Colin Barnett's remote community child protection comments 'despicable', WA Opposition says

"Four months ago it was a budget problem, now suddenly he's worried about child abuse in remote communities," Mr Wyatt said about Colin Barnett's complete change of story. "These are not the actions of a Premier, these are the actions of a desperate, despicable man."

The Djurin Republic of the Nyoongar
The Djurin Republic of the Nyoongar have established a Refugee Camp at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) on the Swan River, Perth, for their homeless and displaced First Nations peoples, especially those forced from their homelands by the Western Australian Government. The United Nations have been notified of the War the Colin Barnett government is waging on their First Nations and Peoples. There has already been two communities closed down in recent years with many people displaced and homeless, and the government is threatening to close down up to 150 more.

Stephanie Dalzell ABC News 6 March 2015

The West Australian Opposition has labelled the Premier "desperate and despicable" after he said a review of the future of remote Aboriginal communities had been largely motivated by child safety concerns.

Colin Barnett last year announced up to 150 remote communities could close after the Commonwealth withdrew funding for essential services like power and water.

The Premier yesterday told News Corporation his review of the communities was largely driven by the need to protect children from what he described as "appalling mistreatment".

Opposition spokesman for Aboriginal affairs Ben Wyatt said Mr Barnett was using child safety concerns as justification for refusing to close the federal funding gap.

"If a company were to come to the government and seek some sort of relief, then the government would consider that on merit and it's not without precedence." WA Premier Colin Barnett (right) said in 2012 after this conference with Andrew Forrest CEO Fortescue Metals Group (left).

(Photograph" Courier Mail)

"Four months ago it was a budget problem, now suddenly he's worried about child abuse in remote communities," Mr Wyatt said.

"These are not the actions of a Premier, these are the actions of a desperate, despicable man."

Mr Barnett told News Corporation the Commonwealth's refusal to continue funding the remote communities had brought child safety concerns to the fore.

"I think it brings to head the viability of those communities in terms of education for children, health standards, safety of children, domestic violence - all those issues," he said.

"We want to see Aboriginal people succeed, we want to see their children have a safe life and a fair chance at life through a good education.

"That cannot happen in remote tiny communities, it cannot.

"I will probably get criticised, but there will be evidence [about the] appalling mistreatment of little kids.

"I as Premier cannot sit by and let that happen."

Njamal elder Doris Eaton presents the petition against changes to WA Aboriginal Heritage Act to Ben Wyatt, WA's opposition spokesman for Aboriginal affairs last November.

(Photograph: The Guardian)

Mr Wyatt accused the Premier of demonising Aboriginal people in the Kimberley to make an unpopular decision more palatable for the public.

"I have watched him for seven years as Premier give seven different Premier's statements at the beginning of every Parliamentary year, not once has he mentioned his concern about the children of remote Aboriginal communities until this year, now that he's trying to justify a decision to save money in the state's budget," he said.

"That is the single driving reason, he's now looking for more publicly acceptable reasons to justify his decision, and I find it quite offensive."

A Government spokeswoman said the Premier had repeatedly expressed concern both inside and outside of Parliament about the safety and viability of some remote communities.

Yesterday, the Minister for Regional Development, Terry Redman, told the WA Alliance of Aboriginal Land Councils in Broome the review of remote communities was about improving the quality of life for residents, and not about money.

"The genuine position of Government is to say we want to get better outcomes for these people, because what is there now is unacceptable," he said.