Public housing for workers or welfare recipients?

Just before Christmas and acting on information received I expressed to the Minster for Housing Matt Conlan some concerns about the perceived directions of the NT Housing Department.

 

The Minister very promptly arranged a meeting for me with the department who were very obliging and in the main able to address those concerns.

 

I left the meeting feeling somewhat mollified but still with some nagging doubts regarding the overall departmental view of NT Housing’s role in our community.

 

During our discussions I asked some questions about what appears, from the outside at least, to be an increasing usage of NGOs to fill roles that I was informed the department didn’t see as its “core responsibility”.

 

This left me wondering what is the department’s “core responsibility” and who determines that responsibility?

 

Is it the community through the Minister? Or should it be left to departmental heads who have set their sights on becoming a more efficient organization, operating somewhat akin to a real estate office, while divesting themselves of various social responsibilities – “non core” duties – they have been asked to undertake in the past.

 

Sure, their goals may appear more practical and even economically justifiable, but the question must be asked, is this what we as the community want from NT Housing? For many years NT Housing was the very foundation of Alice providing affordable, what I like to call “incentive housing” that allowed many people who would not necessarily have qualified for bank loans a start in life.

 

Once upon a time Housing homes were mostly occupied by fully employed low income families. Housing was an incentive for them to stay and build their lives in our town. Many used the start to become the builders, the business owners of today, moving on to bigger and better things, all because of the wonderful start provided by the Housing Commission which, at that time, was overseen by a local board.

 

While NT Housing has always had a welfare role to play, providing housing for the needy, in the past it was by no means the dominant role that it has become today.

 

I believe it is time we changed direction and looked after the needy not by pandering to their needs, but by the long term sustainable method of firstly looking after and providing for the workers in our community who will in turn create a thriving economy. They will employ more people and by the wealth created be better able to look after those that cannot look after themselves.

 

Making employment a prerequisite to qualifying for housing will be an additional incentive for those who wish to move to our community to get a job. This will be helping themselves and our community. I believe it’s time to go back to the future and reinvent NT Housing in its original format and start providing base level affordable housing for fully employed low income families.

 

That way we stop providing housing for non residents of our town who do not have a job! In short, start using NT Housing to import workers, not welfare recipients, while still of course maintaining a level of welfare housing for community members in proven need.

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10 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Russell Guy
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    @ Interested. Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm.

    That’s the trouble when facetiousness is introduced, you get judged accordingly, even when an innocent remark is made. And I am not questioning “a beer” as a part of life.
    The thrust of my comments concern alcohol-abuse and your comments are welcome, although it would be encouraging if you had the courage of your convictions by posting your full name, but banning those who “can’t control themselves” was why the BDR became part of the armoury against alcohol-abuse. Perhaps, Senator Scullion’s enquiry can bring it back.
    Attempting to bring change to a situation which is in need of reform requires getting involved. Sitting back and doing nothing gets you more of the same. If you’ve been following this argument, you may realise that structural change in the central Australian economy around welfare, job creation and alcohol supply is needed.
    The exorbitant cost to the temperate taxpayer can either increase or be modified accordingly, but it’s time the alcohol industry started paying through increased taxation.
    Those who enjoy “a beer” won’t notice. It’s those who can’t control themselves who will and it’s no surprise that comments arout Senator Scullion’s inquiry leaving whitefellers out of the spotlight are being made.

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  2. Interested
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Guys these types of emails back and forth seem pretty childish. Russell having a beer is a part of life and its a good way of winding down. If other people can’t control themselves, ban them.
    As for Steve and Janet, you should be the next prime minister and mrs. All your ranting and raving gets nowhere. You write the odd intelligent stuff but you can’t say things have changed since you’ve been in power.
    But hey good luck to you and hopefully one day someone might use one of your bright ideas to good use.

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  3. Russell Guy
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

    @ Janet,
    A cursory glance at Mr Elferink’s letter and others, including stories in this edition of AS News should give you an idea of how the public housing sector in Alice is not excluded from the alcohol issue: one that is becoming increasingly relevant to reform in the central Australian economy and, with Senator’s Scullion’s announcement of an inquiry, perhaps even a bipartisan advance on the type of politics we’ve seen played out. Always a pleasure, Janet.

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  4. Janet Brown
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Oh my. Russell has done it again this time ignoring the plight of the homeless and struggling families and individuals to discuss his topic of choice.
    Let’s get back on track and discuss ensuring minimising homelessness. Let’s work towards assisting our young people into home ownership at affordable levels.
    Let’s stick with building our town with positive actions to establishing a strong economy. Yes we have issues.
    But let’s build the positive stories. It is proven that if you ensure the basics to people, like a home, those other social issues such as alcohol abuse minimise by ensuring safety and protection and respect to the community through good government spending in the correct way.
    Policies need to change and real outcomes based on strong direction.
    Let’s house everyone, with strong tenancy support programs, and the negative issues that tarnish us all will reduce significantly.
    Supplying housing will be a lot cheaper than blowing money on programs that are ensured to fail due to lack of accommodation.

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  5. Russell Guy
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    @ Steve Brown. Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm
    Unlike yourself, Steve, I don’t purport to speak for the “entire community”, but the issue of personal responsibility is not as simplistic as you would like to believe. In a perfect world, it would be, but we are not in an ideal situation.
    Sophisticated use of alcohol marketing aided by political campaign funding, has created intoxigenic spaces online and on the streets, driving a national drinking culture to new levels of socially unacceptable behavior which is impacting on police and emergency room staff as never before in our history.
    We now have a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders generation with an estimated $15m lifetime disability requirement.
    While SAB Miller recently paid $12.3b for Fosters and Australian taxpayers stump up $15b p.a. for alcohol-abuse, it’s time to look to the supply side of the equation and who pays.
    You’ve come a long way since 2011, when you wrote that the reporting of alcohol issues had risen to “ridiculous levels.”
    Hopefully, our persistence will produce change that not only saves lives, but billions of dollars that can be put towards some of the social issues that concern you. Maybe then, personal responsibility will have a chance to get back on its feet.

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  6. Steve Brown
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you for your last comment Russell. You seem to have picked up on my message although you still appear to be struggling somewhat with the concept.
    “Personal responsibility” was exactly my point, I am pleased that I was at least able to communicate that much.
    When you make the connect on what those words actually mean for both yourself and others, you should find yourself happily along the way towards resolving many of the alcohol issues that seemingly occupy your every waking moment, something for which I am sure the entire community will be eternally grateful.
    I have always pushed sensible alcohol use and along with that sensible hours of trading something that is decided not by publicans, Russell, but by the public through the auspices of their Government / Licensing Commission.
    I am absolutely open to argument on sensible trading hours as long as they are seven days a week. I do quite like the idea being put about at the moment of shortening really late trading along with a lock-in after 1.00am although admittedly I haven’t seen any reports or evidence from police of there being any real issue in our community during those hours. Its more just a parental thing worrying about vulnerable people being on the streets at those hours.
    @ Hal: I sympathise with your view however just imagine how much better an education those bush children would get if mum and dad had to get a job to provide their education! Just like everybody else!
    We will never advance anybody’s cause by making excuses, just look at the past 50 years of Patronising Paternalism.
    Making mum and dad get a job would clearly demonstrate to those kids, and the entire community for that matter, that Aboriginal people can exist as equals in today’s world, just as well as anybody else.

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  7. Russell Guy
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    @ Steve Brown. Posted January 7, 2014 at 2: 35PM.
    Now I know why you “rarely reply to comments” I make “as a general rule your comments can only be described as fanatical rants and not worth the time of day”.
    Here I was thinking you weren’t up to having a reasonable discussion, but I’ve put you on notice Steve, while you continue to air views such as “those that derive a living from selling a perfectly legal, wonderful, life enriching product called alcohol.”
    I won’t describe your views as fanatical, however, Councillor, I will say that you are far behind the eight ball on the personal responsibility issue:
    “This result Russell, is not bought about by our publicans or wineries or the local bottle-shop it is bought about by the abuser themselves and it is about time we laid the blame where it lies instead of the presently tolerated trend in slinging off at legitimate business, as if they somehow force you to purchase their product!”
    Pat Gooley, NSW Police Association President on NYE in King’s Cross puts it this way: “As we put the crime scene tape up, it was lost on no one that we were using a light pole bearing a tribute to Thomas Kelly to secure the tape. The way it covered his eyes in his photo was poignant, as if to say, ‘You don’t need to see any more of this meaningless violence’.
    “As the facts of the case became known my heart sank. I knew that the name of Daniel Christie would soon become known to many, for all the wrong reasons. I knew in my heart that all the campaigning that I have done to reduce alcohol fuelled violence would be swallowed up in the rhetoric of personal responsibility, one size doesn’t fit all and that it still wasn’t even 10pm.”
    Personal responsibility and intoxication are not a good fit, so I question your statement that “It is not the publicans’ fault that some in our society choose to abuse this product in a manner which has an unfortunate debilitating outcome for them and our community.”
    Unfortunate? Try telling that to the families of men and women felled by alcohol-related violence while alcohol remains available into the early hours, when the responsibility falls to police and emergency room staff?
    I suggest that you revisit the Newcastle violence reduction stats and see what earlier closing times does for safer streets and the subject matter at hand.

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  8. Hal Duell
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Up to a point I agree with Steve’s article. Public housing is best used as a temporary stay on the way to home ownership.
    However, it can also be used to good effect by a bush family keen to stay in Alice for a few years while their children acquire an education.
    One of the houses on my street was used for that purpose for some years, and it always was a fine sight seeing the kids streaming out of the gates in the mornings to catch the school bus.
    Unfortunately, once that family returned to their home community, Territory Housing did not reallocate the house in a timely fashion with the predictable result that that house is now in need of major refurbishment.
    Another of the houses was always used for drinking, but complaints eventually moved those residents away. Again, this house was also not reallocated in a timely fashion with the same result – vandalism and destruction which has to bring a costly repair bill either to Territory Housing or to a private owner if the house is sold.
    And a third house has for many years been occupied by a worker. Whether or not he buys will be his choice, but he is a good neighbor whose children go to school while he goes to work. He doesn’t party any harder or any noisier than I do.
    So my request is: Maintain the complaints line and keep the houses full, or watch them deteriorate to a degree that makes them all but uninhabitable. And if Territory Housing cannot keep them full, then sell them to private owners who will look after them.

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  9. Steve Brown
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    @ Russell: I rarely reply to comments you make because as a general rule your comments can only be described as fanatical rants and not worth the time of day.
    On this occasion I reply in order to make a point to other readers. I presume by “flagon palace” you are referring to our publicans and those that derive a living from selling a perfectly legal, wonderful, life enriching product called alcohol.
    It is not the publicans’ fault that some in our society choose to abuse this product in a manner which has an unfortunate debilitating outcome for them and our community.
    This result Russell, is not bought about by our publicans or wineries or the local bottle-shop it is bought about by the abuser themselves and it is about time we laid the blame where it lies instead of the presently tolerated trend in slinging off at legitimate business, as if they somehow force you to purchase their product!
    The first rule for an alcoholic on the road to recovery is to admit that “You” yes you yourself have a problem! Not the rest of society!
    And when you’ve admitted as much it’s up to you personally to do something about it! Why? Because nobody else can!
    As a Councillor, as an Alicespringsite, I welcome those who contribute to our community by providing businesses where we and our visitors can relax and indulge ourselves a little after a busy day, those that contribute to the general ambience of our town, making it a more pleasant place to stay.
    Our clubs our pubs our restaurants, where would we be without you? Not here, that’s for sure! There’d only be little old Russell all by himself probably climbing a gum tree to rant at nobody listening.
    “Yeh”, so something would stay the same, but not much! Give it a rest Russell! Or at least try and comment on the subject matter at hand.

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  10. Russell Guy
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 9:08 am

    “Once upon a time Housing Homes were mostly occupied by fully employed low income families. Housing was an incentive for them to stay and build their lives in our town. Many used the start to become the builders, the business owners of today, moving on to bigger and better things, all because of the wonderful start provided by the Housing Commission which, at that time, was overseen by a local board.”
    This socialist initiative worked well, but things have got a bit out of hand.
    I put the question to you on notice: “How many went on to build a flagon palace?”

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