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 SPEAKER: A quorum is now present. Mr SETTER: Mr Speaker, in 1983, Australias foreign debt was $23 000m when the Labor government came to power. Today, it stands at $165 000m! That is absolutely frightening. It is $165 000m, and it is increasing. How we will ever pay for that is beyond my comprehension. I recall that, in 1986, the present Prime Minister, the then federal Treasurer, made the statement that, if things did not change, Australia would become a banana republic. Do honourable members remember that? The money market shuddered at the time and there was quite a to-do. When he made that statement, Australias foreign debt was $75 000m as compared to the $165 000m it is today. We do not hear much about banana republics these days. We have gone far past that. I will give a further example. In March 1995, the trade deficit blow-out for the month was $2300m, and the federal government welcomed it! It welcomed it! It said that it was great. That was because, in the previous month, it had been even higher - it was a record! Because it reduced in the following month, it appeared to be a major achievement. I bet it breathed a sigh of relief. It was only $4m under that record of the previous month, but it was the fifth consecutive monthly deficit of over $2000m. That is very incriminating stuff! As I indicated earlier, the Territorys economy does not suffer from that kind of fiscal rot. It is very sound. For example, in 1994, our gross state product was up by 9.5%. Employment was up 16% and unemployment was down to 6.6% which was the lowest in the country. Retail turnover grew by 8.3%. Motor vehicle registrations increased by 13.1%. Tourist visitation was up by more than 5%. Live cattle exports were up by a massive 39%, and that figure is still growing. As we heard the Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries tell us tonight, horticulture is up by 32% to $41m. If that is not confirmation of the success of this governments policies, I do not know what is. We can disregard the criticism of the budget contained in the rhetoric of the Leader of the Opposition and other members opposite today. This is a very responsible budget, and the Territorys economy is racing away like a house on fire. Combined capital works in 1995-96 amount to $830m. The Northern Territorys commitment of $269m is complemented by some $400m in the private sector. Construction activity is evident everywhere, particularly in the CBD of Darwin. The Commonwealth makes a substantial contribution to the Northern Territorys capital works, and I give it full marks for its policy of relocating a large sector of the defence forces from southern states to the Northern Territory, albeit that the defence forces have been shockingly run down. What has happened to the defence forces is a disgrace. We would be flat out containing a minor insurgency let alone handling even a small conflict. However, I was making the point that $160m from the Commonwealth and local government is being contributed to capital works in the Territory. That is a substantial boost to the Territorys economy. I would like to mention quickly some of the projects that are in train. I had the pleasure of visiting the site of the East Arm port with the Minister for Transport and Works only a week ago and inspecting that facility. What has been accomplished there is absolutely amazing. I was so impressed that I returned last week with my wife. There is an observation 3552