Remarks at the Indigenous Economic Development Showcase

Speech
12 Feb 2018
Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister
E&OE
Indigenous Affairs

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Richard.

Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.

Wanggarra lin jin yin marunn bulaan boogarabung.

So as you know, I’m acknowledging we are on Ngunawal country, honouring elders past and present here on Ngunawal land. Again, thank you Richie for your welcome to country.

As you know, I’ll be tabling the third - my third, Closing the Gap report today.

And I’m even more convinced that we cannot close the gap if we do not have equal participation in the economy.

One for the most effective ways to tackle disadvantage is ensuring that everyone is included in the economy and shares in it’s benefits.

I’m determined to build a stronger economy so that everyone who can find work, who can work, is able to find employment.

And that relies of course on an internationally competitive tax system, that’s designed to enable all businesses, including those owned and operated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, to invest and grow.

We’ve seen huge growth in the Indigenous business sector. Since the 2011 Census, the number of Indigenous-owned businesses has grown by 30 per cent. Compared to just a one per cent increase for non-indigenous businesses at the same time.

In 2012/13, Indigenous businesses secured just $6 million in contracts for a government procurement.

Since we set targets for our Indigenous procurement policy, in 2015 – and we’re here with its author Minister Nigel Scullion – I’m pleased to announce that Indigenous businesses have now won over $1 billion in government contracts.

[Applause]

That’s great, that’s progress, but we can celebrate today the new $213 million Bayinguwa Project, which is the Aboriginal name for Garden Island in Sydney, to design and refurbishment of the Garden Island Naval Base. That’s just been awarded to a joint venture between Indigenous business PSG Holdings and Lend Lease.

Now, I know that corporate Australia - particularly the BCA who is here today – has been engaged in Indigenous procurement for quite some time. I want to thank all the corporates and all the Indigenous businesses for the high expectations, relationships you enter into when you enter into, when you engage in these commercial arrangements.

It shows us, that when he have high expectations of each other, and hold each other accountable, we can achieve together.

Now, can I thank Laura Berry who is standing right in front me here and her team at Supply Nation who are ensuring we have absolute integrity in these procurement arrangements. And who facilitated business to business relationships that enable us to be a stronger and more diverse economy.

Great work Laura, let’s give her a round of applause.

[Applause]

Now, as part of our commitment to do things with, not to - we engaged some 200 indigenous businessman and women, many of you are here today, to develop the Indigenous Business Sector Strategy – which we are launching today to help meet the extraordinary growth in the sector.

Indigenous business hubs will be created across the country starting with Western Sydney. To take advantage of our cities deals. And our government’s record investment in infrastructure, including of course, the Western Sydney airport. A gigantic piece of infrastructure, $5 billion plus, there is going to be a big indigenous participation in that project.

Now these hubs are going to be one-stop-shops for indigenous businesses to access the myriad of support services that are out there all in one place.

So can I thank Nigel Scullion, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs once again, who is working with the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, there he is, good on you, give you a round of applause.

[Applause]

Now the largest representative body, Indigenous representative body in the country, on ensuring that the Western Sydney hub is designed by and tailored for indigenous Australians.

And we’ll also partner with the Business Council of Australia and Supply Nation to encourage more BCA members to award contracts to Indigenous owned and run companies.

We’ve formed an Indigenous Reference Group to ensure indigenous people in the Northern Australia are full economic participants in the Northern Australia policy.

Now indigenous Australians either directly own or have legal rights to most of the North – 66 per cent of Queensland, 80 per cent of the Northern Territory and 94 per cent of Western Australia is communal freehold Aboriginal land for claim or determined native entitlement.

By 2040, Indigenous Australians will constitute half of the permanent population of Northern Australia. And my commitment is to ensure, that they have, you have a central role in the evolving success story of the nation and our Northern Australia policy and delivery.

Now, I’ve reflected before that the closing the gap challenge is often described as a problem to be solved, but more than anything it’s an opportunity.

If our greatest assets are our people – and they are, if our richest capital is our human capital, and it is, then the opportunity to empower the imagination, the enterprise, the wisdom and the full potential of our first Australians, is an exciting one.

So now thank you all for being here, thank you Nigel.

Thank you all, for your commitment in ensuring we close the gap, that we continue the great progress that we’ve seen in indigenous enterprise and business, business formation.

It has worked very well, the Indigenous Procurement Policy is going to do even better. We want to see it replicated and copied around the country. Remember, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

The point we make to other governments, we are seeing great progress – we’re working closely with New South Wales and Western Sydney. This is a big opportunity. This is a story of success, of Indigenous success, of Indigenous dynamism.

It’s great to be with so many Indigenous Australian entrepreneurs and business leaders here today.

Thank you.

[ENDS]