Old hous­ing warn­ings

NT News - - NEWS - CHELSEA HEANEY

INDIGE­NOUS af­fairs en­voy Tony Ab­bott has un­der­taken a stealth mis­sion to get 12 sec­ond-hand RAAF base houses to the Bor­roloola com­mu­nity — some of which may al­ready be over 40 years old.

The NT News un­der­stands that the houses may only be live­able for two to five years and the NT Gov­ern­ment pro­vided feed­back that they were not a suit­able op­tion.

The se­cre­tive process that the fed­eral indige­nous af­fairs en­voy and NT Sen­a­tor Nigel Scul­lion un­der­took in pluck­ing 12 houses from be­side the Stu­art Hwy has come un­der scru­tiny and ques­tions have been raised as to the suit­abil­ity of the homes, most of which were built in the late 1970s and have been sit­ting road­side for over four years. It has also not been con­firmed, de­spite nu­mer­ous ques­tions, as to how this is all be­ing funded.

A spokes­woman for Ter­ri­tory Hous­ing Min­is­ter Gerry McCarthy said nei­ther the Depart­ment of Hous­ing nor the Min­is­ter’s of­fice was aware of plans by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide houses to Bor­roloola.

In­stead, they were made aware of the move on No­vem­ber 6, when a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Depart­ment of Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net and an Aus­tralian Army rep­re­sen­ta­tive met with the Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment to ad­vise them of their plans to de­liver 12 exRAAF houses to the re­mote com­mu­nity ur­gently.

The spokes­woman said the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment had not yet re­leased $14.6 mil­lion com­mit­ted for hous­ing at Bor­roloola ten years ago as part of the Strate­gic Indige­nous Hous­ing In­fra­struc­ture Project. “Dur­ing his time as Trea­surer, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son ap­proved $550 mil­lion over five years for re­mote hous­ing as part of an agree­ment to match the NTG’s $1.1 bil­lion in­vest­ment over ten years,” she said.

“The ques­tion re­gard­ing why the fund­ing hasn’t been signed off on will have to be re­ferred to the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.”

NT Sen­a­tor Malarndirri McCarthy, who grew up in Bor­roloola, said she had been made aware of dis­cus­sion about Mr Ab­bott’s re­turn to her home town and his aim to take 12 houses from Ber­rimah to Bor­roloola.

“If Mr Ab­bott went in on the first oc­ca­sion and was quite hu­mil­i­ated by the peo­ple of Bor­roloola, be­cause they didn’t know he was com­ing, then if they don’t know what he is do­ing now, is he go­ing to have a re­peat per­for­mance?” she said.

Ms McCarthy also chal­lenged the suit­abil­ity of the houses and the plan to move them from Ber­rimah to Bor­roloola.

A spokesman for Indige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Nigel Scul­lion de­nied the homes had been pur­chased.

“It is com­pletely un­true to say that any houses have been pur­chased by the Com­mon­wealth, in­clud­ing for­mer RAAF Houses,” he said.

“The Depart­ment of the Prime Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net is work­ing with the North­ern Land Coun­cil and con­sult­ing with the com­mu­nity to de­ter­mine an ap­pro­pri­ate ap­proach to ad­dress the ur­gent hous­ing need in Bor­roloola.

“Some tem­po­rary de­mount­able build­ings will be used in Bor­roloola to pro­vide in­terim ac­com­mo­da­tion dur­ing the wet sea­son for peo­ple cur­rently with­out a house.”

The Ter­ri­tory Hous­ing Min­is­ter Gerry McCarthy’s spokes­woman said the NT Gov­ern­ment al­ready had plans to build 38 new houses across four town camps in Bor­roloola.

“Plan­ning for the ad­di­tional and re­place­ment homes is un­der­way with con­struc­tion ten­ders ex­pected to be re­leased next month,” she said.

Mr Ab­bott’s of­fice was con­tacted for com­ment.

It is un­der­stood ini­tial site work for the 12 houses is ex­pected to start to­day.

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