Mayor's comments cause debate

SEVERAL people involved in the alcohol debate in Ceduna have responded to comments made by Ceduna mayor Allan Suter as the debate over applying income management continues.

South Australian Aboriginal Engagement Commissioner Khatija Thomas has responded to comments made by Mr Suter in a recent edition of the Sunday Mail.

Ms Thomas said Mr Suter had completely misrepresented the population of Ceduna and in doing so was perpetuating negative stereotypes of Aboriginal people.

"Mayor Suter has painted the picture that Ceduna is full of drunks, gamblers and porn watchers who can't control their spending, and this simply isn't the case," she said.

"What is really troubling is that his statement, 'most of Ceduna's residents would support income management', is based on the findings of a Federal Department of Social Services survey that was undertaken by only 204 adults in Ceduna."

This view point has been shared by others involved in the local community.

Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Corey McLennan said he shared the commissioner's view.

"Until the mayor actively engages in vigorous ongoing consultations with local Aboriginal community leaders, he will continue to be misinformed," he said.

Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Michael Haynes also spoke out and said Ceduna was a beautiful town, and shouldn't be stereotyped by negative reports.

"We all need to work together in an environment that doesn't isolate or segregate people as members of the community, to insinuate otherwise is naive particularly since the council should be representing all of its constituents," he said.

In response to this, Mr Suter said this had been a case of misrepresentation of what he had said, and people being foolishly defensive.

"There was absolutely no implication it refers to Aboriginal people, it refers to all people in the Ceduna area," he said.

"The commissioner's comments were inaccurate, misguided and misrepresented what was said."

In response to the criticisms of the survey, Mr Suter said it was done by an organisation called Ninti One, which went to a lot of effort to consult as wide an area as possible.

The Ceduna District Council and Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews have shown their support towards targeted income management.

However Ms Thomas said Aboriginal community leaders would rather see the Federal Department of Social Services invest more time in the current Alcohol Management and Substance Misuse Plan already in place and address strategies for Ceduna and the surrounding communities, including income management.

CONTENTIOUS: Ceduna mayor Allan Suter said his comments have been misrepresented.

CONTENTIOUS: Ceduna mayor Allan Suter said his comments have been misrepresented.