The Federal Government has refused to respond to questions about its Indigenous Employment Program, despite the latest unemployment figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing an increase from 14 to 18 per cent.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said the Rudd Government had promised to halve the employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a decade, but was now hiding its progress.
“Senate Estimates is a pretty serious business. It’s one of the few opportunities when we can examine the Government’s operations, and without it, proper scrutiny is very difficult,” Senator Scullion said.
“Last week I asked the Government for employment outcomes under the $139.5m Indigenous Employment Program. Despite a commitment to provide details that day, the Government now says there is no expected date for providing this information.
“It is totally unacceptable for this important information not to be made available, especially as promised through the Senate Estimates process. If there are problems with the program, they will not be fixed by sweeping them under the carpet.
“The long-term unemployed need help to enter the workforce. Kevin Rudd promised to report on the progress his Government was making in this area, but instead information that may expose failures is being withheld.
“Let there be no mistake: this Government is playing silly buggers with crucial information that allows us to monitor its performance. The unemployment gap for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders is widening under its watch.”
An excerpt of the Senate Hansard can be read from p46 here.
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Rudd Government hides Indigenous unemployment figures 8.6.10.pdf