Australia’s Aborigines in Election Spotlight (Khaleej Times)

10 Aug Australia’s Aborigines in Election Spotlight (Khaleej Times)

SYDNEYAustralia’s political parties announced new initiatives for downtrodden Aborigines Tuesday after being accused of ignoring their plight in election pledges for this month’s polls.

The government promised to revise the constitution to formally recognise the indigenous population for the first time, while the opposition pledged a new ministry for Aboriginal affairs if elected on August 21.

The statements came after complaints from Aboriginal leaders that Australia’s original population, largely marginalised and impoverished, had been neglected in more than two weeks of frenetic campaigning.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she understood Aborigines’ “frustration” but denied the government had been silent on their problems during campaigning.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that analysis,” Gillard said, when challenged by an indigenous leader on an ABC TV panel discussion.

“For the government… I’d say we’ve been anything other than silent.

“I can understand the sense of frustration that we as a nation haven’t achieved more things more quickly.

“I believe (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) Jenny Macklin’s done a lot of good work but we’ve got to keep building on those foundations. There is definitely more to do.”

The opposition Liberal/National coalition said that a separate Aboriginal affairs ministry would give new impetus to Australia’s halting efforts to ease the community’s problems…. Go to article.