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7 février 2005 à 22 h 15 min #73984CarolineParticipant
Dodson says govt ATSIC plan ‘deplorable’
Story from AAP
3 February 2005 – Aboriginal leader Mick Dodson has described the federal government’s plan to kill-off Australia’s peak indigenous body while failing to replace it as deplorable.
A Senate committee is investigating how best to provide for indigenous Australians following the Howard government’s decision to scrap the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and mainstream its services.
Professor Dodson, representing the National Indigenous Leaders’ Meeting, told the committee the tide of public opinion and perceived wrongdoings by ATSIC leaders Geoff Clark and « Sugar » Ray Robinson had undermined the representative organisation.
While the ATSIC Abolition Bill has not yet been passed by federal parliament, ATSIC’s power has effectively been removed and there are no plans to replace it with another directly-elected body.
Prof Dodson said the treatment of ATSIC, and of indigenous Australians, over the issue had been outrageous.
« It’s a little incomprehensible to me that decisions are made about us without any reference to us, » Prof Dodson said.
Last April’s National Indigenous Leaders’ Meeting, which included former ATSIC chair Lowitja O’Donoghue, determined that only indigenous Australians had the right to determine who should represent them.
While Prof Dodson stopped short of criticising the performance of the government’s hand-picked National Indigenous Council (NIC), he did question its legitimacy.
« I don’t want to give a view of the National Indigenous Council, but, from what we said at the Adelaide meeting, the fundamental principle is that who represents us is our business and who chooses those representatives is our business also, » he said.
« And in the view of the Adelaide meeting … a national organisation would have no legitimacy if those first two things aren’t fulfilled. »
Prof Dodson said while there had been preliminary discussions on how such a body should be chosen, it was ultimately up to Aboriginal people to decide how this should be done.
He would not rule out a replica model of ATSIC being favoured, saying many people at last year’s Adelaide meeting supported it.
« There were many people there who supported and still support ATSIC, » Prof Dodson said.
« ATSIC isn’t just the chair and deputy chair – and the commissioners even – it’s a far bigger organisation than that and it’s done some wonderful things over its life. »
Prof Dodson also said he held serious reservations about the government’s so-called mutual obligation schemes, whereby Aboriginal communities agreed to meet certain behavioural requirements in order to receive specific funding.
He questioned the legality of targeting specific sectors of the population for such schemes, and the fairness with which they would be implemented.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
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