Saturday, November 01, 2008

Australia’s richest entrepreneurs support indigenous jobs pact, by James Thomson - 31st October 2008

Some of Australia’s richest entrepreneurs including Rupert Murdoch, James Packer and Andrew Forrest have backed a historic agreement designed to provide 50,000 jobs for indigenous Australians.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed the Australian Employment Covenant in a ceremony in Canberra yesterday. The pact, which was created by one of Australia’s richest men, Fortescue Metals Group chief Andrew Forrest, is aimed at breaking the welfare cycle by providing more than 50,000 jobs to indigenous Australians.

More than 15 major companies have signed up to the agreement, including Fortescue, Santos, Lindsay Fox’s trucking group Linfox and James Packer’s casino group Crown. More than 5000 jobs have already been committed to.

Forrest told the group that Australia had to address the challenge of helping indigenous people and thanked his fellow entrepreneurs for supporting the initiative despite the uncertain economic climate.

“Yes, times are crook in Tullarook right now, but nowhere will it be crooker, nowhere will the suffering be more intense during any monetary meltdown than in our most underprivileged.”

The Federal Government will also set up a program offering $20 million worth of scholarships to help up to 2000 indigenous students attend some of the country's top secondary schools.

Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson wept after the singing of the agreement.

“We're going to look back on this... as that moment in the history of the country when government and society made a commitment to people that if you take up the cudgels of responsibility we will guarantee you a job, we will set forth before you a prospect of climbing up in the world, a home, a future for your children, a fair stake in this, your own land.”

Companies interested in participating in the Australian Employment Covenant can find more information at

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Rupert Murdoch

James Packer

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