Warren Mundine reckons another $600 million can be cut

Gerry Georgatos The Stringer 5 June 2014

Two very sinister people: Tony Abbott PM and his Cheif Indigenous Advisor, Warren Mundine.

The Chairperson of the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, has lost his marbles in suggesting that an additional $600 million can be cut from the ‘Indigenous disadvantage’ spend. Mr Mundine has put some members of his Council offside with his rogue comments that even more can be cut. The Federal Budget has proposed a $534 million hit on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. First Peoples will be hit hardest by the Budget.

Indigenous Advisory Council member Dr Ngaire Brown has disassociated herself from Mr Mundine’s comments. Dr Brown said that she would not support such a hit after having a difficult time coming to terms with the $534 million hit. Another Indigenous Advisory Council member who did not want to be named said "it’s all news to me" – the member said no-one has been consulted about a further $600 million hit.

Chair of the Narungga Peoples, Tauto Sansbury, a former health manager with a distinguished career, called for the Indigenous Advisory Council to sack Mr Mundine.

"He not only does not represent our people, he has also lost his Aboriginality. He is the wrong person in the job. He is representing other interests, certainly not the Aboriginal interest."

"As an Aboriginal man I take offence to Warren Mundine as chairperson of Prime Minister Abbott’s advisory body, and his suggestion at a further $600 million can be cut from the Aboriginal Budget, in 2015."

"If Prime Minister Abbott wants to be the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs he has to remove Mr Mundine from this position. He does not represent me or my people in South Australia, whom I talk to on a daily basis."

"I call on Mr Abbott to have Aboriginal peoples represented and this means Mr Abbott must dismiss Mr Mundine."

Mr Mundine may be doing the work of Government, trying to sell more cuts or he may have tried to pull a silly stunt to soften the horrible blow of the $534 million, but either way this is madness. There should be no $600 million and no $534 million cuts. There should be additional spends and a surety of this spend reaching First Peoples, something which has not been happening over decades – with misfit carpetbaggers and contractors stealing not only the native title dollar but also the health, education and community dollars.

Mr Mundine reckons that $534 million in cuts is not going to hurt First Peoples if what is supposedly available to them is more efficiently spent. On this reckoning, without any evidence laden basis, he said that another $600 million could be cut.

"Most of these areas are the backroom stuff, so looking at the 150 program streams, collapsing that into five. Looking about the savings that we can do in Canberra into other areas and also then shifting, look at shifting some of the programs," said Mr Mundine.

He reckons there are services on the ground "that we won’t notice" if gone. Maybe that’s because people die before they can speak up. One in every three Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person will die by 45 years of age. Suicide rates are among the world’s worst. Youth suicide is the result of impoverishment, the loss of hope, the loss of culture and identity and Mr Mundine reckons that cut services will not be noticed? They are noticed each and every day. There is not enough of what should be out there – and community driven.

Mr Mundine says the cuts are not enough and the Government can and should go further.

"I am looking at $600 million in (cuts) in the next budgetary round in 2015," said Mr Mundine.

"It’s actually more than that, but I’m looking at $600 million in the next budgetary round in 2015," he said.

Mr Mundine must be serious because he said "we have" completed modelling that evidences the saves.

"It is quite a lot of money when you start looking at a Budget, like we did with remote area housing with $3.6 billion, so you can imagine a saving of 10 or 5 per cent of that – that’s quite a lot of money."

Dr Ngaire Brown is the deputy chair of the Council but is reported to have said that she does not agree with Mr Mundine’s rogue comments.

The rogue comments have demolished the representation of the Indigenous Advisory Council as a serious advisory body. They have been shown up as a farcical charade.

"I wouldn’t be supporting any further calls (for cuts)," said Dr Brown.

Two members of the Council said none of Mr Mundine’s rogue comments were discussed at their last meeting. They said this to me despite the fact they signed off confidentiality requirements in order to secure membership to the Council.

Mr Mundine said to the ABC, "Everyone’s very clear in regard to that there are inefficiencies and waste within the system and it’s very clear that we need to fix them."

"So as I say, Indigenous services on the ground are actually delivering what we need to deliver to the Aboriginal communities and so everyone is very much on, you know, that thinking."

A ministerial source of mine said that Mr Mundine has been misunderstood, and that he meant $600 million further of existing funding can be reassigned to "eliminate waste" and not that further "cuts" can be made. He said that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs have no intention for further hits on ‘Indigenous disadvantage spending’.

Who do we believe?

Mr Sansbury said that "time is up for Mr Mundine" and that the Prime Minister has to ensure "he goes."

Mundine ignorant, cowardly, offensive: Scrymgour

Xavier La Canna ABC Darwin 21 May 2014

Aboriginal leader Marion Scrymgour

Aboriginal leader Marion Scrymgour is attacking Warren Mundine as being ignorant and offensive with his recent comments saying Indigenous ceremonies had become "bullshit" and went for too long.

On Wednesday Ms Scymgour reacted to Mr Mundine's comments, which were made yesterday at an Indigenous employment conference in Darwin.

Mr Mundine, who chairs the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council, said traditionally ceremonies like funerals did not last for weeks and cultural obligations should not be an excuse to avoid responsibilities to go to school or work.

"It's become almost a bullshit process to be quite frank," Mr Mundine said.

But former Labor Party MLA and NT Indigenous Affairs Minister, Marion Scrymgour, today lashed out at the comments, saying she had been offended by them.

"I say to Warren Mundine, stop pandering to the ignorance on the eastern seaboard and stop standing in these forums and saying this stuff," Ms Scrymgour told the ABC.

"Get out on the ground and talk to leaders, to communities and ask them whether their practices are bullshit and that they shouldn't be partaking in cultural practices which have been going for years, for centuries.

"Have a proper debate with the Aboriginal leadership about this rather than being a coward and saying this stuff because it makes good headlines in the media," she said.

Ms Scrymgour acknowledged that in some cases ceremonies had been abused, but she denied that they went on for longer than in the past.

She said often culture was important to try and engage with kids and keep them in the education system.

In January Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion was forced to cancel a trip to the remote NT community of Hermannsburg because sorry business was underway and almost no children went to school.

Mr Scullion has overseen the introduction to some Aboriginal communities of truancy officers to try and get children to go to school more often.