The elephant in the room of Labor’s Local Project, Local Jobs election commitment on Commonwealth procurement is the stunning exclusion of any mention of Indigenous business policies, in yet another sign that that sector is not a priority for Bill Shorten.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said this is yet another indication that Labor will abandon the Coalition Government’s highly successful Indigenous Business Sector Strategy if it wins the upcoming election.
“A strong and prosperous Indigenous business sector is key to empowering Indigenous Australians, and you would think Labor’s plan on Commonwealth procurement would include support for the sector as an important plank,” Minister Scullion said.
“But unfortunately there is a stunning silence in the so-called Local Project, Local Jobs plan which casts doubt about what exactly Federal Labor’s position on Indigenous procurement is.
“This follows from recent comments by Labor Senator Malandirri McCarthy politicising the Government’s highly successful Indigenous business policies, and the Gunner Labor Government’s scrapping of Indigenous procurement policies it inherited over two years ago with no replacement in sight, despite repeated offers of support.
“Labor cannot be trusted on small business. It’s in their DNA to undermine small business because their workers are rarely Union members and therefore second class citizens for Labor and the Unions.
“Labor has opposed tax cuts for hard working Australian small businesses, Labor has sought to saddle them with red and green tape at every turn and now it appears Labor doesn’t see Indigenous businesses as a priority.
“Labor has form in excluding Indigenous businesses from Commonwealth procurement. In their last year of Government, just 30 Indigenous businesses won $6.2 million in contracts in Labor’s last full year in Government.
“In contrast, under the Coalition’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) there have been over 1000 Indigenous businesses winning over $1 billion in contracts at last count, as well as a comprehensive package of new financial products and support services for Indigenous businesses under the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy.
“This has led to a 30 per cent increase in the size of the Indigenous business sector since the last Census and a 23.3 per cent increase in the number of Indigenous Australians identifying as having a job.
“The Local Project, Local Jobs plan looks like a return to the bad old days of Labor locking out Indigenous businesses and I think the thousands of hard-working Indigenous businessmen and women across the country that have benefited from the Coalition’s policies will be shuddering at what Bill Shorten’s announcement today means for them.
“Given Bill Shorten as Shadow Spokesman for Indigenous Affairs has failed to stand-up for Indigenous businesses, will Senator Pat Dodson at least now give certainty for the Indigenous business sector by clarifying Labor’s position?