"There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one's native land." - Euripides 431 B.C.

Labor call to lean on Newman

Australian- Monday, July 16, 2012

INDIGENOUS Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has called on Tony Abbott to use his relationship and political influence to force Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to fund Noel Pearson 's Cape York Welfare Reform Trial until the end of next year.

Ms Macklin has told The Australian that if the Opposition Leader wanted to help the trial he needed to force the Queensland government to give it money, which it has so far refused to do.

It follows an announcement by Mr Abbott that he will next month join a three-day working bee to rebuild a school library in the Cape York community of Aurukun.

Mr Abbott has recruited business leaders including Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew Forrest and National Australia Bank and Woodside Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney to join the project, designed to ``show solidarity'' with attempts by Cape York indigenous leader Noel Pearson to lift disadvantage through personal responsibility and education.

``If Tony Abbott really wants to help the indigenous community of Aurukun and continue the work Noel Pearson is doing, he needs to ensure his Liberal colleague Campbell Newman provides essential funding,'' Ms Macklin said.

She said the Gillard government had committed $11.8 million to extend the trial until the end of next year. ``But so far Campbell Newman has refused to commit to the Queensland government's share of funding,'' she said.

``The Welfare Reform Trial is focused on helping indigenous families budget, increasing school attendance and job opportunities, making communities safer, and improving care and protection of children.

``This is Tony Abbott's chance to show he is committed to this important work. He needs to show some leadership and ensure Campbell Newman's government does its part.''

Ms Macklin first wrote to Mr Newman on May 3 seeking the Queensland government's support to continue the trial and a contribution of $1.6m to continue the operation of the Family Responsibility Commission, which is established and operated under Queensland legislation.

Mr Newman wrote to Ms Macklin providing ``in-principle'' support for the trial to continue, but indicating the federal government should fund the operation of the FRC.

Ms Macklin wrote again to Mr Newman on June 25 outlining the Gillard government's commitment of $11.8m to continue the trial and repeated the request that the state government provide $1.6m to continue the operation of the FRC. The letter also urged Queensland to continue its funding for its services and programs that support the trial, which the state said required about $10m a year to continue.

The Cape York Welfare Reform Trial has always been run as a partnership between the federal government, the Queensland government and the Cape York Institute. The former Bligh government provided $41.6m over five years to help fund the trial.

Mr Newman has not replied to Ms Macklin's June 25 letter and is yet to commit funding.