22 October 2018


SUBJECTS: Community Development Program, racist motion.

GEORGIA HITCH, ABC DARWIN JOURNALIST: Looks like theres a change to the Community Development Program for the regional areas in the Northern Territory and after a report that was finalised on Friday one of the key changes is the consequences for not turning up if you are working for the dole. Its all about the targeted compliance framework. Its basically a system thats been in place for the big cities and urban areas, and it says you have to be at work for every day of the year. But in regional areas, theres a different framework that allows flexibility for parts of the year, and that is set to be scrapped. Senator Malarndirri McCarthy was on the Senate committee that made this report, but she isnt convinced that this is the right thing for the Territory. Senator McCarthy joins me now, Senator what do you and your party make of the proposed changes to the CDP.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Look we are really concerned that the targeted compliance framework is actually being imposed on CDP regions even though theyre saying it is consistent with arrangements in the rest of Australia. What we have to remember Georgia is that with CDP people must immediately enter work for the dole for 25 hours a week with only up to six weeks leave, whereas with JobActive which the targeted compliance framework would work with, people work for the dole after 12 months and must participate up to 25 hours per week up to 26 weeks per year. So straight away there is a discrepancy in again the fact that you live out in the regions in CDP areas and youre going to have the targeted compliance framework imposed on you as another layer or level that you have to adjust to. What were saying to the minister is that this is not the way to go. Weve had feedback through the Senate inquiry where there was no support for this, in fact, there was very significant concern that poverty would be further entrenched.

HITCH: Just to be very clear, whats the difference between that and the current system in remote and regional areas?

MCCARTHY: The current system that theyve got now still has significant breaches but what the government is trying to say is that those breaches wouldnt happen immediately, they would happen after a certain timeframe. Were saying that irrespective of whether the breaches happen immediately or after a certain timeframe the outcome still is entrenched poverty.

HITCH: Part of this Im moving to a different area theres 6000 new subsidised employment positions that have been flagged here, surely that is a good thing?

MCCARTHY: Well Labors saying you can do that now, the government can do this now without adding extra pecuniary concerns in terms of CDP participants having to jump through hoops. What theyre proposing for participants can actually happen now. Were also saying that it is really tinkering around the edges, were talking about 33-35000 participants across the country and 6000 people still doesnt go far enough.

HITCH: And I assume that 6000 positions in remote and regional areas do you know how many of those positions would be there?

MCCARTHY: Well my understanding is that its not so much the positions its actually about where the extra support in terms of finance would go to. Who as providers would be the ones given this extra money to provide opportunities and for how long? And these are the details that are not forthcoming.

HITCH: So what would a Labor alternative to this look like?

MCCARTHY: Well thats what were looking at right now, I mean we certainly had an inquiry earlier in the year and submissions that we received from around the country gave us great hope certainly organisations like APONT put forward significant options in terms of the kind of models the government can look at, the difference, of course, is that we are in opposition and until we have access to those departments to be able to examine exactly how we could do it or what we could do differently. The biggest thing thats come through Georgia is that the previous program called the community development employment program is the one that people have constantly asked us to go back to and Labor would certainly be looking at that model.

HITCH: And so what are the differences between the CDP model and the CDEP?

MCCARTHY: Well the difference would be is that we wouldnt breach people. The difference would be that people wouldnt be without money for up to 8 weeks or more. And thats the significant difference. I mean people are starving, they cant pay their bills, they cant have access to funding and we just need to step back a bit as Australians and think well if you didnt get paid for a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, what would that do to you? What impact would that have on your life?

HITCH: In other news yesterday we saw the Senate almost pass a motion that said its ok to be white as an Indigenous woman, whats your response to that?

MCCARTHY: Well it was a disgraceful display of what the One Nation party is all about and that is to divide people in this country. Unfortunately, the government fell for it and followed the One Nation vote and supported it and realised today that theyd made a supposed error.

HITCH: Was that an administrative error? It seems there hasnt been a lot of light shone on exactly what that is, do you buy that?

MCCARTHY: Well absolutely not, I mean Labor certainly sees this as something that was opportunistic by the Government. They supported it, they obviously believed in it at the time and this morning it obviously had an impact on voters in Wentworth and they decided to come back and blame it on a staffer in the Attorney-Generals office. Its quite disgraceful really if they were sincere about an error, theyd come out and acknowledge it straight away and just apologise and condemn Pauline Hanson for her divisive nature in the Parliament.

HITCH: What do you think about the Indigenous Affairs Minister and the other Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion voted in favour of it?

MCCARTHY: Enormously disappointing that the Senator for the Northern Territory and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs supported this vote. He is there to represent first nations people, to stand for first nations people, to lobby and to advocate on our behalf and he failed us.

HITCH: Senator good to talk to you today, thanks for your time.

MCCARTHY: Thank you Georgia.