NITV News interview with Myles Morgan

Release Date: 
8 December 2014

Topics: Remote Jobs and Communities Programme reform

Alan Tudge, welcome to the programme.

G’day Myles.

Now I’m going to take you back to October 2010 in your first speech as an elected member of parliament, you said – and this is a quote – “In many remote communities, there will never be sufficient jobs.”
But now the Abbott Government’s introducing a new work for the dole scheme for about 30,000 people in remote communities. So tell me where does the work come from?

Yeah that’s right Myles. We announced a big reform package on the weekend which is to refine the Remote Jobs and Communities Programme which already operates throughout remote Australia and it does a number of things.
Firstly it’s putting more money into those communities to enable every single able-bodied person to have the opportunity to work 25 hours per week under a work for the dole programme.
Second it provides additional empowerment initiatives if you like and particularly reforming training so that training leads into a job rather than training being forever training for training sake.
And thirdly it creates additional opportunities and incentives for people to take real jobs, both in their community or indeed outside the community should they want to take up those opportunities.

So is the work there? Are you confident that the work and the opportunities you just spoke of are there?

Well that’s where we’ll be contracting with providers to create work-like activities for everybody on the ground. Now that could be across a whole range of activities. It could be through ranger-like initiatives, it could be through establishing butchers or hairdressing salons, it could be generally in construction. For example there’s always construction work or fencing work that needs to be done.
We are confident that this can be done. It’s already in some respects operating well in some communities, but it’s not operating in others and our objective is for every single community to have an opportunity for every person to be able to contribute to their community and do at least 25 hours of meaningful work-like activities each and every week.

Are you confident though that it’s not breaching any part of the Racial Discrimination Act? Because it could potentially, unfairly impact upon Indigenous people.

We are confident Myles, in part because it’s actually additional investment in these areas, and secondly because it applies to all people in these remote areas whether they be Indigenous or otherwise.
We’re going to introduce - in essence a no show, no pay. Now what that means is that if there’s a structured activity for somebody and they don’t turn up for a couple of days that week then their payment will be commensurately reduced.
That’s what many community leaders have called for. They want us to be tough in that regard. If people turn up to work, they get paid, if they don’t, they don’t get paid. Now we think that will be a considerable incentive for people to want to engage in that work activity so that they can build their skills, so that they can be active participants in the community during the day and we think that’s very important.