The Federal Government has invested $2.7 million towards boosting indigenous entrepreneurs in Cape York as part of its $115 million Indigenous Entrepreneurs Package.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the $2.7 million investment in Wik Timber Holdings would allow them to purchase a shovel logger, log skidder and wood chipper.
He said the investment would also allow Wik Timber Holdings to employ and train local indigenous people.
“The Wik Timber Holdings project has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of employment and economic development for the people of Aurukun and Napranum, both in direct and indirect benefits to the local economy,” Mr Entsch said.
“Currently, the bauxite operations on Cape York are clearing around 1,500 hectares of forest clearance a year and that timber is not being utilised.
“With this equipment, Wik Timber Holdings will gather and produce 125,000 tonnes of timber for export and domestic markets.
“As it ramps up, the project will create opportunities to move up to 70 indigenous jobseekers from welfare to work.”
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund allowed the government to collaboratively work with innovative indigenous businesses particularly in remote areas.
“There are too many indigenous entrepreneurs whose business ideas have the potential to transform their communities but they just need a hand with the business assets to do the work, and through this package we are giving indigenous entrepreneurs a fair go,” he said.
“We also know successful indigenous businesses are key to improving employment rates for First Australians.
“An indigenous business is 100 times more likely to employ an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person than a non-Indigenous business.”
This initiative complements the Federal Government’s broader indigenous economic development agenda including our new Indigenous Procurement Policy that has resulted in contracts worth $284.2 million in just its first year.