Today’s release of an independent evaluation of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) shows the intervention measures were both needed and welcome by Aboriginal communities, The Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion said.
Senator Scullion said the Community Safety and Wellbeing Research Study also released today found a majority of the people interviewed in the NT remote communities agreed that their lives were better since the commencement of the NTER, which included more police, income management and alcohol and pornography bans.
“It has taken this inept Labor Government four years to realise the Coalition’s suite of programs implemented have actually worked,” said Senator Scullion.
“Now after a plethora of reports including the three reports released today, as well as the Stronger Futures report, the fourth six-monthly Coordinator-General for Remote Indigenous Services report, Labor finally appear to have got the message,” Senator Scullion said.
“That message is that Labor’s only success has come from leaving these initiatives in place.
“The one main criticism was a lack of consultation – we admit we could and should have consulted better but communities and individuals have benefited from our immediate response to the Little Children are Sacred report.
“The main negative issues identified in the NTER evaluation were housing, with Labor’s failed SIHIP program, and community disempowerment as a result of the NT Labor Government’s Shire reforms.
“The ANAO report released today on Indigenous housing, SIHIP, also delivers a poor report card on Labor’s performance.
“The SIHIP program is out of control and mismanaged with no transparency in expenditure, and fears money is being wasted on housing that often fails to meet the minimum public housing standards.
“Renovations have become fix-and-make-safe, simply to save money, instead of complete renovations that meet minimum housing standards,” Senator Scullion said.
“Further cost blow-outs are predicted and the government has no plan to rein it in except to further slash the standard of renovations that can only result in fewer houses meeting the minimum standards.
“It is farcical and an embarrassment that the government claims to have met their SIHIP targets.
“The original announcement in April 2008 claimed that the investment was for four years and that it would be completed by 2011.
The Ministers own media release of 12 April 2008 stated: The Australian Government’s contribution of $547 million is part of a larger $813 million commitment by the Australian Government to Indigenous housing and infrastructure services in the Northern Territory to 2011.
“We are now near the end of 2011 yet less than 50% of the houses have been delivered.
“Targets are only being met because the government has continually lowered the bar on what is acceptable, said Senator Scullion.
“This week I highlighted the appalling situation in Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island where up to 200 people, made up of families and children, are living in tents for six months waiting on house refurbishments through SIHIP.
“According to Labor’s spin, SIHIP is a program that is meeting or exceeding its targets. People living in tents while the program runs over time and over budget, is the reality.
Senator Scullion also noted that the Basics Card has been identified as the third most popular measure in the intervention, showing it was a key ingredient despite heavy criticism from some quarters.
“It is time the inner-city academics, who think they know, to stop opposing this and other measures in place in remote communities in the NT and start supporting people who live in these communities and welcome the support that they are receiving.
“There are still problems in remote communities that need urgent attention. Illegal drugs, mainly Marijuana, are a growing problem, but just like alcohol, this too can be tackled if the government has the will.
“I welcome the reports released today and urge the government to stop patting themselves on the back for the achievements of the policies of previous governments and start tackling the remaining issues that are confronting Aboriginal people living in remote NT communities,” Senator Scullion said.
Download media release:
NTER evaluation report shows methods work – time for action.pdf