By ERWIN CHLANDA
While Minister Giles is pushing to create 100 residential blocks in the new Kilgariff suburb, Minister Chandler has about the same number of dwellings empty and decaying throughout the town.
A reliable source says some 100 public housing homes and units are vacant, and no or little repair work has been done for months. Repair work slowed after the August election and soon ceased altogether. Apparently this is part of the government’s austerity drive.
Housing Minister Peter Chandler (pictured) has not responded to a request for an interview from the Alice Springs News Online.
The source says any refurbishment that is being undertaken is inadequate: damaged furniture isn’t replaced, waterproofing in bathrooms and kitchens isn’t done, and paint isn’t refreshed.
“It’s minimal maintenance,” says the source. “The few dwellings that have been returned are not being brought up to the proper standard.”
This is giving new tenants little incentive to look after the homes owned by the public, says the source.
A clamp-down on bad tenants in the dying days of the Labor government had begun to show results: inspectors were keeping an eye on the housing stock and people were evicted if they didn’t look after the homes or had too many visitors. This led to much more appropriate conduct by the tenants, according to the source.
Inspections are continuing but “it’s hard to supervise proper care for a home if the tenant gets a place with warped doors, bench tops and kitchen and bathroom furniture swollen from moisture penetration and not replaced”.
Adam Giles, now the Minister for Infrastructure, when in Opposition was a vigorous critic of the then Labor government’s handling of public housing.
IMAGE: A small selection of empty and derelict public housing in Alice Springs (from top) 6 Walmulla Street, 10 Kraegen Street, 74 Gap Road, 97 Gap Road and 6 Arunga Street.
UPDATE Saturday: A spokeswoman for the Minister told us she would be getting back to us on Monday.