Race rules in NT government tenders draw fire


Companies expecting to win tenders for Territory Government work now will need to have staff that is 30% or 40% Indigenous, according to documents obtained by the Alice Springs News Online.
This rule has been described as unfair and unrealistic by two local businessmen, including outspoken councillor Steve Brown, who says this is “barefacedly racist in its nature”.
He says no government has been able to reach quotas of that magnitude in their own public service workforces.
p1913brownsteve“I believe their aspiration is 15% and they haven’t even been able to reach that,” Cr Brown (pictured) says.
Cr Brown does not mention the Town Council’s own aspiration of 20% which they consistently fail to reach. Recent figures have been well below the 15% mark, not topping it even when boosted by the use of Corrections work teams.
Cr Brown and a second businessman who does not wish to be named say there are not enough Indigenous people who are skilled, and those who are will be in big demand, enabling them to make unrealistic wage demands.
And the businessmen say some Indigenous people can obtain certificates from training providers without having gained the appropriate skills, because the providers get paid from the Federal government for trainees completing courses.
Cr Brown, who is an electrician and builder, also says it seems under the new regime, Indigenous NGOs will have a windfall: “The government seems to have the perception that a company or NGO with an Aboriginal name necessarily employs more Aboriginal people than other firms. Although this is not necessarily true, it will push work their way.
“This will push non-Aboriginal people out of work. The government spending cake is of a finite size. As a result we will see Redfern Aborigines moving in and long-time non-Aboriginal workers – some of them born and bred – moving out of Alice Springs.
“It is an appalling apartheid style policy, creating an even deeper division in an already divided community,” says Cr Brown.
The News understands that the requirements are applied at varying percentages by different departments. The two examples we have seen stipulate at least 30% (Department of Arts) and 40% (Department of Housing), respectively. We have asked the government for a statement and we have been promised one for this morning.
The second businessman provided a statement to the News with the request of not being named. He writes: “By creating an increased value and demand on indigenous workers, the normal market rules are distorted.
“No longer is an employee (or a company) successful based upon the merits of value, quality, work ethic and so on – the ideal employee is Indigenous.
“The facts are that indigenous employees make up a very small part of the labour force and an even smaller part of the trade qualified labour force.
“Whilst there are a reasonable number of  indigenous staff given Cert 2 in construction, for example, these qualifications themselves are often provided to [inadequately qualified] indigenous staff as the training organisations or employment group were rewarded for ‘ticking the box’ and passing out certificates.”
“NT government tenders are now requiring the tenderer to state how [this percentage] will be achieved, what indigenous organisations will be used, and so on.
“Failure to provide a plan will negatively affect the tender.  This represents the stick of the policy. Companies awarded the project are then required to keep track of indigenous hours worked.
“The Government is then able to provide funds out of a provisional sum back to the contract winner based upon the indigenous hours worked. This represents the carrot of the policy.
“The end result is an incentivized industry that is not judged by quality, productivity, efficiency – but simply by race. A recent Request for Tender Document used the word “indigenous” no less than 55 times,” says the businessman.
“By creating such demand on a relatively small part of the labour force, it becomes an employee market for indigenous staff. This drives up their wages.
“This of course leads other, non-indigenous staff, who generally have a higher level of skill and qualification, to either feel hard done by or for them to also receive a higher rate of pay. This is not a hypothetical. This is a real event that is happening.
“This upward price pressure does not just apply to construction companies, it is across the industry. From electrical, plumbing, glazing, concreting, block laying … the list goes on.
“The end result is that small to medium sized builders are competing against government subsidised, seemingly protected, companies, companies that seem to be able to endlessly perform works at prices way below the rest of the market.
“The large size companies will be OK. They will be able to create partnerships and due to not having to compete with the established indigenous construction companies in large contracts, they will simple be able to pass any cost on back to the client.
“As the government, with all its resources, is [clearly] unable to educate, train and instil work ethic amongst the general NT Indigenous population, it has now just pushed that function on to the private sector.”


  1. Imagine the cries of racism if the word indigenous were replaced by Asian or European or African.

  2. As this policy clearly breaches the Anti Discrimination Act, I wonder if the NT Government has applied for an exemption to the Act?
    Implementing new racist policies in an attempt to correct previously committed wrongs does nothing but create division within a community that already struggles with maintaining a cohesive society whilst surrounded by crime and the never ending anti social behavior.
    Treating indigenous people or groups differently is what helped create a welfare dependent system and morally bankrupt Aboriginal corporations that invest in liquor licenses to pedal more alcohol onto their people (IGA, Memo, and so on).
    If the Government wants to create the future workers that will be needed to meet this 30% to 40% Indigenous employment, I suggest all Governments and organizations get their act together to work cooperatively and get the hundreds of kids off the street every night.

  3. Is it not contrary to the anti-discrimination act?
    Quote: “The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission promotes equal opportunity for all Territorians. Established in 1993, we aim to eliminate discrimination from happening by raising awareness about individual’s rights and responsibilities under the Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Act.” End of quote.

  4. @1 – Thanks for the link Evelyne. Perhaps the policy makers need to read it!
    Are employers allowed to not employ someone based upon race? The exemptions listed in the Act (Part 4, Division 3) in no way allow an employer to disadvantage an employee due to them not being indigenous.
    It is extremely difficult for a employer to create 30% to 40% indigenous employment when indigenous make up only around 15% of the labour force. To do so, you would have to discriminate against non indigenous. Hardly a positive step towards a harmonious society it it?!

  5. What if the ad read Anglo Saxon only – there would be hell to pay. Enough of the race card crap and the best man / lady for the job gets it.

  6. Is really ridiculous how around 15% of the Alice population can hold 75% to ransom.
    They already own most of Alice and no white person is ever going to get a chance.
    The Aboriginals, when they hurt each-other don’t get pulled up and they can hurt other locals and tourists without ever being hauled over the coals.
    A perfect example was when Yirara College was given $43m of taxpayers money and only $1m was spent on the school.
    Where did the rest of it go?
    My bank account was used by a Yirara person and now they have got that information of my account but I still have it.
    A Yirara person and her friends were given overseas trips etc by my relations while I was left here to bring up my kids on nothing, telling us who went to university we were stupid.

  7. As a white man I want equal rights. At the moment the government spend $24,000 on me every year. If I was indigenous they would spend $62,000 on me.
    If I am aged 18 to 55 I have to work for the dole. If Indigenous I would not have to.
    As a white man I have to pay for my children’s education. An Indigenous pays nothing, plus receive free medical treatment.
    As a white man I want equal rights.
    Could someone tell me why they can advertise for Indigenous people only but I cannot advertise for white men only?
    In Australia we need equal rights.

  8. This social engineering policy should be applied equally to the government’s own recruiting across the board to be consistent, otherwise they are engaging in racial discrimination and are apt to be sued.

  9. Definition: “Blackmail is an act, often a crime, involving unjustified threats to make a gain or cause loss to another, unless a demand is met.” End of quote.

  10. A friend told me that the Department of Infrastructure employs one, part time, indigenous employee.
    Judging by the comments on this article, it is touching on a sore spot.
    This is no doubt based upon the feeling that government policies are making the town harder and harder to live in, and changing the demographics through ill considered ideas that really took off under Howard’s intervention.
    This Easter football weekend will be sure to demonstrate what changing demographics can (are) doing to our beautiful town.
    It seems every Easter football carnival in the last few years has coincided with rape, murder, road deaths or massive spikes in crime and anti social behaviour (which in itself is generally a criminal offence, not just ugly behaviour as the phrase “anti social” would lead one to believe).
    Where is the investment in making Alice a town for the hard working productive members of society?
    So far all I can think of is a dismal Todd Mall upgrade that was a complete rip off to the tax payers and added a total of four or five car parks to the mall – failing in its purpose to encourage people to interact with the mall.
    The other thing we have had is a new pool (tiles falling off …) that is often quite feral and not at all a place I would want to take my children.
    Meanwhile Darwin gets new leisure developments such as the billion dollar water front.
    Please government, give us some attention and stop making it harder and harder for the back bone of our vibrant town.
    With out the hardworking people that calls Alice home – goodbye health care, education, law and order etc.
    It will become a slippery slope with ever increasing costs to continue providing life support to the Aboriginal communities and town camps.

  11. The truth is, neither political party supports the majority of its voters. Both Labor and Liberals are guilty of anti-white racism. Both hand out our tax money to bludgers. We need to learn NOT to vote for the current political parties if we, as the majority, are to change the situation.
    The Labor party is NOT for the working class, and workers need to realise that a vote for Labor is a vote for bludgers.
    The Liberal Party also doles out our tax dollars to bludgers – so a vote for them is the same as a vote for Labor.
    Only true, local independent (not stooges run by the major political parties) are in a position to represent their electorates. But we get it wrong all the time, we vote in one of the two political parties so they can further their own agendas – not ours.
    We are all patsies and need to think beyond the present system.

  12. There have been some interesting examples raised here – and they all need to be followed up.
    I find it fascinating to sit back and observe what is going on.
    There has been a social experiment that has been going on in the NT for the last 30 years. And finally, that social experiment is going to have its reality smack that ideology in the back the head.
    Can someone, anyone tell us where we as businesses are going to find that 30% of hard working, focused and dedicated employees? After 30 years of “educational” experimentation, when you are capped and gowned in a University Graduation Ceremony for achieving Certificate 1 in Work Readiness – you cheapen the whole education system!
    During 30 years of social policy Aboriginal Communities / Organisations / Educators have been telling us that the lifestyle Indigenous people are living is the “right way”.
    Seriously? Is that what you honestly think?
    What woman wants to live in fear, what child shouldn’t be given every opportunity.
    It’s more than artwork, the footy and music.
    Kids are being “highjacked” by the lovies who keep telling these kids, that a government grant is always the way.
    Think about how the whole tender process is going to grind to a halt when firms can’t tender because they don’t meet the criteria.
    Let’s face it, there aren’t 30 indigenous bricklayers, or electricians, or insert your requirement here …………….
    Except of course those businesses who are hoovering up our tax dollars in tax concessions, tax subsidised training and capital.
    All the while the rest of us are just here, paying our tax and watching governments try to put us out of business.
    And why? Because their owners are a different colour. It is obscene.
    As a taxpayer I’m going to want an explanation.
    Just like I’m a bit interested to see the report from Mr Elferink on his $45,000 study tour – did someone not mention that we are broke?
    And just to be fair, on the other side politics the Supreme Court saying of our Delia “… Ms Lawrie and her advisers had developed a sophisticated strategy to deal with ‘ugly’ report findings …” and she says she’s not gonna step down?
    Why should taxpayers continue to fund people who have done the wrong the thing? We wouldn’t tolerate it in our businesses, why the hell should we be funding this behaviour as taxpayers?
    Further, Senator Scullion’s comments outside the Convention Centre, I would hope, are signalling a change in direction by the Commonwealth.
    Sadly, where the NT government could be leading the way, they will be dragged kicking and screaming to the table.
    This clause highlights this as nothing else can.

  13. Well, what a mess! Quotas are always a distortion of the market because otherwise you wouldn’t need them at all! Does that justify them is the question. Will they bring about the desired social changes without unfairly treating other people and businesses in the process?
    So discrimination seems OK if it protects minorities and “special interest” groups.
    As the article, and correspondents report, NT Government has itself been well below its own Indigenous targets. It is a bonus of the Intervention that we do now finally witness some Indigenous employees in the supermarkets. This is a great development and gives hope.
    But the gains are slow and quotas will impose artificial pressures on reluctant employers and “work ready” employees, that government itself has been unable to achieve.

  14. I tried to talk to Matt Conlan about this issue when he was Minister for Housing.
    Nothing – just got a copy of the policy.
    Emails to Adam Giles and now Minister for Housing Bess Price. Adam gets Bess’s office to talk to me and I get bureaucratic spin and no answers. The way I was spoken to was like I was talking to a robot. No interest and no concern.
    I was getting very frustrated and declared that the CLP government is trying to put private industry out of business and [instead] supports government funded Aboriginal organisations.
    I was told that is up to you how you view it.
    There are Ministers in Alice Springs who do not support private industry and cannot talk to businesses who are concerned about their survival.
    That is a true representation of supporting your voter base.

  15. The NT Anti-Discrimination Act is trumped by the Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Act.
    The Commonwealth Anti-Discrimination Authority lacks the moral fibre to challenge Commonwealth apartheid, including when Commonwealth authorities order the segregation of families where all are Australian citizens.
    Commonwealth Attorney-General just refuses Legal Assistance, thus preventing trials.
    All major Australian parties support racial segregation of Australian families, mostly due lack of moral fiber.
    Expect soon requirements we all be racially identified using designated racial markers, or more final solutions.

  16. The comments I made on the article titled “Chamber of Commerce says ‘no’ to race based rules” need to be repeated here:
    “I would have thought the benefits of moving people from inter-generational welfare dependency into work (and addressing the consequences of idleness) would be obvious to all. Alas.
    And I would have thought that “lowest tender price” should be the net cost to taxpayers – in other words factoring in the potential for savings on welfare outlays as recipients move into work.
    Procurement Policy MUST accommodate both these features.


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