Speaking to ABC radio in Kalgoorlie on Tuesday, Mr Abbott defended the Western Australian government’s decision to close up to 150 remote indigenous communities. He said governments could not continue to subsidise the ‘lifestyle choice’ of those who live far away from schools and employment.
“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,” Mr Abbott said.
The prime minister’s indigenous advisor, Warren Mundine has joined opposition ministers and social commentators in criticising the comments.
“That is a complete misconception of what it is and he’s wrong in that regard,” Mr Mundine told Fairfax Media. “It is not about a lifestyle, it is not like retiring and moving for a sea change, it is about thousands of years connection, their religious beliefs and the essence of who they are.”
The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress have issued a formal statement about the closure of remote communities, calling it “an indefensible attack on the human rights of Aboriginal people.”
To follow the discussion on social media, check the #lifestylechoice hashtag on Twitter