Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Federal Court decision on Alice Springs town camps

Joint Media Release with:

  • Paul Henderson MLA, NT Chief Minister
    Karl Hampton MLA, NT Minister for Central Australia
    Warren Snowdon MP, Member for Lingiari

The Australian and Northern Territory Governments are very pleased with the Federal Court’s decision today on the Alice Springs town camps.

This opens the way for a $100 million investment in housing and infrastructure to transform the Alice Springs town camps.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said the living conditions in the town camps are appalling.

‘Acute overcrowding and sub-standard housing combined with alcohol abuse, despair and hopelessness mean the basic human right – to a safe and healthy life – is denied to many residents,’ Ms Macklin said.

‘The Federal Court judgement confirms that Tangentyere Council and the 16 Housing Associations acted within the law in executing leases to allow the construction of new housing and improved tenancy management.

‘The judgement also states that the Government acted properly in informing town camp residents about the details and consequences of possible compulsory acquisition.

‘The judgement outlines the extent of the Australian Government’s efforts to consult extensively with town camp residents. We are committed to genuine consultation with Indigenous people, and the court recognised this.’

Justice Mansfield notes in his judgement:

‘Indeed, it is difficult to see what more the Minister might have done.’

‘The information provided by the Minister was sufficient to satisfy whatever reasonable expectations there were. The opportunity was given to any resident to understand, to the extent that resident required, the consequences of the proposed decision.’ [Paragraph 186 and 188]

Chief Minister Paul Henderson said living conditions in the town camps were unacceptable.

‘We are determined to work with the Australian Government to improve the lives of people in the town camps and provide a safer environment, especially for children and families,’ Mr Henderson said.

Under the Alice Springs Transformation Plan, $100 million will be spent in the town camps, with the construction of 85 new houses, essential infrastructure and significant rebuilds and refurbishments of existing houses in poor condition.

Work is also proceeding on the $50 million commitment to establish new and expanded services and other accommodation facilities, including managed accommodation in Alice Springs.

Justice Mansfield’s orders mean that the injunctions will be lifted from 10am on 3 December 2009.

Once the injunctions are lifted, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments will be able to start work on the initial clean up of town camps and extensive surveying and planning for the civil works program.