The Department of Aboriginal Affairs should be abolished because it cannot properly advocate for Aboriginal West Australians, shadow Aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt says.
Mr Wyatt said the department should be replaced by a special advocate for Aboriginal people, modelled on the Commissioner for Children and Young People, and a beefed-up policy unit within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Mr Wyatt's plan is rooted in his idea that Aboriginal service delivery needs to be brought into the mainstream of Government, rather than consigned to a department that was the product of old-fashioned thinking.
In a speech to Parliament labelled by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier as "inflammatory, unjustified and ill- informed", Mr Wyatt said the department had frustrated Aboriginal people for a long time.
"It is time for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to be replaced," he said. "The department is betwixt and between; Aboriginal people want an advocate but the department is not an advocate for Aboriginal people.
"I do not say that in a nasty and critical way, but the department is there to represent the position of the government of the day."
He said the special DPC unit would "drive policy for Government and hold other agencies and departments to account for the services that they should be delivering to Aboriginal people".
"If we do that, I think we will get a better response. The architecture for Aboriginal affairs in Western Australia is old and decrepit, and it is time that it was updated," he said.
Mr Wyatt also called for an overhaul of the Aboriginal Lands Trust, which was set up before native title was recognised by the courts and holds 10 per cent of WA's land mass, on which 10,000 Aboriginal people live.
Mr Collier said while the Trust was old, calling for its abolition without a review of what was working and what was not would be foolhardy.