Reports of an investigation into the unsafe disposal of asbestos are yet another sign that corners are being cut in the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) despite hefty salaries and administration fees paid to alliance partners.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said alliances employ a swathe of managers and supervisors to ensure the program’s standards are met and correct procedures are followed.
“They are happy to take a large slice of the program’s budget yet continue to cut corners. This latest example, where contractors were dumping asbestos at the local tip in Maningrida, places the lives of community members directly at risk,” Senator Scullion said.
“The Federal Government is eager to defend the exorbitant price tag attached to alliance administration and salaries, but it has no idea about the standard of work being delivered or the risks to locals.
“Two senior Territory Alliance employees were sacked, but what about the government inspectors responsible? The Northern Territory Government receives more than $53 million to administer SIHIP, which includes employing quality assurance inspectors.
“First we saw houses being handed over in Ali Curung with no windows, then sewage backing up in a ‘new’ house in Wadeye. The Government said it had fixed the problem by employing more inspectors.
“Creating a bigger bureaucracy around SIHIP has simply compounded the waste and mismanagement that has characterised this program, especially given that millions have been spent on proper management and yet asbestos is simply dumped at the local tip.
“Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin must finally admit that the program has been rorted from day one, and take immediate action to ensure communities get the promised number and quality of houses within the original budget.”
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More corners cut in Aboriginal housing program 25.1.11.pdf