Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt said it was disappointing that members of the LNP Government would use Indigenous housing issues to attack the Opposition.
“As the former Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, I’ve always said that these issues should not be treated as ammunition for political attacks, so it was disappointing to hear assertions of ‘inaction’ by the previous government,” Mr Pitt said.
“This announcement infers that home ownership was not available under the previous Government, when in fact 99 year leases introduced under Labor provided rights akin to freehold without the extinguishment of native title.
“Both sides of politics support indigenous home ownership and yesterday’s announcement comes on the back of years of policy development and programmatic work under the former Labor Government to get to this point.
“It was a Labor Government in 2009 that established the Remote Indigenous Land and Infrastructure Program Office in Cairns, which has facilitated and coordinated the accurate surveying of DOGIT communities and development of town plans.
“This work was the essential foundation that will enable any increased opportunity for home ownership under the former government or the current government.
“While this announcement may provide increased alternatives for Indigenous home ownership, I am concerned that freehold may extinguish native title. More work needs to be done and that is what we will be looking for when this Bill comes before the Parliament and I will be encouraging local communities to consider the pros and cons.”
Mr Pitt said that Indigenous home ownership does not simply become a reality with the stroke of a pen.
“It also requires the resourcing on the ground, economic development and policies to support job creation,” he said.
“Neither the government nor the Opposition should lose sight of the importance of job creation in the communities concerned because stable employment is an absolute necessity to give people a stable means of providing for their families and entering the housing market.”
“Politics is adversarial by nature, but these issues have always been close to my heart and to the Australian Labor Party.
“Instead of playing politics, I would urge the Newman Government to set aside their attacks and work with the Opposition in a bipartisan fashion so we can all help create greater opportunity for Indigenous Queenslanders in remote communities.”