Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




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 - Wednesday 1 May 1991 problem? The same would apply if the member for Victoria River were shown a line graph, but no numbers or projections, for bovine tuberculosis. I am quite sure that it would not happen. I feel sorry for the hardworking public servants who were directed to prepare this document urgently to suit the political expediency of the Treasurer. The fact is that he is unable to report anything of any substance that is different from what was in the document that was presented last August. August was the right time for that document, along with the budget papers, and I have a question on notice at the moment asking for this detail. The basic problem with this report is that it is not up to date and it contains no forward projections. Because it has been politically conceived, it draws on selective data and leaves other data out entirely. It states that the latest data on net debt levels in the Northern Territory relates to 1988. I refer honourable members to page 23, which is headed: 'Public Sector Net Debt As At 30 June 1988'. Mr Speaker, ABS estimates are available, and I will put these to one side and ask for leave to table them when I have finished speaking. The ABS estimates are available to the end of the last financial year. The debt level provided here is 2 years out of date. What does that say about management? There they are in Table ABS5501.0 at page 4. Before government members start rubbishing these projections, as they do every now and then, let us consider the ABS's accuracy in this field. Last year, the ABS predicted the Northern Territory's current outlays and capital outlays to within 1% of the final result, and Northern Territory revenue and grants to within 1.2% of the final figures. For the benefit of honourable members, that is in Table ABS5501.0. The latest ABS estimates on the Territory's net debt give a very different picture to that published at page 13 of the report. Using the latest available data, we have overtaken Tasmania and we are streaking away from Victoria, and that is absolutely contrary to what the minister said in his statement. He said that we did not have the highest level and that we had not overtaken the states. He is using data that is totally out of date and, obviously, that is a cause for great concern because we have to be concerned about his ability to manage the economy if he does not have the information. Our net per capita debt at the end of 1990 was the highest in Australia. It stood at $6900. His 1988 figures are right. At that stage, the amount was $5568, which was less than the figure for Tasmania. We have now overtaken Tasmania. Before we go any further, I would like to compare that per capita debt level of $6900 to the Queensland level of $1100. I invite honourable members to compare the 2 figures and to think about who has the best capacity to hold down taxes and charges and to guess which of the 2 governments recently announced a major increase in taxes and charges. The Chief Minister has said that our tax rates and charges need to be comparable to those interstate. Which state is he aiming at? It certainly is not Queensland, the low debt state. I invite honourable members to guess which state or territory has just increased its petrol tax, and to guess which state or territory has zero petrol tax. Yesterday, I tabled an analysis which showed a direct correlation between the level of Northern Territory taxes and our annual debt servicing costs. Nevertheless, the Treasurer tells us that debt is not important. What a disgrace! Recently, the Chief Minister wrote to the newspaper claiming that we do not need to worry about our debt because we have a higher level of per capita funding from the Commonwealth. I thought that, according to him, 845

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