Queensland Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett has hit out at Coalition critics of the Prime Minister’s planned non-partisan ‘war cabinet’ on Indigenous issues.
"There is no other area of policy where government and politicians of all political persuasions have failed as comprehensively and unacceptably, decade after decade, as we have in regards to Indigenous Australians," Senator Bartlett said.
"I expressed support for Kevin Rudd’s idea when he first proposed it as Opposition Leader in June last year, and I believe it is an initiative which should be given a chance to work.
"It is time to try something new. A non-partisan ‘war cabinet’ does not prevent political parties from criticising the Government. What it does do is make everyone across the political spectrum responsible for outcomes.
"It also provides a real chance to provide a key factor which has been lacking in Indigenous issues for all but a few brief periods, and that is the political will to make this the priority issue it deserves and needs to be.
"The traditional partisan political divide has not delivered anything other than failure in the area of Indigenous policy. Similarly, there is little but failure attached to the long line of bombastic assertions based on faith and ideology rather than evidence and engagement with the Indigenous people that are meant to be being assisted.
"It is time for a very different approach from government, and the notion of a ‘war cabinet’ operating outside of petty partisan political point-scoring, is a different path that is well worth trying.
"The main concern I have is to ensure that this process includes meaningful and extensive involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure that it does not become just another group of Canberra-focussed politicians and bureaucrats in suits telling Indigenous people what’s good for them," Senator Bartlett concluded.