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Feds build 1000th home in three months… in Rudd’s electorate

As Federal Minister for Housing Jenny Macklin boasts that the Rudd government has just begun construction of its 1000th home under its broader stimulus package, construction has not started on a single home under the Northern Territory Intervention’s housing program.

Construction has begun on the 1000th home in just three months, as part of the Rudd government’s $6.4 billion national social housing stimulus package. The housing is being built in the inner Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba, in the Prime Minister’s own electorate of Griffith:

The Rudd government’s mainstream public housing success comes amid revelations that the pace in Macklin’s other portfolio — Indigenous Affairs — is nowhere near as frenetic. Construction has begun on zero homes under the NT intervention’s housing program, despite federal Labor supporting the declaration of a “national emergency” in remote NT communities more than two years ago.

But Macklin shouldn’t be surprised — leaked government documents obtained by the National Indigenous Times reveal that she was warned in early 2008 that the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) — which the Rudd government inherited from the previous administration — had major flaws, and that if the $700 million program proceeded it would not deliver any black housing in the Northern Territory until 2011, at the earliest:

The government was also warned that the program would drive the price of housing in remote regions up, was based on a model that sparked a Royal Commission in NSW in the 1980s amid high-level corruption of the public tender process, and was unlikely to meet its employment objective of a 20 percent Indigenous job rate in construction.

The advice was contained in a “private briefing memo”, from NSW Labor Senator Ursula Stephens to Jenny Macklin, dated May 12, 2008. A copy of the memo has been obtained by the National Indigenous Times. Yet despite the advice, Macklin approved the SIHIP process.

Now, more than two years after the NT intervention was launched, construction hasn’t even begun on a single home, the government is facing accusations the program is mired in red tape, and more than $100 million of the program funding has reportedly been set aside for administration.

The full story appears in tomorrow’s edition of the National Indigenous Times.

On a happier news front, Macklin said the $4 million project in Woolloongabba in Brisbane’s south was “an important milestone in the Government’s social housing program”.

The construction of these 18 one-bedroom apartments means people will be able to move off the social housing wait list and into new accommodation,” Macklin said.

As well, the local construction industry is getting the boost it needs to support jobs during the difficult times of the global recession.”

Construction on the 18 one-bedroom apartments is expected to be completed by April next year.

The roll out of new social housing began only three months ago with the construction in New South Wales of the first homes to be built under the stimulus package.

Reaching this milestone today demonstrates the Government is on track to deliver 20,000 homes across Australia by June 2012.”

The SIHIP program is supposed to deliver 750 new homes, 230 replacement homes and about 2,500 housing upgrades, also by 2012. At the current pace, the Rudd government will have constructed just five percent of the targeted new homes by 2011.

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