Read what Tony really said about rural Indigenous communities and make up your own mind 537



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The media is great at informing us but sometimes they can misconstrue what politicians or celebrities say. One such example appears to be the recent comments that Tony Abbott made about rural Aboriginal communities in response to WA’s proposed plan to close up to 150 remote locations. There have been outcries about his choice of wording, saying that it is a lifestyle choice for Indigenous people to live in remote communities. Many said he was simply out of line and it offended a range of people, but what was really said?

We have the transcript from ABC GoldFields-Esperance here, which was published on the PM’s website:


Now moving on, are you concerned by the state government’s announcement that up to 150 of our remote and isolated indigenous communities will close because of a Federal Government funding shortfall?


Well, I’m not quite sure that I accept your characterisation. We entered into an arrangement with the state governments that we would pay them a one-off payment in return for them taking over the delivery of municipal services in remote areas…


But isn’t it true the Federal Government provides two-thirds of that funding?


But we entered into an agreement with the states that we would make a one-off payment to them in return for them taking over the delivery of municipal services in remote places – as is their constitutional responsibility. Now, it is up to the state government to decide exactly what services it will deliver in what locations. I know there are some concerns about this. Nigel Scullion, as I understand it, who’s the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, is meeting with the states today but in the end it is not unreasonable for the state government to say that if the cost of providing services in a particular remote location is out of all proportion to the benefits being delivered, that, 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.


The community has expressed worries about how that will affect the indigenous culture and that connection that they’ve got with the land. How would the communities closing go towards the Commonwealth’s policy on closing the gap?


I think they’re two entirely separate issues, and if you want to close the gap what you’ve got to do is get the kids to school, the adults to work and you’ve got to ensure that communities are safe. And in order to get kids to school and adults to work, you’ve got to have a school and if people choose to live miles away from where there’s a school, if people choose not to access School of the Air and the other services that are available for people in very, very remote locations, if people choose to live where there’s no jobs, obviously it’s very, very difficult to close the gap, because without education…


But are you penalising people for living people in remote areas there? Isn’t that something that you should encourage, to get people out of the cities?


It’s not the job of the taxpayer to subsidise lifestyle choices. It’s the job of the taxpayer to provide reasonable services in a reasonable way, indeed, to provide high-quality services in a reasonable way and then I think it is the responsibility of our citizens to shoulder the usual duties of citizenship. It is the responsibility of every Australian parent to send his or her children to school – indigenous people no less than everyone else. It’s the responsibility of every Australian adult to look for work if you are capable of work, and, yes, while you are looking for work, the government will pay you unemployment benefits, but 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.


What do you think? Have his words been taken out of context or did Tony Abbott have a poor choice of words when he said that living in a remote Indigenous community was a lifestyle choice? Tell us below.

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  1. Taken out of context as usual and not meant the way it was taken

    10 REPLY
    • All I can say is B/S …. Tony is the most powerful man in Australia… If he can not use words correctly …. he should not be P.M. ..E.G. … Dead….Buried … and.. Cremated…I think you would be cremated before you were buried.. I rest my case.,

    • the aboriginals expect more than we get.. a lot don’t even work…but get everything handed to them on a platter…

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      • Cheryl – and why do they not work? Because us Whiteys have been conditioned to believe that they are lazy, “go walkabout” and are accustomed to sitting around and drinking out of a flagon. Consequently we wont even consider them for any jobs that may be available to them. I have worked and lived with Aboriginals, and they are just as caring and willing to works for their families as anyone else. In America it’s the Negros who still get shunned (recent news item re not able to join Frat houses in colleges), and it was the Europeans who dragged them from their own countries to be put to work as slaves – in Australia we tried to wipe them out from the face of THEIR lands. Get educated.

        1 REPLY
        • So Ally how do they get to work if living as a traditional native, which is their “life style” choice. I have also traveled Australia and seen the “Traditional life” style in the dry creek beds out side towns little camps full of rubbish and empty flagons and beer cans kids playing in the dirt and the adults semi comatose and I think to my self it is so lovely to see my tax dollar helping to keep them in their Traditional life

          1 REPLY
          • I have lived in outback Australia and seen the camps and rubbish. if this is a lifestyle choice then they can have it. I think he is referring to surfers and alternative lifestyle people who live near the sea and surf. where there are no jobs, so continue on the dole forever

    • is everything, every word he says taken our of context??? you must be kidding yourself…read what he said…his words & all the time he is an idiot and he keeps getting worse & worse every day

    • I suppose saying “shit happens” to that Aussie soldier who had just lost his mate was taken out of context too? He has done more damage to this country with his mouth, let alone anything else, than any PM I can remember, and that’s saying something. The man is a lunatic.

    • once again, people who do not know the facts about what money is spent – Cheryl and Lea – make stupid comments about what is expected by, and expended on Aboriginal people. Then someone else sheeps on behind with agreement. Find out the facts before you repeat crap stories that you accepted on face value.

  2. As usual he was badly missquoted by many of the media, unfortunately most of the voting public are politically nieve and actually believe what the Leftie papers write – jounalism is not what it used to be ……

    12 REPLY
    • Skye news think they are running the country, ram their opinions down every once throat, Soon they will align up with the ABC ETC

    • B….. Hell! I thought it was righties Murdock controlled reporting. And your telling me its really lefties! Doesn’t matter how many live in a community they deserve access to the same as those that live in the city. Start with these people soon be all the little towns. Just quietly how would you like to be forced from your home to move to a place you don’t want to go to and don’t understand?

    • I wonder if you have actually seen/been to a remote community – well I have and believe me they aint ‘little towns’, they are very small and cannot expect to have the amenities that towns etc would have – I moved here from the U.K. for a better ‘lifestyle’ and work and if you cannot move to get a job then you dont deserve wellfare my friend. You dont get a job delivered to your front door mate.

    • so you’re telling me that you watched the whole video and you still reckon he was hard on the poor Aborigionals – get a bloody life – all he said was that people, all people, who live remotely cannot expect to have the usual tax payer funded amenaties that larger towns have – I see nothing wrong with this at all. The Tax Payers have thrown billions at these people with nothing to show for it.

    • My beef is with your “badly misquoted by the media” Liberals are often saying poor Tony is, “badly misquoted” How can a TV news video be “misquoted” Print media is different but most of his gaffes are viewed on Television.

    • By how they did it today Leone. By two words. “Lifestyle Choices”. All the articles written talked about how he has been unfair to Indigenous people by using those two words without really explaining what he was actually saying.

    • exactly Rae, the media immediately jumped on those 2 words as being something that is somehow demeaning, Aborigionals live where they do because they want to, however they have all had these remote communities funded by the Tax Payer and still put their hands out for more – time it stopped.

    • Lester Gaunt If you had read my original comment – posted well before your standard Liberal “Badly Misquoted” sookiness, you would see that I agreed with this instance. I don’t however agree that he is subject to being singled out or regularly “badly Misquoted” The man makes shocking gaffes regularly and it is videoed and shown on TV and internet. You simply cannot whitewash that. This Prime Minister has more ums and aahs that Molly Meldrum. We deserve a PM who can string more than 3 words together.There are several Liberal/National MP’s who can speak quite well.

    • I somewhat agree with you Leone but he is very often taken out of context when, quite honestly, he really hasn’t said anything wrong – take his ‘lifestyle’ quote, I dont think he meant that Aborigionals should actually move, but that if they didn’t then why should Tax Payers have to fork out for very expensive services which, in the main, they dont even use.

  3. Problem is that Tony suffers from a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease.

    22 REPLY
    • He blunders along like a bull in a china shop. More ums and aahs than Molly Meldrum. He could do with Art of Speech classes and elocution lessons.

    • Tony tells it how it is if you chose to live the life of a cave man or nomad why should you be subsidized by the tax payer. The aborigines keep telling us the want their own culture and want to live as their ancestors did that’s fine nobody will stop you, your ancestors managed to live with out the white mans hand outs I say go for it and show us what you can do on your own

    • So what Leone Sullivan, he’s stopped the boats and if the Left Wing Labor clowns and the loonies who live on Planet Green let him he’d get more done. Great work Mr Abbot getting us out of the mess Labor left us in.

    • I firmly believe we are paying Indonesia to keep the boat people SO he stopped them at a cost.

    • There’s quite a few here that need lessons. Remember he is a Rhodes scholar, cleverer than you Labor lot. He always tells the truth n sometimes it dosen’t go down too well with Labor people that’s because you don’t have the brains to understand. SO SHUT UP ABOUT HIM.

      1 REPLY
      • Kris Kristopherson was a Rhodes scholar, too! And he was a recording artist! Rhodes scholars doth not a smart person make, and if you look at his results while at Oxford, the only thing he did passably well was get a boxing blue, which obviously accounts for the brain damage he suffered.

    • Labor’s Bob Hawke was also a Rhodes Scholar. So enough of this “cleverer than you Labor lot”.

    • Rob clever or not did u read the transcript, or better still listen to the interview? If you did then you’d your comments should reflect a more balanced approach

    • Anthony Quoy are you addressing me? If so, please note that my name is Robert, not Rob. And what exactly would be “a more balanced approach” to stating the simple fact that TA suffers from foot-in-mouth-itis?

    • Hi Jane. I am not bagging the way he speaks but rather the things he says when his f-i-m-itis takes over. If he can spoil a sensible idea with an insulting comment then that is his problem and, frankly, one that our PM should not have.

    • Robert read the article this time and use your intelligence? Before making such derogatory statements. And keep to the subject. There is nothing in his statement that is not spot on. What he said is a fact, and taxpayers should not be funding (their Lifestyle). Responsible parents should be thinking of their children, being where they can get an education, and more importantly be where they can work and support them. This is Australia today, and you better get used to it?

    • Molly, I have read the article twice now and I also listened to TA’s speech on TV. While he made some good points, as I said in my previous comment, he did spoil it with reference to “lifestyle choices”, a potentially derogatory comment with reference to our original peoples wishing to live in their traditional lands . He could have made all the same points without using this phrase and causing offence.

    • Good one Rosalie. This is just the same as with the proposed data retention legislation, that is yet another attack on our overall freedoms, where we are told “If you are doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear.” Or the statement to rape victims that “You should not have worn that sort of clothing.” Shift the blame!
      TA is our PM. He should have known that he would cause offence by using the “lifestyle choice” phrase in this context. He made good points and then blew it with an injudicious choice of words.

    • If we are back to teacher bashing then I will sign off and get back to discussions with people of intelligence.

  4. I certainly agree with him this should have happen a long time ago , they are paid well with the dole and also cutting the food funding is a good decision and make the parents start paying for the kids food they are being paid well for the kids as we all know well done Tony I feel we have a good prime minister in you and you will get all done that you aim to

    7 REPLY
    • Good on you Sue I agree. The remarks he made where logical. I’m getting tired of the black versus white. We are all Australians, whatever the colour. The important points he made were that it is parents responsibility to see their children are educated, including the aboriginals, as it is the responsibility of all to work where possible. What is unreasonable about that? The other point, why should taxpayers be responsible for funding people who are not prepared to move closer to find work or to allow their children to be educated. Education is what is needed to help these people to live a more meaningful life.

    • Again your right. Ignore these getup stooges. There all over the place trying to turn ALL AUSTRALIANS against this good man

    • try to put yourself in another’s situation…i.e. our native peoples & i bet your ideas whould change Sue finlay… are a very very lucky person & i hope you appreciate your good luck every day and you never go without…

  5. Why oh why doesn’t he just stand still and keep his mouth shut? Every time he opens his mouth idiot comes out.

    4 REPLY
    • A bit like when uninformed people take to the keyboard eh Tim? Funny how people who have never been out in these communities or lived with Aboriginals always have so much to say but have never had the experience to back it up.

    • Oh Graham if only you knew how far off the mark you are. I have the knowledge and the experience. Perhaps, just perhaps our Prime Minister is not the only one that opens his mouth and idiot comes out.

  6. I see nothing wrong with what he has said. Having just come back from WA, I was aware that the state government couldn’t financially build schools, hospitals etc in some settlements where there are only half a dozen people living. These students can be educated by school of the air, but they don’t attend school even when it is around the corner. All parents have to make sacrifices to educate their children, and these people are no exception.

    11 REPLY
    • I have been there and it is not anyone’s business to preach how they live. How wonderful they have preserved their language.

    • Try getting into these communities…they want to live on country speak their own language yet dress like American teenagers? Show me one place on earth with all of these things happening these days that is prospering? Education is the key to success unless we are all reverting to living in caves again ..we have to progress else go under..

    • I have seen a similar thing elsewhere – the regular school bus wasn’t good enough for the Aboriginal kids, they wouldn’t ride with those whities. To try and get them to school the Education Department started running a special bus for Aboriginal kids only.

    • There is plenty of evidence Avis. Go and have a look for yourself. I find what I see very confronting and very sad. TA has compassion for these unfortunate people and his remarks are spot on. In fact, how anyone could view otherwise is beyond me!!!!

  7. Wish the media would leave Tony alone, and let him get on with the job of running this country.

    9 REPLY
  8. I do not have any fondness for any politician from any party as they do not live in the real world and all have their own agendas but the press is so so dangerous. Anything for a story.

  9. He does not know how to be insensitive, he lives in his own little and protected world. He is bringing Australia down!

    2 REPLY

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