Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017
Parliamentary Record 8
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 October 2017 2721 to the GST. Mr Morrison has started his move by saying he will change one concept to reasonable. I am not sure what reasonable is yet. This is an area I have spoken about a couple of times this year in parliament, that is, not only do we need to be working to keep the GST as it is, but also to bear in mind that we could lose more of the GST if some of those states put more pressure on the federal government. According to what I read, it is only an agreement to a point; the Commonwealth could change it by putting a motion passed through parliament. We have to work harder and tell people in the Northern Territory that they cannot expect that federal funding will continue into the future. We have to develop industries, whether it is remoteand I am not just talking about the onshore gas industry, but communities have to start to develop industries to make them more selfsufficient. If you look at a lot of the communities that require the GST to provide hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations, that money is nearly all from federal government. If you look at the industries in those communities, except for a few placesthe store, for instance, relies on people who get money from the Commonwealth. Whether it is through Centrelink, the Ranger Program or other programs, a huge amount of the economy in those areas is purely reliant on Commonwealth funding, and that is because the GST is used in those areas of most need in the Northern Territory. I am not saying we should not fight for it, but I am also trying to be a realist. We also have to stand up on our two feet. If we say we want to be a state and have self-determination then we also have to develop industries and our own economy. That may take a lot of years, but this is a warning sign that we cannot be guaranteed that this money will continue because of pressure from states like Western Australia, which is saying it is not getting its fair return. If you look at the figures you can see why WA is complaining, but the point is that we are small in the big picture. It does not mean we should not fight. I am just using this occasion to say it is a warning sign, and we need to try to pick up our own area to make our economy more vibrant and to stand up on our feet economically as much as we can so that if things get cut back we are starting to say, Well we are doing a better job. Part of the GST formula is where the federal government asks the Territory government how much we are trying to raise ourselves, and that is an interesting debate we can have a t another time. But most states, for instance, have a land tax. We do not have a land tax. I am not sure it would go down too well with members of the Northern Territory and some land you could not tax in the first place. As a government we have limited ways of raising revenue, but at the same time we should not be relying on taxes; we should be relying on developing our economy. I am happy to support this motion. There is a lot ofI hear the old argy bargy of politics, Liberal said this and Labor said that. Just forget that for the time being. If we are working as a parliament and saying we need to put this argument to the federal government, that it cannot reduce the GST any more than it is being reduced at the momentbecause there has been a reduction in the amount of money in the pool and that is part of the reason we have had a reduction in our GST. Then if you add on top of that a change to the way the formula is written, we would get another blast. That would be really painful and would send out a message that the federal government does not recognise the area and the people it is supposed to be responsible for. The Commonwealth is responsible for people, the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, so it should not be allowed to forget that responsibility. There is one area I would like the Treasurer to give a mention of. I was in local government long enough to know that one of the hardest things in local government is to get enough money to run local government. The reason is, the one portion of the pie that is not subject to horizontal fiscal equalisation is local government. It gets it on population, so straight away the Northern Territory local governments are disadvantaged. I hear speakers saying we need this money to provide services. Many of the services that are required in remote areas are provided through local government. The roads, the rubbish and all those basic services that we expect to have do not get decent funding. I remember looking at, from Litchfield Sh ires point of viewthe population of Litchfield is about 25 000. The council around Ararat in Victoria, which has a very similar population, got about four times the dollar per head of its population than Litchfieldsame size, same population. It is the one part of the GST that needs changing. That is extremely difficult because states with bigger populations get more money.