#1049 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 22 Mar 2015
Religious leaders have urged the federal government to reconsider a decision to close 150 remote Aboriginal communities to save money, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was “not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise lifestyle choices.”
Catholic Bishop Christopher Saunders said it was a basic human right to choose where one lived, and “After 200 years of colonisation and dispossession, surely out of fairness we owe something to Australia’s First Nations in the way of respect and recompense.”
Anglicare South Australia CEO Peter Sandeman said the intended withdrawal of funding appears to show a lack of understanding of what the forced community closures would mean to the people affected.
But Mr Abbott’s words pale in comparison to those of mining magnate Lang Hancock, who said in a 1984 television interview that unemployment among Aboriginal people could be solved by doping their drinking water “so that they were sterile and would breed themselves out.”
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.