Recently, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was asked about the future of funding for remote housing in WA. The Prime Minister suggested that housing was a State responsibility and that the agreement had been for a couple of years and that it had now ended.
Also, noting that he was committed to a new GST deal for WA, and that that should provide the solution.
His answer was wrong on several levels. The interviewer also asked about a letter the WA Premier had written to the Prime Minister on this matter and the Prime Minister noted that ‘we are looking at it.’
Shelter WA CEO, Michelle Mackenzie noted that the facts are quite different:
Firstly, the Commonwealth has been the major funder of social/public housing generally and Indigenous housing in particular since 1972. This area of social policy has been a joint Commonwealth/State responsibility for almost fifty years.
Secondly, there is a series of long-standing agreement about the joint responsibility between the States and Commonwealth when it comes to housing, with the Commonwealth being the primary funder and the State being the provider and manager of social housing. This was articulated in the ‘Commonwealth State Housing Agreement’, the ‘National Affordable Housing Agreement’ and now in the new ‘National Housing and Homelessness Agreement’, with the Commonwealth continuing to commit significant dollars to housing across Australia.
Source: Facebook/Scott Morrison (ScoMo)
Thirdly, the Indigenous funding program that ended at June 30th was a ten year agreement, initially called the ‘National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing’. A Commonwealth funded review of that Agreement and what it had achieved was released in October 2017. The report stressed that “More needs to be done to meet future demand and to protect the existing housing stock”.
The Commonwealth’s review’s two leading recommendations were that:
• A recurrent program must be funded to maintain existing houses, preserve functionality and increase the life of housing assets; and
• Investment for an additional 5,500 houses by 2028 is needed to continue efforts on Closing the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage.
Safe, and secure housing is fundamental to the wellbeing of all Australians, and is a key element of the Commonwealth Government’s priority of Closing the Gap on the significant disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often face in terms of health, education and employment.
“We note that the Prime Minister said he is considering the WA government’s proposal. Shelter WA calls on the Commonwealth and State governments to have meaningful negotiations on this critical matter and come to an agreement that delivers housing which is fundamental to the well-being of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in WA.” said Ms Mackenzie.
Media Contact – Michelle Mackenzie, CEO of Shelter WA, 0419 931 819.