Two years ago, a $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) was announced for the Northern Territory. It was supposed to involve the building of 750 homes, 230 rebuilds and 2500 refurbishments by 2013. As yet, not one home has been built. Let’s see what’s going on, shall we?
In response to this slackening off and wastage, Alison Anderson, the Indigenous policy minister in the Northern Territory, has quit the Labor party. Ms Anderson believes that only 30 per cent of the allocated funds will actually be spent on new homes. She terms the
situation ‘the biggest scandal I have seen in my political career’. (via the National Indigenous Times.)
As of a couple of days ago, the Federal Government may take over the program, which I am not at all convinced will be better, because, well, we know how that sort of thing tends to go. NT Housing Minister Rob Knight thinks his government can still come through. The ABC reports ‘The Commonwealth says if the management of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program does not improve within four months, it will take more direct control.’
This sudden flurry of activity comes about following a report into SIHIP which says that significant changes are needed. Namely, $450 000 needs to be spent per house, not the planned $350 000. The report puts the present estimated administrative costs of the program at 11.4 per cent, a cost which can be reduced to 8 per cent. The cherry on the cake is that, according to NT Deputy Opposition Leader Kezia Purick, over $45 million has already been spent. I’ll remind you that not a single solitary house has been built. Where have the administrative costs been going?
And this isn’t just abstract political fudging, either; in July, the people of Ampilatwatja moved out of their homes in protest of living conditions. Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says that Ampilatwatja isn’t one of the communities listed to receive new housing, anyway. There is pressure on the minister to step down due to all this mismanagement.
Note: You may be wondering why most of the sources I’m citing are from the ABC. That’s because, as much as I’d like to mix up my sources, a lot of this stuff is getting ignored or only partly covered by other sections of the media.
This post is a portion crossposted from the original article published at Zero at the Bone.