A delegation of Alice Springs Town Campers has travelled to Darwin to present their case for an independent and transparent investigation into the failure of leasing arrangements on Town Camps.

The Tangentyere Council representatives  are calling for a review of:

·         The Alice Springs Town Camp tenancy management procurement process

·         The performance of the Housing Management Agreement between the Commonwealth and the Territory Government.

Tangentyere CEO Walter Shaw was accompanied by his board of directors who will continue to be the people most affected by the poor decisions made by the Giles Government.

Mr Shaw said the Territory Department of Housing had failed in its obligations under the subleases since it took on the role in December 2009.

“The Town Camp Housing Associations signed these Tripartite subleases between themselves, the Executive Director of Township Leasing on behalf of the Commonwealth and the CEO of Housing on behalf of the NT in good faith,” Mr Shaw said.

“Our elders fought hard to have Town Camps established and we’ve been fighting for decent living conditions and proper resourcing and recognition since, so we didn’t sign these leases lightly.

“But the fact is conditions on Alice Springs Town Camps haven’t improved, despite the expenditure of millions of dollars by the NT and Federal Governments, and in recent years things have gone from bad to worse.

“There’s no Closing the Gap with Alice Springs Town Camps. In reality the living conditions between suburban Alice and the Camps is an ever-widening chasm.

“The latest decision by the NT Government to award a cut price tenancy management contract to a non-Indigenous private business has seen Town Campers say enough is enough.

“Not only does taking this contract away from an Aboriginal-controlled community housing organisation mean residents have even less involvement and voice in decisions and actions affecting their homes and families, it effectively means a real cut in service delivery to people already living in conditions of overcrowding and disrepair.’

Mr Shaw said the Tenancy Management contract awarded to Zodiac Business Services was $702,000 over 16 months, a significant reduction compared to previous years.

“The Minister and the Department of Housing have repeatedly said this was a decision based on price. This contravenes their own procurement policies which state factors such as past performance, capacity and local development were much more important considerations.

“The NT receives Commonwealth funding under the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH) for Town Camps, as well as rental income from the 270 houses covered by the Tenancy Management contract.

“We would like to know why the NT needs to reduce service delivery to Town Camps and how this reduced expenditure will be invested for the benefit of residents.

“Both the Chief Minister and the Minister for Housing have stated that the Territory was required to align the tender process to requirements outlined in the Tripartite Alice Springs Living Area Subleases. If so, the procurement process requires further investigation as it deviates substantially from the process outlined by the sublease.

“We have briefed the Territory Opposition and Independents about the issues with the contract and wider leases this week and are grateful for their support in asking for an independent review.

“The Public Housing Management of Town Camps needs to end in favour of the Central Australian Affordable Housing Company operating a regulated and accredited Community Housing Model that both empowers and cares for the welfare of residents.

“We are hopeful the Chief Minister Adam Giles will also support this proposal, given his statements saying he supports housing being given back to communities.

“If he is serious about supporting the capability and capacity of Aboriginal Territorians to build economic sustainability housing is a logical place to start giving control back to Aboriginal entities at a local level.

“Give tenancy management back to CAAHC, review the leasing arrangements on Town Camps and prove that price isn’t more important than the welfare of residents.”