• A remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. (AAP)Source: AAP
Western Australian government accepts one-off deal but disappointed the Commonwealth intends to walk away from long-term funding support for remote housing.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
10 Dec 2018 - 3:37 PM  UPDATED 10 Dec 2018 - 3:37 PM

Despite signing a multimillion-dollar deal with the Federal Government, the clock continues to tick in remote communities in Western Australia.

On Friday, the WA state government announced they had finally signed a deal with the federal government almost six months after the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing had expired.

The Federal government has offered WA a one-off $121 million deal to help fund remote communities. 

WA's state minister for Housing, Peter Tinley welcomed the news, but said he was still disappointed by the Morrison government. 

“We remain disappointed the Commonwealth still intends to walk away from ongoing long-term funding support for remote housing,” Minister Tinley said in a media statement.

"An ongoing shortfall from the Commonwealth - estimated at approximately $100 million annually - will obviously create difficulties for the State Government.”

Negotiations broke down following an initial offer of $60 million over three years, with the Commonwealth to walk away from any further funding commitment.

Over this year, a public war of words broke out between the WA Housing Minister, Mr Tinley and the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion as the Federal Government repeatedly stated it was up to the West Australian government to look after West Australians.

"Unfortunately it was a bit of a political football. I don't like that ... politicisation of Indigenous politics, if you like. Unfortunately, that's where it did go to,” Minister Tinley said.

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In late November, Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Nigel Scullion said the WA government should have put plans in place as they knew the deal would expire after 10 years.

“It’s a matter for West Australians, and if this government, the West Australian government, has decided that they are not gonna spend a single cent on Aboriginal people, on public housing in remote Western Australia, well that’s a matter for West Australians. But you cannot walk away from citizens because of the basis of their ethnicity or where they live.”

The West Australian government said they will not match the Commonwealth’s funding, stating they have been spending $90 million a year to support housing and essential services in 165 remote communities across the state.

Battle continues 

In June, the decade-long National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing expired in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The only region to sign a deal before the expiration was the Northern Territory which signed a $550-million dollar five-year deal. 

Queensland and South Australia are still negotiating with the Federal Government.

In June, the South Australian government told NITV the Premier and the Minister for Human Services had met in regards to the National Partnership, and the two were negotiating the deal.

Queensland is also negotiating with the Commonwealth, despite a March promise from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to contribute $1.08 billion for the next 10 years.

Mr Scullion previously told NITV News he needed reassurances that the funding was "new money" which would be allocated to the remote regions. 

The West Australian government are hoping to possibly renegotiate next year if Labor wins the federal election.

In the past, the Federal Labor party has indicated that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth government to fund remote housing.

It has been heavily speculated that a federal election will be called for May 2019. 

The Federal Labor party has not made any election promises or campaigns around remote housing.

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