Abbott, the Truth and Cost of his Indigenous Volunteering

By now we’ve all heard it, as soon as criticism of the LNP’s policies on Indigenous Affairs (or lack thereof ) are raised the default position of LNP members, journalists and the apologists of in action is rolled out. Tony Abbott volunteers in Indigenous communities we are told, he goes for a week a year and these statements of “fact” are usually then followed by a barrage of holier than thou tripe about how much Mr Abbott could teach the rest of us….

So sure of this position, so much has it become the accepted reality, that statements from the LNP and journalists come to us on this subject with gay abandon. Take last night on the ABC’s Q and A program:-

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We know that Tony Abbott works in Indigenous communities at least a week or two a year, and he has said that if he is elected Prime Minister that he will continue to do that and that he will take senior bureaucrats with him. He has done that in Cape York…

We know this do we? This just goes completely unchallenged and is gospel truth is it? Well here is what I know.

In August of 2012 Tony Abbott did indeed go to Cape York, but it wasn’t for a week or two as Mr Pyne suggests. It was for 2 days! It was a working bee of sorts and some of Australia’s business leaders were taken along to volunteer as well. Photos of Abbott with tools in hand were taken and the myth of Abbott the saviour of the Black man had a wonderful photo op. No problem so far until you examine the  Expenditure on Entitlements paid by the Department of Finance and Deregulation to Mr Abbott for this trip of “Volunteering”. And what do we find on page 12? An amount of $9,636.36, tax payer dollars, to fund the hire of a private charter flight for the 2 days. I don’t know about you, but when I volunteer to hammer in a few nails for a day or two I don’t ask the people of Australia to cough up 10k. That isn’t volunteering, that is the most expensive labourer in the history of Australia. I wonder what the sandwiches cost….(http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/docs/P31/ABBOTT_Tony.pdf page 12.)

So was this a once off? Not on your life!

On another one of his trips to an Indigenous Community Mr Abbott was off to sell his version of the Wild Rivers Legislation to the traditional owners it would impact. Not quite volunteering as such, but policy is good and spending time in Indigenous communities is to be encouraged if it results in consultation that means that locals get their message across and this results in positive policy changes. So just how much did Mr Abbott listen to the local people of the Indigenous community he visited? How much was this reflected in his policy? Because hey, we know (or are told) he has the ear of the Black man…

”We do not support his shonky Bill,” said activist Murrando Yanner of the Carpentaria Land Council. ”We think it is badly drafted and legally unenforceable.” ”He will leave unhappy,” said Mr Yanner, who supports the existing Wild River legislation. ”His new Bill is a dogs breakfast.’

Well, that didn’t go to plan. It was neither volunteering nor listening to the locals. No harm in trying I suppose and if you spent the week out in the community helping it has some purpose, but little use if the status quo is maintained and you ignore the wishes of the people you supposedly assist. Well there is some harm and it wasn’t for a week. The harm comes in the form of another private charter flight, cost to the tax payer, $32,545.00. Because nothing says I volunteer to help those in need like a 30k ride in a jet. Oh and that week or two Pyne talks about? That trip that cost we the tax payer $32,545.00 in flights alone, was for just one night! (http://www.finance.gov.au/publications/parliamentarians-reporting/docs/T28/ABBOTT_Tony.pdf p29)

So when weeks are days and days cost tens of thousands of dollars and volunteering is photo ops and not listening to the traditional owners of the land you have to rename these volunteering trips. Tony Abbott’s very expensive, tax payer funded, private jet flown, not listening tours of outback Australia.

Next time an LNP member or journalist drops the “Abbott volunteers for weeks in Indigenous communities” line, call bullshit and then refer them to the figures. Three days and nearly $45000 in flights alone…, if that’s volunteering the rest of us are really doing it all wrong. Many of us, some one million odd Australians, do volunteer every year for community organisations, they slog their guts out, donate large amounts of money and never even ask for a thank you. The audacity of this public lie should be even more shocking when we remember that Indigenous life expectancy is at third world levels and Mr Abbott is racking up huge bills to do nothing about it while claiming credit for work he simply doesn’t do!

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Posted on August 13, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. What really annoys me is the way pollies jet off to remote communities to hang with ‘real’ aboriginals. Tony Abbott doesn’t have to get on a plane, what about all the Indigenous community leaders in NSW, but he couldn’t have his Putin-like action photos if he went somewhere as prosaic as Moree.

  2. It’s extremely offensive to ‘greenwash’ an issue that desperately needs real action. That is just trying to make political mileage from the needs of indigenous people. Anyone who really cares just acts

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this – I have shared this article. We keep saying it – is there NO depth to which this creature will not sink??? He’s not out to help Indigenous Australians – he’s out to exploit them. And rip as much money out of the taxpayer as he can while he’s doing it. Outrageous.

  4. Thank you for exposing the truth of Abbott’s grandstanding – I thought it was false, but I hadn’t known the extent.

  5. This is not only completely crazy, but it is down right wrong! I wish I could spend that much money to go do some hard labour! But when it comes out of tax payers pockets, unbelievable! Does our nation really need this man representing our country? I hate to think how much it would cost to send him overseas….

  6. Reblogged this on Tomorrow there will be Apricots and commented:
    Anyone thinking of voting for Tony Abbott this election should read this first. Do we really need a PM that spends this much when *according to the Liberals* our nations budget is in unreasonable debt?

  7. Abbott’s worked out a ‘scam’ he didn’t think we would find out about on how to earn EXTRA cash without having to go to the office & actually work for the day! If he volunteers, he’s paid a ‘bonus’. Money hungry man….ewwww

  8. No, Pam; and ‘greenwashing’ is a demeaning dismissal of what the author has done.
    This kind of scrutiny should be applied to all politicians regularly.
    If the bullshit is constantly exposed – which is what the broader popular media should be doing – then politicians would be forced into doing a better job, and being more truthful & sincere.
    We might save some money too – or at least get better value for it!

  9. Thank you for the reporting of Tony Abbott’s volunteering in indigenous communities, something our press fail to do. Unfortunately Mr Abbott also charges the taxpayer for his “pollie pedal”

  10. He uses his ‘righteous religious imperialism’ to wedge the foot in the door. To the credit of indigenous community and with respect for visitors to their community, they have not told he and his entourage collectively, to fuck off. More intervention means Brough and Abbott if elected right back in the faces of the most dispossessed, again. Aboriginals will be given private ownership ‘rights’ to their land, why, so they can be persuaded to sell it on the open market. The RDA is to be gutted to allow all of this. The IPA does not like land they can not get their grubby mits on. Our msm fails dismally in questioning or reporting on these matters of the Liberal/IPA agenda. To see what Abbott really thinks please read the following from the Australian Independent Media Network. Thanks for the above article exposing blatant money grabbing and cynical hypocrisy on behalf of Abbott and co.

    http://theaimn.com/2013/08/10/feigned-love/

  11. Sorry to disappoint you but you use some fact not to back up further fact but to speculate.

    Abbott going with a team on tax payer money could simply have been to give those he went with a perspective to impact on future policy. In such a case the cost are in line with similar political expenses from either side.

    Given that the story has always been he goes on his holidays and volunteers there would not be a record of expenses on a government web site.

    But if he did not really give time in Aboriginal communities he would have been called out on that long ago. By Warren Mundine at least.

    So you have taken some information and built a picture from that which you could not or have not been able to substantiate.

    That is your conclusion is speculation. Speculation is not fact.

    Given your desire to better inform yourself ask specific questions of the right people rather than speculate then get emotive.

    Kind regards.

    • William what you have stated is simply not true. I have raised these issues with the people concerned and it is also widely reported in the media and stated by Mr Abbott’s office that these two trips are the volunteer trips referred to. So please do not suggest with no evidence at all that they are not, you are simply wrong on that point. The background work to this piece was not done in 20 minutes 😉

      As for Mr Rudd’s trip to Afghanistan, A. He has never claimed it was for “Volunteer” work and B. He was the sitting Prime Minister of the day visiting a war zone, to equate the two is ridiculous.

      You also did not address the issue that Mr Abbott pays no attention to the communities visited other than the 1 or 2 people you may be able to point to from the news who do not represent more than a mere fraction of 1% of the Indigenous population of this country. You may not like that truth, it may not fit well with your politics, but it is plain to see to anyone with open eyes! Martin

  12. Deadly Whiteshade

    Lets see him volunteer for two weeks in Redfern, where the media can see what he actually does with ease, and the rest of us don’t have to fund his vanity flights.

  13. It amazes me that so much taxpayers money is wasted by this man and his minders to promote himself as the person to lead our country. He flew into Richmond Air Force base in NSW with all the Media types, and then drove app.70ks to a small settlement called Colo Heights to announce that if elected the coalition would spend $100,000 to eliminate black spots in the mobile phone network “Nationally”. This means that this small community has been conned. I spoke briefly to Mr Abbott and I found that his mouth smiles but his eyes do not.

  14. Thank you for exposing this. I have shared it on FB. Unlike ‘William’, I believe you have shown us the truth, and backed it up with hard data. Anyone who has a rational mind can see it.

  15. I think this article would be more effective if it highlighted the misrepresentation of both sides of politics. Tony Abbot is certainly not alone (if he is at all, I haven’t looked into this particular incident personally) in the “all talk, no action” for our communities. Where is all the housing that was promised by Kevin 07? there are more public houses reserved for us black folk, but they haven’t been put in our communities – they are in the cities and regional centres. No new housing for our communities, they’re just bribing us into relocation, taking us off our land and making every effort to look like they’re “consulting” us in the process.

    Sure, go ahead and attack whoever you like for their lies and half truths, but don’t forget all the promises that went with Sorry Day either. Have you seen any change? All I’ve seen is a bigger queue in the remote stores to check the balance of Basics Cards. No better training, no better jobs, no difference in schools or health or housing. Not even a better plan. Someone needs to remind Rudd that Sorry doesn’t cut it either!

  16. Abbott olso takes his kids on the same plane to Cape York We pay for that too!!

  17. I needed to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every
    bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things you post…

  18. Reblogged this on The Kettle Press and commented:
    Abbott wants to be the hero but he doesn’t want to get involved for real, just deal in paternalistic patronising.

  19. And while you are at it alp fools, any chance of ‘independent Australia’ showing us the heavy travel billbill Kevin Rudd left us when he was Foreign Affairs Minister?. NO

  20. No matter if some one searches for his vital
    thing, thus he/she desires to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here.

  1. Pingback: Tony Abbott's costly Indigenous community "volunteering" | Independent Australia

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