21 Apr 2015

Harawira has message for Australian PM

9:05 am on 21 April 2015

The Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira is accusing the Australian Prime Minister of ignoring the plight of remote indigenous communities in Western Australia.

The state government is proposing to shut down remote rural communities because it says the one-off $90 million payment from the federal government to support them will run out in three years time.

Hone Harawira is in Canberra this week talking to indigenous leaders.

He said he acknowledged those Māori MPs in New Zealand who have spoken up against the planned closure of remote indigenous communities.

But he also said there was nothing wrong with jumping on a plane and travelling to Australia to present the kaupapa to the people most affected - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

He also said he had a blunt message for Mr Abbott:

"My message is the same message that I gave to John Howard back when he introduced the Northern Territory intervention ... that this closure of remote communities signals that Tony Abbott is also a racist bastard [for] imposing policies on a people who don't have the wherewithal to fight back".

Hone Harawira said he met with Aboriginal leaders on Monday who were glad that Māori both in Australia and New Zealand were protesting in solidarity with them.

"I paid a courtesy call to the Aboriginal embassy down here outside the old parliament. They've actually got a meeting today to start talking about the old land wars, the frontier wars they call them here [in Australia] where hundred upon hundreds of Aboriginal people died trying to defend their lands, and all of them are forgotten while those who went and fought for the British Empire are honoured and glorified".

He said if he could afford to fly across to Western Australia to meet with the Noongar people, he would, but at least he is in Canberra speaking with indigenous leaders about it.

Tony Abbott has suggested that people living in indigenous communities are making a 'lifestyle choice' that his government cannot 'endlessly subsidise'.

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