Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Major Howard Government investment in Alice Springs Indigenous Accommodation

The Howard Government announced today it would significantly increase its financial investment in Alice Springs to sort out town camps.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, said the original Australian Government commitment of $20 million announced last year would be increased by up to a further $50 million to provide for a significant upgrade of town camps.

"The funding announced last year included $10 million to be used to establish two short-term visitor accommodation centres, following approval by the Northern Territory Government of two sites," Mr Brough said.

"This is for a massive investment by the Howard Government in Alice Springs.

"It is excellent news for Indigenous people needing short term accommodation in Alice Springs and for locals who have had to put up with a totally unsatisfactory situation with town camps for far too long.

"The Chief Minister sought my assistance in tackling the problems with town camps in Alice Springs and this is what we’re doing with up to a $70 million commitment from the Australian Government.

"The funds to convert towns camps into normal suburbs will be provided to the NT Government through a performance based agreement linked to achievement of specific milestones. The work will need to commence within 3 months.

"The two short-term visitor accommodation sites will meet an urgent need for short term accommodation in Alice Springs, relieving pressure on town camps so that they can be upgraded to an appropriate suburban standard," Mr Brough said.

"These two sites will be good quality facilities offering supervised accommodation for temporary visitors on a user-pays basis. They will be screened and landscaped and alcohol free."

The Minister said the bulk of the funding would be used to upgrade existing town camps, to make them like normal suburbs – just like any other in Alice Springs.

"The upgrades to the town camps will not be second-rate. Normal town standards will apply and they will operate under normal local government arrangements," Mr Brough said.

"The current holders of the individual town camp leases, in consultation with the Tangentyere Council and the NT Government, will have to agree on relinquishing those leases back to the NT Government to ensure appropriate land tenure arrangements are in place before Commonwealth money is invested in these locations.

"I want these people to have the opportunity to buy their houses if they choose, like most Australians can.

"Much of the design work for the upgrading of the town camps and visitor accommodation has already been done and I expect work will commence soon.

"I welcome the co-operation of the NT Government, Alice Springs Council, Tangentyere Council and Lhere Artepe people and look forward to working together to improve significantly the situation in Alice Springs – for all residents, including temporary visitors."