Topics: Closing the Gap, Leadership, Child removal policies
JOURNALIST: If the government is serious about closing the gap, will they consider reversing budget cuts to put money back into Indigenous programs?
ALAN TUDGE: If money was the answer, we would have closed the gap many years ago. What we’re absolutely focused on is ensuring that kids are at school and adults are in work because if those two things happen, typically so many other things are so much easier to accomplish.
JOURNALIST: How is constitutional recognition going to get children to schools and people to employment?
ALAN TUDGE: Constitutional recognition is also an incredibly important goal. We need to complete our constitution because, as you know, its silent in the matter of Indigenous people at the moment and it also includes particular clauses which are not appropriate for today’s modern society, particularly the race clause.
So we want to remove that and we want to properly finish our constitution by properly recognising the first Indigenous Australians.
JOURNALIST: What’s your opinion on the current state of government with the leadership spill this week?
ALAN TUDGE: We’re hoping that is behind us. We’re very much focused on where we are going now in terms of addressing cost of living concerns, supporting job creation, our families package, our small business package, and of course the lead up to the May budget.
JOURNALIST: Do you think any of this chaos that has gone on behind the scenes in parliament contributed to the profoundly disappointing outcome of the Close the Gap report?
ALAN TUDGE: I don’t want to politicise the Close the Gap report. Most of the indicators of course were 2013-2014 figures so in some respects it’s measuring what’s occurred over the last few years rather than necessarily this year.
We’ve got a lot of work to do. There are some very positive signs in the Closing the Gap report but additionally there’s also things which we have to work much harder on. Employment is the number one objective in my view. If we can get more Aboriginal people into jobs, into real work, then I think we’ll be able to achieve much more on some of those other indicators as well.
JOURNALIST: Just lastly, you said employment is the main concern but I guess to a lot of people here today the increasing rates of child removal is a major concern. Will any specific policies be put in place to tackle that problem?
ALAN TUDGE: It’s one of those things where if you’ve got strong, stable families with kids going to school, with adults working, then typically other things tend to take care of themselves.
In terms of child removal policies, they’re very much governed by state and territory governments rather than the federal government.