THE BIG READ: Jenny’s House

Originally published in the National Indigenous Times, Issue 183, August 6 2009.

By Amy McQuire

It’s not exactly clear when the rot began to set in on Jenny Macklin’s black housing policies. Maybe it was in March 2008, when the Minister for Indigenous Affairs was warned by her own colleagues that the Northern Territory intervention ‘national emergency housing program’ wouldn’t actually build any homes for years, and would force the price of construction sky-high.

Jenny Macklin

Jenny Macklin

Originally published in the National Indigenous Times, Issue 183, August 6 2009.

By Amy McQuire

It’s not exactly clear when the rot began to set in on Jenny Macklin’s black housing policies. Maybe it was in March 2008, when the Minister for Indigenous Affairs was warned by her own colleagues that the Northern Territory intervention ‘national emergency housing program’ wouldn’t actually build any homes for years, and would force the price of construction sky-high.

Maybe it was in March this year, when Macklin secretly wrote to state and territory housing Ministers, directing them not to build homes on black land unless they first squeezed the owners for a minimum 40-year lease.

Perhaps it was in May this year, when Macklin announced she was going to compulsorily acquire the Alice Springs town camps because the leaseholders had refused to bow to government demands to sign over their hard won land rights in exchange for basic services. Or maybe June, when she botched the compulsory acquisition process… twice.

Or possibly July, when Macklin boasted via media release that she’d “delivered” 1,000 homes in three months to white Australia under the Rudd government’s stimulus package. Or late-July, when a Labor Indigenous policy minister threatened to quit the party in the Northern Territory in protest, possibly handing government to the Country Liberals.

Whenever it started, however it started, it’s clear today that Jenny Macklin – the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Indigenous Affairs – has had a great deal of trouble actually building houses for black people. AMY McQUIRE brings you a one-stop timeline to the collapse of the only ‘House that Jenny Has Built’….

August 2007: Macklin stands up for Aboriginal land rights

In 2007, Macklin stood up in federal parliament and delivered an impassioned speech against the Howard government’s 99-year land lease legislation.

She was, at the time, the Opposition spokesperson on Indigenous affairs and portrayed the proposed laws as a major blow for Aboriginal people who had fought long and hard for their land rights.

With a sense of theatre befitting the occasion, Macklin kicked off her speech by quoting the iconic lyrics of Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody’s classic, From little things, big things grow.

“And Vincent sat down with big politicians. This affair they told him is a matter of state. Let us sort it out, your people are hungry. Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait,” crooned Macklin.

She went on to praise the Tangentyere Council, who administer the Alice Springs town camps, for refusing to give into Indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough’s $60 million ‘carrot’ – an offer to boost housing and infrastructure in exchange for a 99-year land lease.

It was, said Macklin, simply unacceptable for the Howard government to link the provision of basic government services to land tenure reform.

Macklin praised Tangentyere for responding by saying ‘No thanks, we know how to wait.’

She finished her speech by giving a timeline of the Howard government’s failure in properly negotiating with the council: “After touring the camps in May 2006, Minister Brough said: ‘These people deserve to have a better outcome than they’re getting now, and I expect to be able to make fairly urgent decisions and put in place policies, if you will, initiatives that will turn their lives around very, very rapidly’.

“About 10 months later, in March 2007, the minister finally put a deal on the table. The deal consisted of $70 million worth of infrastructure and housing for town camps. In exchange, the town camps had to surrender their leases and the management of housing to the Northern Territory government.

“About a month later, on 18 April 2007, a concession was offered in relation to the leases. The town camps could sublease the residential areas to the Northern Territory government for 99-year leases, rather than surrendering the entire lease.

“To recap the events: the minister said he was going to change things in a year. It took his department 10 months to put a specific proposal on the table. One month later the deal changed substantially and then he gave the town camp people one month’s deadline to decide, threatening that otherwise the money would be spent elsewhere.”

Macklin howled that the key reason the council hadn’t signed the lease was that the “deal included one non-negotiable term – that they relinquish the housing management to the Northern Territory government”.

“With desperately needed funds dangling before them, the chances of people being able to make these important decisions in a free and informed way were undermined,” Macklin told Parliament.

“We are still hopeful, I have to say, that a resolution can be found. But finding a resolution should be an imperative of the government, and an understanding is needed that it will take time and a willingness to negotiate.

“…We understand the need and the desire for economic development and empowerment in Australia’s remote regions, working with Indigenous people, not taking away hard won land rights.”

In regards to the 99-year land lease legislation, she had stated that, “it was hard to imagine that any other group of Australians would have their property rights treated in this way”.

October 9, 2008: Macklin continues SIHIP program and announces Alliance partners

The Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) was an initiative of the Howard government and a key part of the Northern Territory intervention.

It is the most expensive plank of the controversial policy.

SIHIP – a housing program established to tackle a national emergency – was supposed to build more than 750 new houses, more than 230 new replacement houses and up to 2500 housing upgrades.

In October 2008, Macklin announced in a joint statement with NT Minister for Housing, Rob Knight that the three consortiums that would deliver housing and upgrades to specific communities had been chosen – Earth Connect Alliance, New Future Alliance and Territory Alliance.

The decision to use this alliance contracting method was recommended by an independent consultant, the Rudd government said.

The three alliances would deliver works to the Tiwi Islands, the Tennant Creek town camps and three Groote Eylandt communities.

But there was a condition – all of them would have to sign over their land to the Commonwealth in order to access SIHIP.

Another stated goal of the SIHIP program was to employ Indigenous people.

March 5, 2009: Short memories – Macklin gets to work on Aboriginal housing

Having passionately opposed linking land tenure reform to the provision of basic services in Opposition, Macklin stages a remarkable turnaround once in government by proposing a near identical plan to that of her predecessor.

NIT divulges details of a leaked letter from Macklin to all state and territory housing ministers, in which she directs that no Commonwealth housing funds be spent in remote Aboriginal communities unless state and territory governments first gain a minimum 40-year lease over the land.

The plan would affect about one quarter of the nation’s Indigenous population and is a complete reversal of Labor’s policy in Opposition.

Macklin’s letter did not disclose whether compensation would be offered to communities who signed over land in exchange for housing.

The letter also revealed that:
• state and territory ministers were also instructed to not spend Commonwealth housing funding on land that is subject to ongoing native title processes.

• Before any homes are built, state and territory housing ministers were instructed to secure agreements with Aboriginal housing service providers that they can be removed at any time “if so required” by the government.

• Macklin did not disclose any of the details of the land tenure reforms publicly. The Rudd government had no plans to consult with Aboriginal people on this issue, and to this day still hasn’t.

• Macklin instructed state and territory housing ministers to come to an agreement on the public housing reforms in less than one month.

In response to a list of questions from NIT, Macklin released a statement arguing that the leases were “essential” to the housing improvements.

“Houses built on land without secure long-term tenure frequently become run down and unliveable.

“Aboriginal people on community title land have minimal chance of safe and secure housing and available housing stock is overcrowded and run down.

“Securing long-term tenure requires detailed consultation and negotiations with land-owners and State and Territory governments.”

NIT published the story on the morning Macklin was scheduled to address the NSW Aboriginal Land Council annual conference.

The minister was confronted at the meeting by dozens of furious Aboriginal leaders, and eventually fled the premises, directing her Commonwealth driver to ‘Get me out of here’, as she rushed towards the exit of the conference centre.

May 24, 2009: Macklin follows Mal’s footsteps on town camps… but botches the process

Macklin announces she will begin the process of compulsorily acquiring the Alice Springs town camps after Tangentyere Council refused to surrender control over the camps in exchange for around $125 million in housing and infrastructure funding.

In June, Macklin takes to the airwaves, telling Channel Ten that she wants to “get on with” improving the town camps and sets a deadline for the council to come to the table. But the minister is soon forced to extend the cut-off date on the consultations after receiving fresh legal advice.

In an unusual move, Macklin publicly rebukes the Australian Government Solicitors’ office for not providing timely advice.

“On 24 May 2009, I announced that the Australian Government was taking the first step towards compulsory acquisition of the Alice Springs town camps,” Macklin wrote. “Based on legal advice recently provided to me, I am releasing a revised timetable.

“The Australian Government Solicitor has advised the Government to extend the period during which people may provide submissions about a possible acquisition to 60 days.

“While I am disappointed that this latest legal advice was not provided earlier, I have an obligation to give affected persons a reasonable notice period in relation to my considerations under the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act (2007).

“I am not prepared to risk the outcome of this process by ignoring the Australian Government Solicitor’s legal advice.”

July, 06, 2009: Macklin defends SIHIP despite no homes for black families

A storm brews as Macklin is forced to defend the NT intervention’s SIHIP program, with no single house constructed for an Aboriginal family under the scheme despite it being in operation for more than two years.

The program is widely condemned by Aboriginal leaders around the nation, but Macklin claims that refurbishments – the only part of the program delivered so far – are important, stating that “you get a really good bang for your buck from upgrades”.

The refurbishments, of course, do nothing to alleviate over-crowding, the primary cause of the poor housing stock in the NT.

The Northern Territory government also comes under fire after Opposition Indigenous affairs spokesperson Adam Giles claims that more than $100 million of the $672 million program would end up being spent on bureaucracy and administration.

Both the NT government and the Rudd government refuse to comment on the figure.

July 9, 2009: Macklin’s phoney NT intervention consultations and town camp threat revealed

An explosive leaked document reveals that Macklin accepted advice from her department against formally consulting with Aboriginal communities over the compulsory acquisition of their land.

Macklin was also warned of the dangers of meeting a key Labor promise on the NT intervention – the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (in Opposition, Labor supported the Howard government in suspending the RDA from the NT intervention legislation. But in government, Labor promised to return the RDA).

Macklin, however, was advised that the compulsory five-year leases seized under the intervention legislation were unlikely to survive a legal challenge if and when the RDA was restored.

The revelations were contained in a departmental memo provided to Macklin on March 25, 2009.

It revealed:
• The government has been warned there’s a “significant risk” it would lose any legal challenge to the validity of five-year leases over Aboriginal land.
• Macklin was warned by her own department not to formally consult with Aboriginal people on the future of the leases, because it would be too expensive, tie up resources and was unlikely to get the government the outcome it wanted – voluntary handing over of the land.
• The advice against consultation was ‘accepted, noted and agreed’ by Macklin just one week before she endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which commits her government to genuine consultation with Aboriginal people.
• Even with legislative and administrative adjustments there remains “a moderate to high risk” that compulsory acquisition such as that proposed over the Alice Springs town camps would also not survive a court challenge.

The story broke as the federal government began consultations with Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory
about reinstating the RDA.

July 2009: The black backlash begins…

The head of the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM) in South Australia Neil Gillespie calls on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to censure Macklin over the NT consultations, saying that “unless she changes her position she has no right to represent Aboriginal people at a government level”.

Prominent anti-intervention campaigner Barbara Shaw not only calls for Macklin’s resignation, but demands her advisers resign as well.

“These leaked documents show that she [Macklin] considers ‘consultation’ to be a legal game, rigged to impose policy that we do not want,” Ms Shaw said.

“The UN Declaration demands that Aboriginal people are involved in policy making and that our land is not taken without consent.

“… Our land was seized… because the government said they needed to build houses quickly.
“Two years on and not a single house has been built through this intervention.”

July 23, 2009: Macklin warned about SIHIP failures

It’s revealed by NIT that Macklin had been warned in early 2008 that the SIHIP intervention housing program would not deliver on its housing and employment goals, and was based on a model that had sparked a Royal Commission into corruption in the building industry.

The model involves numerous companies forming ‘alliances’ and then bidding on government contracts to provide housing to a single community.

The details are contained in a ‘private office memo’ from Senator Ursula Stephens to Macklin, dated May 12, 2008. It contains information Senator Stephens gleaned from a government briefing into the public housing model being created under SIHIP.

Senator Stephens warns Macklin that:

• SIHIP had ‘little chance’ of building a house before 2011.
• The 20 percent Indigenous employment goals under SIHIP were “aspirational only” and a skills shortage in the NT meant the labour shortage would likely be plugged by overseas workers. • The federal and Territory government bureaucrats running the program were “commercially naïve” about how the construction industry works.
• Industry members present at the government briefing were “flabbergasted” at the alliance model being proposed.
• Alliance contracting would not deliver “economies of scale” and would not lead to competitive pricing. Instead, it would guarantee a “race to the top” in pricing.
• The process could be found to be anti-competitive and could be in breach of the Trade Practices Act (TPA).
• The process could lead to the sort of corruption that was exposed in a NSW Royal Commission into the Building Industry in 1992. The commission found that the practice of collusive tendering was rife in the NSW Master Builders Association.
• SIHIP should be reviewed before “too much more money is wasted”.

Despite the advice from Senator Stephens, Macklin proceeded with SIHIP.

The revelations from NIT came a day after Macklin’s office issued a press release promoting the government’s efforts in delivering public housing to white communities, predominantly in Sydney and Brisbane.

Under the federal ‘stimulus package’ – aimed at guiding Australia away from the global recession – the Rudd government claimed it had “delivered its 1000th home” in just three months.

Ironically, it was in the inner Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba, in the electorate of Griffith… the seat held by Kevin Rudd.

July 24, 2009: Bureaucrats called in to probe bureaucracy

In response to the growing furore over the SIHIP program, Macklin and NT Chief Minister Paul Henderson appoint two senior bureaucrats to conduct a four-week audit of SIHIP.

The bureaucrats are Amanda Cattermole from FaHCSIA and Ken Davies, from the Territory Government.

“It will be their responsibility to make sure the governments’ housing priorities are addressed as a matter of urgency and they will have the authority to direct relevant government officials, the SIHIP program managers and Alliance partners,” Macklin and Henderson said in a joint statement.

The horse, however, had already bolted.

July 24, 2009: Macklin faces SIHIP backlash from Aboriginal MLA

NT Minister for Indigenous Policy, Alison Anderson – herself an Aboriginal woman – threatens to quit the Labor Party over its handling of the SIHIP program.

Anderson’s threat – still hanging over the ALP as this feature went to press – would likely hand government to the Country Liberal Party if followed through.

Ms Anderson warns Macklin that she has to “start keeping an eye on her money” after The Australian newspaper reveals that Anderson and colleague Karl Hampton were told by NT officials that the SIHIP program might only end up building 300 homes and that almost 70 percent of the funds would be blown on administration.

“It was quite openly told to use that there will be 15 percent administrative costs going to government, 40 percent for the alliance partners, and another 14 percent for indirect costs, whatever that is,” Ms Anderson told The Australian.

“That leaves 30 percent that will hit the ground.

“I was absolutely appalled. I said, ‘Here we go again’. We talk about closing the gap in Indigenous inequality and Indigenous housing, and here we are creaming off so much money in administrative costs. I will not take that. I am prepared to walk on the issue.”

The Australian later reported that after attending a cabinet meeting, Ms Anderson had been assured the program would still meet its housing targets.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson claimed that the briefing Anderson and Hampton had received, from SIHIP head Jim Davidson, had been “inaccurate”.

Macklin continues to deny allegations that up to 70 percent of SIHIP funds will be wasted bureaucracy and administration.

July 27, 2009: Hampton joins public condemnation of SIHIP program

Karl Hampton – an Aboriginal minister in the NT government – joins colleague Alison Anderson in condemning the Labor Party’s handling of the SIHIP program.

He tells The Australian newspaper that he was “particularly disturbed when told during the same briefing by the consultant heading SIHIP, Jim Davidson, that no new houses would be built under a $125m package for Alice Springs town camps”.

Ironically, that same day the town camp compulsory acquisition leapt back into the public spotlight.

July 27, 2009: Macklin botches Alice Spring town camps deal… again

NIT reveals that Macklin has botched the compulsory acquisition of the Alice Springs town camps – again – and now faced the prospect of having to quickly cut a deal with the organisation she had been publicly flogging for two months – the Tangentyere Council.

NIT online reported:

“The latest blunder relates to the period of notice that must be provided by the Commonwealth to anyone whose interest in the town camp land is affected by the proposed compulsory acquisition.

Currently, Tangentyere Council holds a lease over the land on behalf of the town camp housing associations, who in turn lease individual homes to town camp families.

In late May – after Tangentyere refused to sign over control of its land for 40 years in exchange for $125 million in housing and infrastructure upgrades – Macklin gave the council and the town camp associations formal notice that the Commonwealth was considering compulsorily acquiring the land.

But it seems no-one in the Minister’s office thought to formally notify the actual tenants of the town camp.

NIT understands that there are around 200 people who hold lease agreements with the town camp housing associations, and whose tenancy rights would be affected by any government takeover. By law, they are required to be given a reasonable period of notice about the forced acquisition.

The mistake was exposed on July 24, when lawyers acting for town camp resident and prominent anti-intervention activist Barbara Shaw wrote to the Minister notifying her an application had been lodged in the Federal Court seeking an injunction against the proposed acquisition.

Lawyers acting pro bono for Ms Shaw include prominent Queens Counsel Ron Merkel, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, leading international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, UTS-based lawyers Professor Larissa Behrendt and Alison Vivian, and George Newhouse, a prominent Sydney-based human rights lawyer.

They’ve set a deadline of 5pm (Tuesday) for the Minister to provide Barbara Shaw with a written assurance the government will not proceed with a decision about the proposed compulsory acquisition, warning her that any attempt to
“defeat or diminish the current rights” held by town campers must be preceded by a reasonable period of proper notice.

Macklin will now either have to re-extend the period of notice of compulsory acquisition by another 60 days – the same notice she gave Tangentyere and the housing associations – or hope she can convince Tangentyere to sign over control of the town camps, thus negating the need to use the compulsory acquisition powers.

A further two month delay would mean it took the Minister for Indigenous Affairs almost six months to complete a process that even she claimed should only have taken two.

Government sources have confirmed that the Minister’s office intensified its efforts to secure an agreement with Tangentyere late this week, but no accord has been reached.

Macklin could also try and strike a deal directly with the town camp residents, although negotiating with 200 parties for a single outcome – and in a timely fashion – would seem a tall order.

Whatever happens, it’s another highly embarrassing blunder from a Minister already under siege. In the past month a string of departmental leaks have put Macklin squarely in the media’s gaze over her handling of the NT intervention.

A spokesperson for the Minister told NIT: “The Minister has received correspondence concerning possible legal action about the consideration she is currently giving to the potential compulsory acquisition of the Alice Springs town camps.

“The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ legal team is ready to deal with the action if and when we are formally served.

“Given the dire state of the town camps, the Government’s priority remains moving urgently to give children in the camps a better chance at a safe, healthy and happy life.”

July 31st, 2009: More blows to SIHIP

Former NT housing minister and Aboriginal MLA Elliot McAdam reveals on ABC radio that the federal and state governments have not fulfilled their promises to the Tennant Creek town camps, which were supposed to receive 20 new houses in exchange for signing a 40-year lease over their land.

ABC radio reported that under the agreement, the town camps were promised $36 million for the 20 houses.

But one year later, the figure was dropped to nine houses. By 2009, the governments had reduced it to zero, with only refurbishments to be completed.

“How come there’s no houses in Tennant Creek? How come it went from 20 to 9, then to 0, with an extra $6 million chucked in on top?” McAdam asked.

He told the ABC he believed about 25 percent of the funding for the Tennant Creek town camps had been swallowed up by the bureaucracy. He added he had little faith in the delivery of 700 houses under the SIHIP program.

July 29th – 31st, 2009: Macklin’s Alice Springs lease derailed by Tangentyere letter

After finally negotiating a deal with the Tangentyere council for more than $100 million in exchange for housing, refurbishments and other upgrades in the town camps, anti-intervention activist and Mt Nancy town camp resident Barbara Shaw halts the celebration.

She wins a temporary injunction in court, as NIT reports online:

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin was all smiles and sunshine after announcing she’d signed a 40-year lease with Tangentyere Council over the Alice Springs town camps, in exchange for $138 million worth of housing and infrastructure upgrades.

“This agreement is a significant win for the Australian and Northern Territory Governments, Alice Springs town camp housing associations, Tangentyere Council and town camp residents,” Macklin crowed.

“It means we can start working together to transform the appalling living conditions endured by many people living in the Alice Springs town camps.”

A win. Working together. A transformation.

Actually, it’s a train wreck. Within 24 hours of this announcement, the farce that is the town camp takeover had well and truly derailed.

On January 30 in court, lawyers for town camp resident and prominent anti-intervention campaigner Barb Shaw obtained a
temporary ‘stay of execution’. Shaw is seeking an injunction against the minister compulsorily acquiring the town camps, or signing any agreement with Tangentyere because the actual tenants of the town camps have never been properly notified that their rights are about to be extinguished.

The Federal Court will reconvene on Tuesday (after this feature goes to press) to continue hearing the case.
Macklin can’t sign her lease deal on Friday, as planned. But her immediate worry is not how she fares in court on Tuesday. It’s how to explain what emerged in court last Thursday.

In writing to Macklin to indicate an intent to sign up for a 40-year lease, Tangentyere’s lawyers, Gilbert & Tobin, dumped a bucket on the minister and her methods of ‘securing an agreement’.

The document is dynamite.

“The housing associations have agreed to enter into the sub leases for the simple reason that you have threatened them with compulsory acquisition if they do not…,” Gilbert & Tobin wrote.

“The loss of tenure to these lands is something that is abhorrent to the housing associations and they could not run the risk that it might occur.”

Gilbert & Tobin added that it was “… in the overriding best interests of the associations and their members that their interest in these lands be maintained rather than completely forgone”.

“Acquisitions of these lands would not allow the associations or members to have any input into protecting their rights or interests.

“This ultimate risk of compulsory acquisition has hovered in the background throughout the protracted negotiations.”

On the public claims by Macklin that the time for negotiation had ended, Tangentyere’s lawyers noted: “It is simply incorrect to assert that time has run out. The timetable is completely within your power to set, as indeed you have done throughout these negotiations.”

The letter is highly embarrassing for Macklin and, obviously, raises serious questions about the legality of the entire process.

Even if an agreement has been signed – and contrary to claims by Macklin, it hasn’t – the government has clearly obtained the lease under duress.

Politically speaking, it’s even worse. The ‘people under duress’ are the nation’s poorest, most marginalised citizens who were told that unless they did what the government wanted, they would lose their land forever.

That’s a nice look from a government that earlier this year signed the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, committing to a genuine partnership with Aboriginal people.

This whole sordid exercise could have been avoided – Macklin did not have to pick a fight with the Alice Springs town campers. She could have resolved the situation amicably – Tangentyere and the housing associations which represent the town campers want housing upgrades; they just wanted to be a key part of the process.

But Macklin, egged on by a few ideological advisers, tried to take the lot. It was naïve and unnecessary. Macklin pushed hard for a letter from Tangentyere, and when the package arrived she was too arrogant to realise it contained a ticking bomb.

Macklin no doubt understands now that if you threaten and bully Aboriginal people and try to take their land, they’re going to fight back. And they’re going to bring friends.

Shaw’s legal team includes prominent Queens Counsel Ron Merkel, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, leading international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, George Newhouse, a prominent Sydney-based human rights lawyer and UTS-based lawyers Professor Larissa Behrendt and Alison Vivian.

And the worst news for Macklin is they’re only just warming up.”

August 4, 2009: Henderson ‘finds savings’ in SIHIP program

The Australian reports that the Northern Territory government “has agreed to trim by more than $50 million its bureaucratic expenses for administering a $700m Aboriginal housing program, in a move to appease rebel Aboriginal ministers”.

“Minister for Indigenous Policy Alison Anderson hailed the deal – reached during a weekend crisis briefing on the progress of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program – as a victory for parliamentarians willing to challenge their own political masters.

“During the weekend briefing, attended by Ms Anderson, Chief Minister Paul Henderson, Housing Minister Rob Knight, and Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton, the Territory government pledged to pare back its administrative costs under SIHIP to 8 per cent of the total project funds.

“That will result in an overall saving of $22m. A further $27m saving will be made by simplifying housing designs, Ms Anderson said.

“The concessions by the NT government – which had originally planned to cream off 15 per cent, or $100m, of the $672m SIHIP package in administration fees – came after Ms Anderson and Mr Hampton publicly challenged their own government’s handling of the program.”

August 4, 2009: Henderson government in crisis as Anderson makes good on threat

Alison Anderson – the Northern Territory’s Minister for Aboriginal Policy, makes good on her threat and resigns from the ALP.

Anderson walked out of cabinet 20 minutes into a mid-morning meeting, and issued a statement to media shortly after.
She blames the Chief Minister’s refusal to respond to an article in the Northern Territory News attacking Anderson and Scrymgour .

The move plunges the Henderson government into chaos.

Later in the afternoon, Henderson announces that Marion Scrymgour is returning to the ALP fold, taking his minority government from 11, back to 12 seats.

But unless Anderson agrees to back the ALP, power could shift to the CLP.

The remaining independent Gerry Wood has reportedly indicated he would back a ‘no confidence’ vote against the Henderson government, forcing it out of office.

At the time of press, Anderson’s final position was unknown.

• We will, of course, keep you posted online, at http://www.nit.com.au

August 4, 2009: Federal Court reserves decision on town camp injunction.

Federal Court Justice Goldman reserved his decision on an injunction against the town camp deal until Friday this
week.

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