The original article inserted below was published in First Nations Telegraph 24 February 2017.
MILLIONS of dollars in Federal Government funding to boost indigenous economic development has gone to companies that employ very few indigenous workers, including one based in Malaysia. Now there are calls to overhaul the scheme, which has been accused of creating a “handful of millionaires” rather than supporting employment for First Australians. More than $280 million in contracts have been awarded under the indigenous Procurement Policy [sic] in the past year to companies majority-owned by First Australians, The Australian reports. That’s a 46-fold increase on the $6.2 million awarded under the policy just five years ago. Former head of the Government’s indigenous Advisory Council Warren Mundine told The Australian the scheme should be overhauled to include a strategy where “indigenous people are actually getting employment through those companies”. “At the end of the day, this is not about creating a handful of millionaires, it’s about changing the economic status of indigenous people,” Mr Mundine said. “We do need to have successful Aboriginal businesses, but economic opportunities for the majority will be more likely to come through employment. “In my view, companies that employ 70 per cent or more indigenous should also be declared an indigenous company whether they have white, black, Chinese or American owners.” The Australian reports Message Stick Communications, an audio conferencing business run by indigenous businessman Michael McLeod, has received $4.5m in contracts from government agencies in the past five years but employs just one indigenous person in a staff of four.