Over 700 protesters, mainly from the Aboriginal communities, marched on the West Australian Parliament in late March to protest against the planned closure of up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities. Premier Barnett was shoved and booed as he spoke to the crowd and tried to justify the closures.
Barnett said that “[the smaller remote communities] are not viable and the social outcomes, the abuse and neglect of young children, is a disgrace to this state… They cannot look anyone in the face and guarantee the safety of little boys and girls.” These comments alongside Abbott’s remarks about “lifestyle choices” have angered many people.
One placard summed up the response of the protesters “200 years of social exclusion and dispossession is not a lifestyle choice”. It was disgraceful of Barnett to cynically blame the abuse of children as the reason for closures.
Barnet is facing a $1.3 billion budget deficit and is looking to cut spending including on health, housing, social services and remote communities. While he seeks to make ordinary people pay, the big mining companies continue to make billions in profit and escape paying tax.
The Aboriginal community is planning further protests against the proposed closures in the coming weeks.
By Mick Suter