4
Jul 2018

Turnbull Government turning its back on Indigenous housing in Qld

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04 July 2018: KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter was joined at a press conference in Cairns today by Mayor Ross Andrews of the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council and KAP Federal candidate for Leichhardt, Daniel McCarthy to address the frustrating lack of progress from the State and Federal Governments regarding the future of funding for Indigenous housing in Queensland.

The National Partnership on Remote Housing (NPRH) program finished in June 2018 – ending a decade long investment made by the Rudd Government which was dedicated to ‘closing the gap’.

The press conference was called after last week’s negotiations in Canberra that were supposed to result in the Federal Government confirming its commitment to fund future Indigenous housing given the NPRH funding has expired and no money was allocated in May’s Budget.

But the outcome of those negotiations resulted in the Government confirming they would be willing to fund an abysmal 50/50 of the costs to build 387 houses and once complete, no further funding would be allocated.

Mr Katter said the future of housing in Indigenous Queensland was at stake and that the Government was out of touch on the issue of Indigenous housing.
“We’ve been told officially that the funding will go from $370 million down to $320 million from the Federal Government to the State government. And if there are inefficiencies in the State system, which I am sure there are, then there will be even worse inefficiencies in the Federal system.

Under the system where I was Minister, and I was the longest serving Indigenous Minister (I’m told) in the last 40 years, the money went to the council and the councils built the houses. At the present moment it goes from the Feds to the State governments and they build the houses. We found the efficiencies went through the roof when the local councils were given the money.

“With this program, that used local Indigenous labour and skilled workers as well as people on ‘work for the dole’ payments, instead of building about 400 houses as the Federal Government are saying now, with the same amount of money we built 2,000 houses.

“We will continue discussions that look at getting this program back in action. If the Government continues with their $320 million commitment, that means that 200-300 jobs will vanish in Cairns alone. “.

Mr Katter facilitated a ‘last chance to procure funding’ meeting between the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion and Mayor Ross Andrews at the last Parliament sitting. At this meeting it was confirmed that the Federal Government were in discussions with the Queensland Government to work on an appropriate package that would resolve the current housing and homelessness crisis.

Mayor Andrews said that the key to ‘closing the gap’ lies with fixing the housing issue first.
“Without housing in the community it causes a lot of issues around education, family violence, health, child safety and many other social determinants.
“ We have 762 people on the waiting list. We have families that are homeless and we have families that are struggling. We’d estimate 10 to 20 people per house so in a three or four bedroom house, so that’s a big overcrowding issue.

“We would like to see some deal struck between the State and the Commonwealth in terms of pursuing this housing program because while all of the negative social indicators are going up, you can’t close the gap.

“We plead with the State and Federal Government to reinvest back into our communities.”

 

 

Contact Details

Innisfail
P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

Canberra
(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au