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The Prime Minister Is Now Running The Country From A Remote Indigenous Community

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been welcomed to the Torres Strait Islands.

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Tony Abbott spent much of his first day in the Torres Straits on Murray Island, traditionally known as Mer, where he was welcomed to country with traditional dance by the Meriam people.

Mr Abbott visited the grave of land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo, whose legal action gave Indigenous people native title rights and extinguished the idea of terra nullius.Accompanied by Mabo's daughter Gail, Mr Abbott laid a wreath on Mabo's grave and said he was moved by his legacy, "This was a warrior, not simply a strong man physically, but a strong man culturally and spiritually, who decided that he would take on the legal establishment". "He would take on the previously settled view of Australian law, and good on him for having a go, and ultimately good on our system for being able to accommodate Eddie Mabo and the other plaintiffs' cry for justice," Abbott said.
Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Mr Abbott visited the grave of land rights campaigner Eddie Mabo, whose legal action gave Indigenous people native title rights and extinguished the idea of terra nullius.

Accompanied by Mabo's daughter Gail, Mr Abbott laid a wreath on Mabo's grave and said he was moved by his legacy, "This was a warrior, not simply a strong man physically, but a strong man culturally and spiritually, who decided that he would take on the legal establishment".

"He would take on the previously settled view of Australian law, and good on him for having a go, and ultimately good on our system for being able to accommodate Eddie Mabo and the other plaintiffs' cry for justice," Abbott said.

The trip fulfils one of Mr Abbott's election promises to run the country for one week every year from an Indigenous community.

Tony Abbott is the first Prime Minister to visit the region in 18 years and said he wanted to focus on measures to ensure higher school attendance rates, employment opportunities and safer communities. Speaking on Murray Island Mr Abbott said the Torres Strait Islanders were a good example of a functional Indigenous community, "We all know that there is high levels of dysfunction in some remote places but when it comes to things like sending the kids to school, trying to ensure that there is a strong sense of community spirit and community pride, the people of the Torres Strait really are an exemplar."
Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

Tony Abbott is the first Prime Minister to visit the region in 18 years and said he wanted to focus on measures to ensure higher school attendance rates, employment opportunities and safer communities.

Speaking on Murray Island Mr Abbott said the Torres Strait Islanders were a good example of a functional Indigenous community, "We all know that there is high levels of dysfunction in some remote places but when it comes to things like sending the kids to school, trying to ensure that there is a strong sense of community spirit and community pride, the people of the Torres Strait really are an exemplar."

Mr Abbott is being joined by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge and secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Michael Thawley.

The PM had a big day, visiting the grave of Eddie Koiki Mabo & island hopping around TS. Local coverage sceptical.

While the reception from the Islander community has been largely receptive the local newspaper The Torres News is reporting that businesses on Thursday Island are angry at the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

They claim the PM&C booked most of the accommodation on the island and cancelled at the last minute after the PM decided to 'rough it' at the local Army barracks.

Several senior ministers will spend time with Mr Abbott over the week.

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

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

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