MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE OF WA, 14 May 2010 MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ABORIGINAL LEGAL SERVICE OF WA,14May 2010
Barnett Fights the Feds for Miner’s Billions while Indigenous Housing is Ignored.
The CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) is perplexed at the Western Australian Premiers’ enthusiasm to fight the Federal Government for less tax for foreign owned mining companies, while continuing to ignore the chronic housing crisis endured by so many Indigenous Western Australians.
Under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPHARIH), Western Australia stands to receive only 10% of the allocated federal funds. Of the $5.5 billion being made available nationally, Western Australia, will only receive $496 million. ALSWA head, Mr Dennis Eggington referred to the sum as being ‘a drop in the ocean’ and the deal as ‘a meagre slice of the Federal funding pie’.
“By their own admission, The WA government acknowledges the money will only provide a further 200 houses. When one considers the housing crisis being endured by Indigenous communities in remote areas, the lack of lobbying on behalf of the Barnett government is beyond belief’.
In order for the state to access the Federal funding they must also engage in ‘land management agreements’ with Indigenous communities. In order for this to occur, the WA government has introduced the Aboriginal Housing Legislation Amendment Bill which is currently before parliament. ‘What should be a concern to all fair minded Western Australians is the fact that this government is willing to draft poor legislation which effectively sells out remote communities’ land and housing rights at a bargain basement price’.
Mr Eggington’s reservations are echoed by Professor James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur, who recently expressed concerns regarding the disempowerment of Indigenous peoples that is likely to result from the agreement. Under the proposed legislation remote Indigenous communities would for the very first time come under the Residential Tenancy Act, which ALSWA believes has no provisions for dealing with the cultural and logistic considerations.
‘This Bill needs to consider the human rights of the specific individuals and communities it will affect. It needs to provide an Aboriginal Housing Advocacy body, which is properly resourced to address in a culturally effective way the many issues which impact upon Indigenous housing.’ Mr Eggington has also called for increased funding to existing Aboriginal housing providers and advocacy groups.
‘It would be pleasing if the State Government was prepared to support the human rights’ interests of its most disadvantaged constituents the same way it supports the commercial interests of the multi national mining companies’ said Mr. Eggington.