Former prime minister Tony Abbott is disappointed Malcolm Turnbull has not continued his tradition of spending a week in remote Indigenous communities.
Mr Turnbull on Tuesday will hand down the annual report card on efforts to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health, education and employment.
As prime minister, Mr Abbott took senior ministers and officials on a trip to spend a week in a remote Indigenous communities each year.
He said it was more than just a photo opportunity, it was about increasing people’s understanding about the issues on the ground in order to get better policy development.
“I think it is a little disappointing there is no annual governmental pilgrimage to remote Aboriginal Australia anymore,” Mr Abbott told ABC radio.
Mr Abbott visited Torres Strait and the northern tip of Queensland in 2015 and Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory the year before.
He said the visits were also an important opportunity to highlight to Indigenous people that the federal government was “fair dinkum”.
Mr Abbott said the government should continue to focus on getting kids to school, adults to work and improving community safety.
Meanwhile, Mr Abbott had a crack at Mr Turnbull’s handling of the overhaul of the prime minister’s Indigenous advisory council.
Mr Abbott set up the council originally and appointed indigenous leader Warren Mundine as the chair.
Mr Turnbull announced six new appointees last week and Mr Mundine’s role was not extended.
“I’m not sure if it’s wonderful practice to say farewell to someone by text message,” Mr Abbott said, when asked if Mr Mundine had been treated shabbily.
“Maybe that’s the modern era – that we break up by text message.”
Mr Abbott said Mr Mundine had done a very good job.
It was only right and proper that Mr Turnbull appointed his own council, Mr Abbott said.