism of Tony Abbott's appointment as special envoy on Indigenous affairs.

The Wiradjuri woman is scathing about the former prime minister's new role as details emerge about what the job entails.

"This is just a joke. They are making it up as they go along with Tony Abbott as the special envoy for Indigenous Australians," Ms Burney told reporters on Monday.

Her comments come as Mr Abbott outlined what his approach will be on Indigenous education, a key priority in his new role. 

"It all starts with a decent education," Mr Abbott told Warren Mundine in a Sky News interview on Sunday.

"It all starts with learning how to read, to write, to count and to think in the national language," Mr Abbott said.

"That doesn't mean there isn't an important role for culture in remote schools but nevertheless people need a decent education in the national language." 

Mr Abbott said he is planning to write what he called an 'appreciation of the situation' as he sees it based on his experiences, then review the literature before he goes 'into the field' so that he can report back to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He says he's hoping to have specific recommendations to take to cabinet by the end of the year.

"I would disappointed if the whole of the parliament would not be supportive of measures to try to boost the attendance and boost school outcomes because it is so self evidently the key to a better life for future generations for Aboriginal people," he said. 

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But Ms Burney said Indigenous leaders have been clear about Mr Abbott's role saying it is not needed. 

"They can advocate for themselves," she said.

"There are many peak organisations, articulate people, and people that understand what the Indigenous space is about. There is no need for this envoy.

"Tony Abbott will be blundering in the Indigenous space." 

She says Mr Abbott's track record as prime minister demonstrated a 'lack of capacity' in the Indigenous space.

"He has spent $80 million on a remote schools program that saw no increase in children going to school; absolutely cut pensions; cut schools; cut hospitals. His track record is clear," she said.

"It is a major major insult to Aboriginal people that can speak for themselves."

Mr Abbott will report directly to the prime minister and work closely with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Education Minister Dan Tehan. 

With AAP 

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