Some 70 residents of Santa Teresa (pictured) have a win as the Administrative Tribunal finds the NT Government is obliged to provide habitable housing in remote communities and has pursued tenants over "dodgy debts" of over a million dollars.
UPDATE Feb 28: Statement by Housing Minister Gerry McCarthy.
UPDATE 4.10pm February 28 Rent agreement across the NT likely to be invalid "not with the paper they are written on".
Falling on hard times in Alice Springs these days isn't exclusive to the usual suspects: a pregnancy or an accident can turn a two-income family into a single income one, and the town's exorbitant rents can tip that family into crisis.
"The poor can't buy a house here.
"It doesn't take much for repayments becoming too hard, or heating and power bills," says Captain Michael Johnson who with his wife Elizabeth, also a captain in the Salvation Army, heads up that stalwart aid organisation in The Centre.
They're gearing up for their annual doorknock on May 19 and 20, and are still looking for volunteers (call them on 8951 0200).
The Salvos in Alice will be spending more than $1m this year, as usual "way more" than the doorknock yields, says Capt Johnson.
The local Salvos run two men's hostels which are "pretty well always full". ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Captains Michael and Elizabeth Johnson in the Salvos' Thrift Shop.
Nice little earner: Aboriginal owners of private land get, at taxpayers’ expense, essential services – schools, clinics, police stations, and so on. Most would not argue with this. But now they will also get rent, from the taxpayer, for the land on which those services are set up. Indigenous Development Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy (pictured), calls this an "historic decision [which] lays the foundation for a proper working relationship between Land Councils, Aboriginal traditional owners and the Northern Territory Government".
Meanwhile Senator Nigel Scullion says Intervention Mark II is a sign of the failure of Mark I, Shadow Child Protection Minister Robyn Lambley alleges a bid to hide child abuse and Shadow Tourism Minister Willem Westra van Holthe
claims the government is doing not enough to reverse the fall in tourist numbers.
Aboriginal land councils are reportedly asking huge rents for land needed to house public servants in the bush, and providing the very services – education, health and police – the land councils are clamoring for.
Independent MLA Gerry Wood says such land should be under a peppercorn rent. The Alice Springs News Online has learned that on one community police are short staffed, and another one needs more teacher housing, as negotiations with the Central Land Council (CLC) are deadlocked over rents to be charged. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Pictured:Teacher housing in Hermannsburg(top). Chook farmer and Independent MLA Gerry Wood(right).