Tony Abbott, the Special Envoy that nobody asked for and nobody wants, appears to have been unceremoniously booted from a school meeting in Borroloola NT, on his first trip to remote communities in his new role.
The community was angered by Abbott’s hypocrisy, cutting millions from community based services while he was the ‘Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs’, and his vision for assimilation through education and punitive policies linking attendance rates to welfare payments.
Parents, Elders and school council members challenged Abbott over his comments that Aboriginal children should not only speak English first, but ‘think’ in English too, and attempts to force failed ‘direct instruction’ policies on the school.
Gadrian Hoosan, a parent and school council member told Abbott he ‘was not welcome in the community since intervention policies ripped out community funding leaving residents worse off, while denying much needed new housing and basic services.’
‘He looked like he couldn’t wait to get out of there when we all started bailing up on him. He picked the wrong community to try and bully. We have a strong school here and strong families. He’ll be having nightmares tonight. We told him we don’t want him as our envoy.”
Jack Green, an Elder and bilingual education advocate from Borroloola said,
“Tony Abbott says he wants Aboriginal culture and language out of our schools but we know these things are what keep our kids and our communities strong and healthy. Abbott doesn’t represent our community or Aboriginal people – he’s not our envoy!
As Elders and educators we know what is best for our children. Its time he stepped back, stood down and let us speak for ourselves.”
This is the latest criticism of PM Scott Morrison’s bewildering and insulting decision to make Tony Abbott a ‘Special Envoy to the PM on Indigenous Affairs’ rather than explore options to promote Indigenous self-determination, enter into a Treaty/Makarrata, push for an Indigenous voice to parliament, or instigate a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The absurdity of the appointment of Mr. Abbott to the role of 'envoy' on Indigenous affairs demonstrates the Government's lack of respect for First Nations.
As one of my good friends, an old West Australian man told me:
'We don't need an envoy. We need an Abbott Proof Fence.' pic.twitter.com/sMEi8AocMR
— Patrick Dodson (@SenatorDodson) September 20, 2018
"i think it's hit many of us like a sledgehammer really, in terms of this man who has a history of paternalism and punishment for our people could now be part of a special envoy for this government," @congressmob Co-Chair Jackie Huggins on Tony Abbott. @NITV pic.twitter.com/9Z3sMHODTh
— Jodan Perry (@Jodan_Perry) August 29, 2018
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