Nationals leader David Littleproud has accused Anthony Albanese of bringing on the law and order crisis in Alice Springs by not listening to the community claiming it shows why an Indigenous Voice to Parliament will fail.
Mr Littleproud pulled no punches as he said the prime minister and Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney had failed to listen to the Northern Territory’s Alice Springs community on the ‘foreseen’ consequences of lifting Indigenous alcohol sale bans.
‘They were warned on the ninth of June by community groups in Alice Springs to the minister saying ‘do not remove, the community is not ready’,’ Mr Littleproud told Sky News on Sunday.
Nationals Leader David Littleproud has laid the blame for the escalating crime situation in Alice Springs squarely at the feet of the Prime Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs
‘Anthony Albanese wants a Voice? Well he didn’t listen before. It took a crisis for him to get on a plane and get out there.’
In response to the scenes of chaos coming out of Alice Springs, Mr Albanese made an impromptu visit on Tuesday.
Mr Albanese blamed the previous Coalition Government, led by Scott Morrison, for allowing alcohol restrictions to expire.
Alcohol restriction legislation expired in July, two months into Mr Albanese’s time as prime minister, however parliament had not yet sat by the time they ended.
Since the 10-year Stronger Futures program – which restricted access to alcohol in a bid to tackle social issues – ended, the Alice Springs region has grappled with skyrocketing crime rates with bottle shops ransacked and youths wielding machetes running amok.
The outbreak of lawlessness at Alice Springs, as illustrated by this brawl outside a supermarket, has become a hot button issue nationally
Mr Littleproud said Mr Albanese’s rushed trip, where he spent four hours talking to community and government representatives, showed why the Indigenous Voice to Parliament was the wrong approach.
‘You don’t need a Voice, you need politicians who do their job and get the bureaucracy to do what you tell them to,’ he said.
Mr Littleproud also called on the Albanese government to reintroduce the cashless debit card, which restricts the purchase of alcohol with welfare money.
‘The cashless debit card is the other failure of this government,’ he said.
Mr Albanese was forced to make a rushed trip to the Alice Springs to address the growing mayhem there
‘I think this takes courage and conviction to say it hasn’t worked, just reimplement what was in there it was working to an extent.’
‘It is not a right to get taxpayer’s money, it is a privilege.’
Unlike Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who has demanded to know more detail about how the Indigenous Voice to Parliament would work, Mr Littleproud said there was already enough detail to know it would be a failure.
He predicted it would go down the same path as ATSIC, which was a government body set up under the Hawke Labor Government in 1990 to advise the Commonwealth on Indigenous issues.
Mr Littleproud said that Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney (pictured) was warned in June not to lift the alcohol bans
The Howard Liberal Government disbanded ATSIC in 2004 after it was accused of corruption principally surrounding its chair Geoff Clarke, who was accused of misusing ATSIC funds.
Mr Littleproud said the proposed Indigenous Voice will the make same mistake of picking a few representatives to represent hundreds of different Indigenous communities with different circumstances and needs.
‘We’ve sent Indigenous Australians to Canberra before and it failed,’ he said.
‘History is repeating itself.’
Former chair of Indigenous policy advise body ATSIC Geoff Clarke has been embroiled in numerous corruption and criminal accusations
The Nationals leaders said Mr Albanese needed to be ‘listening to more voices not just one or two voices that are sent to Canberra but sitting in town halls and listening to more voices’.
He claimed the Nationals had ‘lived experience’ of Aboriginal disadvantage and had ‘genuine intent’ to ‘close the gap’, meaning the disadvantage of Indigenous compared to the rest of the community.
However, he argued the federal government did not need an ‘extra layer of bureaucracy’, such as the Voice, to do this.
‘That can be done with existing mechanisms the thousands of bodies that are giving the government advice now,’ Mr Littleproud said.
He argued that establishing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, which is going to a referendum later this year to see it enshrined in the Constitution, is ‘an open-ended model that says we’re never going to close the gap.
Mr Littleproud argued to aspire to something more concrete and said ideology was ‘getting in the road’ of practical realities, which should include setting ambitious targets.
‘Why should there be a need to have a department of Indigenous Affairs by 2025 or 2030 because the gap is closed, we are all equal in this country and we have solved the disadvantage in these remote communities?’ he said.
— to news.google.com