Tony Abbott has suggested that living in remote communities is simply a ‘lifestyle choice’ for Indigenous Australians.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has backed a WA Government proposal to close a number of remote Indigenous communities, saying it is not the taxpayer’s job to subsidise people’s “lifestyle choices”.
The WA Government flagged the closure of up to 150 of the state’s remote Aboriginal communities after the Federal Government, which funded about two-thirds of the state’s remote Indigenous settlements, announced in September it was transitioning that responsibility to the states over the next two years.
Speaking in Kalgoorlie, Mr Abbott said it was up to the state to decide what services it would deliver and where.
He 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.”
This post originally appeared on ABC.net.au and is republished here with full permission.