Eight mayors in far north Queensland’s Cape York region have launched a scathing attack on Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, saying they want him less involved in their affairs.
In a joint statement, eight mayors including those from Aurukun, Mapoon, Lockhart River, Kowanyama, Aurukun, Napranum and the Northern Peninsula area, say they did not want Mr Pearson to have any more control over funding, policy or service delivery on Cape York.
The criticisms targeted Mr Pearson’s schooling methodology, the alleged lack of transparency in awarding a job provider contract to his Cape York Institute, as well as his newly launched ‘Empowered Communities’ blueprint, which is aimed at improving the way money is spent in Indigenous communities.
The blueprint, was first mentioned in the media 10 days ago and launched by Mr Pearson and Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott four days later in Sydney.
The mayors have written to Mr Abbott saying they were dismayed to receive what they describe as a “policy directive” via the media.
Napranum Mayor Philemon Mene says Mr Pearson never consulted local government leaders about the plan.
“Work with us, rather than trying to be the Mayor of Cape York,” he said.
He says governments should directly fund councils to run community programs, rather than going through Mr Pearson’s organisations.
Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher says he wants his position to be respected.
“You’d think the best people to make any decision over addressing social issues in our community is the community themselves,” he said.
Mr Wayne Butcher and five other mayors have written to Mr Abbott describing their dismay at learning of the plan via the media.
“There needs to be some understanding there is leadership now on the ground,” he said.
“The thing is we have to wake up every morning to the social issues in our community.
“You’d think the best people to make any decision over addressing social issues in our community is the community themselves.
“But that hasn’t been the case for such a long time.”
The ABC has sought a response from Mr Abbott’s office.
Mr Pearson declined to comment.-from ABC