Territory Stories

Debates Day 4 - Friday 23 June 2006



Debates Day 4 - Friday 23 June 2006

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Parliamentary Record 8


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




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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 Friday 23 June 2006 2629 happy with things as they were, and she did not see then a need to have an inquiry. She had no plan then for action. She appears still not to have it. It appears that there will be a review; a review perhaps by a government into itself. With no details, Territorians may think that it will not be a public, independent or even a judicial style inquiry into government departments, but it may well be a government inquiry into itself. Surely that is not what Territorians want and deserve. The current Minister for Family and Community Services said today that she would wait to see what was contained in a report about an investigation into failings of the system before deciding whether to make it public. We ask for the same approach to be taken in relation to the inquiry the Chief Minister announced yesterday. So much for the catchcry: open and transparent. It is no wonder people have cynical views of governments and their leaders. It is no wonder that backbenchers are starting to show their frustration, and it is no wonder that indigenous people are becoming suspicious and even hateful of the Chief Minister. Mr Acting Chairman, it is probably appropriate that I dedicate these remarks to the member for Millner. This government has failed, and instead of admitting it and bringing people into the room to be part of developing a solution, it remains a game for the Chief Minister. I wrote to the Chief Minister some weeks ago in a genuine attempt to find a way forward so that we could all work together and thrash out some scenarios and hopefully come to an end point. There was no response. Yesterday, I wrote again. Surprisingly, there has been no response. It is exasperating and frustrating, not only for members of the opposition, but clearly for members of government. While women and children languish in these communities, those on the fifth floor of Parliament House continue to play games. I have said in this Chamber before that members opposite do not have to believe what I believe, and they do not have to do everything I think they should. They also do not have to have the strength of my convictions, but I do put to them that they should at least have the strength of their own. This week we saw hypocrisy, inconsistency, arrogance and shallowness from this government and, in particular, the Chief Minister. It is, therefore, no surprise that she is under attack from within, and it is also no surprise that the promise that was Labor in 2001 has disintegrated in todays rotting carcass of unsatisfied expectations. The results for Territorians, indigenous and non-indigenous are simply not there. The money in the budget has not been matched by better outcomes. I started my remarks by setting out four themes that struck the opposition as highlighting other difficulties and other inefficiencies and ineptitude of this government. Those themes were the government cannot manage the budget. Despite record GST revenues, this government is taking us to unprecedented debt. The projected nett debt unfunded employee liabilities is $4bn, and that is the projections for two years time. There is no doubt that government has been unable to manage the budget. We have seen, year after year, blowout upon blowout upon blowout. At the same time, we have seen government members assert that everything is just fine because extra money is being injected. It is patently the case, to use but one very obvious example, that more money into the area of child protection has not translated into better outcomes, and the government, or the senior members within it, should certainly, at least to themselves, make that concession before they can establish a plan to go forward. The fact that there is no plan, that it is just policy on the run, it is reactive to certain circumstances, demonstrates Labors failures. I need only point to the comments of Rolf Gerritsen some weeks ago in relation to this government; that is that it was a very reactive one. Where is the social policy? Where is the policy framework? Nevertheless, we have seen massive increases in funding in a number of areas. Any government would inject funds into key areas because all politicians, although we remain increasingly sceptical about the motivations of those opposite, get into politics with a view to delivering better outcomes for the people for whom they serve. Whilst there have been massive increases in revenue, thanks to the GST that Labor so vehemently opposed, the results just are not there. It is increasingly becoming the case that Labor ministers are getting better at using weasel words instead of actually answering questions. That partly explains why it is we run out of time during estimates, because ministers gabble on, rarely specifically answering a question, although some are better than others. Then they throw the question to the public servants sitting beside them, and after that still do not answer the question. The other thing was that there is no doubt that this Labor government is more focussed on re-election than it is on addressing the needs of Territorians. We see that in a number of areas. I have lost count of the number of media units inside government departments. Some of the government departments have between four and 12 marketing and communications people and the nature of their business is to promote this