Ja­bal­bina misses out on fund­ing for pro­ject

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Do­minic Geiger

A FAR North­ern in­dige­nous busi­ness plan aimed at cre­at­ing 13 jobs is fac­ing un­cer­tainty af­ter it was de­nied fed­eral fund­ing.

Ja­bal­bina Yalanji Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion had ap­plied for a grant un­der the In­dige­nous Ad­vance­ment Strat­egy to sup­port a “tourism and land man­age­ment en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment be­tween Port Dou­glas and Cook­town”.

Key to the pro­posal was money for a man­ager to help the cor­po­ra­tion bet­ter nav­i­gate the com­plex­i­ties of in­dige­nous land use.

But the group re­cently re­ceived a let­ter say­ing fund­ing wouldn’t be ap­proved.

Ja­bal­bina chief ex­ec­u­tive and for­mer La­bor MP for Le­ich­hardt Jim Turnour said em­ploy­ees were “strug­gling to un­der­stand” what more they needed to do to get govern­ment sup­port.

“We ap­plied in Jan­uary and af­ter three-and-a-half months wait­ing we get a bland let­ter that doesn’t pro­vide any rea­son­ing as to why our ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected,” he said.

“The govern­ment seems to be say­ing that tourism and land man­age­ment busi­nesses run by Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple be­tween Port Dou­glas and Cook­town aren’t go­ing to be com­mer­cially vi­able, it’s just lu­di­crous.”

In the let­ter from the Depart­ment of Prime Min­is­ter and Cabi­net, the cor­po­ra­tion was told ap­pli­ca­tions were as­sessed on a va­ri­ety of cri­te­ria, in­clud­ing “value for money for the Govern­ment’s in­vest­ment”.

But Mr Turnour ar­gued the cor­po­ra­tion’s own pro­jec­tions showed the pro­posal would “be­come prof­itable” af­ter three years with the help of an en­ter­prise man­ager.

“We have to ne­go­ti­ate de­vel­op­ment with tra­di­tional own­ers, deal with lo­cal, state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tory plan­ning is­sues, se­cure fi­nance and build the ca­pac­ity of an Abo­rig­i­nal work­force if the busi­nesses are to be suc­cess­ful,” he said.

“These ad­di­tional bar­ri­ers make sup­port dur­ing the es­tab­lish­ment phase crit­i­cal to suc­cess.

“Ja­bal­bina was seek­ing fund­ing for an En­ter­prise Man­ager for three years to ad­dress these bar­ri­ers and to set up and run these busi­nesses.

“Fi­nan­cial pro­jec­tions for the busi­nesses in­di­cated they would cre­ate up to 13 new jobs.”

Mr Turnour has re­quested a phone call with a depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive to bet­ter ex­plain why the group was un­suc­cess­ful in its ap­pli­ca­tion.

Jim Turnour of Ja­bal­bina

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