Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Senator Nigel Scullion has revealed a $30million 120 bed hostel for Indigenous school students is only 20 per cent full a month into the school year.
“At Senate Estimates I was told 55 students were enrolled at the Weipa Hostel but I found out last Friday that well into the school year there are 24 residents – just 20% capacity,” Senator Scullion said.
“True to Labor’s form of reckless spending, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has played loose with the public purse.
“The Weipa Hostel was originally a 40 bed hostel approved by the Howard Government but by the time Minister Macklin’s plane landed in Cape York it had been transformed into a 120 bed mega- hostel to make a big splash announcement for the then Queensland Labor Government.
“The extra 80 beds were at the expense of Howard’s plan for two other 40 bed hostels planned for the Northern Territory.
“Minister Macklin commissioned a demographic study three months after the announcement to cover her tracks.
“The demographic study, released in June 2008, was very broad and called for a more in depth study, which, not surprisingly with this spend-free Gillard Government, was never done.
“No doubt Minister Macklin will say numbers will build up over time but she can’t argue it should have got off to a better start than this.
“This is certainly not a business-like approach and no way to run a Government.
“The Government bumped Weipa up to 120 beds for purely political reasons to help Qld Labor but it is now virtually empty and also robbed the Northern Territory of funding for hostels that were needed.
“This is another example of Labor’s financial mismanagement and incompetence at wasting taxpayer funds,” Senator Scullion said.
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Media contact: Russel Guse – 0438 685645
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