Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Noel Pearson during the Empowered Communities launch in Sydney. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The first time Tony Abbott heard indigenous leader Noel Pearson speaking, he was taken aback when Mr Pearson roared "let's get rid of this putrid government!"
It was 1998, and Mr Abbott was a member of that "putrid government" - John Howard's administration.
Neither man had met before, but Mr Abbott said on Wednesday he'd heard something extraordinary in Mr Pearson's firebrand speech: the voice of a prophet.
"I resolved to work with this man and learn from him," he said.
And so, after years of growing friendship and learning and Mr Abbott's habit of spending time each year in an indigenous community, the two men met again in Sydney on Wednesday.
Mr Abbott agreed that a Coalition government would match the current Labor government's $5 million to assist Aboriginal communities build leadership in the cause of stronger, more prosperous and safer communities.
The program, known as the Jawun Empowered Communities initiative, covers Mr Pearson's own country on Cape York and extends to the NSW Central Coast, Inner Sydney, the east and west Kimberley and North-East Arnhem Land.
The Empowered Communities plan is to grant greater authority to local indigenous leaders.
Mr Abbott said everyone who had been to an indigenous community knew there was no shortage of government, but often there was as shortage of anyone who seemed to be really in charge
He said the first priority of a Coalition government would be to get children to school, parents to work and the ordinary law of the land observed.
And in praising Mr Pearson's leadership in the project, he said he recognised that Mr Pearson had often had to endure the loneliness of what he had seen in him in the first place, that of a prophet.
"Prophets don't always have universal honour in their own country," he said.
The Opposition Leader, however, said he looked forward to working even closer with Mr Pearson should the Coalition win government.