Labor is deeply disappointed with Minister Scullion’s response to the Senate Inquiry into the Community Development Program (CDP).

Labor secured the Inquiry into the CDP in March after communities across the Northern Territory and Western Australia told us that they were trapped in a cycle of poverty, waiting on the end of a phone line for hours and then giving up, feeling hopeless and still struggling with an infuriating bureaucratic reporting process. 

Minister Scullion’s response to the inquiry has been outrageously cynical.

  • He rebuffed Labor’s attempts to engage the Minister in a bipartisan way throughout the entire committee process.
  • He refused to provide a public submission to the inquiry, but then sent his own partisan, confidential, embargoed report on the eve the Senate Committee was due to report.
  • In an attempt to save face the on the day the Senate Committee released its report into the failed CDP the Minister released his own report – which makes recommendations for wage like conditions which parallel Labor’s report.  

The Minister has claimed that only one of the public hearings of the inquiry took place in a Community Development Program Area – the fact is three of the hearings took place in a CDP region – Alice Springs, Papunya and Palm Island. Kalgoorlie also sits within one of the regions impacted by the CDP. His response to the inquiry is insulting to all the organisations and individuals who gave substantial and significant evidence to the Senate Committee, telling of disrespectful consultation,  poor program design and unfair penalties that has led not to jobs, but to poverty, pain, and hunger.

The Senate inquiry heard from NGOs, community members, Indigenous leaders and employment providers who were not consulted by the Minister  about the CDP.

The reality is the Minister was pushed by Labor to reform the CDP and his tardy and belated efforts to do so will leave many people in communities hungry this Christmas because of the Minister’s failure to deal with this discriminatory and punitive CDP program.

It is seriously disappointing that Minister Scullion would prefer to play political one-upmanship than address the real issue of reforming this deeply flawed, cruel and poorly administered CDP program.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions have condemned the Minister for his handling of the CDP and called for total reform:

‘This Abbott/Turnbull program should shame all Australians. Minister Nigel Scullion, whose lack of action despite a mountain of evidence that his program has failed and is causing harm, is alarmingly negligent.

We further condemn the decision of the Minister to release a review of the program. We don’t need a review. We need the program scrapped.’

Labor could not agree more. 



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