page contents Verification: 9ffcbb9dc8386bf9 Western Australia signs $122m deal with Canberra for remote housing – News Vire
Home / News Articles / Western Australia signs $122m deal with Canberra for remote housing

Western Australia signs $122m deal with Canberra for remote housing

Western Australia has signed a $122m deal with the federal government to fund housing in remote communities.

The deal comes after the state spent $270,000 on attack ads aimed at ministers in Canberra, with the state housing minister, Peter Tinley, accusing the Coalition of abandoning remote Indigenous people, and admitting that the fight saw Indigenous people used as a “political football”.

The one-off payment is intended to last two years and cover the gap left by the end of the 10-year National Partnership on Remote Housing, which expired in July.

It is more than double the federal government’s original offer of $60m over three years, which was to be matched by the state.

The Northern Territory signed a deal in April accepting $550m for remote housing, which was to be matched by the territory government. Negotiations with South Australia and Queensland are ongoing.

WA will not match the funding, arguing that it already covers its fair share by spending $90m a year on housing in remote communities.

Speaking to reporters in Perth on Thursday, Tinley said the agreement was the “least worst outcome” and would allow work to continue in WA’s 10 priority remote communities, which have been earmarked as most in need of new housing and infrastructure.

Most of those priority communities are in the Kimberley: Ardyaloon, also known as Bardi or One Arm Point; Bayulu; Beagle Bay; Bidyadanga; Djarindjin; Lombardina; Mowanjum; and Warmun. The Pilbara communities of Wakathuni, near Tom Price, and Yandeyarra, a suburb of Port Hedland, are also on the list.

Tinley said the funding debate had become an “ideological fight” and that there was “night and day between the Liberal National ideology and the Labor ideology” on supporting remote communities.

“Unfortunately it was a bit of a political football,” he said. “I don’t like the politicisation of Indigenous politics, I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone. Unfortunately that’s where it did go to, but I don’t resile from the fact that I will always have the fight.”

Tilney excused the federal Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, from blame, despite WA Aboriginal Affairs minister Ben Wyatt previously saying Scullion was “unsuitable” to resolve the dispute.

“The Liberal National government in Canberra have an ideological position that they do not want to support remote communities in this way,” he said. “I personally don’t think that’s Nigel Scullion’s view. He has a deep commitment to Aboriginal people. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the horsepower in cabinet to do that.”

He said the funding would not have been secured had the state not launched a public campaign demanding more money.

“We spent $270,000 on an ad campaign to produce a $121m return,” he said. When you think about the original offer of $20m a year over three years … I think it’s a fairly good spend of taxpayer money to ensure we get something approximating a fair share from the federal government.”

Shelter WA chief executive, Michelle McKenzie, said the funding would provide welcome short-term relief but could not replace a longer-term funding agreement, which Tinley indicated WA would attempt to negotiate if Labor won the 2019 federal election.

McKenzie said that funding remote community housing had been an accepted federal responsibility for decades, and that providing funding through the broader National Housing and Homelessness Agreement was not sufficient.

“There has always been an understanding around the unique circumstances of housing for remote communities,” she said.

McKenzie, who lived in the extremely remote community of Balgo in the Tanami desert from 1989-1991, said that most Australians would be shocked at the housing conditions that were considered acceptable.

“Even in towns, the housing is pretty bad, let alone in remote communities,” she told Guardian Australia. “I don’t think many Australians understand how bad the condition of the housing is. And it is not because of how Aboriginal people live in those homes, it’s because of the lack of support that is leading to suboptimal accommodation.”

About newsvire

Check Also

Seven dead in high-speed train crash in Turkey – video report

Seven dead in high-speed train crash in Turkey – video report

A high-speed train hit a railway engine and crashed into a pedestrian overpass at a …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *