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Positive outcome on town camp leases still achievable

"I am extremely concerned by the breakdown in negotiations between the Minister Jenny Macklin and Tangentyere Council over housing leases for Alice Springs town camps," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"I believe that a positive resolution to the current impasse can still be achieved, and I have written to the Minister suggesting a way forward."

"I am calling for the appointment of an independent mediator, someone with the standing and experience in Aboriginal affairs who commands the respect of both parties, to finalise the details of an agreement that delivers certainty to the camp families and tenancy reform," she said.

"I do not believe that compulsory acquisition of the town camps is either desirable or necessary, it would be a dreadful outcome for everyone concerned."

"Such drastic action at this point would undermine the Government's efforts to 'reset the relationship' with Aboriginal communities before they got off the ground. At the same time I think it would wreck the aspirations of Aboriginal families involved for healthier, happier and safer houses and communities."

"The number and condition of houses on the town camps is truly terrible after decades of overcrowding and NT Government neglect, and there is an urgent need for investment and improvements to be made."

"I am convinced that both the Rudd government and the town camp housing associations are sincere in their desire to see a better outcome for the camp families. The current sticking points are in no way insurmountable, but misunderstandings and mistrust are getting in the way."

"The residents of Alice's town camps have legitimate reasons to be concerned about handing control to Territory Housing, who have a poor record with public housing for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. They are keen to embrace the community housing model that is being promoted by Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek and promoted through the National Rental Affordability Scheme."

"We have an opportunity to foster a sustainable new enterprise that can be a model of success for others to aspire to. One that delivers priority housing to those who most need it while still ensuring that families are placed into safe communities, houses are looked after and cared for, rent is paid on time and tenants are supported to say no to overcrowding or troublemakers."

"I have carefully considered the work done to develop the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company which I think provides a sound basis for sustainable housing in the camps, and commend the Minister for backing its development."

"I urge all the parties involved to return to the bargaining table in good faith and focus on delivering the healthier, brighter and safer future these Aboriginal families deserve," concluded Senator Siewert.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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