Interview

ACTU Heaps Criticism on Federal Budget’s CDP Changes

Kara Keys, ACTU National Campaigns Manager

Targeted “at our mob”?

With over 85 per cent of the people that are forced into labour under this program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, it’s hard to see it’s not targeted at our mob in particular.

Kara Keys

National Campaigns Manager, ACTU

Labelling the Federal Government’s Community Development Programme “racist”, ACTU’s Kara Keys talks openly to Charles about worker exploitation under the programme

by Charles Pakana

Earlier this month, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison’s handed down the Federal Budget 2018/19, which included changes to the much-criticised Community Development Program (CDP). In response, the ACTU has openly labelled the CDP as racist.

According to ACTU National Campaign Manager Kara Keys, the CDP is a programme enforced by the Federal Government upon people in remote communities. “With over 85 per cent of the people that are forced into labour under this program being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, it’s hard to see it’s not targeted at our mob in particular,” she stated.

In the interview with Charles, Ms Keys said that CDP participants were being forced to work in industries where elsewhere in the country they would be receiving at least minimum wage and appropriate workplace entitlements.

Ms Keys went on to draw a parallel between such conditions and those experienced by Vincent Lingiari and others, which led to the ‘walk-off’ at Wave Hill on the 23rd of August 1966. “The Government is providing a free pool of labour to businesses that are operating in regional and remote communities,” she stated.

Among the claims made by Ms Keys was that the Federal Government is spending $360 million just on administration of the CDP. “This could be used to create 20,000 jobs in those remote areas,” she said.

“The evidence says such programmes don’t work. They’re punitive programmes, forcing people to work for their safety net.”

In response to questions regarding alternative measures, Ms Keys said that the ACTU has been working closely with Aboriginal Peak Organisations Northern Territory (APONT) and that APONT had already developed a workable alternative framework.

“[It’s a framework]…that will see job seekers trained… and investment in the community and employment development.”

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