As the decade-long National Partnership on Remote Housing expires on Saturday, South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland are yet to sign any agreements with the Commonwealth on funding for remote Indigenous communities.
The Northern Territory signed a $550 million deal with the Federal Government in April.
Victoria and Tasmania exited in 2014/2015 after the Commonwealth negotiated a buyout agreement as the majority of the remote housing needs were met; leaving South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland to negotiate with the government to secure future funding.
On Tuesday, the West Australian Housing Minister and the West Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister released a joint statement pleading once again with federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.
Their media statement claims the McGowan government is currently committing $86 million a year to support the estimated 12,000 people living in remote communities in WA.
"We need to secure the long-term future of the 165 remote communities in WA that thousands of people call home,” Housing Minister, Peter Tinley said.
Minister Scullion slammed the media release and called it a ‘dummy spit’.
“Based on Ben Wyatt’s and Peter Tinley’s latest dummy spit via media release I am now urgently seeking the WA Labor government’s advice if they are also rejecting $43 million, which I am yet to approve, to complete remaining housing works in Western Australia beyond 30 June, 2018,” he said.
The West Australian Premier Mark McGowan told the state parliament Senator Scullion had threatened to strip Western Australia of the final cash from the old deal “because we dared to stand up for remote Aboriginal people.”
Indigenous mayors get involved
Two weeks ago, a group of Indigenous mayors from across Queensland travelled to Canberra to secure remote housing funding for the state.
"There are a lot of families living in a bedroom, and you can see the health effect, there's always skin disease outbreaks, rheumatic fever has been up on the rise," Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher told AAP.
“The closing the gap policy is focused on health and education, but you're not going to be able to combat that challenge unless you've got a good home to be sleeping in every night," he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in March with the promise of $1.08 billion over 10 years.
The Queensland government allocated $239 million in last week's budget to keep projects running during ongoing negotiations with the Commonwealth, as the 2018 federal budget only allocated money towards remote housing for the Northern Territory.
'Negotiations are continuing'
South Australia has an estimated Indigenous population of 34,190 people.
The Department of Human Services, in charge of remote housing, told NITV News: “The South Australian Premier and Minister for Human Services have met with the Commonwealth Government regarding the National Partnership on Remote Housing and negotiations are continuing”.
In May, Minister Scullion told Senate Estimates that Western Australia and South Australia were close to signing a deal, however, at the National Native Title Conference, Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt denied that claim.
"I'm not entirely sure what's going to be signed because there's been no dialogue with the WA government," Minister Wyatt told NITV News.
"It's frustrating and infuriating, I've been trying now for about a year [to sign a deal] because I knew that this national partnership was ending, and I've been trying to get the Commonwealth engaged and it's just been a brick wall," he said.
In a review of the agreement last year, the federal government estimated 2,750 new properties were needed in the Northern Territory, 1,350 in WA, 1,100 in Queensland and 300 in South Australia by 2028 to address overcrowding.
The review stated the costs of the program should be shared 50:50.