Closing the gap 150 indigenous programs consolidated to cut waste

The government plans to save $500 million over five years by consolidating more than 150 indigenous programs into a five-pronged strategy to be run out of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Despite repeatedly promising to maintain funding levels before the election, it now insists it can achieve the savings by eliminating the waste and duplication highlighted in the National Commission of Audit report.

Treasurer Joe Hockey maintains the savings can be achieved without compromising the goal of closing the gap, citing the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “heartfelt” commitment to tackling disadvantage. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann claims the scope to tackle waste and duplication exists across all service-delivery departments.

But the savings will be attacked as another broken promise by Labor after Mr Abbott repeatedly insisted funding levels would be maintained and the Coalition’s election policy document said: “The Coalition will continue the current level of funding expended on Closing the Gap activities.”

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said $4.8 billion would be spent on the streamlined programs of jobs, land and the economy, children and schooling, safety and wellbeing, culture and capability and remote Australia strategies.

“The five new indigenous programs will make it easier for organisations delivering services on the ground,” Senator Scullion said.

He said the Stronger Futures policy developed by the former government would be revised “with the Northern Territory Government to place greater emphasis on results, rather than process”.

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