Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


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 1 May 2003 Nett debt is growing at an alarming rate; at the same time that this government is receiving record increased grants from the federal government - absolutely astounding! If you also look at the five-year trend in own-sourced revenue, this tells you how the economy is performing. The Treasurer tried to hoodwink Territorians this morning by saying: Everything is fine, the economy is going well. As I have demonstrated with the governments own business divisions, they have turned around in terms of a $48m decline to an S lim loss in 2001-02. The same can be said for the business community. We are hearing that the business community is doing it tough. The government keeps coming into parliament and saying: Everything is going rosy and there are lots of opportunities and a very strong economy. Well, it is reflected in the five-year trend in own-sourced revenue; and that is revenue raised by the Territory government that has contributed to Territory government coffers. That has dropped. The Auditor-General says: The decrease should be o f concern to the government and is dropping due to dropping interest earned ... It is dropping because the interest that the government had on its cash reserves has fallen down to $5m - that is more than half. The reason is that they have raided the cookie barrel. They have spent $170m over the last year since they have been in government and, as a result of that, that money is not in the bank and earning interest, so they have depleted their own income from interest rates on their bank savings: ... caused by lower financial assets and lower interest rates, little growth in taxation revenues ... Well, there is little growth in taxation revenues because business is doing it tough. Business has declined, and businesses are paying less tax. Mr Stirling: We are reducing it. Mr REED: You are not reducing it, because the point I was about to make was: notwithstanding that under this government, in 21 months, water rates together with sewerage rates have gone up 8%. Their income tax revenue has gone down, notwithstanding that they applied a $90 tax to vehicle registration - $90 extra tax ... A member: It is not a tax. Mr REED: You can call it what you will, in the inteijection from the member, but a tax is a tax is a tax. If people are being slugged $90, they are being taxed. Believe me, that is what they are saying. Notwithstanding that this government has increased taxes alarmingly, they are still receiving less income of their own in their own taxation base, and that is simply reflecting the reduced level o f activity across the economy. These are very serious issues that should have been dealt with by the Treasurer in his presentation to us today. Turn to page 34, for those who are interested, and at the bottom of that page you will see that, in nett interest paid, the current figure of $ 170.6m which, of course, does not include the $ 17.7m that the Auditor-General says should be included in nett interest. So, it is really $ 187m interest. What was it when the Labor government inherited government from the CLP? It was $150m. Their debt interest payments on an annual basis have increased $37m. This did not rate a mention from the Treasurer. This is not allowed to be debated by members in this House. No member of government is sufficiently interested in these alarming figures to even contribute to this debate. The government is determined to gag the debate, and to prevent other members in this parliament from talking about the Auditor-Generals report. This was the government that was elected on a platform of open, honest and accountable government, and We will provide people with all the information they want. We have a Treasurer who did not even touch on any of these very important aspects in his tabling of this paper today. That is alarming. I mentioned earlier the interest received, and you will remember that I told you that $170m has been spent. They inherited from the CLP government - the big black hole - $293m. That was what was in the bank when they took over government in 2000-01. In 2000-01, they were receiving incoming interest on that bank account of $ 17.7m. These spendthrifts have, in the last 12 or so months, spent $170m; they have reduced their money in the bank to $122m; and they have reduced their interest received - that is the income on their bank account from their interest - to $5.5m. It was not hard. As I said earlier; in fact, it is over a two-thirds less. They are very startling figures. They have depleted their own income stream in the efficiency and the performance of their business divisions, by virtue o f raiding the cookie barrel and depleting their income stream from interest. They have not explained the additional income - this is the government that cries poor. Also, unprecedented, they have received $169m extra from the Commonwealth government - an amazing amount of money. Where in the community is the benefit o f that? You cannot get elective surgery at Alice Springs Hospital and you 3990