Bill’s blog post today provides more insight into horrendous Work for Dole system put in place since the scraping of the de facto job guarantee program (CDEP) which was originally in place. As well as the absurdity of wage subsidies:
Previously, residents in these areas depended on so-called Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), which was a Federal job creation program that provided necessary work and income where private labour markets were scant.
In effect, the CDEP provided an employment guarantee for indigenous Australians in remote areas.
The first Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1960, H.C. Coombs, who had previously been a major player in the creation of the White Paper on Full Employment in Australia, was also a major proponent of the CDEP.
On the scrapping of the old CDEP and replacement with the abhorrent CDP and work for the dole - abuse of wage subsidies:
But then we learn more.
In fact, this scheme which pays what I would consider to be illegal wage rates, is now being used to subsidise profit-seeking operations.
Sally McManus said that:
People are working, some of them in jobs they were once paid award wages for and often for for-profit companies. The employers are getting CDP workers for free.
An example she provided concerns “a for-profit fencing company working in remote areas”.
That work clearly needs to be done but they’ve got workers on CDP to do it. If it wasn’t for CDP they’d have to pay people proper wages for it. It’s not like these are made up jobs. They’re jobs that have to be done.
The reality is that there are thousands of such activities being performed right across remote Australia that generate profits for the ‘providers’ and replace what would otherwise be paid employment in private sector with cheap, forced CDP labour.
Local councils are offenders in this regard as well. They use CDP labour to perform civic functions (including bus drivers, parks and gardens staffing, etc) which would otherwise be done by workers (skilled and unskilled) who would be paid the legal wage relevant to their category of employment.
In those situations, crying poor – ‘there is no money’ – is just a lie. The Federal government could hire all these workers at the correct legal wage and extend their working week to improve the incomes received by the families and then, through spending, the wider community.
The federal government should not be subsidising private profit-seeking companies by providing them with free labour (under the CDP scheme the ‘providers’ do not pay the benefit payment) paid by the government at below, legal minimum wages.
This is just a neo-liberal obscenity. Australia, further, loses any claim to decency as a result of this sort of program.
A key player in the sector (from Jobs Australia) was quoted in the ABC report (October 3, 2016) – Remote work for the dole scheme ‘causing more harm than good’ – as saying:
Wherever possible, Indigenous and other Australians should be helped into work, and for Indigenous people who suffer higher rates of unemployment, absolutely … But the reality of the labour markets in remote communities is there are not enough jobs to go around.
Even if every job being performed in those communities was being performed by an Indigenous person, there would still not be enough jobs to go around.
The arrangements for CDP need to take account of that, rather than pretending that by requiring people to turn up for five hours a day for five days a week, it’ll get them ready for work that actually doesn’t exist.
Pretty sound logic.
The solution is obvious.
Instead of a racist CDP and the other ‘work-for-the-dole’ program, the Federal government should announce the introduction of a Job Guarantee, where any worker, no matter where they live or the colour of their skin etc could access a minimum wage public sector job if they were unable to find work elsewhere.
None of these jobs would serve to provide ‘free’ labour to private, for-profit firms.