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Tony Abbott accepting a role guiding Indigenous affairs is a joke, and an old one, as we’ve been here before.
It’s an image so surreal, you can almost put a movie tagline on it. Have you seen the ‘Predator’ remake, yet? It looks sick.
“Abbott, you son of a bitch”.
Well, here we are, with Tony Abbott taking a role as Scott Morrison’s “special envoy on Indigenous affairs”, with Abbott particularly focusing on school attendance. That is a massive issue, one that needs to be solved, but words in Canberra happen to take slightly different forms in these sandy streets. In community, education is what we need, and an education is what we’ve received, as the sitting government has erected a massive concrete and steel jail, one that dwarfs the landscape. We only have one school, it hasn’t changed size since its erection. It’s a macro example, sure, but it’s indicative of their thinking.
As a teacher in community, I know that continued school attendance hinges on trust. The difference between the two parties fluctuates. We see kids one day, and we don’t seem them the next. However, it is through the building of trust through mutual respect that sees their kids through the door when the bell rings.
It’s a simple exchange, give respect, get respect.
For this, Tony Abbott is a poor choice. The record is filled with numerous instances that indicate a difference in respect. Back in January, he remarked that the beginning of white Australia was “good” for Indigenous Australians. In 2017, he fought a Turnbull government plan to teach Indigenous history in schools, claiming that it would be a “capitulation to the left”, unless it was paired with a comparative teaching of Western history. As Prime Minister, he oversaw the driving of communities of their land in Western Australia, claiming that the state could no longer afford to financially support those communities already doing without the basics we take for granted, quipping: “It’s not the job of the taxpayers to subsidise lifestyle choices.”
Per The Guardian: The (Abbott) government cut $534m in Indigenous social programs, including $160m from the Indigenous health budget and $13.4m from Indigenous legal aid. As leader of the opposition, Abbott promised to overhaul Indigenous affairs, vowing to welcome us into the constitution if elected.
“It was Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal member of the national parliament, who first taught me, via Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, how committed Indigenous people could be to the Australia that I believed in,” Abbott said.
This was 2013.
Wind the clock forward to 2017, and guess which Liberal MP had the PM’s ear in denying the Uluru Statement, which in essence was to seek constitutional recognition.
It’s clear the man doesn’t care, we’re a vehicle for his advancement. The best case scenario is that it this post is a token gesture, an internal move to keep the hardliners happy after the spill. Which, is spectacularly grim. While the Morrison government repairs the damage, the problem remains, and it deserves to be sold.
What about us? What about our kids?