The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister must immediately explain why an additional $316.7 million needs to be pumped into the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program to meet its targets.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said it was a clear indictment the program’s budget had been in tatters for months, if not years.
“No additional houses or refurbishments have been announced. The Government needs the extra funds to fulfil its initial commitment because the original bucket of money has been frittered away and standards are dropping,” Senator Scullion said.
“From 2008 to 2009, funding was increased from $642m to $672m, most likely to cover the enormous amount of money the Northern Territory Government was spending on consultants.
“In September 2009, NT Minister Rob Knight made the extraordinary admission that the Government had underestimated the state of infrastructure in the Northern Territory, and money would need to be drawn from other sources to pay for essential services.
“This year the Government had to halve the amount builders were spending refurbishing houses from $150,000 to $75,000, and even then could not deliver value for money with many houses failing to meet Territory housing standards.
“Yesterday Minister Macklin announced an extra $316.7 million for the program including $190 million for infrastructure and $126.7 million to pay for construction blow outs, yet it was only two weeks ago that Minister Arbib told the Senate the program was on track.
“Describing the extra funds as necessary to ‘fast track’ progress is a desperate smoke screen designed to hide gross mismanagement, especially as the Government has repeatedly refused to provide details on the program’s budget.”
Eighty-eight of the 750 houses promised (11.7%) have been completed, with two years of the program’s five year lifespan elapsed (40%).
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Minister hides Indigenous housing budget blow out 11.11.10.pdf