Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 May 1995

Other title

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





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Tuesday 23 May 1995 tower adjacent to the start of the causeway. Carload after carload of people came to inspect the area whilst I was there. We stayed perhaps 15 minutes and, in that time, 8 or 10 cars arrived with people who had come to look at the development. Other construction projects include the Alice Springs Prison, the Alice Springs Fire Station, a Darwin rural preschool and primary school, construction of the Menzies School of Health Research Laboratory in the grounds of Royal Darwin Hospital, considerable expenditure on Aboriginal housing infrastructure, reconstruction of the Victoria Highway and a $2.1m extension of Tiger Brennan Drive from Hook Road to Berrimah Road. That particular section has been a long time coming. Nevertheless, it is to be constructed during this current financial year and that fact will be appreciated by people travelling into and out of Darwin. The opposition continues to carp, crow and probe about the Territorys debt, but the reality is that the Territorys debt is well under control. The Treasurer said that his objective in this budget is to reduce borrowings. In fact, I believe he announced that policy in the previous budget. Certainly, he announced it some time ago. The Treasurer confirmed recently that Territory debt is reducing. In fact, he said: Notably, when measured on the standard national uniform reporting basis, our budget shows a reduction o f $9m in Territory net debt. Earlier, he said: ... interest payments will be $213m, again well within the limit o f $220m set in 1992-3. That confirms the fact that Territory debt is reducing. I would like to expand on that by quoting a few facts about the Territorys debt. Whilst the Territory ratio is higher than the 6-state average, it has shown a steady decline since 1988. The declining Northern Territory ratio reflects both very modest increases in net debt since 1988, and economic growth that has been the envy of the rest of this country. The rise in the states ratio in 1992 reflected the financial failures and government bail-outs that occurred in a number of Labor-held states at that time. If we look at those states that were previously Labor states, we see exactly what I mean in the horrendous debt problems that most of them still have today. Whilst the Territory has a high ratio, ours is not the highest. That distinction rests with Tasmania. I have a series of graphs which I will seek leave to table later. This graph shows the governments net debt relative to the size of the economy of the Territory and the 6 states. After rising steadily through the late 1980s, the Territorys net debt has been steady since 1991. Although a slight rise was anticipated over the 1994-95 period, we expect net debt to decline over 1995-96. During this period, the Territory has accumulated physical assets of $7000m. The upper line of this graph, which I will also seek leave to table in a moment, shows gross debt. The lower line shows net debt after deducting offsetting financial assets, such as cash in the bank, investments and securities, and loans made to home buyers. The debt-servicing capacity, rather than the actual level of debt, is a more realistic measure of the sustainability of any 3553