Unfortunately, any withdrawal of Federal Government funding for remote housing in Western Australia will have a significant negative impact on living conditions, and social and economic outcomes in remote communities.
Discontinuation of the National Partnership on Remote Housing will result in a reduction in funding to remote communities of around $120 million per year. The impact of this cessation is exacerbated by the Federal Government’s withdrawal in 2015 of investment in municipal and essential services in the State’s remote Aboriginal communities. That withdrawal was accompanied by a one-off payment of $90 million, which covered three years of service delivery and left a funding hole of nearly a billion dollars.
The Western Australian Government currently commits more than $90 million a year to the provision of housing and community infrastructure and related services to support people in remote Aboriginal communities. This funding figure does not include the significant expenditure from across government on community, education and police services in those communities.
The Federal Government’s commitment of $1.2 billion from 2008 to 2018 for new and improved housing has been critical to addressing the lack of housing supply in communities, however it has also resulted in a significant financial burden for the State as the cost of maintaining these assets in harsh environments remains high.
To date, the only offer from the Federal Government to the State Government is a manifestly inadequate one-off payment of $60.9 million, with the Federal Government to then walk away from a half-century of responsibility in remote Aboriginal communities.
Adding to the insult, the Prime Minister has not yet returned a letter from the Premier of Western Australia on 11 May 2018 offering to work constructively to develop a broad, place-based bilateral agreement to support remote communities.