Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson has joined mining magnate Andrew Forrest in saying red tape is stopping their Indigenous job scheme.
Mr Pearson and Mr Forrest co-chair the Australian Employment Covenant, which aims to find jobs for 50,000 Indigenous Australians.
But in a letter to the Prime Minister leaked to the Australian newspaper today, Mr Forrest says government bureaucracy is having disastrous effects on the scheme.
Mr Pearson told ABC Radio’s PM program 10,000 jobs have already been pledged, but the Federal Government has not yet provided the money it promised for training.
“If you’re going to hang around for four or five months waiting for training dollars to be approved, these jobs are going to go begging,” he said.
“Our fear at this very early stage is that many many hundreds of jobs are going to go begging if we don’t get the government training side of the bargain right.”
Mr Pearson says companies will not wait for the red tape to clear.
“The worst thing that can happen is that we simply don’t have the training component ready to run when these organisations need it,” he said.
“Many of the people who have put their hands up are people in organisations who can’t hang around for months and months attending committee meetings to organise training for Indigenous people – they need quick responses.”
Mr Pearson says Australia needs an efficient provisioning of training dollars to get Aboriginal workers up to speed.
He says the problem has nothing to do with the recession, but with government bureaucracy.
“The big problem with the bureaucracy is that they tend to own the systems that they’ve already developed, the systems that underperform and that don’t respond to the requirements in this case of the industry, requirements of private corporations to have timely delivery of training,” he said.
“We gathered these jobs, in fact, when the storm clouds were already upon us. So the gloomy economic climate has not stopped organisations right across the country that are stepping up to the mark, despite the gloomy economic outlook.
“The worst thing that can happen is that we simply don’t have the training component ready to run when these organisations need it.”