August 30, 2007
Humanitarian Intervention II
From yesterday's Crikey!
Organisational assets above the value of $400,000 are to be compulsorily acquired by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and transferred to a new entity, the Indigenous Economic Development Trust (IEDT), and then rented back at commercial rates to the same organisations from which the asset has been taken from.
In some cases this will make those organisations commercially unviable, leading to financial collapse and loss of Aboriginal jobs...
This is not about Aboriginal land in places like Arnhem Land: assets will be compulsorily stripped from Aboriginal organisations owning land and property up and down the Stuart Highway—Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs—no matter how well run, no matter what the level of services provided, no matter what those assets are being used for.
The early targets appear to be urban-based Community Development Employment Programs (CDEP)...
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), in at least one instance, will be "resuming" an asset from an Aboriginal business which is being offered back for commercial rental to the very Aboriginal business from which it was compulsorily taken.
In many cases the assets have been built up over many years—in some cases decades. Some are jointly-owned assets. Some are leased to groups such as health services; some provide low cost housing. Some are funded through a combination of commercial income, commercial bank loans, soft government loans and government grants.
The latter factor seems to be the key. Any Aboriginal organisation that directly or indirectly received federal government assistance to acquire or pay off an asset—even in small part—now faces compulsory seizure of the entire asset...