Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 June 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 June 2003

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Parliamentary Record 13


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




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 19 June 2003 CLP had learned or changed as a result of the verdict the electorate delivered in August 2001. His opening lines acknowledged the very different world we now live in, and nearly all of the events he described: 11 September, global terrorism, huge corporate collapses, Afghanistan, the Bali bombings, the war in Iraq, SARS, the increasing instability o f Indonesia ... have occurred since this government was elected. Only the collapse of HIH, if this is what he meant by huge corporate collapses, occurred prior to 18 August 2001. Of course, the Opposition Leader did not mention the unsustainable budget position in which he left the Martin government. It is this point about the uncertain world in which we now live that is so very different from the world the former government enjoyed. I find that hypocritical and remarkable because, despite the very real difficulties and external factors impacting on this government since it came to office, the Territory economy has not gone into a tailspin. Indeed, while it is still patchy, the economy is recovering. There has been positive economic growth in each of the years since we came to office, and that is expected to continue through 2003-04, despite the uncertainties. Delivering economic growth in uncertain and difficult times, such as we have, demonstrates real leadership. Since the budget was handed down, the news has become brighter. The Martin government, through its persistent efforts with the companies involved, and the Australian and East Timorese governments, is proudly able to say: we delivered Timor Sea gas onshore. We now also have the heads of agreement for Blacktip gas to be brought onshore to Wadeye, the construction of a 1000 km pipeline to Gove, and a major expansion of the Alcan alumina refinery there. That is real leadership. It took the CLP 23 years to deliver the railway. It could have had it much earlier if it had accepted the deal that Bob Hawke put on the table in the early 1980s. By contrast, we have been in office less than two years, and the Bayu-Undan and Wickham Point developments are now about to become reality, despite the uncertainties of those past two years. That demonstrates real leadership. The Martin government has been able to implement its reforms to build a better Territory. At the same time, it has turned the woeful budget situation we inherited around. That, again, is leadership. It is interesting that nobody from the opposition acknowledged the budget improvement that the Martin government has delivered. At the same time, they argue we should be spending more and more to boost business confidence. It is interesting to see how the rhetoric has changed over the years I have been in this Chamber. For years on the opposition benches, I listened to tales of the virtues of fiscal and financial management, and that if Labor were ever - dare it be uttered - to win government in the Northern Territory, we would send the place broke, as they used to allege occurred in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. During the former governments last term, I heard that each budget would improve the previous years bottom line, only to fmd the actual outcome was continued deterioration, year after year. It is ironic that a Labor government is now delivering the best boost to business confidence by getting the budget under control. What a contrast it is for Territorians to have a government that delivers better actual outcomes than the original budget projections. The Opposition Leader has yet to understand that the world has changed. Businesses will no longer be attracted to a jurisdiction that lets its budgets run out of control. We know why: because of the risk they face that taxes will have to be raised to pay for the ever climbing interest bill of a government that cannot live within its means. Mr Dunham inteijecting. Mr STIRLING: Well may the former Health minister joke here because he was one of the worst culprits. Mr Dunham: It is not a joke. You have raised taxes! Mr STIRLING: He was one of the worst culprits, along with his mates, underestimating the expenditure in Health so they could try pretend they had an increase the next year. Such was the tightness of their fiscal situation they had to massage the figures to try and make them look a bit better. There is no massaging of figures under this government, and we will see in the Treasurers Annual Financial Statement later this year how much we have improved the bottom line again. Mr Dunham: Yes, thanks to John Howard - unforeseen revenue. Mr STIRLING: It will behove the member for Drysdale to hold his fire because he has form in this regard. 4376

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