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MEDIA RELEASE: Legal battle over controversial remote rent framework resumes today

Today at 10am, four remote renters will continue their fight to invalidate the Northern Territory Government’s controversial ‘remote rent framework’ in a hearing in the NT Court of Appeal.

The renters are attempting to overturn a decision by the NT Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the NT Government in a judicial review case brought by Asher Badari, who is the lead plaintiff, along with three other remote tenants.

The Court of Appeal is also being asked to decide whether the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal has the power to declare that the plaintiffs’ rent under the new framework is excessive and must be reduced under tenancy laws. Three of the plaintiffs reside in Gunbalanya, and one in Laramba in remote Northern Territory.

The new rent model — which was introduced in February this year after being delayed due to widespread backlash — abolished income-based rent calculations in public housing in remote Aboriginal communities and Town Camps. In its place, it introduced a flat rate charge based on the number of bedrooms, making the NT the only Australian jurisdiction to abandon income-based rents.

Since its implementation, the framework has seen rent increases of up to 200% for 68% of remote Aboriginal tenants in the NT, with 5,313 premises impacted in total.[1] When it was announced, the scheme was roundly criticised by Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, who said that they were not meaningfully consulted, and who warned that rent hikes will compound poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity. Research this year by UNSW and the University of Sydney found that the NT faces the nation’s worst rates of housing stress.[2]

The NT government has stated it predicts the new model will raise $9.7 million per annum from impacted households.[3] The framework does not apply to public tenants in urban settings, meaning it disproportionately impacts First Nations communities, and raises questions about discrimination.

The remote communities impacted by rent hikes due to this framework are the same as those who are the subject of a recent High Court ruling, which found that remote public tenants are owed compensation over dilapidated housing due to neglect by the NT Government.

The residents bringing the case are represented by Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights (ALRAR) and barrister Matthew Albert, at no cost to the community or the tenants. Grata Fund has provided funding and support to the community throughout the legal journey.


Dan Kelly, Solicitor for Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights (ALRAR), said:

“Shortly after lumping public tenants with these rent hikes, the NT Government was found by courts to have failed its obligation to provide safe housing and non-toxic drinking water. The government isn’t holding up its end of the bargain, while forcing tenants to pay more.”

“Even worse, the government has stated it hopes to raise $9.7 million from the framework. These are some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country - it has echoes of Robodebt.”

“We hope to prove that the determination by the NT Government was an overreach, and did not take into account its obligations to meaningfully consult with its tenants.”


Asher Badari, the lead plaintiff in the case and remote NT resident, said:

"It is unfair we have to pay so much rent, and now they are asking for more. All of the houses in all of the communities need to be fixed up. We need more houses, not more rent." 


Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director, Grata Fund said:

“I commend the courage of Mr Badari and all plaintiffs, who are today facing up against the NT Government to continue their long-standing fight for housing justice.”

“It’s extraordinary that the NT Government is appearing to revenue raise from remote First Nations communities, who are already battling poverty and housing shortages, especially while pouring $10 million a year into fracking subsidies.”


[1] According to evidence raised in the proceedings on 22 August 2022.

[2] Housing Needs Dashboard:

[3] According to evidence raised in the proceedings on 22 August 2022.


Available for interview:

  • Dan Kelly, Solicitor for Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights
  • Isabelle Reinecke, Executive Director, Grata Fund 

Please contact Madeleine Burkitt on 0435045516, [email protected]

Hearing details:

The hearing will be held in the NT Court of Appeal, Darwin at 10am before Chief Justice Grant,  Justice Barr, and Acting Justice Huntingford in Court Room 1.


Additional information:

  • The proceeding encompasses three separate proceedings which have been combined due to their similarities.
  • According to research by UNSW and University of Sydney, more than one in five households in regional areas in the NT have unmet housing needs — that is, people are either homeless, living with overcrowding or spending more than a third of their income on rent.
  • According to NTCOSS, there is a shortfall of 12,000 social houses in the NT, and years-long waiting lists.
  • Half of all Indigenous residents of very remote Northern Territory communities reported running out of food and being unable to afford to purchase more at least once per year, according to survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2018–19 (ABS, 2020).

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