Monday, June 24, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 6NT Government to tender on racial grounds

NT Government to tender on racial grounds


The NT Government will let contracts for maintenance and repairs of remote dwellings on racial grounds.

“Procurement for future contracts will focus on maximising Aboriginal businesses, based locally, where possible,” states an email to contractors from an assistant director of the Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Brenna Toner, on March 15.

A copy of the email, apparently sent to all qualifying tradies, was leaked to the News by a contractor wishing not to be named, but who predicts a loss of $1m and sacking of several staff.

The contractor says the “panel” arrangement will mean tenders will be sought only from Aboriginal owned business: “The non-Aboriginal industry will not even know the work is available.”

The contractor has no objection to work being offered on the same conditions to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses.

Those based in bush communities would clearly have an advantage because they would not need to include travel time in their price.

According to the contractor the government has not sought comment from the industry and is giving no meaningful notice as usually no tenders are let after March, except for emergencies.

The contractor says the Anti-discrimination Act 1992 (NT) apparently offers no recourse against the government’s move, stating: “A person may discriminate against a person in a program, plan or arrangement designed to promote equality of opportunity for a group of people who are disadvantaged or have a special need because of an attribute.”

The News is seeking comment from Minister Chansey Paech.

PHOTOS: Damaged and neglected appliances in bush home.

UPDATE 12noon

Minister for Remote Housing and Town Camps Chansey Paech provided the following statement:

Our Government is committed to building the capacity of remote communities and improving the future of our most vulnerable Territorians.

To this end, the Territory Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal Business Enterprises and implementing Local Decision Making initiatives towards ceding decision-making powers and service delivery to remote communities.

This includes government contracting opportunities that support Aboriginal businesses and employment and increase regional economic development.

UPDATE 12.30pm

Minister Paech says further a focus on having the works delivered by local Aboriginal Business Enterprises (ABEs) where possible doesn’t preclude the organisations in question [other contractors] from partnering with the Aboriginal Business Enterprise or from sub-contracting to provide support, mentoring and training.

“We need jobs out on country to give people a reason to be out on country and be part of developing their communities,” says Mr Paech.


  1. We repair, you destroy, we repair, you destroy, we repair, you destroy. Government pay. Sound familiar? I’m asking the question.

  2. Remote community residents in the NT Katherine area have had ample opportunities over years to be employed / trained as part of previous NT Housing Repairs and Maintenance contracts.
    Very low attendance rates at jobs / lack of commitment / lack of genuine interest to go off The Dole (sit down money) and learn a skill and provide their own relatives / children or partners with a sense of pride to have a Job and working.
    Jobs targeting locals in remote communities have not been successful in the past – bribery of free BBQs to keep people at work and not go home for lunch as they would not return.
    What would be gained by destroying current business enterprises who have successfully carried out the repairs and maintenance contracts for housing over the past 7+ years?
    These businesses have built up their business to cater to the huge demand for the continual repairs and replacement programs at remote communities – NT Government pays primarily for ALL works. Residents in the main pay nothing.
    Whoever is contracted by NT Housing to fulfil the next outpouring of monies for all the repairs is NOT going to change the fact that the residents are causing the damage and they will primarily not want to work.

  3. This has been tried several times before over the years and has only resulted in misappropriation of large amounts of money usually by some “building manager” or senior community member. There are a few successful exceptions however, but not many.
    Mandate the employment of local community members under each contract and under a controlled and supervised apprenticeship, not some claytons scheme.
    I know this having worked in communities in construction, maintenance and government for over 30 years and it is not hard to do.

  4. [1] “A person may discriminate … to promote equality of opportunity …” Equality of opportunity is already provided to all companies as the tender is (should be) available for the public and all industry. Oxford dictionary states Opportunity meaning “A time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something”. Does advertising the tender publicly not represent equal opportunity?
    [2] Will this provide benefit to large interstate and intrastate (even nation wide companies) over truly local companies? Many companies have established “IBEs” through an assortment of ownership structures – allowing the Government to feel good ticking the KPI box but makes no true difference to the people.

  5. I am so over this blatant racism.
    Chansey says: “Our Government is committed to building the capacity of remote communities and improving the future of our most vulnerable Territorians.”
    Vulnerable person:
    As defined in the psychology, sociology, social work and legal fields, a vulnerable adult, or an adult at risk, is a person over the age of 18 who is unable to take care of themselves. It can also refer to one who is unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation.
    Unable to take care of themselves or unwilling to while so many others are stupid enough to continually do it for them?

  6. In the mid 1970s I worked for the Commonwealth Department of Works which is before NT got self-government.
    We did the generators, water etc.
    I remember going to Docker River and Giles Weather Station. Also I remember driving a Ford F100 all day to a roading gang that was shifting camp. Nothing much has changed except it is contracted out!

  7. GQ: Valid point, unable to take care of themselves, or more to the truth, unwilling to help themselves, while so many are stupid enough to do it for them. While this continues nothing will change. This situation supports an entire industry, and those on the gravy train don’t want it to stop.

  8. I spent decades trying to manage an Aboriginal owned company.
    I can assure you this racism cuts both ways.
    When it comes to local participation and contracts to local organizations, the donkey and the carrot come to mind.
    Virga is a meteorological term that means rain that doesn’t reach the ground.
    This idea of encouraging local businesses is as old as these communities.
    In Yuendumu more than ever virtually all contract work is done by outsiders.
    Locals don’t get a look in and as for favourable treatment – there is almost no local organisation left to favourably treat.

  9. Frank is right. Preferential contracting is as old as the hills. But such measures have been rorted. Go back over the court lists.
    The policy is decent, but the implementation flawed.
    Most of the jobs in remote communities are filled by outsiders.
    If the locals are not moved from intergenerational welfare dependency into work, then the social problems of the Northern Territory will continue to worsen.

  10. In 1968 two NTA young staff got the job of implementing the Holt/Wentworth Aboriginal Training Allowance Scheme in NT remote communities. Brian Chin implemented and operated the scheme from Darwin in communities in the Top End; I implemented and operated it from Alice in Central Australia.
    The Central Australian communities in the scheme were (by their old European names) Amoonguna, Jay Creek, Areyonga, Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Docker Rover, Yuendumu, Warrabri and Hooker Creek. I watched it develop for five years.
    The philosophy of the scheme was to encourage and train community members in basic jobs to prepare them for award wage employment.
    It was obvious from the start that there were very few meaningful jobs to create incentive for desirable career employment.
    The corruption started almost immediately; ghost trainees were added to employment sheets, there was high trainee turnover and the payrolls were rorted.
    Then when Whitlam came to power in 1973 award wages were applied to the same jobs, unions became involved and the die was cast.
    A long history of failed employment policy, failed training and limited meaningful job opportunities. Everything changed and everything stayed the same.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

error: Content is protected !!