Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Indigenous Housing; Order for the Production of Documents
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 716, standing in my name for today, concerning an order for the production of documents relating to the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes the failure of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs (the Minister) to:
(i) provide a clear statement on the future of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing,
(iii) give a clear account of negotiations with those jurisdictions on future funding arrangements;
(b) orders that all correspondence between the Minister and his Department and state and territory Ministers, and all correspondence between officials on the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing, since the beginning of December 2017, be laid on the table by 5 pm on 15 February 2018;
(c) requires the Minister to attend the Senate at 12 pm on 20 March 2018 so that, prior to government business being called on, any senator may ask for an explanation for the failure to engage in detailed consultations with the states and territories on remote housing; and
(d) resolves that:
(i) in the event that the Minister provides an explanation, any senator may, at the conclusion of the explanation, move without notice—That the Senate take note of the explanation, or
(ii) in the event that the Minister does not provide an explanation, any senator may, without notice, move a motion with regard to the Minister's failure to provide an explanation, and
(iii) any motion to take note under paragraphs (d) (i) or (ii) have precedence over all other government business for a period of no more than 2 hours.
I seek leave to make a short statement of no more than two minutes.
We have listened carefully to the minister responding to several questions asked by the opposition this week on the future funding for remote housing. Some of the minister's answers have unfortunately been scrambled. We need the record to be cleared on this important matter. Housing is fundamental to closing the gap, and Labor wants to help the minister clarify the situation by giving him an opportunity to provide us with all correspondence between himself and the states and territories on this issue.
The states and territories, we believe, will assist the minister and clear the correspondence promptly. I inform the Senate that the motion has been amended to specify that a time period of no more than two hours will be made available to debate the minister's response. I thank Senator Griff for his contribution in relation to that matter.
The government has been clear that it is in negotiations with state and territory governments regarding future investment in remote and Indigenous housing. While the government maintains that states and territory governments must take up the responsibility, we have been clear that Commonwealth funding is on the table as part of these negotiations. The government does not support this motion, as it will be more appropriate for these negotiations to be conducted through normal processes, rather than through public and political debate.
Question agreed to.