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 Mr STIRLING (Nhulunbuy): Mr Speaker, it was commendable, even heartening, to hear the Minister for Aboriginal Development and Lands, Housing and Local Government go through that long list of expenditure on different items, and I commend him for that. However, it glosses over the reality of this budget. Certainly, from where we sit, few more deceitful budgets could ever have been presented. For evidence of that, one needs only to read the paragraph at page 2 of the Treasurers budget speech which states: This years budget is fiscally responsible. It is not a big-spending budget. In the 4-year cycle of government, it is a budget appropriate for the times. With that, he is saying that it is too late for Territorians: You voted us in last year, but I have you in my sights now and I have 3 years until the next election. I have absolute licence to do whatever I want to with taxes and charges, and I will do exactly that. He has delivered this budget just 12 months after an election campaign during which no hint was given of the array of tax and charge increases to follow 12 months later. Families and workers will bear the brunt of an election campaign fudged through on unfunded promises just 12 months ago. The Treasurer said on radio that it will not matter if people are well off or not very well off because not too many people will escape the effects of this budget. He is right in one respect. The only people to escape at all will be those who do not smoke, do not drink wine, do not drink water and do not own or buy a car. If they do not have a car, and they use the bus service, they are gone again. Finally, they would have to live in a place that does not attract the new fire levy - the new wonder tax - that has not been worked out. Every one of those taxes is regressive in nature, and that is the other side of what the Treasurer is saying. They hit lower- to middle-income earners the hardest. It is an indecent grab at the hip pocket of Territorians in an absolutely unprecedented and uncoordinated fashion, a hotch-potch scrabble for dollars from the soft and easy targets in the community. Amo Aho from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on television on Thursday night that this is a good budget. He stands alone, not only as the only person to comment on the budget who had never even glanced at it, but also as the only person in the Territory to say that to date. Of course, his members are not on the side of those that Treasurer Coulter referred to who are not very well off. However, even he will still need to explain to his members how the fire levy will affect their pockets, if he ever reads the budget and understands it himself, because the detail of that fire service levy is not mentioned in the budget speech. At some point, someone will have to explain to Mr Aho how it is all to work to enable him in turn to explain it to his members. The obvious reason for the lack of coordination in this budget is that government members have had their attention diverted by the leadership issue, the number crunching associated with that and the Rights o f the Terminally III Bill. How else could it come about that the Minister for Education and Training has allowed his mate, the Treasurer, to do him over on the education vote, where we see a 1.6% decrease in real terms at a time when we have the worst retention rates, and declining retention rates at that. All this has come from a Treasurer who should not even be there. When he delivered the budget last year, the Treasurer promised to resign if that budget did not get across the line intact. Some 3 months from the line, the edict was issued to stop recruitment and to stop spending because the budget had suddenly developed a hiccup - a hole to the extent of $28m. Admittedly, that was not as bad as the lies told before and after the 1990 election when the 3500