Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, may no longer be the Government Whip, but he came out swinging on Black Star radio today, rebutting the Queensland State Labour Government’s criticisms of the Commonwealths Indigenous housing policy.
Mr Entsch began by saying that the current National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) is a 10-year shared commitment by the Australian, State and Northern Territory Governments, to address severe overcrowding, homelessness, poor housing conditions and severe housing shortages in remote Indigenous communities. He said the State Government was not talking constructively, that “there is no cut” and “there will be continuing building of houses in remote communities”. “That is a fact.”
He was talking to Black Star breakfast announcer Greg Reid. Listen here:
Warren quick to point out that the current arrangement was a 10 year agreement and still had some time to run. He added that the program had been very successful in giving control to Councils to build the housing that people wanted themselves, employing local staff and contractors rather than the expensive houses built by southern contractors that cost up to $1 million dollars.
He raised the possibility of redirecting housing funds from the $6.7 billion National Housing Fund and directly funding councils to build the houses needed. He claimed this would have long lasting benefits for councils and communities in better-managed construction and administration. There are currently 42 apprentices employed in the Scheme, which has built over 15,000 houses.
Warren was also asked about other infrastructure funding and was able spotlight the “Roads to Recovery program” to assist councils in need of funds to fix roads, culverts and other damage as a result of the wet season. Other developments include the Ranger program and the upgrade of 7 Indigenous Rangers to Inspector level, which gives them powers to confiscate and prosecute offenders breaking the laws surrounding fishing and other illegal activities on country.
Another exciting development is the recent Yarrabah Ferry project. Listen here: