Business Council of Australia 'Raising the Bar' Launch Speech

Release Date: 
12 August 2019

Thank you Matthew and thank you KPMG for hosting the Launch. I do acknowledge the Whadjuk people, our elders past and present and those who will emerge. I also want to acknowledge Barry McGuire for his welcome to country. I always enjoy listening to Barry because he always provides an element that matches the context in which he delivers it.

I also acknowledge all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who joined us today.

Jennifer Westacott, I want to thank you for your leadership as Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council of Australia, but also your ongoing commitment across the board on so many fronts: your vision, your compassion. But, the way in which you establish a direction that you believe we should go as a country - you take us there and on this issue to do with Indigenous Australians - it's a tremendous element of support, but it's important.

To Laura Berry, Chief Executive Officer of Supply Nation, you do an outstanding job and the linkages that are being made makes a difference.

To Ray Griggs the CEO of the National Indigenous organization; that is a separate entity now.

But to all of the esteemed business leaders here this afternoon; raising the bar is an important element of setting a direction that is premised on positivity; on establishing an upward direction.

We talk too often of deficits in Indigenous affairs. "Closing the gap' is premised on deficits. But what you're doing, is a way in which, and I'll use Barry's words, you're creating through the web, opportunities that we've never had before.

I've been around three score, plus a few extra years, and in that journey, the changes that have happened through the leadership of the business and corporate sector is absolutely stunning when you consider where we are today. And the way in which Aboriginal organisations and individuals and businesses have flourished under that approach of working in partnership, but, in committing to creating opportunities that allows an economic capacity to be built, to expand, but more importantly, the jobs that are created through the supply chains to Indigenous people who work for those companies.

But, I think more importantly, is the positive attainment that we've achieved so far. So let's raise the bar for achievement and raise the bar for opportunity because the bar of expectation in so many areas has been of low attainment. But in this case, we're talking about raising the bar to achieve economic outcomes that permeate right through Indigenous nations in this country. And the footsteps that you leave together as you achieve the great things that the Business Council of Australia and Supply Nation have set out by coming together in order to increase the opportunities.

We need to harness the public and private sector opportunities for collaboration. The whole procurement process is a great legacy of the Coalition Government because today, more than fifteen hundred Indigenous owned businesses have landed more than $2 billion in contracts since the IPP was launched in 2015. We need this to go from strength to strength and from 1 July this year, we introduced a 3 per cent target based on value beginning at 1 per cent and phased in over 8 years. We will also expand the reach of mandatory minimum requirements for Indigenous Australian participation in major government contracts to include additional service categories, also from 1 July. By doing this, it creates a mindset in our own people, that economic opportunities are possible; that the companies that they drive have an opportunity to be competitive and to grow. And, this means more jobs and certainly my challenge this year is to create a thousand new jobs in the Indigenous community.

But I'm encouraged by my discussions with Jennifer this morning about the way in which we can increase it, even more than that, because we have the capacity. Let’s all work together not just on this but for all issues impacting on Indigenous Australians.

We can achieve great things together when we put out a hand of support or we give some words of encouragement of saying - you have an idea, we can make it happen by working together.

Because we create the hope and aspirations of the future.

I congratulate the Business Council of Australia and Supply Nation and all the participating businesses, in the Raising the Bar initiative and once again,

I thank KPMG for showing leadership in this area, for being supportive, but again by walking with us on so many issues.

So congratulations to all who were involved and certainly I look forward to great outcomes over the next few years.