Territory Stories

Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017



Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Thursday 19 October 2017 2694 based on 30 separate and specific measures such as population, cost of delivering services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people et cetera. Fiscal capacity is one of the 30 weighted measures used to calculate the annual GST received. In effect, the current system amplifies procyclical physical policy, that is, it makes the boom times boomier and the down times worse. A case in point is Western Australia. Due to the time lag, when Western Australia should have received less GST during the height of the mining boom, it was still having another decade average of GST payments. Hence, there is a structural issue with the way GST is calculated and the timing of distribution. The draft report in the HFE was released last Monday, 9 October, and I will go through some of the key highlights. Again, there is no public hearing for the Productivity Commissions inquiries into the NT, the jurisdiction with the most to lose. There is no inquiry being held in the Northern Territory. What has this government done, apart from carp and whine? You are the government over there; start to act like it. I have been proactive. I have written to the Productivity Commission twice, urging it to hold public hearings in the NT. I seek leave to table a copy of the letters I have written to the Productivity Commission in relation to the need for public hearings for the draft report into HFE. Leave granted. Mr HIGGINS: Two public hearings are scheduled to be held in Western Australia but there are none in the NT. That is not good enough. This is contrary to the Treasurers directions. I quote: Process: The commission should undertake appropriate public consultation, including holding hearings inviting public submission and releasing a draft report to the public. It should consult widely, including with states and territory government. The commission should provide a final report to the government by the 31 of January 2018. That was signed by Scott Morrison on 5 May 2017. I am concerned by some of the content of the draft report, particularly page 16, which seeks to change the objective of the HFE. I quote: Equalisation should no longer be to the highest State, but instead the average or the second highest State still providing States with a high level of fiscal capacity, but not distorted by the extreme swings of one State. Any material change to HFE in the current extreme environment will lead to significant redistributions of the GST. Timing and careful transition are paramount, especially to ensure the fiscally weaker States are not significantly disadvantaged. I note that it says states and not territory. It is an omission, from what I gather. I understand the rationale that underpins and informs this review. It is frustrating that states and territories that are rich in resources, like ours, are not doing all they can to help themselves economically. Page 17: The incentives for the States to undertake fiscal (expenditure and revenue) reforms that improve the operation of their own jurisdictions, and Let me put on the record, formally and firmly, that I, the NT Opposition Leader, as well as a Country Liberal Party, strongly support the existing methodology and philosophy of horizontal fiscal equalisation. Page 30 of the report: Overall, the current HFE system goes too far in the pursuit of equalisation and much beyond what other federations do. Arguably it also goes beyond what a unitary government would