Renovations under the Government’s Northern Territory Aboriginal housing program are now limited to new bathrooms and kitchens instead of proper refurbishments, according to evidence provided by departmental officials at Senate Estimates.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said renovations were initially scaled back to urgent ‘make safe’ work only, with the Government promising to complete the renovation at a later date.
“We know that standards were reduced to make the limited remaining program budget stretch as far as possible, but it is unheard of that a new bathroom and kitchen would cost the allocated $75,000 per house,” Senator Scullion said.
“If the Government is cutting costs on each house so that maintenance or make safe work can be carried out on more houses than the proposed 2,500, then that may be acceptable. Unfortunately there are no plans to fix up more houses, so we are left wondering: ‘Where has all the money gone?’
“SIHIP had a budget of $672 million to build 750 new houses, completely rebuild 230 houses and renovate a further 2,500.
“This Government has wasted millions of dollars and is now compromising Aboriginal housing standards to avoid asking for more money. The program is not on track and the finances are not transparent.
“Two years into the five-year program, just over 10% of the promised number of houses have been built, and less than a quarter of the renovations have been completed. Rebuilds have been lumped together with renovations to obscure how much money is being spent.
“Australians deserve to know where the money has gone and how much is left to build and refurbish the promised houses.”
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Indigenous housing standards in decline 26.10.10.pdf