The McGowan Government’s fight for a better Commonwealth funding deal for remote communities across Western Australia has seen Federal Labor commit to deliver a national 10-year, $1.5 billion agreement if it wins government on May 18.
The pledge was welcomed by Housing Minister Peter Tinley and Treasurer Ben Wyatt who have led the State’s fight for a better deal.
Federal Labor’s vow to provide additional funding contrasts starkly with the Federal Coalition which walked away from the previous 10-year, $1.1 billion funding deal when it expired on June 30 last year, claiming responsibility for remote communities rested solely with the State.
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten confirmed today that a Federal Government led by him would address overcrowding and create jobs in remote indigenous communities with a $1.5 billion, 10-year investment.
At least $120 million of that package would flow to WA in the coming financial year (2019-20), doubling the amount supplied by the Coalition Government as a one-off exit payment from the previous long-term agreement in December last year.
That $120 million offer only came after WA rejected the previous offer of $60 million payable over three years and launched a public campaign urging a new long-term agreement to help support some of Australia’s most disadvantaged people.
Tellingly, Mr Morrison and his Aboriginal Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion refused to negotiate a new long-term deal and provide financial certainty for the provision of housing in remote communities.
Poor outcomes in health, education, employment and community safety for those living in remote communities can be largely attributed to housing shortages and chronic overcrowding.
The McGowan Government currently spends about $90 million annually supporting housing and essential services such as power, water and waste management in about 165 remote communities across the State.
Comments attributed to Treasurer and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“WA has consistently argued that the Commonwealth has historic and moral obligations to provide ongoing funding support for remote communities that, in WA, are home to an estimated 12,000-14,000 of the country’s most disadvantaged people.
“It is gratifying to see that a Federal Labor Government will recognise and honour that responsibility – something the Morrison Government has flatly refused.”
Comments attributed to Housing Minister Peter Tinley:
“If we are to have any chance of achieving the aspirational targets of Closing the Gap Refresh then we need to put roofs over people’s heads.
“This is not something the State can do, or indeed should do, on its own – it requires a working, collaborative, sustainable and enduring partnership with the Commonwealth.
“It’s great to see that Bill Shorten is stepping up and is willing to open doors, rather than walk away from this challenge the way Scott Morrison has.”