Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995
Parliamentary Record 11
Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 Our growth has been 16% greater than the national growth figure in recent times, along with growth in other economic indicators for various industries. That is very encouraging and means that the Territory is in pretty reasonable shape at present. To touch for a moment on the subject of taxes, as was noted by everybody, stamp duty on the transfer of motor vehicle ownership is up as are tobacco taxes and petroleum taxes. A fire service levy and a levy on cask wine are to be introduced. Water and sewerage charges have been increased, as have Housing Commission rents and bus fares. As has been noted, it has been 3 years since comprehensive increases occurred in the Territory budget and, in a sense, these measures are a catch-up with jurisdictions elsewhere in Australia so that similar standards of services may be provided to Territory residents. We will all be very mindful of the arrangement that we had with the Commonwealth at self-government - that the Territory was to take over expenditure on state-like activities in the Territory, or at least most of them, and was to make a reasonable revenue-raising effort of its own in exchange for the powers of self-government. The old saying is no taxation without representation. To some degree, for many years prior to self-government, Territorians had been let off the hook in respect of a range of taxes on the basis that, as they had no say in how they were to be spent, they were not interested in paying them. Indeed, former members of the Legislative Council were almost jailed for not paying taxes in the fight for self-government. Thus, the CLP government at the time undertook to maintain a reasonable revenue-raising effort by taxing Territorians in exchange for self-government. It was a very handsome agreement for funding the Territory whereby our annual base was increased each year by the rate of population plus inflation. That was when Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister. It provided a formula for reasonably significant growth in our funds from the Commonwealth each year. We added to those through local taxes. The Territory had a series of growth budgets and we did an enormous number of things in the Territory in those early days. I recall the days when the ALPs John Reeves was the Territorys member in the House of Representatives. Sadly, he seemed to spend his time in the federal parliament stating that the party was over, and that the Territory was living too high on the hog and had to be brought to heel. I am not sure what effect he had on federal ministers, and it is hard to lay all the blame at his feet, but certainly he did not speak in the Territorys favour. No doubt, he was not very happy that the CLP won elections in the Territory time after time. The Labor government actually tore up the Memorandum of Understanding on financial arrangements which treated the Territory differently from all the states on the basis that our circumstances were very different. Because we had neither all the tax-raising powers nor all the responsibilities of a state, we were not treated as a state. In 1988, the current Prime Minister advised that, from that time onwards, we would be treated as a state. An assessment is made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission which has been charged for many years with making comparisons between the revenue capacities and actual revenue effort of the states and territories. In terms of overall revenue effort, it is of interest that the Northern Territory has been assessed as making an 87% revenue effort measured against its 1993-94 revenue capacity. The commission has consistently assessed the Territorys effort at around that level for the past few years. It is therefore pertinent to quote some of the details and compare these with the measures adopted in this budget for implementation in 1995-96. 3470
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