Former prime minister Tony Abbott has started a three-day visit to South Australia as part of his new role as special envoy for Indigenous affairs.
He arrived at Ceduna Airport ahead the schedule circulated in the media one day after making controversial comments about the conditions in which asylum seekers are being detained on Nauru.
“The prime minister has tasked me with looking at and reporting on attendance and performance of remote schools,” he said.
“I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest expert on this. But I have had many, many years of interest in and time spent in remote communities.”
Asked if he had any response to criticism of the trip or his appointment to the new role he replied: “There’s always going to be critics, that’s life.”
The mayor of Ceduna, Allan Suter, said he had met Mr Abbott along with local Indigenous leaders to discuss the cashless welfare debit card, school attendance and the Community Development Program work-for-the-dole scheme.
“There was a particular emphasis on school attendance," he told NITV News.
NITV News understands Mr Abbott will travel to Coober Pedy, Umuwa, Pukatja and Adelaide.