The Rudd-Gillard Government’s extension of the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) is yet another example of the indecision and inertia that has plagued the government’s approach to Indigenous affairs, said Senator Marise Payne, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Development and Employment and Senator Nigel Scullion, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
“CDEP has become welfare by another name. Delaying the move to an effective Indigenous employment scheme and portraying this latest change as giving Indigenous Australians more time to adjust to welfare is insulting when all they want is a job.
“We visited Wilcannia in far Western NSW last week where there is an urgent need for housing and where people have the basic skills and qualifications to commence work. There is money available and yet nothing is happening.
“Indigenous Australians have already had to wait long enough because of apparent state and federal labor government indifference, and Minister Macklin’s latest excuse that Aboriginal Australians need another six months to ‘adjust’ to a new welfare system just isn’t good enough.
“There are currently billions of dollars available to build houses and community infrastructure that could employ Indigenous Australians in a variety of jobs for years as well as provide qualifications that could lead to future job prospects.
“Instead, houses are not being built, training is non-existent, jobs are failing to materialise and Jenny Macklin’s only response is to delay the transfer from one welfare system to another.
“This is symptomatic of a government beset by policy paralysis.
“Under the Rudd-Gillard Government, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is still yet to agree on milestones to enable it to develop a 2020 Indigenous Employment target.
“The Rudd-Gillard Government must get Indigenous reforms back on track and start by outlining a concrete plan of action at next February’s COAG meeting.”