Letter submitted to The Australian newspaper

Release Date: 
23 February 2017
Letters to the Editor

Your story ("Millions going to just a handful", February 23) ignores the success of the Coalition Government's Indigenous Procurement Policy and demonstrates a lack of understanding about what it is intended to achieve.

The article is all the more disappointing because my office provided your journalists with ample information in good faith that, if properly considered, could not have resulted in the article as published.

The information we provided clearly shows how widely the IPP is benefiting the Indigenous business sector.

In just one year under the IPP, almost 500 Indigenous businesses have won more than 1500 direct and indirect contracts. This is hardly a handful.

This fact is already in the public domain - and was included in the information provided to your paper this week. It is reasonable to question why it was not included in the article.

These contracts, worth more than $284 million, were for the delivery of a range of goods and services - everything from communications technology products to recruitment, legal and financial services.

By contrast, the former Labor Government’s procurement policies really did benefit just a handful. In its last year in office, only $6.2 million of contracts were won by Indigenous businesses.

It is also disappointing the article asserts the IPP is failing because in two select case studies the Indigenous employment figures are supposedly low.

This may have been an issue if the IPP was an employment policy. It's not. It's a small business policy that delivers a corollary benefit for employment given Indigenous businesses are 100 times more likely to recruit a First Australian than a non-Indigenous business. It is not about direct employment.

The Government has a raft of successful employment policies that are getting some 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait jobseekers into a job every day. This is transforming the lives of the individuals getting the jobs, but also the communities in which they live.

The IPP is having a similarly positive effect on Australia's Indigenous business sector.