It has been estimated that, in 2012–13, Indigenous businesses secured only 0.001% of the overall Australian Government spend (around $6.2 million of the $39 billion spent). This is despite a specific provision in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) to encourage procurement from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with at least 50 per cent Indigenous ownership. The ANAO will report on the administration of current procurement initiatives in support of Indigenous Australians in a performance audit to be tabled around June 2015.
Following up on a recommendation made in Creating Parity (the Forrest Review), on 17 March the Government announced that by 2020 the Commonwealth will have three per cent of its procurement contracts with Indigenous suppliers.
The Government has indicated that Canada has ‘successfully used procurement to significantly drive economic development for First Nations people.’ Since 1996, the Canadian Government has operated a Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB). How does the PSAB work? What are the lessons for Australia?