- Federal Government's decision will create a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars
- States demand Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister reverse decision
- McGowan Government calls on Federal WA Ministers, Julie Bishop, Christian Porter, Mathias Cormann and Michaelia Cash to exert influence in Turnbull Cabinet
The Federal Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has turned its back on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing (NPARH) - leaving Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland facing a funding shortfall totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.
The pre-Christmas decision of Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion leaves some of Australia's most vulnerable communities with dramatically reduced funding for housing and other essential services - creating an increased risk of marginalisation.
Notably, the decision flies in the face of the Commonwealth's own review into remote housing and directly contravenes the 'Closing the Gap' report which clearly states that safe and appropriate housing is fundamental to achieving the COAG targets.
The Commonwealth had previously committed $776 million over two years to the NPARH but will now only fund the Northern Territory component of the agreement. Mr Scullion is a NT Senator.
Housing Minister Peter Tinley has demanded senior figures in the Turnbull Cabinet from WA - notably Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt, as well as WA's Nationals Party, stand up for their State and get the decision reversed.
The original 10-year NPARH, brokered by the Federal Labor Rudd government, has seen an average annual Federal Government contribution of about $100 million to WA.
A recent expert panel review commissioned by the Federal Government acknowledged the Federal Government had an ongoing role as a key funding partner with the States and Territory for housing in remote communities.
Comments attributed to Housing Minister Peter Tinley:
"This latest decision, especially the way the Turnbull Government has tried to sneak it through during the festive season, is absolutely appalling and demonstrates its lack of concern for indigenous Australia.
"The Commonwealth has a responsibility to support Australians living in isolated and remote areas. They cannot just walk away from this duty of care.
"This situation is yet another test for those Western Australian MPs with senior positions in the Turnbull Cabinet who are habitually missing in action when it comes to protecting the interests of WA.
"Further, all Western Australian Nationals MPs, both State and Federal, need to stand up for regional WA and send a clear message to their Canberra colleagues that these cuts are unacceptable. WA Nationals leader Mia Davies must outline her position.
"I sincerely hope the Liberals and Nationals will step up their game and get this decision reversed.
"The McGowan Government inherited a financial disaster from the previous Liberal National Government that governed WA so incompetently for eight years.
"Because of that mess, there is no way we can afford to pick up a funding shortfall from the Commonwealth that will equate to hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming years.
"The Commonwealth has a responsibility to help fund essential services in remote communities and in doing so to protect an important element of our national cultural heritage.
"If Turnbull, Scullion and the rest of them fail to fulfil this fundamental duty they will be demonstrating to the entire nation, and to other countries around the globe, exactly how much they value Australia's First People."
Minister's office - 6552 5300