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




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 - Thursday 31 May 2001 In local government for instance, the minister failed to explain the overall budget reduction of $1.5m. It clearly did not impress the Local Government Association of the Northern Territorys Vice-President, David Lane, representing Community Government Councils. He issued a press release criticising the drop in funding and questioning the priorities of this Northern Territory Country Liberal Party government. It said: The focus o f the Northern Territory budget on assisting major infrastructure projects and paying for concerts, circuses and VS racing for Darwin residents was today questioned by David Lane, the Vice-President o f the Local Government Association o f the Northern Territory. He went on to say: The priorities o f the Northern Territory government do need to be questioned. Compared with the other states, the Territory receives four times per capita funding from the Commonwealth Government because of remote community needs and the additional costs o f providing services to remote communities. But despite this, it appears that people living in remote communities and their community government councils continue to be neglected. He goes on to talk about roads, causeways and bridges that were recently damaged and the difficulty in getting flood assistance from the government despite promises made by the Treasurer and never delivered. One council, he points out, whose area was flooded will get no assistance for council staff housing and will have to try and find the money somehow from other budget lines which are already stretched to the limit. If a Darwin northern suburb flooded, the Northern Territory government would bend over backwards to help, yet when it comes to the 400 people at Kalkarindji, they are left to fund for themselves. Those are the comments of LGANT. You can see that if they have that attitude toward the Northern Territory government, that degree of disappoint and that degree of concern, it is little wonder that the reform agenda that the government talks about has been such a spectacular flop so far. This is a government that enjoys no confidence out there in the bush from those councils that they are seeking to push together whether they want to or not. The minister has tried to put the very best spin on the amalgamation process. The truth is that change is a very long way off for most and not welcomed by others who are reluctantly being coerced into amalgamation by the threat of funding cuts. I will have more to say about that issue in more detail during the course of these sittings. Let me repeat my disappointment that $1.5m has disappeared out of the local government budget for this year. The minister might try to tell us that that is to do with financial assistance grants and the depletion of commonwealth grants and effort in that regard. But I come back to the point that David Lane so clearly made in his press release: the Northern Territory government is funded at four times more than other states and territories for the express purpose of providing funding for those people out in the remote communities and they fail to fulfil their obligations in that regard. With regard to the tourist budget, this is also down by a small amount. However, by and large the opposition concurs with the priorities that the government sets in this area. The announced policy initiatives in the budget are to promote the Territory as both a business oriented and a leisure tourism destination. How does that accord with the budget? Corporate communications increased funding by $395 000 but marketing suffers an estimated reduction between the 2001 estimate and 2002 budget of $671 000. It is difficult to see how that effort is going to be kept up on a reduced budget. Obviously that is something we will have to pursue in the appropriations. Marketing and regional tourism associations have reductions of $121 000 between them. That reduction was not explained by the minister in his speech. He did announce an initiative which I support: $175 000 is to be put into investigating initiatives to improve tourism in the regions. He did not say in his speech whether this was for specific projects, whether it was just for research, to provide training, to provide business advice or how the money would be used. There are plenty of worthy projects and regions that come to mind. Every centre in the Northern Territory has an interest in the development of an Aboriginal Cultural Centre reflective of their regions identity. Nyinka Nyunyu in Tennant Creek, for instance, is already being constructed but it requires further funding input. I wonder whether the minister has in mind to put specific amounts of this $175 000 into such initiatives or whether the money is to be used only for investigative and research purposes. Towns such as Borroloola are suffering from being bypassed in favour of the King Ash Bay Fishing Club by tourists. They need assistance to develop a plan and infrastructure to encourage higher tourist visitation. 7810