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HomeIssue 26Aboriginal participation needed to Close the Gap: Mundine

Aboriginal participation needed to Close the Gap: Mundine

Efforts to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are futile without Indigenous economic participation, says a prominent Aboriginal.


Nyunggai Warren Mundine (pictured), contributing researcher at the Centre for Independent Studies, argues in a new paper that lack of economic participation underpins all areas of Indigenous disadvantage.


He says in a media release: “Too many Indigenous people do not participate in the real economy. Lack of economic participation is the main barrier to achieving parity.


“Jobs, commercial business and welfare reform go hand in hand. You cannot achieve any one of these without the other two.


“It is vital the Federal Government does not lose focus on the main game of Indigenous economic development.


“The shock to the Australian economy from the COVID-19 pandemic makes this even more critical.”


Mr Mundine says it is crucial to build economies in remote Australia, with private sector investment and commercial businesses.


Government, Indigenous people and the private sector need to focus on the real issues to lift Indigenous people out of poverty and have an economic future.


“Without economies and investment in regional and remote Australia there will be no jobs, no businesses – only welfare and social breakdown.”


Mr Mundine says the economic participation effort should be coupled with an imperative focus on both crime and school attendance.


“Those just looking at jail statistics should be targeting a reduction of crime – not a reduction of incarceration,” he said.


“There needs to be a priority refocus on school attendance. You cannot receive an education without attending school – and education is key to both personal and community success.”





  1. What a litany of neo-liberal motherhood statements.
    Not a single positive concrete idea in the whole piece.
    Of course Mundine was Tony Abbott’s hand picked Aboriginal “representative” and is now married into the CIS, which is a right-wing neo-liberal propaganda outfit.
    Decent housing, affordable food, and high quality experienced teachers would be a start, none of which is likely to be provided by “private sector investment and commercial businesses”.

  2. Here is the news: “Legislative Councillor, Frank Johnson of Alice Springs, refuses to let up on his theme that “a tannery or some other industry to absorb aborigine [sic] labour is a must for the Alice Springs district.
    “He has written to various parliamentarians about it, spoken about the subject in Council and made numerous statements through the press.
    “Many in Alice Springs have supported the member in his cry. This week Mr Johnson aimed a new bullet at the powers that be, and it contained a new warning.
    “Either the Government will establish a tannery or some other suitable industry, or they had better get busy and build bigger gaols, he stated.
    “Mr Johnson means by that, that unless some suitable employment is available to the aborigines [sic] at present receiving some sort of education, then there is going to be a lot of trouble in a very short time”.
    This was published under the headline “Build industry or bigger gaol at Alice Springs” in the Centralian Advocate, September 11, 1953.
    What goes round comes round when there’s nothing new under the sun.

  3. I love this Charlie Carter. It is the demonstration of the old quote: “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
    His last sentence and suggestion applied to Warribri (Ali Curung) 63 years ago. All those things were there then and look at it now.
    Never forget. It Takes Two to Tango.

  4. A bit of context – our own role model for attendance, participation and work ethic, Cr Jacinta Price is Director of the Indigenous Program at the Centre for Independent Studies.

  5. @ Charlie Carter, I have no doubt that when you were a little boy you clearly saw that the Emperor has no clothes.
    Not sure if you know that Gary Foley dubbed Warren Mundine the “white sheep of the family”.
    To Warren’s credit I saw him on television acknowledging that that was funny.

  6. @ Alex Nelson: Frank Johnson had a bob each way. His predicted bigger gaols happened, big time.
    Sometime between now and then one of the countless calls to encourage Indigenous business and participation was prompted by the declaration of “Growth Towns” also referred to as “Hub Towns”.
    An NT politician declared this “new” government initiative would encourage outside investment.
    By way of example he could see Vietnamese market gardeners setting up on communities. It didn’t happen.
    Up the road Newmont’s annual gold production exceeds a billion dollars worth, yet I’m not aware of a single Warlpiri person working at the mine.
    In Yuendumu local participation as a percentage of economic activity is lower than ever I can remember.
    Warren Mundine’s press release reminds me of that line in the film The Castle: “Tell him he’s dreaming.”

  7. @ Hermann Weber: Really Hermann?
    They had good quality secondary education in Warrabri in 1957?
    Blackfellas were still counted with the livestock in those days, and certainly didn’t get equal wages.
    Probably beef and blankets.
    And I didn’t say or imply anything about magic bullets. “A start” was the phrase.
    And history is only “a start,” not an echo, things have changed a lot in those 63 years.

  8. Aboriginal people never opened the Gap. So why do they need to fix it? Please also google the word “Blackfella”. People wonder why we have Black Lives Matter.

  9. @ Jack1: I don’t need to google Blackfella”. it is widely used and socially acceptable in The Centre.
    I refer you to the iconic Warumpi band anthem “Stand up and be Counted”.
    There is no local broad Aboriginal language term like Koori or Nyoongar because there are half a dozen languages in use all of which have their own word.
    The Western Desert “Anangu” is just one.
    It should have been obvious from the content of the post that it was not used in a derogatory way.
    My Aboriginal friends use it as a self descriptor.

  10. Aren’t your friends, your friends not by race? The word “Blackfella” is no longer acceptable in this day and age as it is for being common.
    So is it now OK to use a derogatory term and perpetuate it?
    Black Lives Matter.

  11. @ Jack1 (Posted July 16, 2020 at 9:38 am): Here are the lyrics at the start of one of the most popular songs from the Northern Territory:
    “Blackfella, whitefella
    It doesn’t matter what your colour
    As long as you a real fella
    As long as you a true fella
    All the people of different races” etc.
    First written and sung by the Warumpi Band in 1984 (with band members predominantly from Papunya but not forgetting Neil Murray) and subsequently covered by Aboriginal crooner, Jimmy Little.
    “Blackfella” is neither offensive or derogatory, anymore than “whitefella”.
    Some people are simply determined to be offended no matter what but that’s their choice; and the rest of us choose not to be.

  12. @ Jack 1: I showed your comments to some black fella mates of mine at work (3 today), to see if they agreed. They actually laughed, smiled and looked at me, and one of the best responses was “Who is this d#&@khead, you’re a whitefella, I’m a black fella, what’s his problem?”
    Another one said that he would “get the s#$ts if he was called black bastard or something as an insult, but he also wondered what the problem is.
    Interesting there was no faux outrage that they also call us whitefellas. We don’t need BLM here, we need more people like Charley and Alex, and their black fella mates, who don’t make a fuss out of nothing.

  13. Interestingly, with the aboriginal friends I have, I consider that them calling me a Whitefella and me calling them Blackfella is actually a term of endearment. As different from white cu** or black cu**.
    The stirrers of this world are trying to incite racism by focussing on this type of rubbish. They need to stop being so sensitive. As I white person, I have no issue at all with being called “White” or “Whitefella”.
    In this world, there are many skin colours and who should really care? People are people, regardless of the colour their skin.
    If anything let’s judge people by their behaviours, not their skin colour.
    Because in the end, that’s all that REALLY matters.


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