During his two-day tour of the outback Northern Territory town, the prime minister declared that the lack of housing was the “biggest single issue that has been described in every encounter” with locals.
However, opposition frontbenchers said Mr Turnbull has shown an “appalling lack of leadership” for setting aside no money for remote housing in three states.
Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia each had 10-year remote housing funding agreements that expired in June.
Communities in those states face an uncertain future after money for the program was effectively cut from the federal budget.
In a joint statement with Senator Doug Cameron, Mr Dodson described the cuts as “savage” and said it was time for the PM to “get serious” on remote housing.
“Mr Turnbull said he has been ‘inspired’ by his visit to Tennant Creek,” Mr Dodson said.
“Labor now calls on the PM to turn his newfound inspiration into action and use this opportunity to get serious about addressing homelessness and overcrowding among remote Indigenous communities.”
Mr Dodson said the program was effective in reducing overcrowding and supported many Indigenous jobs in remote communities.
“Instead of walking away from programs that work – the Turnbull government should be working with Indigenous communities to ensure services are delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible,” the senator said.
In a statement on budget night, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said “negotiations are ongoing” with Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.
The prime minister also proposed a regional deal for Tennant Creek which would see federal, territory and local government co-ordinate services such as housing.
But Greens leader Richard Di Natale has described the prime minister’s trip to Tennant Creek as a “photo opportunity” that doesn’t indicate any real action will occur.
"What does that [regional] plan look like, if it is not backed up with genuine resources and is not owned or controlled by Aboriginal people in that area themselves?” he said.
"They are the building blocks for meaningful change and if you haven't got those things in place you are not going to achieve anything.
"To rock up for a day or two, if it is backed up with a plan is a good thing but if it is really just to give the appearance of showing you are interested in the problem it achieves nothing."