In a move that surprised hell out of me, Tony Abbott’s government has announced it will withdraw funding to the State of West Australia for the upkeep of 150 of the state’s remote aboriginal communities.
Abbott said the decision to close communities was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services, where there are no schools or jobs, was excessive. “What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have,” he said. “In order to get kids to school and adults to work, you’ve got to have a school”.
“If people choose to live miles away from where there’s a school, if people choose not to access the school of the air, if people choose to live where there’s no jobs, obviously it’s very, very difficult to close the gap”.
“It is not unreasonable for the State Government to say if the cost of providing services in a particular remote location is out of all proportion to the benefits being delivered, fine by all means live in a remote location, but there’s a limit to what you can expect the state to do for you if you want to live there.”
Frankly, this is amazing language from Mr Abbott, who has always, to my intense irritation, been overly disposed to what I perceive as misguided Marxist driven policies that only divide Australia and make matters worse for its indigenous groups. A Sydney university professor was fired for referring to Abbott as an “abo-lover”.
The announcement has created the expected backlash and uproar. One question that comes to my own mind is what will happen to these people who have grown dependent upon government so much that they will probably have immense trouble looking after themselves? A problem that exists everywhere with handouts. What happens when you take them away?
Of course if this actually happens, I guess the people involved will have to make the required mental adjustment, but the real issue is they should never have been made dependent in the first place.
I’m still to be convinced Abbott will follow through on this announcement. It sounds like yet another of those issues where he won’t be able to take the heat.