In a series of interviews yesterday throughout Australia The Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Warren Mundine Chair of the new Indigenous advisory council and the new Health Minister Peter Dutton have made a series significant annoucements including;
- PRIME Minister Tony Abbott’s new indigenous advisory council will complete a review of indigenous spending by early next year.
- Mr Abbott has begun recruiting people for the council, which will oversee a shake up of indigenous affairs. (see email contact below)
- HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton supports raising tobacco taxes but won’t raise taxes on alcohol because he says it doesn’t cut consumption.
- The new minister says boosting community-based mental health services will be one of his priorities in government.
- The Abbott Government will do more to stop indigenous Australians taking up smoking.
- Warren Mundine on Wednesday officially signed on to be the council’s chairman.
- He said his preference was for the council to have seven or eight members.
- The membership will be finalised before the end of October.
- And finally todays rumour “There are some OATSIH program areas being considered for transfer but there will be 3 month consultation”
Mr Mundine spoke to Lisa Martin from AAP
“It’s not a representative committee … it’s a council of experts, indigenous and non-indigenous, who will be working in this space to get the socio-economic outcomes for indigenous people,” Mr Mundine told AAP.
“It will be based on expertise, but the majority will be indigenous people on the council.”
Mr Mundine confirmed former Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet boss Peter Shergold will be on the council.
In the early 90s Dr Shergold headed the now defunct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Commission.
The council will meet Mr Abbott and senior ministers three times a year.
Mr Mundine, a former Labor national president, will meet with Mr Abbott and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion on a monthly basis.
Mr Mundine flagged that some meetings would be held in indigenous communities.
“We want to get out and about,” he said.
The council’s first task is to conduct a review of indigenous spending and how to get value for money.
Mr Mundine has stressed the review is not about budget cuts.
He expects the review to be finalised by February or March 2014.
* People can register their interest to be on the council by emailing
The new minister says boosting community-based mental health services will be one of his priorities in government.
And he’s warned bureaucrats working in 18 health agencies they could be axed or merged into the department.
The government’s Mental Health Commission will be absorbed back into the Health Department, where it will outline how to fix a fragmented system of service delivery, he said.
And the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the National Health Performance Authority – which both collect health data – can expect to be merged.
“There are several bodies collecting data and we’ve got to make sure we’re doing it in the most efficient way possible,” Mr Dutton told ABC Radio National.
“We want to make sure we’re getting the most efficient spend possible for taxpayers money so that we can get as much money as we can to frontline services,” he said.
The minister refused to comment on reports that he also has the National Preventive Health Agency in his sights.
In Opposition, Peter Dutton says he proposed a hike in the tobacco tax to cut smoking rates that was finally supported by the Rudd Government.
“I think wherever we can discourage the take up of tobacco we should because we know of the health outcomes and we should do whatever we can,” he said.
However, he says increasing alcohol taxes to combat Australia’s binge drinking culture won’t work.
“The (previous) government imposed the so-called alcopops tax and, in actual fact, the consumption of spirits has gone up since the introduction of that tax,” he said.
“It didn’t work,” he said.
The Abbott Government will do more to stop indigenous Australians taking up smoking, he said.
Mr Dutton says he wants to boost community-based services for the mentally ill and break down the stigma around mental illness that prevents 65 per cent of those with a problem seeking help.
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