back to top

This Senator Thinks Indigenous Australians Live In A "Fairytale"

"Governments tell Aborigines fairytales, which encourages them to consider themselves special".

Posted on

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has launched a scathing attack on the Indigenous community saying it shirks "personal responsibility" when it comes to ending dysfunction and that the federal government is "irresponsible" for enabling it.

Lukas Coch / AAP

"It is irresponsible for the prime minister to wave away the notion of personal responsibility," Leyonhjelm told the senate in his Closing the Gap speech yesterday.

"The government continues to treat Aborigines in rural and remote areas like museum exhibits and perpetuates violence, child abuse and neglect".

The comments came during blistering takedown yesterday of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's speech on the growing gap between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people in the areas of health, education and employment.

Leyonhjelm argued that successive governments had been too soft on the Aboriginal community, which allowed apathy and poverty to fester.

"Governments maintain affirmative action program, including targets for government employment of Aborigines in the public service and government procurement from designated Aboriginal businesses," Leyonhjelm says.

"These programs extend to anyone who is accepted by Aboriginal elders as being Aboriginal, even fair-skinned people who have had more opportunities than many of their fellow Australians".

"Governments tell Aborigines fairy tales, which encourages them to consider themselves special," Leyonhjelm said.

Mick Tsikas / AAP

Leyonhjelm also called into question the time period of Indigenous culture in Australia, saying that accepted estimates are not accurate and tell Aboriginal people that, "the rules for getting ahead that apply to everyone else, don’t apply to them".

"They say our nation is as old as humanity itself, as if the out of Africa thesis were debunked. They say Aborigines were undoubtedly the first Australians, as if they know exactly what happened 40,000 years ago".

"Many non-indigenous Australians have ancestors who suffered terrible injustices too. Hanging on to injustices that weren’t done to you is paralysing and shouldn’t be encouraged," he said.

The latest Closing the Gap report revealed that the disparity between Indigenous people is widening, with small gains ovdershadowed by staggering inequality.

Dan Peled / AAP

The mortality rate of Indigenous people is high and falls short of targets set to reduce deaths, in particular from circulatory diseases like heart attack and stroke, in 2006.

Indigenous Australians can expect to die around 10 years younger than the rest of the population and Indigenous employment rates fell from almost 54% to around 47% between 2012 - 2013.

NT Labor Senator Nova Peris said at the report launch that Aboriginal communities are working hard to fix the issues but without investment in grassroots solutions, they were bound to fail.

"We’ll be back here in 12 months probably having the same conversation. We need resources, let’s celebrate the small wins, but it’s sad that a country that prides itself on inclusiveness is not homely to its first peoples,” Peris says.

You can read the Leyonhjelm speech here -

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.