The Hon. Warren Entsch MP
Federal Member for Leichhardt
Interview – 2GB Breakfast with Ben Fordham
5th October 2023
Topics: Noel Pearson, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
Now, Noel Pearson made some comments about Warren Entsch yesterday.
Warren is the federal member representing Far North Queensland and that happens to be Noel Pearson territory. I mean, it’s hard saying that when you’re talking about Far North Queensland because everyone is living in such a big area, they are not, they’re not living on top of each other, but they, they’ve gone head to head quite a few times over the years.
I think that’s the best way of putting it. Warren Entsch and Noel Pearson and Noel said yesterday that for 26 years Warren Entsch has opposed our welfare reform efforts and everything we’ve ever done.
“Since 1996. Completely relentless. He’s attacked our direct instruction teaching program to raise literacy with the kids. He does not care about the outcomes.”
He does not care about the outcomes. I said that I would give Warren Entsch a right of reply and he’s taken that up and he’s on the line. Good morning, Warren.
Good morning, Ben. How are you?
Good. How did you feel about the comments from Noel?
Well, look, not unexpected. I mean, let’s just remember this all started in a speech I did in the Parliament explaining why I had major issues in relation to the to the referendum and particularly in relation to supporting the yes vote 100% support recognition. But as far as, yes vote, my concern it was a segue way for Noel back into many of the communities in Cape York that had effectively had him removed and were actually thriving now.
And those communities were absolutely concerned that he was coming back. Now, I’ll just quickly read you extracts from a letter that I received from one of the communities where Noel still has influence.
“We took great interest in your speech to Parliament recently due to holding similar views towards Mr. Noel Pearson. Our lived experience of numerous failed but expensive ventures run by Noel and not the actual results that led to better life outcomes. That’s the part of it, you know, that our people are political… are being used as political tools and the likes of the likes of Noel’s various institutions and organisations. Who like to study them in order to apply for more funding, and they want to be able to now drive the changes directly and not not then watch the hypocrites repeat the sins of the past.”
They then go on to say that they were ready to stand up for ourselves.
“The parasites that have built their fiefdoms and their political agendas with self-interest at heart are resisting the move.”
And then it goes as well.
Let me just play a bit more of Noel, because I put to Noel Pearson yesterday your concerns about the results that have been achieved or not achieved through the $500 million worth of funding that he’s received over the years through the Federal Government? This is what Noel said.
“This Thursday in Brisbane, we will release data on our progress. You know what the year 12 retention rate of Cape York kids in our program, 94%.”
So back to you. Warren Entsch, are you suggesting that he’s failed on all fronts or is the suggestion that there have been achievements in some areas.
Look, his Cape York Leaders program has achieved some great results and one of those results ended up a young lass there as the as the Young Australian of the Year. So, you know, that one has been great. But when you have a look at some of these entities Cape York partnerships, Cape York Institute, Cape York Employment Services, Cape York Timber he’s got here.
He’s also got Empowered Communities, Balkanu, Cape York, and the list goes on and on. That’s over half a billion dollars has been directed directly into his entities, which are his ideas. He’s had full control of them. And at the end of the day you know, they have been he talked about the schools, but he’s he’s directing direct instruction.
There’s only two left in Cape York. The last the big one that our Aurukun the State Labor Minister stepped in to shut it down and the abuse she got and this is Kate Jones, the abuse she got her and her bureaucracy got from Noel was just unbelievable the foul language and the abuse. But she stood her ground and she shut it down.
Yes. Noely it’s working well, now there’s only two left. Well.
Let me put back to you. Noel’s camp is now pointing us to a story about your wife. It was revealed in June that your wife and her friend were given a grant of more than $200,000. It was designed to support the development of indigenous cultural heritage and knowledge through languages and arts projects. And according to the Australian that ran the story, the money ended up being used to teach pottery in remote Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland.
And the money was given to your wife who is not Indigenous. So what do you say in response to that?
And let me say of course it wasn’t for it and it wasn’t for a Indigenous person, it was for Indigenous programs and she was running the stronger women, stronger community, totally independent of me outside my electorate with no influence whatsoever. It was given on its merit and was recognised as an amazing achievement. But it didn’t surprise me. With The Australian.
It is the likes of The Australian Newspaper that will absolutely attack anybody that has the gall to stand up and criticise their poster child. It’s the Metropolitan and some of the metropolitan media like The Australian that will attack anybody that dares to suggest Noely. I mean, he has got so much influence in that area as he has with former Prime Ministers.
If he used that influence for the benefit of the Cape York communities rather than for himself and his own group. And, you know, I’ll give you just one classic example here Ben. He was saying that in 26 years I’ve done nothing for Cape York. I’ve been elected now, I think my electorates population, probably just under 20% is Indigenous and remote communities.
My last election, I’ll just go through it. Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Hopevale, Wujal Wujal, Lockhart River. These are all Indigenous areas. I won all those booths. Kowanyama, I’m a 71.89%, 30% swing last election to me 32% swing in Pormpuraaw 7% in Hope Vale, 5% in Wujal Wujal, 16% swing, 20% swing in Lockhart River, 15% positive swing in Coen… I won em’ all. Now in the five remote booths which goes around to places like Aurukun, outer Torres Strait, Mapoon all these others in the five booths.
Only one I didn’t win and that was with 46.46. But in the five of them an 18% swing, a 20% swing, a 14% swing, a 28% swing and a 30%. I got the support of the communities and one of the, you know, Noely has never, ever, ever stood for a popular election within his own communities, and I’m telling you now the popularly elected leaders in many of these communities don’t want him anywhere near and if not thinks that he is representing the voice of his people tell him to throw his hat in the ring, there’s been opportunity for him to stand up and become…. stand in the area.
But he’s never, ever taken it. And so, you know, I look at those results, you have overwhelming majority of indigenous people in all of these communities are supporting me. And I’m saying to the likes of the Australian and that instead of listening to Noely a self-appointed, Indigenous leader, predominantly a metropolitan academic, start talking to the popularly elected Indigenous leaders in these remote communities listen to their voices, because at the end of the day, these are the poor buggers that have to live with the decisions that are made from the advice and the huge amount of money that’s funded into his organisations.
Since there’s been Indigenous policy in Australia, there have been these self-appointed metropolitan elites that have not only been providing the advice, but they have actually been paid to implement the advice and there is no absolutely no accountability. And finally, if I can say, there’s as I said, there are two of Noely’s schools left in Cape York. One in Hope Vale and one in Coen, and I was in Hope Vale recently.
And the community there was saying to me, Warren, please, what can you do to help us get this direct instruction out of our out of our community? Because so many of our parents and they are catching buses from Hope Vale to send their kids to school in Cooktown to get away from it.
Alright, Warren, we appreciate you jumping on the line this morning. We did say you’d get a right of reply and I don’t expect that the colourful exchanges between you and Noel are going to end any time soon. We’ve got to run because we’ve got the news coming up. We’ll talk to you again.