Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 33 - No 4 Contents 44 POLICY • Vol. 33 No. 4 • Summer 2017-2018
CLASSICAL LIBERALISM AND INDIGENOUS POLICY
the historical inequity and disadvantage they have
experienced—in the future, because of preferential
treatment, Indigenous businesses may develop
a monopoly over certain government contracts
and industries. This has occurred with minority
procurement policies in the United States, where
such policies have been in place since the 1960s.
In some instances Native American corporations
have become multimillion dollar businesses and
some of the largest federal contractors in the
Although these corporations no longer
need the assistance of preferential procurement
(or affirmation action policies) they continue to
receive contracts under the legislation because they
represent an easy way for the government to meet
The IPP is still in its early stages, but it has
already shown itself to be the victim of gaming,
as in the example of ‘black-cladding businesses’—
that is, businesses that misrepresent themselves
as Indigenous in order to win lucrative contracts.
There are also early warning signs that similar
monopoly businesses could develop in Australia
if issues with the policy are not addressed.
As a classical liberal think tank, CIS generally
espouses the benefits of limited government.
However, as discussed, there are some occasions
when more government support is perhaps
warranted. When it comes to Indigenous businesses
it is difficult to know what role the government
should play and whether it should try and support
Indigenous businesses—or get out of their way.
Although supporting Indigenous businesses
is preferable to sinking more money into yet
another poorly designed program, there are always
unintended consequences of any government action.
It is a difficult tightrope for government to walk.
However, if we are to be true to classical liberal
thinking the best thing governments can do to
support Indigenous economic development is to
help create an enabling environment for private
enterprise to occur. This means ensuring the rule
of law is upheld in remote communities whilst
reducing the barriers to economic enterprise by
removing some of the red tape surrounding land
1 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and the Subjection of Women
(New York: Henry Holt and Co, 1879).
2 Michael Lacewing, Philosophy for A2: Unit 3: Key Themes in
Philosophy, 2008 Aqa Syllabus, (London: Routledge, 2015).
3 Sara Hudson, Alcohol Restrictions in Indigenous Communities
and Frontier Towns (Sydney: The Centre for Independent
4 As above.
5 SBS News, ‘Police defend response to Aurukun fights’ (17
6 Peter Sutton, The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australians
and the end of the liberal consensus, (Melbourne: Melbourne
University Press, 2009).
7 ABC Four Corners, ‘Return to Aurukun—Four Corners’
8 As above.
9 As above.
10 Naomi Schaefer Riley, The New Trail of Tears: How
Washington Is Destroying American Indians (Encounter
Books, 2016), xiii.
11 Hudson, Alcohol Restrictions.
12 James Fitzpatrick, ‘Scourge of drunken pregnancy leaves
lifelong scars’, The Australian (16 November 2016).
13 Hudson, Alcohol Restrictions.
14 Sara Hudson, ‘Indigenous youth suicide: the canary in the
mine’, Ideas@theCentre (19 August 2016), https://www.cis.
15 Jack MacDonald, ‘How a B.C. native band went from
poverty to prosperity’, The Globe and Mail (29 May 2014).
16 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, ‘Indigenous
Procurement Policy’ (2017), https://www.pmc.gov.au/
17 As above.
18 As above.
19 Gabriel Moens, Affirmative Action: The New Discrimination
(Sydney: The Centre for Independent Studies, 1985).
20 Australian Human Rights Commission, ‘Guidelines
to understanding “Special measures” in the Racial
Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)’ (2011), https://
21 Schaefer Riley, The New Trail of Tears, 59.
22 As above.
23 Charles Jacobs, Getting Down to Business: Are Strategies to
Grow the Indigenous Business Sector Working? (Sydney: The
Centre for Independent Studies, 2017).
24 Sara Hudson, ‘Should government support Indigenous
businesses or get out of their way?’, Ideas@theCentre (13
November 2015), https://www.cis.org.au/commentary/
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