Deeper meaning to argument over funding for remote housing

The ongoing issue of Commonwealth funding for remote housing in Western Australia remains contentious with the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion attacking the WA Government in the media last month. 

The 10-year National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing has previously delivered an annual Federal Government contribution of around $100 million dollars. 

But that agreement expired in June 2018. 

The Commonwealth’s new offer is $60 million, spread over the next three years. 

WA Premier Mark McGowan wants to see the original agreement reinstated but Minister Scullion has accused WA for failing to commit its own funds, saying the cost should be equally shared. 

In response, Housing Minister Peter Tinley said the WA Government has not rejected the $60 million on offer and the assertion the State Government is refusing to build more houses without Commonwealth support is wrong.

Mr Tinley said they will continue to build, maintain and renovate its housing stock, however without adequate Commonwealth support there will be additional delays in delivering housing to address overcrowding issues and population growth in remote communities.

The aggregated loss of funding to remote housing nationally over the next 10 years is about $4 billion.

Clearly this will have a much broader impact on State Government’s spend on housing more broadly.

The media tactics of Minister Scullion appear designed to divert attention away from the scale of this funding withdrawal and to reframe the issue as just another fight between the federal and State governments over funding.

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