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Prime Minister must step in to fix Indigenous housing mess.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH 

Prime Minister must step in to fix Indigenous housing mess 10/06/10

The Prime Minister must immediately intervene and remove Minister Jenny Macklin from any further involvement in the Federal Government’s failed Indigenous housing program.

“Enough is enough,” Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said today.

“Every review or audit of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program has revealed significant maladministration, and the Minister’s continual claims that everything is on budget and on track are false.

“The first concerns were raised less than six months into the program by the Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary Ursula Stephens, but Jenny Macklin dismissed them outright.

“The final straw now comes with yesterday’s release of the Northern Territory Auditor-General’s report, which details serious management problems, including payments made to the Alliance partners that don’t match the Alliance’s invoice.

“This revelation alone demands further investigation. The Government’s claim that all overpayments have been recovered does not preclude possible fraud investigations.

“Jenny Macklin has no credibility left on this issue. On March 17 she said the problems identified had been addressed and the program was back on track. On March 18 she announced that one of the program partners’ contracts had been cancelled.

“Why doesn’t the Minister know what is happening in such a major initiative under her watch? Being oblivious to crucial information about the program should be grounds enough for her immediate removal.

“The series of damning reviews and audits speak for themselves, and sadly, Aboriginal people are still waiting for the houses that were promised by the Prime Minister as part of his apology speech over two years ago.

“Kevin Rudd must immediately step in and appoint a Minister who will take control of this program, because already the houses will not be delivered on time or on budget.”