Australia condemns racist words but stays silent on government’s racist CDP scheme

Nicholas McCallum

There's a word for people who are forced to work but don't get the same safety protections or pay as other workers. 

Written by ETU Far North Queensland Organiser Rob Hill

Some shameful politicians are doing their worst to drive divisions between Australians in the lead up to the election.

One disgraceful individual, slithering into the Senate despite receiving only 19 votes, has touted a return to the “White Australia Policy” and dragged up horrific terms that have long been considered taboo.

Critics have accused him of dragging Australia back into a long-gone racist past. But is that true?

Unfortunately this populist political hate speech and an ultra-right winged agenda has seen this country slipping backwards against reasonable standards for years, resulting in the further segregation of the most marginalised in our community.

First Nations Workers Alliance is fighting for wage justice and the dumping of the racist CDP program.

The so-called “Community Development Program” is an ideological Liberal policy that shamelessly and overtly targets Indigenous Communities – essentially, it’s a racist and punitive “Work for the Dole” full of horrific stories.


For those remote community members under the boot of this “program”, when you divide their weekly social security payment by the hours they work, they end up working for much less than minimum wage.  

The CDP is stripping dignified legitimate jobs out of these communities and replacing them with a form of slave labour.

CDP workers are often exposed to serious and legitimate safety concerns, with one current investigation involving the demolition of an old building on Thursday Island that possibly contains asbestos.

One would not expect that these workers would be appropriately trained in this specialist task of asbestos removal, much less be afforded the appropriate PPE to perform the work.

Incredibly if these workers get hurt (or worse) at “work” they are not even covered by Workcover because they aren’t legally considered workers!

The workers also endure zero tolerance to absenteeism, with many being cut off from any financial assistance for weeks as punishment.

In one example a woman mourning the death of her husband was smacked with an eight-week stop-payment. This undue punishment came despite explaining her situation and need to grieve to a case manager.

This is 2019 in the so-called Lucky Country! The CDP program is clearly a racist attack on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society and it has to be abolished.

Many have condemned Fraser Anning for his hateful words, and the Senate censured him. But how many of those politicians have condemned this harmful and racist program?

We need to fight to make sure CDP is abolished. With the election looming, time is ticking for workers, unionists and supporters must make sure the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is held accountable for their racist failings of First Nations people and CDP.

The First Nations Workers Alliance has been fighting the 'Wage Justice Now' campaign, but we need CDP workers, their communities and supporters to be enrolled to vote in the federal election on May 18.

To ensure CDP is abolished, we need you to be enrolled to vote: ENROL TODAY and help fight this racist program or modern slavery.

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