Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy’s statements yesterday attacking the Government’s policies to support Indigenous small businesses are the clearest indication yet that Labor will abandon the Coalition Government’s highly successful Indigenous Business Sector Strategy.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion said there had been 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.
“It is very disappointing that Senator McCarthy has chosen to go on the ABC and seek to politicise the Indigenous business policies that have been so successful in such a short period of time, in creating wealth in Indigenous businesses,” Minister Scullion said.
“Unfortunately, Labor has always hated small businesses. It’s in their DNA. Small business workers are rarely Union members and therefore second class citizens in Labor/Union eyes.
“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 is coming after Indigenous small businesses too.
“Labor has no credibility to speak about Indigenous business policies – when Labor was last in Government there were 30 Indigenous businesses winning just $6.2 million in Commonwealth contracts, under the Coalition’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) there have been over 1000 Indigenous businesses winning over $1 billion contracts at last count.
“And just before Christmas Labor announced that it would cut the $1 billion Community Development Program and return to policies that support sit-down money for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander job seekers.
“A strong and prosperous Indigenous business sector is key to empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians – through job creation, financial security for families and communities, and contributing to the growth of local economies and the broader Australian economy.
“The Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund (IEF) which Senator McCarthy attacks was a central 2016 Coalition election commitment and an important plank of our overall Indigenous Business Sector Strategy which has been so successful in driving demand for the good and services of Indigenous businesses and providing supports to help them grow.
“The 19 Northern Territory Indigenous small businesses who have been able to acquire $5.9 million worth of capacity building plant and equipment from the IEF, will today be shuddering at Senator McCarthy’s ill-informed political attacks.
“I encourage Malarndirri to properly read my media releases or contact my office before making ill-informed attacks against important grants like the $619,727 the Indigenous Advancement Strategy provided to Indigenous owned and operated Banu Banu Beach Retreat in Nhulunbuy.
“When was the last time Malarndirri even visited Nhulunbuy?
“The hard working Indigenous business men and women across the Territory deserve better from their Senate representative.
“Bill Shorten needs to show leadership and repudiate Senator McCarthy’s comments this close to an election to maintain the confidence of the Indigenous business sector.”