By ERWIN CHLANDA
A $65m loan for the Ayers Rock Resort did not come out of the taxpayers’ pocket, says Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.
Instead, the government has arranged for a loan facility from its lenders to be extended to the resort’s owners, the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC).
“The transaction costs the taxpayer not a cent,” he says.
“It is between the ILC and the lenders. This means instead of paying 9% on $63m of vendor’s finance it will be a much lower interest rate.”
He said the new rate was confidential.
The resort was sold to the ILC for a controversial $350m.
Senator Scullion says the resort “is doing very well” having boosted occupancy rate from 50% during the GFC to 82%. Some 280 Indigenous people are working there now.
Meanwhile law and order are eclipsing all other issues in Alice Springs this election, says Senator Scullion, who is re-contesting his seat on July 2.
He says solutions must be found for the all-important tourism industry to recover and continue to grow, but Canberra’s role in reducing crime is limited, although much of the cost for the public CCTV system has come from the Feds.
The Turnbull Government is preparing strategies to reduce the deleterious effects of “unconditional welfare,” including fine-tuning already existing provisions to withhold the dole for people refusing to accept work offered, says Senator Scullion.
Weekly instead instead of fortnightly payments are part of the proposals, and for the scheme to be administered by local providers or organisations, instead of Centrelink.
But he side-stepped the issue when asked to comment about local Aboriginal people refusing to accept jobs offered by the Ayers Rock Resort, which they own.
Senator Scullion told the Alice Springs News Online that further reform of the jobs-for-the-dole programs, in town and the bush, are intended to target people displaying anti-social behaviour which puts off tourists.
However, he says it’s likely that Labor and the Greens will block this policy.
By ERWIN CHLANDA