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Thursday, 20 August 2009
Page: 8552

Mr MORRISON (3:02 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. I refer the minister to her promise of 12 April 2008 to build 750 houses for Indigenous Australians in remote communities in the Northern Territory. Minister, when will one house be built?

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) —I thank the member for his question, as we know just how important it is to deliver housing to Aboriginal people, particularly those in remote parts of Australia. Just to make it very clear, over the last 18 months in the Northern Territory, in fact, 90 houses have been built. But I would also highlight—

Mr Morrison —Not under that program, Jenny.

Ms MACKLIN —The critical issue, of course, is how many houses have been built, and I have just indicated to the member how many have been built. But, that said, I do want to address the critical issue that he raises, because one of the things that this side of the parliament is very—

Mr Morrison —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance.

The SPEAKER —Member for Cook, I have the point of order.

Mr Morrison —No, the minister—

The SPEAKER —No, the member for Cook has raised the point of order.

Mr Morrison —My question related to her statement; she is not referring to her statement. It is a different program.

The SPEAKER —The member for Cook will resume his seat. The member for Cook has raised the question of relevance. The minister is responding to the question.

Ms MACKLIN —Thank you, Mr Speaker. The member does refer to a major program that this government is committed to delivering on. We have announced that 750 new houses will be built in remote parts of the Northern Territory. It is a five-year program. There are 230 rebuilds that will be done. There will be 2,500 refurbishments of houses. This is the largest program of rebuilding and new housing development ever embarked on in the Northern Territory.

It is also part of a major commitment by this government to reform. We understand that the old ways of delivering housing in remote parts of Australia have failed Aboriginal people terribly. What we see in every part of remote Australia is terrible overcrowding, and we know that this has to be addressed. This government has decided that we will invest, over the next 10 years, $5.5 billion in housing for Indigenous people in remote parts of Australia. It is a very large program.

We have also decided that we will make sure that we address some of the failings of the past. We are insisting on major reforms. We are insisting on secure tenure. Leases will be negotiated and agreed before we embark on building houses for Aboriginal people in remote parts of Australia. This has never been done before. We are also insisting on proper tenancy management. We want to make sure that there is a very clear line of sight and responsibility so that it is clear who is responsible in the future for the maintenance of houses that we build. That has never been done before. We are also making sure that rent is paid and that tenants have to look after their homes. This sort of responsible tenancy management has never been clear before. Under this program, it will be.