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Commission to focus on disparities in federal policy

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 22, 2009) – US President Barack Obama has re-instated an advisory body for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Mr Obama last week signed an executive order creating the advisory commission.

"The commission itself was established by the President to be able to address disparities amongst those ethic groups when it comes to Federal policy, when it comes to health disparities, economic disparities, small business disparities, to try to equal and level out the playing field," said Tony Babauta, an Assistant Secretary representing Asian Americans and American Pacific Islanders in the US Department of the Interior.

Mr Babauta was elevated over the past month as the White House's senior administrator for Asian Americans and American Pacific islanders.

He is an Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior, which administers US territories in the Pacific.

"My duties on behalf of the President and on behalf of the Secretary (of the Interior) is to coordinate Federal policies that affect these areas, as well as the Virgin Islands and in some regard the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico," he said.

There are more than 16 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islands living in the United States.

Mr Babauta, who is Chamorro, is one of a few Pacific Islanders serving in high-level administration positions.

Mr Obama was born and raised in Hawaii.

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