Indigenous leaders say remote housing in jeopardy after ‘devastating’ budget cut

Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion says talks ‘ongoing’ with Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia.

Indigenous leaders have warned that community housing will fall into disrepair – and crucial local employment programs will be scrapped – after the federal government set aside no money for remote housing in three states.

Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia each have 10-year remote housing funding agreements with the commonwealth that expire in June.

Communities in those states have been left in limbo after money for the program was effectively cut from the federal budget.

Local leaders say they could be forced to scale back their construction and maintenance programs as a result.

Cape York mayors have told Guardian Australia that housing projects have become a key economic driver of many Indigenous communities, supporting jobs and providing apprenticeships for young people.

“I’ve got seven apprentices between their first year and their fourth year – five carpenters and two plumbers – I’m yet to break the news to them,” the mayor of Lockhart River, Wayne Butcher, said.

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