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Rudd’s stance on town camp leases contradictory - Greens

Moves by the Federal Government to push through with compulsory acquisition of Alice Springs town camps are a disaster in the making, and highlight a discord with rhetoric from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, say the Australian Greens.

"A positive resolution is still possible, but the Rudd Government seems determined to dig in their heels and refuse to negotiate," said Senator Siewert today.

"Tangentyere Council have agreed to sign the 40 year leases and to lock in reforms to tenancy management - which would effectively deliver all of the Governments stated priorities."

"The sticking point remains the Government's insistence that control be handed over to Territory Housing, while the town camps want to adopt the same community housing model being championed by his government under the National Rental Affordability Scheme," said Senator Siewert.

Territory Housing have an abysmal public housing record and are not trusted by the Aboriginal communities.

"It is disingenuous of Kevin Rudd to blame Tangentyere Council for the appalling conditions in town camps and ignore the culpability of the NT Government, after decades of Governmental negligence and under-funding."

"Mr Rudd's comments last week that a Federal take-over of the camps "will be tough in the implementation... but the alternative is to do nothing" are completely inappropriate and at odds with the PM's rhetoric over rebuilding Aboriginal relations."

"Surely the whole reason for Commonwealth intervention has been the failure of the NT Government to deliver on its housing and service responsibilities in the first place? For over a decade Tangentyere have got by on the smell of an oily rag - but now the appalling conditions created by chronic under-funding from the NT Government is being used as an excuse to wrest control from the community and hand it over to Territory Housing."

Senator Siewert said she was disappointed that the Minister, Jenny Macklin does not appear to be prepared to support independent mediation, as she proposed in a letter to her last week.

The Greens today called on the Government to return to the table to iron out the last details of a deal and stop blocking their reasoned, mediated approach.

"The Prime Minister and his Government should get behind a plan that actually delivers on his promises to 'reset the relationship with Aboriginal communities' - this is the first true test of that commitment," concluded Senator Siewert.

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

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