Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




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 - Tuesday 23 May 1995 we wish to gain support from those states and the Commonwealth for Territory statehood. This budget moves towards that objective. Similarly, the Territory has to been seen to be making reasonable efforts to minimise its debt. This budget demonstrates that Territory debt has now established a pattern of lesser borrowings, with interest payments under firm control. The Treasurer has pointed out that, on the standard national uniform reporting basis, this budget shows a reduction of $9m in Territory net debt. This decrease may be small, but it is significant. It demonstrates a decline in our use of debt. That is now locked into future budget strategies and will continue through 1996-97. As a proportion of revenue, interest payments will be at 13.4%. This is a reduction from 13.9% in the 1994-95 year and well below the states average of 16.1%. I do not expect Territorians to greet increases in taxes and charges very happily. However, the fact remains that some increases are necessary, and they have been achieved in a responsible manner which will support the continued growth and development of the Territory. I will turn now to some of the more specific items in the budget which will benefit my electorate of Victoria River. I am very pleased that education services to rural families in my electorate have been boosted in the budget. In particular, the replacement of the Katherine House boarding facility and the expansion of courses at NT Rural College will be welcomed by my constituents. The existing Katherine House, which accommodates up to 25 students from rural areas while they attend secondary school in Katherine, is to be replaced by a purpose-built, 40-bed facility at a total cost of $2.8m. Construction of this facility is expected to be completed by the end of the 1996 year. The replacement of the outdated and inadequate facilities at Katherine House has been an important priority for my constituents for some time and I am delighted that the Territory government has agreed to fully fund its replacement, especially in light of the federal Labor governments refusal to contribute to the project. Almost S500 000 has been allocated to develop courses at NT Rural College, bringing that colleges funding to $2.86m for the 1995-96 year. This additional funding has been provided to research and implement changes for the re-accreditation of the certificate in lands, parks and wildlife management - some $240 000, - and to continue the secondary education program offered to Year 11 and 12 students not wishing to focus entirely on academic courses. That is a project of $250 000. Access to good quality education services is very important to families in rural and remote areas. These initiatives demonstrate the Territory governments continuing support for Territorians in outlying areas. Another important project to receive support in the budget is a new administration and staff area at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School at Port Keats. Provision of some $680 000 will allow the upgrading of facilities which are presently bursting at the seams. I also welcome the overall boost to education in the budget which will see total funding for the Department of Education and post-school colleges increased by some 3.3% to $285m. This includes the most generous per capita grants to non-govemment schools in the country. Education initiatives in the 1995-96 budget include an Addressing Violence Through Schools program, expansion of the Parents As Teachers program, a First Steps literacy project, and additional support for the Aboriginal education advisory group, FEPPI. Health and community services in my electorate will benefit from a $9m boost for Aboriginal health in the budget. The Territory government has allocated almost 3576