A flawed report released today by the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) today on the Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) represents nothing less than a condescending and patronising attack on all First Australian businesses and entrepreneurs.
Despite the CIS’s philosophical opposition to any policy that benefits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the fact is the IPP is a genuine market based mechanism that promotes Indigenous prosperity and employment through business enterprise and entrepreneurialism.
Whichever way you cut it, the IPP has been an extremely successful policy – whether by value or the number of contracts – and it will remain a fundamental policy that no future government would dare to dismantle. The current IPP target is for Indigenous businesses to be awarded three per cent of all government contracts.
Prior to the IPP, Indigenous businesses were all but locked out of Commonwealth Government contracts – winning just $6.2 million or 0.02 per cent of the value of contracts in 2012-13. In the first year of the IPP, this figure increased by a factor of 46, to $284 million.
Since the IPP’s inception, the value of all Commonwealth contracts now stands at $594 million, spread across almost 1,000 Indigenous businesses and over 4,880 contracts. These contracts are in diverse industries from clothing, information and communications technology, construction, recruitment as well as legal and financial services. Importantly, these contracts have been won by Indigenous businesses. They have demonstrated that they can deliver high quality goods and services and meet the Commonwealth’s stringent value for money requirements.
It is unclear what the Centre would consider a successful policy if a 46-fold increase in the value of contracts in just one year is considered an “exaggeration”.
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will join me in unequivocally rejecting the CIS’s patronising assertions that the Indigenous business sector is too immature to take up the opportunities from the IPP. Australians have far more faith in the Indigenous business sector than the Centre for Independent Studies.
The Coalition Government makes no apologies for backing Indigenous businesses. We are committed to sustainable measures to grow Indigenous businesses and employment rather than the paternalistic welfare oriented policy approach that the former Labor Government was preoccupied with.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people all over Australia are ready to participate in our economy, grow their wealth and support jobs for their community, and Governments need to make sure we have the policy settings in place to make this possible.
We should be listening to the Indigenous business sector who have overwhelmingly backed this policy and the transformational impact it is having rather than relying on this lazy paper that has simply rehashed a series of discredited old assertions.
Any business or government agency wishing to procure a First Australian business should visit supplynation.org.au.
**The Australian article by Stephen Fitzpatrick incorrectly referred to the Indigenous Procurement Policy as the Indigenous Procurement Protocol.
**The Minister’s office provided the CIS with correct information for their report but this information was ignored.