Aboriginal scheme ‘benefits select few’

Aboriginal scheme ‘benefits select few’, by Kylar Loussikian,

Millions of dollars in federal govern­ment spending to encour­age indigenous economic development has gone to companies with very few indigenous employees, including a telecommunications provider that ran its services from Malaysia.

There are now calls to reform the government scheme, which awards work to majority-owned indigenous companies and has triggered a 46-fold increase in government spending, to ensure it benefits indigenous workers.

Despite more than $280 million in contracts from Defence, Treasury, Industry and a number of other government departments being awarded under the Indigenous Procurement Policy in the past year, there are few rules about minimum levels of indigenous employment, leading to concerns the scheme is simply “creating a handful of millionaires”. …


Message Stick Communications, an audio conferencing business run by indigenous businessman Michael McLeod, has received $4.5m in contracts from government agencies in the past five years and millions more from major corporate clients, with a website spruiking indig­en­ous business as a way of ­“ending poverty and welfare depend­ency.

But it employs just one indig­enous person in a staff of four, and all its audio-conferencing services are provided by major international companies including InterCall and BT, which until last year provided services to Message Stick clients via a team of 16 based in Kuala Lumpur.

The company is verified by Supply Nation, a certification scheme established by Mr Mc­Leod and used by the government and many public compan­ies to promote indigenous businesses. …

There are many more examples:

An investigation of Supply Nation­ revealed that many businesses verified by the service employ­ few indigenous staff but have nevertheless won contracts as part of corporate programs aimed at boosting diversity of their procurement practices.

A sizeable proportion of businesses listed on Supply Nation as registered suppliers employ no indigeno­us staff.

Racist and corrupt. The government ought to get out of the racism business.

hat-tip Stephen Neil