Where Does All the Money Go?

It's hard to track all the money flowing into the Aboriginal Industry. There's billions of dollars involved and many seem too scared to ask questions about it.

Where Does All the Money Go?
Photo by Simon Maisch / Unsplash

I noted the Federal budget had more money for Indigenous specific initiatives.

Few would begrudge that additional money but I am one of those who would like some more accountability on where all the money goes.

It’s widely reported that we spend something like $30 billion a year on on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ in this country and I don’t think we see a whole lot for it.

The Productivity Commission suggests per capita expenditure on Indigenous Australians is roughly double that spent on the rest of us.

According to the recent census, there are around 900,000 people identifying as Aboriginal in this country.

After the government’s $30 billion, there are billions more flowing into the 3000 plus aboriginal corporations through exclusive government contracts, mining royalties and so forth.

According to Senator Gerard Rennick, no tax is paid on these profits. That’s worth hundreds of millions, if not billions in itself.

How then are so many Aboriginal people living in poverty? How do they not have adequate health care? Where are the jobs for aboriginal people in these aboriginal corporations? Why do they claim to need even more money?

I think they are reasonable questions that need straightforward answers.

But to ask them would likely have you labelled racist.

Trust me, asking for accountability over indigenous affairs is like asking for entry to a locked shop. It’s a legal minefield that few dare traverse.

But I do think it’s reasonable, and in the public interest, to ask why millions in mandated indigenous procurement grants go to businesses which stand accused of ‘black cladding

These are companies that claim to be Aboriginal led and managed but have less than majority Aboriginal ownership and management.

The Federal government mandate that 3 percent of all contracts go to these businesses.

Last year that amounted to $1. 6 billion in race-based contracts.

That’s the sort of thing we see in places like South Africa. They too had, and continue to have a skin colour based government spending criteria.

Whatever the colour preference, both approaches are wrong in my opinion.

But back home, we see this is a growing industry. The Daily Telegraph reports that:

Nearly 12,000 federal tenders were awarded to Indigenous companies in 2021-22, compared to less than 2000 in 2015-16.

However, an analysis of the database of businesses eligible for tenders issued under both NSW and Commonwealth Indigenous procurement policies indicates about one in seven is not majority owned and controlled by Aboriginal people, totalling nearly 500 companies.

An example they gave was of Olympian Kyle Vander Kype’s joint venture company Schiavello Ganbu.

It’s not accused of black cladding and the Daily Telegraph reports it complies with all the Federal government guidelines.

Vander Kype owns half of the business but, at the time of the story’s publication, he was not a board member. According to the Telegraph, half of the board were born in Calabria, Southern Italy.

That company won $5 million in federal government tenders since 2017.

After the media inquiries, Vander Kype was reportedly offered a directorship.

As I said, technically this is ok.

It all fits within the rules but maybe, just maybe, the rules are wrong.

We’re now mandating government expenditure on the basis of race. Soon we’re going to be asked to vote on making our political system race based.

As it stands, I don’t think anyone is really keen to  explain what happens to the billions funnelled into the existing aboriginal industry in this country.

How will that accountability be improved when the aboriginal house of lords get a say into every piece of legislation the parliament puts forward.

Somehow I think it will only get worse.

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