Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 in remote and rural areas? Last year, the Commonwealth put $19.45 8m into Aboriginal housing. The minister claimed at the time that the Northern Territory government put in $2m of its own. The estimated total expenditure for Aboriginal housing last year was $20.283m, just $800 000 above the figure that the Commonwealth put in. I believe that finally puts to rest the ministers claim that the government spent $2m of its own. It simply does not add up. This year, the Commonwealth government will again put in $ 19.458m and estimated expenditure will be $19.412m. Once again, there is no money from the Northern Territory despite the rhetoric from ministers opposite about the nexus between housing and health. This demonstrates this governments failure to act on the big picture in this budget, where health expenditure is increased but the Northern Territory government again bypasses the opportunity to crank up the effort on remote and rural Aboriginal housing. Despite the increase in health funding, health problems will continue with the annual epidemics in the late wet season while the housing supply remains inadequate or nonexistent. Power, water and sewerage are also vital in the context of housing. Budget Paper No 2 shows a reduction in PAWA: Aboriginal Essential Services of $821 000 for the provision of power and $789 000 for the provision of water. If the health standards of the people suffering from the worst health in Australia are to be improved, why havent the budgets for housing, water and sewerage services been increased? Under the Northern Territory Housing Commission, the figure for Aboriginal housing and infrastructure in the 1995-96 budget figures stands at $22.458m. That is down $ 1.396m from the 1994-95 budget figure of $23.854m. I assume that figure includes something other than straight capital on housing because the figure under expenditure by construction agencies stands at $19.412m. Either way, the figure for Aboriginal housing is down on last year despite the great and continuing need. With the increases to the budget for Aboriginal health, I trust that Gove Hospital, where the patient load is around 87% Aboriginal, will benefit. At one point this year, the hospital had only one doctor who was working a straight 72-hour period. I hope that situation never occurs again whatever the difficulties with recruitment. That situation has never occurred and is not likely to occur at Royal Darwin Hospital. In circumstances of great need in the region, Royal Darwin Hospital ought to be able to provide short-term relief to avoid the situation that occurred at Gove. In the public sector, the budget allows just 2% for wage increases for 1995-96 after having hit low- and middle-income public servants for six with the governments across-the-board increases in taxes and charges. I understand that the Community and Public Sector Union has lodged a claim for an 8% pay increase. I note what the Chief Minister said earlier about not including a figure because it would signal to the unions that the government has an amount of money set aside for a wage increase in the next bargaining period. That could signal the governments intentions to the union, but it is a fact that each 1% of pay increase to the public sector adds about $7m to the wages bill of the government. If the wages agreement is settled with the public sector at around 4%, or half of what the union has claimed, the budget will be down to the tune of about $ 14m at a single stroke. I am disappointed to see human resources development in the public sector cut by 25%, from $1.5m to under $1.2m. This cut follows a recent ministerial statement extolling the virtues of training and development courses for which I commended the minister in the Assembly. I will be interested in the ministers explanation for that cut. Perhaps it reflects the 3504
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