Doorstop Interview Wreck Bay Village - Transcript

FRIDAY 19 MAY 2023

Subjects: Housing investment in Wreck Bay Indigenous community, importance of housing to closing the gap, Wreck Bay’s PFAS class action

ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY, ANDREW LEIGH: Kristy McBain and I are here in Wreck Bay village to announce a historic investment in housing in the local community. We know that for too long housing in this community has been in a state of disrepair. In the last Budget we allocated $5 million as an initial step to make a difference. In this Budget we announced a historic $45.1 million over eight years. This will be working in consultation with the community to repair and build the housing that the community needs. Closing the Gap is one of the critical issues for this government and at the heart of Closing the Gap is improving the quality of housing in Indigenous communities. The Wreck Bay community is an unusual one, it doesn’t have state or territory representatives, it only has representatives in the Federal Parliament. And as the member for Fenner I’ve been arguing consistently for more support for this extraordinary local community. We’ve also got a bill before parliament right now that will provide greater governance for the Wreck Bay community, allowing better long-term arrangements for the community. And we’re putting in place a new mobile tower which will improve the problems with mobile reception that we’ve known exist in this community. It was a policy we took to the last election and I’m very pleased to see the Albanese Government delivering on mobile coverage for the Wreck Bay community.

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us a bit about how many homes that will benefit – knock down rebuild, straight up builds, minor upgrades - what this investment includes?

LEIGH: The precise investment will depend on what the community says they want. The $45.1 million provides the opportunity to build new houses, to repair existing houses or something in between. We want to work collaboratively with the community because we understand that the best solutions in Indigenous communities are those that are co-designed and working from the ground up. I’m also keen to see that this project includes employment of Indigenous people providing those role models in the employment space that the community strongly needs. This is a vibrant, exciting community located in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. And this investment will ensure that it thrives into the future.

JOURNALIST: Why is it important that the people here have sustainable housing in the area?

LEIGH: Housing is fundamental to living a good life. I think all of us recognise that if your housing isn’t right, it’s hard to sustain a good job, to have a stable family, it’s hard to look after kids the way you want to. So, ensuring that we’ve got the housing right in this community can provide a foundation stone for the community to thrive. As the local member for this area for the last 13 years I’ve been working on issues including transportation, including education for the area, and including employment. And all of those come back in some way to getting the housing right. Which is why today’s announcement is so exciting.

JOURNALIST: Would you agree the money and this Bill was a long time coming?

LEIGH: The former government overlooked Wreck Bay. Coalition members hardly ever visited this area during their time in office. And it’s been through consistent work with my parliamentary colleagues that we’ve been able to get this investment. And there’s much more to do. We need to ensure that the nearby HMAS Creswell base includes employment options for people in Wreck Bay. We need to make sure that the mobile promise is delivered as swiftly as possible. And we need to get this housing work underway. All of that is critical to an exciting, thriving community being the best that it can and engaging with the rest of the world. I know a lot of people love coming to this community as tourists, staying in Green Patch and recognising that this is one of the jewels in Australia’s tourist infrastructure.

JOURNALIST: Is there a timeframe for the start or even the finishing of the build?

LEIGH: The funding runs over eight years, it’s to be co-designed with the local community so the timing will depend to a large extent on the local community, and on making sure that we’re properly serving the local community in the way we build the houses. We want this to be an investment which lasts for generations. So we have to get it right, we have to ensure the houses are in the right place and they’re designed in a way that’s appropriate to what the community needs for coming decades.

JOURNALIST: Just a question on PFAS with everything that’s going on - what is your take on everything that’s happened?

LEIGH: We had a settlement at the beginning of this week of another PFAS class action, I understand that negotiations were underway today over the PFAS class action of which the Wreck Bay community members are a part. Obviously as a member of parliament it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on any of the detail around those discussions except to say that I hope it achieves a resolution that is to the satisfaction of Wreck Bay residents.

JOURNALIST: Do you personally think that any monetary compensation will compensate for what the community has gone through?

LEIGH: Well, the details of the settlement will be very much up to the community and to the discussions that are taking place today. I want to make sure those discussions are respectful, engaged, constructive and ultimately produce the outcome the community wants.

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  • Andrew Leigh Mp
    published this page in What's New 2023-05-20 11:12:05 +1000

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.