Regional SA calls for fair go from government

Linda Burney spoke to ABC Eyre Peninsula about her visit to Ceduna

EMMA PEDLER: Good morning.


PEDLER: Yeah, really well thanks. How was your visit to the West Coast?

BURNEY: It was fantastic. I went there with Marielle Smith the new senator for South Australia and Kyam Maher, of course, who was the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, now shadow minister. And we visited Scotdesco, Kooniba and Ceduna. I’ve never been in those parts – in this part of the world, and it was just fantastic.

PEDLER: Now as opposition spokesperson for Indigenous Australians to get out and see what life like is in the Indigenous communities  around country South Australia. What did you think? What were your impressions?

BURNEY: Well obviously, we talked to communities about a whole range of things, particularly, the CDP program, which is the – better known as work for the dole program. We spoke about the Indue Card, the cashless debit card. But there are whole range of other issues that came up and the thing that – the one issue that everyone spoke to us about was the withdrawal of funding for the community paramedics, which obviously play such an important role in the west and north west of South Australia. And I just urge the South Australian Government to withdraw – or reinstate the funding for the paramedics.

PEDLER: Righto. So the paramedics services has been – the payment for them has been withdrawn for the paid people.

BURNEY: Yes – told by the community that the South Australian Government is or has withdrawn – it’s $144,000 – and it seems to me that where there is a country region like the Eyre Peninsula and what community told us, everyone, whether they work for housing, whether they work for DV services, whether they work for the various corporations or the health service, just how critical the paramedics were. The other thing Emma that really was shocking was the condition of the health clinic at Ceduna. It is partly condemned. People are doing an amazing job there. It’s close to the hospital. But they need new premises.

PEDLER: Okay yes. So what do you think needs to be done with funding for a new premises?

BURNEY: Well there needs to be a look at the present conditions of the premises. I think it can be a combined effort between the state and the federal government. But it is probably one of the most terrible work situations that health clinics work in. In fact, there is asbestos in the room I’m told. It is partially condemned and completely unacceptable.

PEDLER: Linda Burney as part of your visit up around the west coast, you also as you mentioned went to the Scotdesco community. We have them on the show a little later today. They voiced concerns about their access to a water subsidy that other people just 10km away have access to.

BURNEY: That’s absolutely right. And Kyam Maher and myself, along with Marielle, look at trying to support the water subsidy, which is 10om away, as you said Emma, extending out to Scotdesco. They are almost out of water. And it’s such an innovative and important organisation and outstation.  Really fine leadership from Robert Larkin who I’m going – who I know you’re going to talk to. Best cheese cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was Quandong cheesecake. But the situation for them in terms of water is absolutely crucial and the subsidy area needs to be extended to include Scotdesco. And it can never – we also heard very much about the issues with connectivity; the kids are finding it very difficult to do homework, particularly in the upper years of high school because the internet is just not – not very fast there or non-existent.

PEDLER: Now, just last year I believe, Tony Abbott who was a convoy for Indigenous Australians went out to Kooniba and visited with the local school. And I think that they talked about improving things like internet services. Is that still the same as what it’s been?

BURNEY: It is still the same. We spoke to a number of community members there and they raised that as one of their highest priorities – good connectivity. And that’s important across the whole Eyre Peninsula, and also the whole area. If you don’t have connectivity, if there are big black spots, it makes it very difficult, not just for the local people but also tourism as well.

PEDLER: One of the main points for you to check in on during your visit to the West Coast was the forum that you held late yesterday afternoon, looking at the Indue cashless debit card, who was at that forum?

BURNEY: There were a number of people at the forum from local aboriginal organisations and corporations. There were people from SA Housing; there were people that had worked in terms of some of the tourism ventures; there were people  from the health clinic; and there were also people there interestingly that were working in terms of culture and maintenance and retention of language. We also had people there that were interested in coming along because of the nature of the discussions. Certainly, we discussed CDP – the Community Development Program – and Labor’s position on that. So of course discussion the cashless debit card. I got the impression that people are pretty sick of talking about the cashless debit card but that was really important to clarify what Labor’s position was in terms of the cashless card as well as what the community’s views were in relation to the card as well.

PEDLER: Now Labor originally supported the card when it first came in for the trial back in 2016. After speaking to people at the fourm your views – we’ve heard in the news that – it’s confirmed your belief that the card should not be mandatory. What was it that got put in your head that the people at the forum had made you confirm that belief?

BURNEY: Well, Labor’s position has been extremely consistent. I think it’s been the reporting of it that’s been a slight issue. But in the spirit of self-determination, in particular, Labor’s view is – and I want to be absolutely crystal clear about this – if a community is properly consulted and a community expresses that they actually want the card, then it is not the role of a political party, be it Labor or Liberal, to stand in the way of that. So we support the implementation of the card if there has been proper and informed community consultation by the government and that has always been Labor’s position. I also have a view that there needs to be the capacity – and we’ve moved amendments successfully – for people who demonstrate they no longer need to be income managed to be able to exit income management. And I think that is a basic fundamental human right. The other view is of course along with those two positions I’ve just put – and we see this often particular in Cape York – where income management is a feature of the community up there that there are certain cases and certain instances where income management appropriate, particularly where there are child protection issues or domestic violence issues. But it should not be mandatory. It should not be just this blanket application without proper informed consent.

PEDLER: Linda Burney thank you very much for joining us on the program today.



Thursday, 3 October 2019