Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 23 November 1999

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Parliamentary Record 20


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 - Tuesday 23 November 1999 has to really understand and empathise with Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people in remote areas of the Northern Territory, because they certainly know what it is like when they fork out either for a tin of Log Cabin or a tin of bully beef or try to get some fresh foods from time to time. They pay two, if not three, times more the price we pay in Darwin. There is a discrepancy in that the pensioner in the remote areas of the Northern Territory doesnt get additional dollars to the pensioner whos either living in Fannie Bay or Kurringal Flats or Palmerston. The point I make, I suppose, is that their cheques are the same but in the remote areas you have to try to make that stretch a lot further than in town. I thought the offer of one of the supermarket chains in training Aboriginal people - its Coles - was a very nice gesture and a genuine gesture and should be pursued. The book-up system was another system but whether you book-up or book-down its a system that Aboriginal people have been using for many years. It has been allowed to be implemented so its something thats pretty hard to be taken away, but certainly there needs to be limitations on the book-up system. But we do have on the one hand whats known as self-determination and then we have on the other hand a situation where entrepreneurs can come in quickly and start fleecing our stores for what theyre worth. The other concern I felt was important in talking to people in the community stores is the issue of food being purchased that has been out-dated by a week or a month or a fortnight. The managers of these stores are able to come in and purchase them at the back of Cheap Foods or Bi-Lo or places like that and get it for half price when that sort of tinned food should be going off to the dump. But it is being transported out into Aboriginal communities and being put on the shelves. That is a practice that needs to be looked at. The basket of goods and comparable locations, the prices in the Territory, the cost of doing business in the Territory, were all matters that were looked at. The local food producers, the remote centres and communities, those recommendations are there for the government to note and to pursue, I hope, with action. In regards to our minority report, my colleague the member for Nhulunbuy and I believe that there was a need for a minority report. It was only a two page report. It spoke of the two concerns - commercial electricity tariffs, and payroll tax. I note that the electricity tariffs have been reduced just recently and certainly, if that was to continue, that is in line with one of the issues that we raised in the minority report. The staff were excellent. I wish to just run though and thank that staff. Rick Gray, the secretary and Emma Mortlock, the administrative assistant/research officer. The Territory Treasury provided Joe Yick on secondment to the committee for the last 2 months. Consultants to the committee were officers of Ernst and Young and Associates, represented in the main by Mr Chris Kent, Partner, Director, Consulting and Corporate Finance and Mr Lesley Harley, Senior Manager. As the chairman said, their accounting expertise, which members of the committee did not have, was very much appreciated. In conclusion, I felt that the exercise that we had to undertake, even whilst I have some criticisms of it, was well done. We had the terms of reference which I believe were limited. But all in all, the committee under the chairmanship of the member for Greatorex has done a pretty good job in what was expected of it under its terms of reference. M r BURKE (Chief Minister): Mr Deputy Speaker, the Territory government has given the select committees report very careful examination and I rise now to inform honourable members of the governments response to its recommendations. There is no doubt, and this is verified by available data, that the cost of living in the Tenitory is higher than in the other Australian states and territories. Indeed, the committees report confirmed that fact. That does not mean that the Territory government accepts this fact as a given for the future. On the contrary, the reason for such a detailed deliberation by my government of the committees recommendations is that we want to try to improve the cost of living for all Territorians. The two most important contributing factors to the high cost of grocery items throughout the Territory are, firstly, high freight costs and, secondly, restricted competition in the retail market. These have been two factors that have been part of the economic environment in the Territory for some time but the Territory is now approaching a project so big and so important that it will actually change the economic environment, and I refer of course to the Alice Springs to Darwin railway. The Alice Springs to Darwin railway, together with the East Arm port and the development of all- weather roads to major centres, are central to the governments plans to improve transport infrastructure and efficiency using the worlds best

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