A storm has erupted over his remark in support of a shake-up in Commonwealth funding for indigenous people.
The Minister has now explained that he thinks the problem lies with cultural issues stretching back to the times when if one indigenous person killed a kangaroo – the whole group would share the meat.
Mr Tuckey is leading a group of eleven MPs who want Commonwealth funds allocated directly to local boards of trust, with local government officials helping administer them and countersigning the cheques.
His submission to the government’s inquiry into the future of ATSIC says current funding arrangements frequently help only an Aboriginal elite.
The long-time manager of an Aboriginal coporation in Mr Tuckey’s hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, Les Cook, says the Federal government took over the health and education budgets within ATSIC in the 1990s.
Mr Cook says Mr Tuckey has a secret agenda.
“I don¹t know where Wilson¹s really coming from. It amazes me that a person of his ? well, he¹s supposed to have intelligence ? the things that he talks about, the health and all that sort of stuff has really got nothing to do with ATSIC. What he¹s trying to do is get all the money pooled and give it to local government.”
Indigenous Affairs Minister, Philip Ruddock, has refused to say whether Mr Tuckey has been insensitive or racist in his comments.
Mr Ruddock says there’s merit in Mr Tuckey’s idea that communities should decide how money is spent from the “bottom up” instead of ATSIC distributing it from the “top down”.
“Some have had very high levels of education, other people have not had the same opportunities. There are important issues in terms of giving people skills at being able to be involved in governance issues. But the idea that one cap fits all is a flawed view. Could he perhaps have been more sensitive? Look, I’m not going to comment any further on what he says.”