Most states sign better deal for Indigenous support
The Federal Government has pledged $100 million to boost basic services in remote Aboriginal communities.
The funds for the several states to take permanent responsibility for regional services like power, water and roads - in areas the Commonwealth had managed in the past.
The money will go to communities in Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the deal put more responsibility on the states, but streamlined what had been a fairly ad-hoc arrangement.
“In every other town and city across Australia, essential municipal services are the responsibility of state and local governments,” Senator Scullion said this week.
“It should be no different on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land. We're just getting out of the way and letting the states do their job.”
Senator Scullion says South Australia is refusing to sign up to the agreement, and has just up to the end of the month to do so.
“I am disappointed the South Australian Government has not agreed to take responsibility for its residents in remote Aboriginal communities like other states have,” he said.
But South Australia says it is getting the short end of the stick.
SA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Ian Hunter said the state was offered just one year of funding.
“I wasn't prepared to sell out my Aboriginal constituents in this state,” Mr Hunter told ABC Radio.
He said the Federal Government had been fund essential services in remote areas of South Australia for over 50 years. Those included Royal Flying Doctor airstrips, road maintenance, diesel for generators, electricity and water, he said.
“The Federal Government now wants to walk away from that 50-year-long responsibility to these communities.”
“Western Australia and Queensland seem to have [struck] a sweetheart deal, but we can't get any more than one year advanced funding,” he said.
The Federal Government has maintained its separate agreement with the Northern Territory, providing $206 million over 10 years.
State and local governments already supply their own essential services funding to Indigenous communities in New South Wales.