Australia’s increasingly controversial Prime Minister Tony Abbot has blundered into yet another self-inflicted disaster with a deeply insensitive and racist comment about Australia’s Aboriginals when he defended his government’s decision to remove subsidies from more than 150 remote communities in Western Australia.
He described the Aboriginals’ living in these communities as a “lifestyle choice”, which the government was not ready to “endlessly subsidise”.
Worse, he continued saying that their “lifestyle choice is not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”.
Abbott has completely missed the point. Successive Australian governments have failed to address a widening gap between non-Aboriginals and Aboriginals who, as a consequence, have far higher rates of poverty, imprisonment and health problems.
He would be much better advised to continue the subsidies and make his government work for the betterment of all Australians, who include the 670,000 Aboriginals as much as the Sydney and Melbourne urban elites.
He started out in office with a pledge to work for Aboriginals and spent a week in a tent. He needs to remember his pledge.