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 The increase in stamp duty on the transfer of motor vehicle ownership is to generate an additional $3.7m. Territorians will pay that when they register a vehicle in their own name for the first time. Whether it is a new vehicle or a second-hand vehicle that is changing hands, the purchaser will pay stamp duty. If they are not in that position, they do not pay that tax. However, the Grants Commission found that the Northern Territory could have raised an additional $2.9m from this source and an additional $7.3m from vehicle registration fees and taxes in 1993-94 had it then applied the equivalent of average rates of taxes and charges in the states. Thus, we are talking about additional capacity to raise $10m from Territorians if we were to apply state-like levels of charges. We have not done so deliberately because we think Territorians rely very heavily on personal transport. We do not have a comprehensive system of urban transport. We have bus services in Darwin and Alice Springs, but not elsewhere in the Territory. There are no rail services. It could be said that we are not overly-endowed with bus services which are very expensive to run. For those reasons, we have not gone in as hard as we could have in that particular area. In relation to franchise fees on tobacco, the commission found that the Territory had made about a standard revenue-raising effort in 1993-94. I do not expect that measures in this budget will take us much above that average when the state budgets are revealed. The states are all about to bring down their budgets for the coming financial year. No doubt, the states that are not heading closely towards an election will be seeking some additional revenue from their constituents. In the Grants Commissions assessment, we were already making an above average revenue effort in respect of franchise fees for sellers of petroleum products. We made a $6m, above-standard revenue effort in this area 2 years ago. At the same time, the commission found that the Territory could have raised an additional $11.5m from electricity and gas enterprises and a similar amount again from other public trading enterprises. Overall, therefore, we have chosen to apply a different pattern in respect of the revenue categories, but one which remains below the commissions assessment of our capacity if we made standard effort. The Grants Commission has what is known as its black box. A huge amount of complex data is fed into a box that calculates all kinds of relativity comparisons, burden comparisons and capacity comparisons. It spits out a mass of figures that compare the Territorys economy with those of the various states. The states raise a great deal of money from their trading enterprises. They make money from generating electricity and selling it to their citizens. That is also the case with water in some places. Certainly, it is so in relation to a range of other profitable business enterprises in which governments become involved. Those profits flow to the Consolidated Revenue of the state. In the Northern Territory, our electricity is at about break-even point at present. It was subsidised hugely until recent years. The bus services do not make any money, but bus services do not make money anywhere in Australia. The Port Authority does not make a profit or, if it does, it is minute. I think that we do actually receive a small dividend from the Port Authority. The TIO pays a dividend, but not a huge one. However, it is a profitable and successful enterprise of the Territory. Nevertheless, we are not in a position to be able to generate electricity at 1.50 or 20 per kilowatt/hour and sell it for 80 and 90. It costs us between 120 and 130 to produce, and I believe we sell it at a similar price. Thus, 3471