Indigenous leader Mick Gooda hopes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will trust the intelligence of Aboriginal people to handle complex problems.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner believes meaningful results from the big investments made in 2008 as part of the Closing the Gap strategy to improve life expectancy, health, work and education outcomes, won’t be seen for 10 years.
“What we have done in the last few years is stop the gap widening,” he told ABC TV on Wednesday.
Mr Turnbull will hand down the latest Closing the Gap report card in parliament on Wednesday.
Warren Mundine, the chair of the prime minister’s indigenous advisory group, says solving issues through an economic development lens had been a missing element of efforts to close the gap.
But he is buoyed by the business perspective the prime minister has flagged.
“We’ve always looked through welfare or social justice which is an important element,” he told ABC Radio, adding an economic strategy was vital.
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples co-chair Jackie Huggins said the targets should be kept in place.
“We can do this, we do this within a generation if everyone puts their efforts together,” she told ABC Radio.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon believes abandoning targets would be akin to putting up a white flag.
“To not have targets would be to give up,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“It may be that the targets aren’t met, or not met to the full extent, but that still gives us a benchmark to aim for.”
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is calling for indigenous Australians to get on the material gravy train.
“They are not a living museum, they are Australians and the sooner they are treated like normal Australians, owning property, getting jobs, getting education and joining mainstream society the better,” he said.