LIBERAL MP and Chief Opposition Whip Warren Entsch has labelled the Prime Minister a “hypocrite” for criticising the State Government’s decision to review Alcohol Management Plans on Cape York.
Speaking during today’s Closing the Gap Statement in Parliament, Ms Gillard said the winding back of AMPs would result in “rivers of grog starting to flow again” and added that the interests of indigenous children should come before the interests of the alcohol industry.
However Mr Entsch, whose Far North Queensland electorate includes nine shires where AMPs are in place, plus two communities where alcohol is restricted under the Cape York Welfare Reform Trial, described the PM’s words as “political rhetoric”.
“If she really cared, if she was really serious about dealing with alcohol problems in remote indigenous communities, it should be reflected in her actions,” Mr Entsch said today.
“This would start with an investment in medical detox centres in regional health facilities, along with the establishment of healing centres in adjoining community outstations.
“There also needs to be a significant increase in the placement of alcohol and drug counselling and mental health experts in these regional and remote areas.
“This is the kind of action that will demonstrate a genuine commitment to this complex problem.”
Mr Entsch added that the Prime Minister should also apologise to the residents of the surrounding townships who face numerous challenges as a result of the AMP restrictions.
“These communities have been negatively impacted by the influx of people with alcohol problems, who have been forced to move to new areas because her government has refused to fund the appropriate medical and social infrastructure and services they need,” he said.
“They have no mechanisms in these regions to support and rehabilitate people with alcohol addiction. Instead, they are dispossessed of their homelands and travel to the towns and cities where alcohol is available.
“I challenge the PM to spend a day in one of the communities in my electorate; she will soon see that political grandstanding is not the same as offering solutions.”