Mr Mundine defended Mr Abbott’s decision not to have a specific indigenous health minister in his line up. “I’m very comfortable with the way that has panned out,” he said. “Does it mean that health is going to be put back down the chain? No it’s not, it’s going to be a major priority.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new team to instigate a radical shake-up of indigenous affairs will be named within 10 days.
The incoming chairman of Mr Abbott’s new indigenous advisory council, Warren Mundine, has flagged the announcement of the panel’s terms of reference and composition.
Mr Mundine said he was happy and relaxed about how it was coming together
The council will have a gender balance and representatives from all state and territories.
“It’s a massive challenge that we have to do,” he told Sky News.
Mr Mundine said the council’s biggest priority would be looking at spending.
“We’re very much focused on an economic outcome and commercial activity happening in indigenous communities,” he said.
“It’s not about what programs will be cut.”
The former Labor national president was tight-lipped on whether dumped Aboriginal NT Minister Alison Anderson would have a role on the board.
“Alison Anderson will be a person we have conversations with,” he said.
“I’m not here to make an announcement about who is on or off the council, that’s up to the Prime Minister.”
Mr Abbott unsuccessfully tried to woo Ms Anderson to the federal political arena late last year and was criticised for saying that it would be terrific to have an “authentic” indigenous representative of central Australia in Canberra.
Mr Mundine defended Mr Abbott’s decision not to have a specific indigenous health minister in his line up.
“I’m very comfortable with the way that has panned out,” he said.
“Does it mean that health is going to be put back down the chain? No it’s not, it’s going to be a major priority.”
Former indigenous health minister Warren Snowdon has raised concerns it may affect progress on closing the gap.
“It is outrageous that the gains made by the Labor government to close the gap in life expectancy are now potentially under threat because of poor planning, buck passing and lack of priority given to Indigenous Health by the new Abbott government,” Mr Snowdon said.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Abbott told AAP that indigenous health would be the responsibility of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and indigenous health programs would fall under the department of PM&C.
Mr Mundine clarified that the coalition’s proposed $42 million cuts to indigenous legal services was money to be reviewed not cut.
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- No indigenous health priority: Snowdon (sbs.com.au)