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 address the waiting list reported by service providers which appear not to have been considered at all. The issue of Commonwealth grants is an interesting one. There is no doubt money that should be spent in the areas of need as recommended by the Grants Commission would overcome many of the problems experienced by service providers and their clients in accessing adequate service delivery. So it is unfortunate, as COTA says, that the Northern Territory government does not consider the recommendations of the Grants Commission when considering its expenditure on aged and disabled Territorians. It is very difficult, as my colleagues have said, now that we are faced with an accrual system, to compare the oranges of last year with the apples of this year and to pull out the detail from some of the specific programs. In a further press release, COTA advise that they have had an independent financial expert go through the budget and they have come to the conclusion that funding to meet the needs of mature aged Territorians has only increased by 0.2%. Well, that is not going to keep up with CPI. It is a serious issue given the raft of concerns currently affecting older people. They believe that this goes to the very heart of the rights of the aged and they believe that it is a discriminatory budget. It discriminates against older Territorians. The other budget to do with seniors that attracted some criticism lately was the federal budget. The federal budget has a high impact on Territory retirees because, of course, many of them rely on pensions. When Mr Costello first announced his budget, it looked as though self-funded retirees had a good deal and the $300 for everybody might we welcomed. We know, of course, that people very far from welcoming that have regarded it as an insult given that they were promised that they were going to get $1000 as an offset against the Goods and Services Tax. Taxpayers Australia, which is an apolitical lobby group, provided a table lining up what self funded retirees would get from the raising of the threshold of the taxable amount. Once they hit $30 000, there is no discernible benefit at all. Mean and tricky. M r Reed: Mean and tricky. Mrs HICKEY: Mean and tricky. Thats right. This putative self-funded retiree is certainly not going to change the way she has been voting for the last 40 years. I believe that Howard and Costello made a very serious mistake. They would have done better... M r Elferink: Which budget are we talking about? Mrs HICKEY: We are talking about the federal budget because it impacts on people in the Northern Territory, surprising though you may find that. They would have done better to leave it well alone. However, seniors have indicated that they are angry with the federal government over this and this anger is now being translated to the Territory. I turn now to the area of Women in the Budget. Again, there is a problem in trying to identify the detail because of the accrual reporting. The women- specific areas, the Office of Womens Policy and the Womens Advisory Council, are all collapsed into the specialist services area. It is very difficult to sort out what is there. What we do know from the Chief Ministers speech yesterday is that the specialist service budget, which includes womens services, has had a whacking reduction of $4m in this financial year. The Chief Ministers speech finally reveals that $340 000 has been allocated to the Office of Womens Policy which, if what he is saying in his budget speech is correct, would mean a massive reduction from $ 1.151m in the last financial year. He talks about programs that are going to be provided through the Office of Womens Policy. He doesnt make it clear what the bottom line is. From his speech, you would have to deduce that $340 000 is it in the Office of Womens Policy. There are monies available to the Domestic Violence Strategy. I think it is over $lm. That is certainly welcome. Women need the assistance and the change of heart about domestic violence and sexual assault that education and rehabilitation and these sorts of programs bring about. As reported in the Northern Territory News today Northern Territory Sex Assaults Highest in Nation, Sexual Assaults in the Territory have soared by 40% and are the highest in the country. The minister tried to tell us that it is just a change in reporting that has effected that change, so I suppose it is all right. No, I do not think he said that in fairness to him. However you read it, we are the highest in the country and those statistics have got to be brought down. They have got to be brought under control. While talking about that I would like to castigate the Northern Territory News for the sensitive way that they have juxtaposed that article Northern Territory Sex Assaults Highest in the Nation. Next to it, there is an advertisement saying Improve Your Sex Life. It is right in the comer here. Then a tiny little commentary about protestors in Wales who have demanded the sold out Australian stage show Puppetry of the Penis should be banned. It is grossly inappropriate to trivialise by implication an issue such as sex assaults by having these two here. 7812