THE Prime Minister has defended saying that indigenous Australians living in remote communities were making a "lifestyle choice", amid criticism of the comment around the country.
Tony Abbott told ABC on Wednesday that the government could not "endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices" that indigenous Australians made to live in remote areas.
He made the comment while supporting a West Australian Government plan to close down up to 150 remote communities, leaving indigenous residents without essential services.
But after the head of Mr Abbott's indigenous advisory council, Warren Mundine and several other indigenous leaders criticised the comment, Mr Abbott rejected the criticism.
Mr Mundine had told ABC that indigenous people choosing to live on their homelands was not a "lifestyle choice" but was intrinsic to their "culture, their very essence".
Opposition indigenous affairs spokesman Shayne Neumann called on Mr Abbott to apologise for the "disturbing and offensive comments", and reverse more than $500 million in budget cuts to indigenous services and programs.
Mr Abbott defended his statement on 2GB Radio, saying it was very difficult for people to get jobs if there was no employment within hundreds of miles and "this is where we have to be a little bit realistic".
But he rejected calls for him to apologise for his comment, instead saying that the extent to which taxpayers "subsidise" remote communities' services was "a very real question".
Abbott: Remote indigenous communities 'a lifestyle choice'
THE Federal Opposition is demanding the Prime Minister apologise after he suggested it is a lifestyle choice to live in remote indigenous communities.
Tony Abbott has backed the West Australian Government's plans to close nearly half of the state's 274 remote communities and said it was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services such as schools, outweighed the benefits.
"What we can't do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have," he said.
Mr Abbott said if people choose to live in areas where there are no schools or jobs, there is a limit to what they can expect the state to provide.
"If people choose to live miles away from where there's a school, if people choose not to access the school of the air, if people choose to live where there's no jobs, obviously it's very, very difficult to close the gap," he said.
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