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 We have consistently supported the Northern Territory government in its progress towards that final sign off. The Chief Minister knows this. I was pleased, in the advanced draft copy of his statement, to see the Chief Minister acknowledge and thank the opposition for its bipartisan support for the legislation over the last two years. Of course, those thanks expressed in the draft speech would have stood in stark contrast to the television advertising of last night portraying the ALP as unsupportive. Any comments thanking the opposition this morning would have been hypocritical, so it was no surprise to see those thanks to the opposition deleted from the draft statement that was circulated last evening. I know at a personal level the Chief Minister was appreciative of opposition support. He has expressed those thanks in private on a couple of occasions. He cannot do it publicly because the Country Liberal Party wants to try to score political points by pretending that the opposition did not support the railway. We see the Chief Minister making more compromises, almost on a daily basis, the closer we get to an election. We can only hope that the election is not too far away because the Chief Minister will have compromised himself so often he will no longer know who he is, what he stands for or why he is here. Mr REED (Treasurer): Mr Speaker, this is a very important project, and one would have to ask, given it is the biggest piece of infrastructure work that is to be done in the Northern Territory, where is the Leader of the Opposition? Why isnt the Leader of the Opposition ... Mrs HICKEY: A point of order, Mr Speaker! The minister knows he cannot reflect on absence or otherwise of members of the House. Mr SPEAKER: Well, technically that is correct, but I do not think that the comment was quite as direct as that. If it is found offensive by the opposition, I would ask the Deputy Chief Minister to withdraw any reference to the absence of the Leader of the Opposition. Mr REED: I am not referring to her absence, Mr Speaker. I am surprised that, with this debate being on the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the Northern Territory, the lead speaker for the opposition isnt the Leader of the Opposition. To put a finer point on it, the absence of the Leader of the Opposition and her failure to speak first in this debate flies in the face of comments by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the opposition has supported the railway. It also underscores the fact that, when the hard decision came a month or two before financial closure when it was found that additional money was required - that it was a time for strength, commitment and a real desire to get things done - the opposition was wanting. The Leader of the Opposition said Dont put any more money into this project. We do not support any more money going into the project. That is not lifetime support for the project. The Labor Party also said Instead of putting more money into it, you should have an inquiry. It is an inquiry-led recovery. Every time you have a little problem or something is too hard, Hang on! We dont want to make a decision today, but if we have an inquiry we can put it off for a while. It will go away and hopefully people will forget about it. Their answer wasnt finding a solution; their answer was to try and defer it and not support it. Quite an outrageous circumstance when you now hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stand up and say We supported it all the way through. Yes, I acknowledge they supported the passage of legislation through this House but when the tough time came, when the real decisions had to be made as to all right, we have committed $165m to this project for the projects specific terms. We have spent $100m or thereabouts already on a wharf so that it can be part of the new transport system. We have spent many millions of dollars as a government on acquiring land, on overcoming Aboriginal traditional ownership issues, and many other issues that had to be pursued to get the railway. All of that would have amounted to nothing if we didnt take the tough decision and say Okay, it needs a bit extra. Will we do it or not? The government said Yes, we will. We will see this project through. Were determined to make sure that the rail line is built, that it will accrue benefits for Territorians in the long term, and it is worth that extra little bit of money to make it happen. Then in support from the opposition, we had the opposition leader say No more money, but we will have an inquiry from the Labor Party. That is the sad truth of it. Nonetheless, a government with a vision that extends well into the future of how we are going to provide adequate services for Territorians and the infrastructure to ensure that the Territory develops to create jobs for the kids of Territorians and future opportunities, we have stood by the project as a government. It has been hard; it is not easy to find $165m and all the other money that we put into it. More will be required, as the budget indicated this week, with expenditure to be undertaken on the port so that it is completed in time for the railway. So lets just keep the record straight. A cool, calm and collected look at this demonstrates that the wallpapering we have 7761