Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

NT response – Underwhelming and poses more questions than it answers

Federal Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today said the NT Response to the Little Children are Sacred Report left a number of unanswered questions.

Mr Brough said the quantum of funding was not a lot over five years compared to the resources the NT gets for Indigenous people and compared to the Commonwealth response to the Emergency.

"It might simply be a start on the solution rather than the whole commitment. I need to see the detail of the NT’s response and their commitment to filling a number of notable holes before I could finalise my judgement."

"There is only a commitment for 16 extra community police over five years, which begs the questions as to what commitment the NT is giving to the ongoing law and order needs of the 73 communities affected – both now and beyond the Emergency."

"The Commonwealth will look at options to supplement police capacity while the NT capacity grows, but there appears to be a significant law and order capacity gap in this announcement. We need to know how the NT proposes to contribute to the ongoing safety of the children in these remote communities."

"I also need to see the NT Government commitment to real housing reform. It is one thing to premise your response on the $1.6 billion remote area funding the Australian Government has on the table. However, there is a real void in the housing and economic development aspects of today’s announcement, with no mention of 99 year leasing – which was the NT Government’s idea in the first place."

Mr Brough said that he felt the miserly commitment to education was not consistent with Clare Martin’s lecturing about longer term plans and her undertaking to ensure that schools were properly resourced.

"A mere 26 extra teachers and 15 classrooms would seem to cater for 300-400 students. Given Clare Martin’s admission that there are some 2,000 kids not even enrolled – never mind the massive number not attending – there appears to be a substantial capacity commitment still outstanding."

"I also wonder what they think $ 0.5 million over five years is going to do for rehabilitation and what additional commitments they intend to make."

"Again, the Howard Government put real money on the table here, but is Clare Martin vacating this vital area of need, just as she is on the need to make a commitment to implementing her own alcohol management plans?"

"I am underwhelmed by what was promised to be a big bang, long term commitment. It seems underdone given the magnitude of the problem the Report uncovered."

"It is hardly a long term commitment to the safety of children – in fact, like the Report it is light-on with regard to the immediate safety needs of the current generation of children."

"If this is just a first instalment – then it might be reasonable, but if that’s the extent of the commitment its inadequate and it begs as many questions as it answers, " Mr Brough said.