Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 31 May 2001

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Parliamentary Record 28


Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001




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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 - Thursday 31 May 2001 function well for most of their lives while others must take special care with their diet, inject themselves daily with insulin, and risk sudden events such as a diabetic coma or chronic deterioration of their sight, their skin and their nervous system. So, anything we can do to help these people is welcome. I understand the program will be extended to allow not only people with diabetes to obtain free syringes, but also anyone who needs syringes for a medical purpose. The cost is expected to be about $100 000 over three years. I know, from talking to the people at DANT, that they will be delighted with this element of our budget. I know they have approached the Minister for Health Family and Community Services, as I have, on this matter. In addition, I was delighted a month or so ago when the CLP Central Council voted to support the provision of free syringes. I would like to thank the minister and the Treasurer for working to provide this money to a very worthwhile cause. This is an excellent budget which demonstrates the maturity of this government. We could have delivered a budget full of bells and whistles in preparation for the election, but the Treasurer avoided this temptation and I trust Territorians will appreciate our efforts. I commend the budget handed down by the Treasurer. Mrs BRAHAM (Braitling): Mr Deputy Speaker, I would also like to comment on the budget. I see it as a very measured budget, a very constrained budget, one that I believe the Treasurer has brought down very much with the knowledge of the debt that he has to handle. It is a no-nonsense budget, and the feedback I am getting is that people say It is not very inspiring; it is not really going to affect me greatly. So it is a very steady-as-she-goes budget. The Treasurer should be commended because it is quite obvious the high level of debt has concerned him for some time. If we do look at the chart we can see that he did an excellent job there for some years when he was lowering the debt, and now suddenly the trend is going up and up and up. That obviously must be of concern to him. I would describe it as a very cautious budget. Perhaps it doesnt include all the known government expenditure that perhaps will occur over the next financial year but this always happens in budgets, anyway. For example, the convention centre that is planned for Darwin. We have heard about it for a long time. We thought an announcement was imminent but there is nothing in the budget, no allocation of money to allow for this. It is pleasing to see the allocation to complete the Alice Springs Convention Centre. That is coming on quite nicely. If you go past there you will see lots of things happening down there. Obviously, an agreement in Darwin hasnt been reached. When it is, it will no doubt increase the expenditure of government. Government is wise to put it on hold until they can get a satisfactory agreement with whatever company they are dealing with. There are other things that I am concerned about. What the Treasurer is doing is maintaining debt servicing rather than reducing the debt as he has done in the past. This has been forced upon him. It is a concern that he has had to use the Conditions of Service Trust money to actually pay for the railway. I dont really have a problem with that, seeing that $ 100m was from the sale of Ayres Rock. I think it is probably sensible and people out there in the community would say Yes, if it is going to pay for another government asset, that is all very well and good. However, it must be of concern that he is also going to transfer that money to pay off the debt. The point needs to be made that the money in the Conditions of Service Trust is not actually income. It is purely a transfer and it should be in the budget as just that: a transfer. It is money that has been accumulated over a number of years and it must be a concern that now it is going to be swallowed up in addressing the debt level. There are some areas in the budget that I would have liked to have seen, and we have talked about the fund for the Tanami Road in the past. No matter how much the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Development says he has spent on the Tanami Road, it is an accepted fact by all the users of the road that a major upgrade is the only way that the road will remain open during rainy periods. The $ 10m that has been spent on the road has in fact been just repairing to get it back open again. It hasnt been part of a major strategy to overhaul that road. We know that there needs to be major redevelopment, particularly on the area that is flood prone. The level of the road needs to be raised so that it can cope with the heavy rains. Not putting in a large amount of money to address the problem is really hoping the problem will go away. We all know that it wont. Until that road is addressed strongly and a large injection of money is put in to give it the standard that is required to keep it open, we will be wasting money every year just patching it up, patching it up. It was also pretty disappointing this year for me to know that last year there was $6m allocated in the budget for the sealing of the Mereenie loop road, but not one cent of that money was actually spent this financial year. It has again been revoted in this years budget, and I notice that the member for 7801