The federal government has announced that it will provide the Northern Territory (NT) government with $550 million in additional funding over five years to help address the housing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities.
The funding will commence following the 2018–19 budget announcement and will be matched by NT government contributions.
As part of the agreement, the NT government will retain responsibility for sub-leasing arrangements in remote communities for the five-year period.
“This $550 million funding commitment comes on top of the $1.7 billion investment into remote housing in the Territory since 2008,” Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said.
“Our focus will be ensuring Aboriginal community control is at the heart of our investment, from decision making to employment and business procurement, to ensure we deliver long-term sustainable change in remote communities.”
Further, the federal and NT governments have reached an agreement on the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), which is designed to provide funding of approximately $98.5 million over the next five years to NT, in order to facilitate the delivery of affordable housing and homelessness services.
General funding boost
The Northern Territory government will also receive an additional $259.6 million in funding from the federal government to offset NT’s loss of GST revenue.
“The Northern Territory’s GST relativity will fall from 4.66 in 2017–18 to 4.26 in 2018–19 as a result of recent recommendations made by the independent Commonwealth Grant Commission — a significant concern given GST revenue represents around half of the NT’s total revenue. This has compounded the Northern Territory government’s budget pressures,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said.
“This was clearly an outcome I was not comfortable with.
“Our additional funding represents the Commonwealth’s estimates of what the Northern Territory could have received from the increased GST pool if their relativity had remained the same as it was in the 2017–18 financial year. A fair outcome for Northern Territorians.”
NT Treasurer Nicole Manison noted the importance of the funding boost.
“Fifty per cent of the Territory’s revenue comes from GST, and with our small population and remote communities, this funding is critical to enable us to provide vital services to Territorians,” the Treasurer said.
“We will work with the Australian government to look at long-term GST issues for the Northern Territory to ensure we have sustainable funding.
“We have worked hard to get the best deal for the Territory [and] we’ll continue to work constructively with the Australian government to develop the North, close the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage and grow the NT’s economy.”
Moreover, the NT government has also committed to signing the Heads of Agreement on public hospital funding and health reform, which would extend and increase funding arrangements for public hospitals for an additional five years.
Once signed, the agreement would increase funding to $1.96 billion over the period 2020–21 to 2024–25.
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