Turnbull must reverse $245 million cut to indigenous housing

Published Thursday, 21 December, 2017 at 02:43 PM

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

The Palaszczuk Government has warned the Turnbull government’s $245 million cuts to remote indigenous housing funding will create a housing crisis in remote Queensland. 

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the Turnbull government’s withdrawal from indigenous housing funding would worsen rates of overcrowding and homelessness in remote communities, and widen the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

“It’s a long way from Point Piper to Pormpuraaw, but Malcolm Turnbull has a responsibility to Australians living in these remote communities – it’s completely unacceptable for him to turn his back like this,” Mr de Brenni said.

“The Commonwealth Government has previously acknowledged that they have a responsibility to close the gap, but despite its own research confirming that housing outcomes are central to achieving improved outcomes for our First Australians, they’ve withdrawn their support from a program which is vital to housing security in remote communities.

“The Prime Minister is pulling up stumps on housing in remote communities, which will cost jobs and ultimately cost lives.

“Despite pledging to work with our First Australians to close the gap, and despite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mayors saying that housing construction is the primary issue for their communities, the Federal Government is putting both housing outcomes and local jobs in these communities at risk.”

Mr de Brenni said the impact of these funding cuts would be felt right across Far North Queensland, not just in remote communities.

“Overcrowding is already a significant issue in our remote communities, and without continued housing construction the only possible outcome is higher rates of homelessness, for young people especially as they’re pushed out onto the street,” Mr de Brenni said.

“The outlook will be grim – poorer health outcomes, children’s safety will be compromised, and youth offending is likely to increase.

“If young people can’t find somewhere safe, secure and affordable to live in community, they’ll have no other option but to move to larger cities like Cairns and Townsville, away from their support networks and connections to family and culture.

“The Federal Government’s decision to terminate all funding for housing in remote indigenous communities demonstrates the clear contempt the Federal Government has for Far North Queensland. Turnbull must reverse this terrible decision.”

Mr de Brenni said housing construction was critical to closing the gap in remote communities, and significant efforts had been made to ensure communities get the maximum benefit possible from new housing construction.

“Over 70% of new construction is now delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Councils, which means local jobs and skills development that will lead to long term employment outcomes,” Mr de Brenni said.

“The Palaszczuk Government has committed to reducing delivery time frames for remote housing by four months.

“If construction stops because the Federal Government refuses to commit further funding, young workers will have their apprenticeships disappear just one or two years in.

“The result will be a housing shortage, a skills shortage, and a jobs shortage – a shameful legacy to leave Far North Queensland.”


Media contact: Cat Milton 0410 644 113