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

    Morrison is failing leadership test on Indigenous housing

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

    Thursday, February 14, 2019

    Morrison is failing leadership test on Indigenous housing

    Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni has urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show leadership over housing for remote Indigenous communities in Queensland.

    Mr de Brenni said the Commonwealth’s poor performance in the latest Closing the Gap review highlighted the urgency for Indigenous Affairs to be returned to the responsibility of the Prime Minister. 

    “The Coalition’s current Minister, Senator Nigel Scullion, has declared he has no interest in remaining in politics, so Scott Morrison must now step in and take responsibility for the mess he created by the historic withdrawal of funding for housing in remote communities,” said Mr de Brenni.

    “The Prime Minister has not said or done a single thing to help alleviate the devastating impacts of overcrowding in remote Queensland communities and its effect on health, education and employment,” he said. 

    “If Morrison fails in this – a test of genuine leadership – it will see him not only be one of our shortest serving Prime Ministers, but also one of the most forgettable.”

    Mr de Brenni said Morrison’s chance to show he is a leader for all Australians, including first Australians, was right now. 

    “It simply can’t wait until after Mr Scullion walks away from his job at the next election,” he said.

    “Rheumatic fever, caused by overcrowding in remote communities, for instance, is rising at an alarming rate – this disease kills people.

    “Mr Morrison has a moral responsibility to do the right thing here.”

    Mr de Brenni, who has long fought for continued joint-funding for remote housing, noted Queensland has already committed more than $1.08 billion over 10 years to address housing shortages and overcrowding.

    “Mr Scullion challenged us to put that money on the table and said he would match it … but he reneged,” said Mr de Brenni.

    “Mr Morrison – when he was Treasurer – stood by while Nigel Scullion turned his back on Indigenous Queenslanders and now that he’s Prime Minister, he simply can’t ignore it any longer,” he said.

    “There is overwhelming expert advice for joint federal-state funding for remote housing to address serious issues such as overcrowding and its devastating impact on indigenous health.

    “The federal government’s own Remote Housing Review says it. The Closing the Gap review says it. In fact, there are volumes and volumes of research and reports that say it too.

    “Yet the Morrison government simply isn’t listening – they are not listening to the experts in Indigenous health and housing, they are not listening to the concerns of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders … they are not even listening to their own panel of experts.”

    Mr de Brenni said the Commonwealth Infrastructure Priority List, released today, further demonstrated how Queensland has been ‘dudded’ by the Morrison government.

    “The list is an admission that the Commonwealth decision to withdraw funding from Indigenous housing was a bad decision,” he said.

    “The Palaszczuk Government is continuing to set new benchmarks for the quality of housing in remote Queensland communities.

    “Queensland has not just met but exceeded all the delivery targets set by the federal government.

    “But if we want to truly Close the Gap, there’s so much more to be done to reduce overcrowding and address the disparity in health, education, and employment incomes in these communities.

    “Our commitment to Indigenous housing is a key plank of the $1.8 billion Queensland Housing Strategy, which saw 165 new social rental housing homes built in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in 2017-18, with another 238 scheduled for completion in 2018-19.

    “We have also recently appointed respected human rights advocate Mick Gooda to the role of First Nations Advisor to help improve housing outcomes for Queenslanders in remote communities. 

    “Additionally, the Palaszczuk Government has also committed a further $40 million to maintain remote housing construction and jobs through 2019.

    “Queensland is doing its part – it’s a pity Mr Morrison and his Coalition cronies can’t see fit to do theirs.”

    ENDS

    January 2018

    Media contact:  Shane Watson – 0400 859 356