PREMIER Anna Bligh’s refusal to meet with leaders of a Cape York council typifies the contempt that Labor holds for indigenous communities, Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch says.
The Premier used her visit to Pormpuraaw last month purely as a media opportunity and failed to advise Mayor Richard Tarpencha, chief executive officer Edward Natera or any of the community’s councillors.
“She blew in to the community with more than a dozen national media and advisers in tow, got her happy snaps pretending to fish and promoting her flawed wild rivers policy to a south-east Queensland audience,” Mr Entsch said.
“Then she took off again, without even acknowledging the local council. She could have discussed serious issues that are presently affecting the Pormpuraaw community such as harvesting crocodile eggs to support their local croc farms, the impact of the alcohol management plans without the support of infrastructure, the impact of the wild rivers legislation, the accessibility to the community because of the government’s failure to invest in the Peninsula Development Road, the limited health services and the cost of transport and living in remote communities to name just a few.
“She couldn’t even give the Mayor or any other community representative for that matter five minutes to discuss these issues. Instead, she just used the visit for her own election campaign to create the perception in south-east Queensland that she was in control and was in touch with indigenous communities.
“In addition to that, her visit cost the community because they had to wear the additional expense of an airport worker to accommodate the arrival of her aircraft and departure. It’s grossly unfair because these communities are already strapped for cash.
“It typifies Labor’s absolute contempt for indigenous people and the issues they face. She should be condemned for her arrogance.”
Cr Richard Tarpencha said the Premier’s lack of interest in meeting him or other council leaders was a lost opportunity for the Labor Government to understand issues facing the community.
“I wish that this “window of opportunity” to assist our efforts to “close the gap” was not lost,” he said. “We are all accountable, are we not?”