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 resourced properly to deal with the public behaviour problems supposedly targeted by the Minister for Health and Community Services tokenistic and ill-planned proposal to recruit 7 additional town council staff to deal with public drunkenness. Members would have heard on the 9 am radio news that the proposal has been rejected by the Mayor of Alice Springs, Andy McNeil who has had extensive experience in the police force and knows full well that this proposal is tokenistic and unworkable, and a case of the government trying to fob its own job off on to the town councils. The government has the job, but it cannot handle it. Fed up with criticism it has decided to pass the responsibility to town councils. However, it will not provide them with the funds necessary to do a proper job. It is conning them with 2 people in a Toyota to look after Darwin, and 2 people in a Toyota to look after Alice Springs. Not only will they have to supervise community service obligations to combat littering etc, but they are supposed also to enforce the 2 km law. They are supposed to prevent anti-social behaviour. They will need to be supermen. There is no way in the world they will be able to do it all, and the government knows that. It is a fob off. It will provide the government with the opportunity to pass the blame to the councils. There are ways to do it, but they require more thought. This silly proposal has been rejected uniformly by the police, the municipal councils, and alcohol agencies. The new fire service tax is another example of a rubbery figure in this budget. The Treasurer has been unable to provide any details of how this tax will be collected. The budget papers include an estimated revenue effect of $3.5m, and indicate that the government expects to raise $5m from this source in future years. We heard him say earlier that he will introduce it in December for implementation in January. If he is to collect $3.5m in half a year, obviously the full-year effect will be $7m. All of the budget figures are rubbery. They have been thought up on the spur of the moment because the Treasurer did not have his mind on the game. He claims that the fire service tax will amount to only $29 per capita but, because the levy can be imposed only on those households which actually receive a fire service, the levy per capita for those serviced would be closer to S40. Many people in the Northern Territory are not serviced. If they are removed from the equation, the result is a figure of $40 per capita. In Question Time today, the Treasurer gave us no details on how the tax will be imposed. All he could tell us was that he had rejected collecting the tax as a levy on fire insurance premiums. The Treasurer has not said whether any rebate or exemption will be applied in the case of pensioners paying the fire service tax. As it stands, from this mornings Question Time, pensioners owning their own homes will be slugged $100 to $120. We do not know the figure because he will not tell us. If an exemption or a rebate applies, cither of 2 things can happen: the actual revenue collected will be less than the $5m budgeted in a full year or the tax imposed on those who actually end up paying it will be substantially higher than the $29 per head claimed by the government. No details have been provided apart from the Treasurers woolly estimate of $3.5m to be collected somehow or other this year, and $5m next year. High debt means high taxes or cuts in services. It has to be one or the other - or both. In 1995, the government is taking the other option and cranking taxes up savagely. It is a tax take that will continue into future years. The Treasurer described as unexciting Labors policy at the last election when we said we would cut petrol taxes to 50 a litre. That is no wonder because it appears that he is excited by tax increases. Tax increases are what he serves up as being good government despite the fact that the Commonwealth Grants Commission already assesses the Territorys tax take on 3461
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