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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6420

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (11:27 AM) —I have genuine questions to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to do with Aboriginal housing in my electorate of Maranoa. I refer particularly to my letter to you, Minister, back in September 2008. I think I also spoke personally to you about this issue. It is a matter of great concern to me.

I wrote that letter after I had met with some of the Aboriginal elders and people who live in these houses in Cunnamulla. When I met them in August last year, the condition of some of this housing was nothing short of appalling. They had packing cases to replace broken windows. There were broken floorboards. I could describe a situation which none of us in this place could be proud of—we would have to feel a sense of shame. I know that the little children who live in these houses suffer also, as a result of inadequate heating due to the lack of insulation and the consequent incapacity to insulate the house from the weather. I also have a letter from the Acting State Manager of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Mike Fordham, dated June 2008. This identified some of the costs required to deal with the housing issue in Cunnamulla.

I do acknowledge the letter that I had from you, Minister, in response to my letter, outlining that the government—and I welcome this—is making available $60 million to the Queensland Department of Housing for the upgrade of houses owned by the Indigenous community housing organisations. In your letter to me of November last year, Minister, you state that the work of this joint agreement is starting to gather momentum. I know I speak on behalf of the Aboriginal community and of Jo Sheppard and her local council of Paroo Shire in Cunnamulla—and there is a similar situation I could talk about in Charleville with the Bidjara group—when I ask: could you give me some indication as to whether this money is now starting to have an effect in the upgrading of these houses?

This has gone on for too long. I do not want to put the blame on either side of the House. I am genuinely seeking information as to whether the Queensland minister is administering the $60 million which have been made available to Queensland by this government or are we still being caught up in a bureaucracy in Queensland? I do not want to see the Aboriginal families of Cunnamulla and other communities in western Queensland suffer because of some bottleneck or failure to progress the allocation of the $60 million from the federal government.