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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Mick de Brenni

    Queensland demands Commonwealth commit to Closing the Gap

    Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Mick de Brenni

    Monday, February 05, 2018

    Queensland demands Commonwealth commit to Closing the Gap

    The Palaszczuk Government has again called on the Federal Government to provide certainty to Queensland’s remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, following a meeting of Mayors, the Local Government Association of Queensland and Q Shelter this week.

    Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said providing housing was a critical input toward Closing the Gap, and called on the Federal Government to commit to fair funding for Queensland with a further 10 year funding agreement at current levels.

    “You can’t start to tackle issues like poor education or poor health comes if you don’t have a roof over your head,” Mr de Brenni said.

    “The National Partnership on Remote Housing has tackled issues like overcrowding, and has provided jobs for over 2,500 people in remote communities.

    “This is really about Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage in Australia.”

    Mr de Brenni said that while Queensland had made great progress in reducing overcrowding, another 1,100 homes were needed to deal with health issues related to overcrowding like respiratory infections, heart disease, and skin conditions including scabies.

    “The Commonwealth decision to stop funding this program will mean that diseases like rheumatic fever will take over again in those communities,” Mr de Brenni said.

    “That’s going to have a devastating impact on health outcomes in those communities - and these diseases particularly target children and older Queenslanders.”

    Mr de Brenni said that if the Commonwealth fails to commit to a further funding agreement, as many as 850 jobs will be lost in remote communities, with flow on effects to regional urban centres through loss of building supply business.

    “Over 80% of the construction done under this agreement is done by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers,” Mr de Brenni said.

    “I’ve been out in communities like Hope Vale and Aurukun, and I’ve met the young men and women who’ve achieved apprenticeships and gone on to start their own enterprises.

    “Stopping this work now will have a devastating impact on employment in remote communities.

    “It makes no sense for the Prime Minister not to restore this funding, so that those people don’t lose their jobs.”

    Mr de Brenni reiterated his call for a new 10 year agreement at the current funding level in real terms.

    “We want to see from the Federal Government a continuation of the state and national commitment to Closing the Gap,” Mr de Brenni said.

    “We want to see the Federal Government continue to support jobs in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

    “We want to see the Federal Government not turn its back on thousands of people - young people, old people, people looking for work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

    “We want to see a 10 year commitment for real funding to continue this program.

    “In 2017, the Prime Minister recommitted his government to Closing the Gap in remote communities, but today we see the Federal Government turning its back on those communities.

    “I think all Queenslanders, and all Australians expect our government to do everything possible to ensure that all Australians get a fair go.”

    ENDS

    Audio: http://bit.ly/2s4kE9n

    Media contact: Cat Milton 0410 644 113