NT Intervention has failed on jobs - petition in parliament today

Media release 20/6/11 for immediate release

Intervention has failed on jobs – petition presented today

A petition against lost jobs and exploitative working conditions under the NT Intervention is being presented to the Federal Senate today by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert. It is being sponsored by Unions NT, the CFMEU and anti-Intervention campaign groups across the country.

Four years into an Intervention that promised “real jobs”, many Aboriginal people are working for Centrelink payments “quarantined” onto a BasicsCard due to cuts to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP).

The petition is demanding back pay for Aboriginal people paid on the BasicsCard while doing renovations for the NT Intervention’s $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP), and investment in Aboriginal employment across all communities.

Marie Elena Ellis, President of the Amoonguna Community Council, is traveling to Sydney to address a protest rally marking four years of Intervention this Saturday.

Ms Ellis said: "When SIHIP came to town we were told there would be fulltime jobs with good wages, but instead we were ripped off and left unemployed. It is another slap in the face from the government."

"Before the Intervention and cuts to CDEP the majority of our people were working. We had work through the Arts Centre, the school and community council works. We had a strong functioning council and had control of our lives."

"Australians always talk about giving people a fair go, but that doesn't apply to us. Our grandmothers and grandfathers worked that way, doing what they were told for nothing."

“We want an end to this Intervention and control back in the community. The unions have come behind us to demand the government listen to our story. They are supporting our mob who were ripped off.”

Mick Huddy, CFMEU organiser in Darwin said: “Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory who were engaged on building upgrades under the federally funded SIHIP program were paid less than half of the Award which is completely unacceptable. No worker should be exploited in this way and the CFMEU stands by these workers and calls for them to be back paid every cent plus interest. "

"The CFMEU is supporting protests against four years of the NT Intervention. We will join Aboriginal leaders at their rally in Darwin tomorrow for self-determination and proper jobs in all communities".

Paddy Gibson, from the Stop the Intervention Collective in Sydney said: “The Intervention has destroyed Aboriginal livelihoods and been a bonanza for bureaucrats and major building companies like Leighton’s Holdings. Many Aboriginal workers, like those renovating houses at Amoonguna, have been working for the BasicsCard”, said Paddy Gibson from STICS.

“Minister Mark Arbib has repeatedly denied that these ‘BasicsCard’ workers have been used on SIHIP sites. But timesheets and payslips obtained by construction workers at Amoonguna show clearly they were kept on the BasicsCard and underpaid by more than $5000”.

“On his recent trip to Central Australia, Opposition leader Tony Abbott said he was ‘ashamed to be a member of parliament’ after witnessing first hand derelict condition of houses worked on by SIHIP. But it’s the Intervention that’s to blame - all control over housing and development has been taken away from local Aboriginal organisations and put in the hands of bureaucrats and contractors.”

“The government must back pay these workers immediately, scrap the Intervention and invest in community-controlled development”, concluded Mr Gibson

The petition has more than 2500 signatures and will be presented to the Federal Senate today by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

See the full text at http://jobswithjustice.wordpress.com/sihip-cdep-campaign/

For comment contact:

Paddy Gibson , Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney: 0415800586

Marie Elena Ellis Amoonguna community leader: 0447 089 909

Mick Huddy, CFMEU Darwin: 0417 141 842

Protests marking four years of Intervention

Protests will launch a statement “Rebuilding from the Ground Up: An Alternative to the NT Intervention”, widely endorsed by Aboriginal leaders and rights organisations.

See http://www.jumbunna.uts.edu.au/researchareas/alternatives.html or http://www.stoptheintervention.org/ for more information on the statement and activities.

Darwin:

Tuesday June 21st, Midday

Raintree Park, Darwin march to Parliament House, Darwin for the launch.

Sydney:

Saturday June 25th, 1pm

Sydney Town Hall

- ENDS -

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