Remote Indigenous housing progress
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SABRA LANE: How would you describe the state of Aboriginal housing in Australia right now?
JENNY MACKLIN: There’s a huge backlog in need for Aboriginal housing. We know that there’s still significant levels of overcrowding, an enormous amount of work still to be done.
Nevertheless, I am pleased that most of the states and territories have met the targets that we set to build new houses and very importantly to upgrade existing houses and those targets will mean improved housing for many Aboriginal families in remote Australia.
SABRA LANE: As you’ve mentioned you’ve rewarded states who’ve exceeded their housing targets. You’ve given Western Australia $4 million extra for building three additional houses above its target. Some Australian’s would be scratching their heads and trying to figure out how is that fair?
JENNY MACKLIN: We wanted to make very clear at the end of last year that each of the states and the Northern Territory had an obligation to meet the targets that we set, to build the houses that they were committed to build.
We were far behind as many people know, and it was because of the renegotiation of this agreement last that we saw a renewed sense of drive and urgency from the states and the Northern Territory.
SABRA LANE: Minister you’ve penalised other states too. Queensland and South Australia have been penalised $4 million jointly for not meeting their targets. Can you guarantee that Aboriginal people won’t also be penalised because of this?
JENNY MACKLIN: Yes we have made sure that this money that is coming out of some states and going to Western Australia is coming out of employment related accommodation, hostel type accommodation, that it won’t come out of individual houses because we do understand that Aboriginal people shouldn’t be penalised in any way for the inability of particular states to meet their targets.
SABRA LANE: On refurbishments the Opposition’s spokesman on this issue, Nigel Scullion, says your figures show that 344 refurbishments in the Northern Territory were completed by the end of June, yet he says a parliamentary hearing in early June said that these refurbishments were simply a fix and make safe job not true refurbishments?
JENNY MACKLIN: The Opposition should hang their head in shame with the appalling back log in housing need in remote Australia.
What Mr Abbott should do is recognise that we now have met the targets and in the case of refurbishments, delivered kitchens and bathrooms and laundries that have been desperately needed for Aboriginal people in remote Australia.
These changes and these improvements were not delivered by a Liberal government. They’ve been delivered because we’ve been determined to put unprecedented investment into Indigenous housing in remote areas and also then to really keep the pressure on to make sure that houses and upgrades were delivered.
SABRA LANE: Jenny Macklin you’re Minister now, how many Indigenous families are without a decent home today?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well there are still many, many Indigenous people who need improved housing, that’s why this is a ten year program, a ten year program that we’re determined to deliver on.
SABRA LANE: Minister are you able to quantify it? How many Indigenous families are without a decent home?
JENNY MACKLIN: Well we know that we’ve got thousands more houses to build, so we know we’ve got a big task in front of us. We know there’s a huge housing back log.