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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Senator Lidia Thorpe’s defection from the Greens changed the power dynamic in the Senate. Now the government needs two crossbenchers (and the Greens) to pass legislation opposed by the Coalition. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie and her colleague Tammy Tyrrell can provide those two votes, which puts them in a potentially strong bargaining position.

Lambie has never been afraid to call things how she see’s them. She recently visited Alice Springs and urged the situation needed some “tough love”.

In this podcast Lambie urges a return to the old Community Development Employment Projects program for Indigenous communities. Under the CDEP people exchanged unemployment benefits for work and training managed by a local Indigenous community organisations. “I don’t know how many of these places I’ve visited in the Indigenous communities over the last nine years where they just so much praise that old jobs program.”

“This is where the Indigenous [people were] taught to build their own communities. [Where] we have young Indigenous kids out there that are getting apprenticeships and therefore they’re staying in their communities and they start looking after their communities.”

Lambie says the government wants to say the Voice is going to make a difference. “Well, here’s the voice of the people for nine years. Start moving on these sort of programs. They work and they work really well. You’re talking about you want to build all these thousands of new Indigenous homes. This is the perfect time to grab the bull by the horns and run with this old CDE program. It needs to be restarted. You get those skill sets and they stay in the communities”.

Lambie is taking a cautious approach to the Voice, with her view to be driven by her Tasmanian constituency.

“I have to say to you, Michelle, no, I don’t [have a view]”, although she has no problem with the wording Anthony Albanese has announced.

Lambie has found this government better to deal with than the Morrison one, and noticed a much improved atmosphere in Canberra.

“Compared to them [the former government] it’s actually been quite delightful. So as long as they stay honest and the trust remains – hopefully that will remain.

You know, towards that last election walking into this building nearly made me feel sick to the stomach. And if there’d been any more people in dark clothes, I would have thought in those last half a dozen sitting weeks I was attending a funeral up here. That is what it was like – it was god awful.”

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Lambie urges return of former employment program for Indigenous communities –