Ben Wyatt has taken the prime minister’s key adviser to task for failing to criticise government funding cuts to Aboriginal legal aid.
Mr Wyatt, a state Labor frontbencher in WA, says Warren Mundine is using his position as chairman of Tony Abbott’s indigenous advisory council to defend the government.
Mr Mundine argues it is unrealistic to expect indigenous affairs spending to be immune from budget cuts.
Nor could he cast a “force field” to exempt Aborigines from the broader budget agenda.
Mr Wyatt agrees, but says he expects Mr Mundine to remind the Federal Government of the real consequences of its decisions.
“I worry that he sees his role more as a defender of the government than an advocate for Aboriginal Australians,” he wrote in a The Australian on Wednesday.
To cut funding from legal aid risked the obvious - sending more Aboriginal people to prison.
Mr Mundine was correct to identify the responsibility of state governments to increase diversionary options, but it was his responsibility to ensure the Abbott government bore financial and moral responsibility for the consequences of its decisions, Mr Wyatt said.