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Reconciliation 'still on Govt agenda'

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 8 March 2004


Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone has rejected claims Prime Minister John Howard has tried to shut down debate on reconciliation.

The former head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Professor Lowitja O'Donoghue, says Mr Howard has tried to shut down debate on reconciliation, despite the enormous energy of the reconciliation movement.

Professor O'Donoghue says the Federal Government's focus on "practical reconciliation" has produced what she calls bandaid measures to help Indigenous Australians.

Senator Vanstone says the suggestion that the issue has fallen off the Federal Government's agenda is wrong.

"This Government funded, of course, Reconciliation Place in Canberra and funded a new building for the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies," she said.

"I make the point there is no better form of reconciliation than Indigenous Australians having proper access to health, housing and education that the rest of us enjoy."

She says she is disappointed by the comments.

"I don't regard a fall by a third in the Indigenous infant and perinatal death rate as a band-aid measure," she said.

"I certainly don't regard having double the number of students in post-secondary vocational training as a band-aid measure.

"I certainly don't regard spending a third more in real terms than the previous Labor Government a band-aid measure."


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