Australia’s productivity commissioner has criticised the government for its “failure” to make progress on its Closing the Gap targets.
Michael Brennan doled out parting shots in his final speech as chairman to the National Press Club on Tuesday.
He emphasised recent data, released in July, that showed only four 4 of the 17 targets to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians were on track.
“Governments have not lived up to – and perhaps not fully understood – the extent of the transformation they promised in 2020,” Mr Brennan said.
“Because, let’s face it, there are any number of complex issue where the traditional siloed approach of government service delivery has largely failed to make a dent.”
The most recent Closing The Gap figures identified more Indigenous children in out-of-home care, increased rates of Indigenous suicide and higher numbers of adults in prison.
Policies ticked off on by both the Albanese and Morrison governments had likely “worsened” progress in these areas, Mr Brennan said.
“It's not clear how the agreement is influencing those deliberations around the cabinet table on within government,” he said.
Despite worsening trends, recent figures also showed modest improvements in Indigenous university completion rates, early childhood education and employment.
Mr Brennan said the government needed to make “fundamental changes” to its business model and give responsibility back to local communities to spark progress.
“Arguably no one sees the limitations and inefficiency of government quite like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said.
“The fragmentation, red tape, and one-size-fits-all approach.”
When asked if the commission was in favour of the Voice, Mr Brennan said the agency had no take on the issue.
“We have no view about whether a constitutionally enshrined Voice is the right way to go, the wrong way to go, that’s a decision for the Australian people to make,” he said.
“As for advising the people in their vote on a constitutional referendum, it's not really our bag.”