With the Giles Government now halfway through a term it was with some disgust this week that I discovered that the very mechanism used to rort the SIHIP funding for Aboriginal Housing is still in play.
This of course is a Federal matter and the Feds have only just delivered their first budget, and possibly should be given some leeway. It is also quite possible that they’ve simply been bamboozled by bureaucratic propaganda and have simply allowed the issue to ramble on.
However, the Giles Government has been around long enough to be able to communicate, in very “severe terms” if necessary, the importance of certain policy changes. Their apparent reluctance to do so raise questions about their level of commitment to much spruiked, foundational CLP policies claiming to be in support of small business and ridding the Territory of inefficient red tape and bureaucracy.
I’m sure everyone who’s been in some way associated with SIHIP’s operations knows what an enormous rort the scheme has become, spending hundreds of millions to achieve a tiny outcome on the ground.
The mechanisms used to convince a remote Federal Government that local on ground consultants, builders and government agencies weren’t able to cope, didn’t have either the expertise or trustworthiness to carry out such a program.
They were able to convince the Feds to make federal accreditation mandatory for anyone wishing to contract any of the work associated with Federal funding, over a certain value.
Federal accreditation introduces a completely unnecessary over the top level of so called safety, training and oversight requirement that is simply beyond the reach of smaller businesses.
Heavily rorted training, safety and bureaucratic oversight eat up enormous portions of funding before anything gets built. Removing the smaller builder from the mix also reduces competition and results in inflated pricing.
Many new projects in the Centre announced in the last Territory Budget are also subject to Federal accreditation. It means that during a time of considerable hardship for local industry, at a time when many builders are struggling just to survive, they are also firmly excluded from contracting for much of the work promised by the Giles Government to the region of Central Australia.
While there are a few larger local companies who have accreditation, once again the smaller usually more competitive local builders are squeezed out in favour of the large.
We also have the additional negative of an influx of business from elsewhere, attracted by the Federal accreditation requirements descending on an already depressed industry.
They are putting local people with local employees, offices, homes, mortgages, those committed to our community, at risk. Insult is added to injury by using the Territory’s own tax dollars to do it!
The sad facts are that much funding announced as a cure-all for the local industry in this year’s Budget will end up supporting business on the coast while those with a long term commitment to the Centre are going out of business.
What could be done? Adam Giles could refuse point blank to include the accreditation requirement in Territory Government contracts! Challenge the Federal bureaucracy to make the politically suicidal decision to override the funding on the basis of that refusal.
The Federal Minister could simply raise the cut-in level at which Federal Accreditation becomes mandatory to such a height that it becomes irrelevant. This could be done overnight while a review of the legislation with an objective of its complete removal is undertaken.
All that is required is for the NT Government to point out the necessity. So what about it, Nigel Scullion, Adam Giles? The proof of genuine intent is in your actions! Are you for small business and competitiveness? The right for the little bloke, to have a go?
It’s about the very thing you promised above all else, to rid the nation of anti competitive, productivity and energy sapping, red tape and bureaucracy.