Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport The Honourable Mick de Brenni
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui has called on federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to come to Far North Queensland and see for himself the positive impacts of remote housing funding in Indigenous communities.
Announcing several new contracts to boost housing, health and jobs, Ms Lui said Mr Scullion could not morally walk away from such a visit and push forward with his plans to axe Commonwealth support.
“Come and hear how the National Partnership on Remote Housing has delivered real results for our remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” said Ms Lui.
“Come and talk about how cutting this funding will have severe consequences as work opportunities simply vanish in these communities.”
In Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander local governments deliver over 80 per cent of all housing construction projects in their local communities, including those funded by the soon-to-expire partnership agreement.
Ms Lui said Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) has been awarded contracts to build one six-bedroom home with two bathrooms as well as one three-bedroom and one two-bedroom home, each with one bathroom and two toilets, on Masig Island.
She said TSIRC has also been awarded contracts to upgrade 10 additional social homes on Warraber, Sabai, Mer, Moa, Mabuiag, Dauan, Erub and Badu islands.
“There are 100 local people, including 17 apprentices, currently employed by Torres Strait Island Regional Council to deliver housing improvements funded through the NPRH,” said Ms Lui.
“These jobs are at risk if this funding is cut.”
Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale Aboriginal shire councils – where a total of 97 jobs are funded through NPRH, including 34 apprentices – have won contracts to upgrade a further six homes.
“These projects will support the jobs of local carpenters, tilers, electricians, plumbers, painters, labourers and apprentices, and while that is great news for Far North Queensland, you really have to feel for the tradespeople in these communities who face an uncertain future,” said Ms Lui.
“Mr Scullion needs to come and see for himself how his cuts will wipe away a decade of success in Queensland’s remote regions,” she said.
“He needs to listen to all the expert advice that this funding should continue.”
Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said that since 2008, Queensland has delivered almost 1,150 homes through the National Partnership on Remote Housing, as well as almost 1,500 refurbishments and ongoing minor works and repairs for almost 4,300 houses.
“The federal government’s own Remote Housing Review ( https://www.pmc.gov.au/resource-centre/indigenous-affairs/remote-housing-review ) – released late last year – calls for the Commonwealth to continue funding for remote indigenous housing,” said Mr de Brenni.
“It acknowledges Queensland’s strong performance in remote housing over the past decade and identifies a need to build a further 1100 new homes over the next 10 years,” he said.
“Mr Scullion has a responsibility to close the gap for Australians living in isolated and remote communities.
“These cuts mean the gap won't be closing - it’s about to get wider.”
Media contact: Cat Milton 0410 644 113