Nigel Scullion scoffs at proposed national target on Indigenous jail rates

Indigenous affairs minister says push by Close the Gap committee is ‘foolish’ because federal government had no control over incarceration rates

Nigel Scullion says introducing national targets to reduce rates of Indigenous incarceration was “foolish” and would “undermine the credibility of Close the Gap”.

The measure, which was intended to deal with the high rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment, was recommended by the Close the Gap campaign’s steering committee.

Scullion, the Indigenous affairs minister, told a Senate estimates committee hearing on Friday that it it didn’t make sense to suggest the federal government should add justice to the list of targets in the annual Close the Gap report because it had no control over that area.

“It’s a nonsense if we say we’re going to go and do that and we have absolutely no responsibility over the levers,” he said. “We need to ensure ... that those people who have the levers have the targets.”

Scullion said the push to introduce justice targets “undermines the credibility of the Close the Gap. It undermines the credibility of targets on things we should be held to account for.”

The Greens senator Rachel Siewert said reducing incarceration rates was a priority for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and targets could drive that.

Contrary to Scullion’s claims, Siewert said the federal government did have decision-making powers in this area.

“In the past decade we have seen an 88% increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people ending up in prison,” she said. “I think it is about time minister Scullion took justice targets seriously.”

Read the rest of the story at The Guardian.