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Crikey says: Abbott must deliver on indigenous jobs

Edward Snowden: a threat to your health? Bernard Keane asks the Attorney-General. Where the government entitlement racks up: commercial TV. Paddy Manning on the electricity takeover that could kill competition. Are we taking sides in Asia? Guy Rundle delves deeper into the Amanda Knox case. And media bin day: does it still work?

Many of us have been on a long journey. I can’t say that I have always been where I am now. The further this journey has gone, the more, for me, Aboriginal policy has become personal rather than just political.” — Tony Abbott, February 12.

The Prime Minister is to be commended for the attention he has given to indigenous affairs, as shown in his speech to Parliament this morning on the release of the latest Closing the Gap report. And for his honesty in admitting our ongoing failure to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people on key indicators. Here’s the scorecard:

  • Lifting life expectancy: a little progress but not enough
  • Reducing infant mortality: on track
  • Educating four-year-olds: almost on track
  • Improving reading, writing and numeracy among school kids: a little progress but not enough
  • More young people with Year 12 or equivalent: ahead of the target
  • More people in employment: has become worse.

This last indicator is alarming. The proportion of Aboriginal adults in work fell from 53.8% to 47.8% in the last five years, while employment among non-indigenous people rose to 75.6%. It’s partly because there are fewer people in a particular government scheme, but however you cut the figures fewer indigenous Australians have a job. We’re not closing the gap, we’re widening it.

Businesspeople like Twiggy Forrest have launched ambitious schemes to boost indigenous employment and the government has appointed Forrest (and academic Marcia Langton) to write a review on it.

But this problem cannot be entirely outsourced to the private sector and mining companies. The government must do better. Before the election, Abbott vowed to be “a prime minister for Aboriginal affairs”. Later this year he’ll take his regular trip to help remote indigenous communities. But bipartisan rhetoric and symbolism will only take Abbott so far. He has made a personal promise to make a difference and he must find a way to deliver.

5
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Abbott must deliver”? I like that….
    Abbott is as Abbott does.

  • 2
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Abbott’s going to be a very busy little rabbit, as he finds jobs for all the car and component industry workers, as well as progress the indigenous employment level.
    My guess is that he will achieve neither, as nothing here advances the cause of one T rAbbott!
    And that is all he is interested in - HIS OWN JOB!!

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    And those that don’t will have to work for the dole.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Did Toady mislead parliament two days ago, when he told it and the nation, that Toyota blamed union demands and intransigence for having to leave?
    Or was Toyota lying when they contradicted his version of events?

    It’s like Indonesia having to correct the record of what really happened - as opposed to the versions of Bishop, Morrison and Abbott, again? And now Hockey’s been contradicted - gilding the anti-union lily?

    If not, what is “misleading parliament”?
    If so, so much for assertions of Bishop the Elder “ruling by the book” too?

  • 5
    dazza
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    “Abbott must deliver”
    All he can deliver is broken promises and lies.

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