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 3.75% for a 1-bedroom flat in Darwin to 16.3% for a 2-bedroom flat in Katherine. The minister says the increases will not affect low-income earners whose rents are fixed as a percentage of income and that the move is in line with the CSHA which urges movement towards market rents. The point is that a 16.3% increase, to take the Katherine example, is a savage slug. Rents have not increased in the past 3 years. The government could have signalled its intention with more moderate increases over a longer period, but it did not introduce increases in the past 3 years because that did not fit in with the Treasurers electoral cycle. However, with 3 years to an election, he now goes for the big hit. A family, which is renting a 3-bedroom Housing Commission home and earning above $32 000 a year, is hit already with government charges and fees amounting to between $500 and $750 a year. It now has to find an extra $1100-odd in rent for the year. It is obvious why rents were not increased moderately last year in the face of the June 1994 election. No doubt, if an election promise had not been made to freeze electricity charges for 4 years from last year, there would have been an increase there as well. In relation to housing, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Local Government just told us that it is all in the budget revenues. The point still remains that the Treasurer failed to mention it in his second-reading speech on Thursday. Turning to education, the government claims there is an increase of 1.9% overall against an inflation figure, used elsewhere in the budget papers by the Treasurer, of 3.5%. Thus, we are looking at a decrease in real terms of 1.6%. I note that the Katherine House boarding school has been funded to the extent of $2.8m. That decision is to be commended and I commend it. The Northern Territory government tried for a number of years to pass this item off to the federal government, but without success. It has now come up with its own dollars. I applaud that. It will be good for the region and for those students from outlying areas. That aside, total cuts to the Department of Education equal almost $3m in dollar terms and closer to $15.8m in real terms if we include a figure for inflation and population growth. That is the largest cut administered to education since the ERC, and the second-largest cut in the 20 years since the CLP took power. The total cuts to preschools and primary schools are of $ 1.5m in dollar terms, but are closer to $7.3m in real terms. Urban schools are cut by $2.3m in dollars terms, but $5.6m in real terms. Remote schools have received a dollar increase to $682 000. This represents only a 1.8% increase in dollar terms but, when population growth and inflation are taken into account, it is actually a 4% cut. To keep pace with those factors, remote schools should have been allocated $39.6m. The Schools of the Air received a $23 000 cut, but a cut in real terms of $150 000. Area schools have received an increase of $38 000 but, in real terms, a cut of over $150 000. All in all, this budget has slashed preschool and primary school education savagely. The CLP government appears to have chosen to cut education at the very point where it needs to be massively improved. The problems or achievements of students that will be apparent in their later years are shaped in the early years of their education. It is in this stage of the students career that the best potential exists to remedy problems in education but, to take advantage of this potential, teachers must have resources at the time to provide individual treatment to students. This ability is reduced or cut savagely in this budget. It is also the most appropriate time in a students career to establish English literacy. It is the level of schooling at which new languages are absorbed most rapidly and most effectively. At that stage of schooling, our Aboriginal students need the most attention yet it is the stage where the Territory government has chosen to cut most savagely into the budget. 3502