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Indigenous leaders want Govt 'partnership'

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 6 August 2003


Aboriginal leaders on Cape York have called for an equal partnership with the Federal Government to fix difficult social problems such as substance abuse and welfare dependency.

The Prime Minister has held talks with community leaders in Weipa overnight.

Land rights activist Noel Pearson and others told Mr Howard they do not want him alone to fix the problems.

They said they wanted the Government to work in partnership with the Cape communities.

"We need government, the shoulder of government, behind us in the work that we do," Mr Pearson said.

Mr Howard agreed, saying governments cannot drive the change.

"But we need the shoulders of individuals, and we need the shoulders of business, and we need the shoulders of local communities," he said.

Mr Howard flies to Aurukun today for a land and health summit.

Aurukun mayor Jacob Wolmby says he will show the Prime Minister the success of tough community alcohol restrictions.

"They are important because some people are misusing their relationship with the grog," he said.

As the debate continues over the future of ATSIC, Mr Howard will also hear from its youngest ever regional councillor today, Tania Major.

"I wouldn't get involved with politics, with ATSIC, if I thought it was dysfunctional," she said.


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