Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007
Parliamentary Record 12
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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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3844 of ensuring that we have continued increased funding, particularly into our beef roads. They are a significant primary producer for us and the cattlemen are great advocates of strengthening our beef road network. The Territory government has put additional funding into improving our beef roads, and we will be going to Canberra to seek their support in even more funding targeted at our beef roads. In addition to beef roads, we are focusing on our strategic roads such as those servicing the mining industry. An example is the Tanami Road where we are putting additional millions of dollars into repairs. We continue to say that key roads have still to be built. They need to be built in partnership between the Territory and Commonwealth governments. I refer, of course, to the Tiger Brennan extension running through Palmerston. That is a key road of strategic importance in our trade route through to the port. It is, obviously, a road of enormous benefit for bringing commuters into their jobs from the rural and Palmerston areas, and in the future that Tiger Brennan extension will be the main route into urban Darwin. It will be the new Stuart Highway, if you like. I cannot overstate the importance of that road in our strategic economic needs, particularly for those drivers down to the trade zone at the port. Obviously, the more you can provide the right infrastructure to get people to and from their jobs, the more efficient you are in running your workplaces. I will be putting these views very strongly to the Minister for Transport, Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, and hope that they will start to heed the message coming from the Territory, which is that in partnership, we will put dollars into the road funding system. We are already spending an additional $50m per year to improve our roads network. We are spending $130m per year, which is $50m more than when the CLP were in government. We are certainly showing our commitment. It is time that the federal government stepped up and showed their commitment. We are in partnership with what we are saying with the Cattlemens Association and the Trucking Association. We all agree on the strategic roads that need to be improved, and we all have costings and plans on how to improve them. The Territory government is stepping up to its responsibility, which we share with the federal government. In terms of public transport, I will be focusing on how our bus system is operating in the Darwin urban area, the Darwin rural area and Palmerston as well as Alice Springs. I have my agency working on looking at how the bus system runs in Alice Springs and how we can improve it because the system has really not had a good review in decades. I am quite keen to see how we can provide an efficient and effective bus system in Central Australia in both urban areas, as well as buses linking the outer areas of Alice Springs, because there are growing numbers of people living in the rural areas. A key focus of my agency in transport will be looking at our bus systems. Another significant priority for the government in 2007 is land release. We had a very positive forum earlier this month with me, the Treasurer and the Minister for Housing and Local Government sitting down at the table and meeting with industry groups. The real estate industry was represented, as was the Chamber of Commerce, the Housing Industry Association, the Construction Association and the Property Council. We had a robust discussion about land release. The Treasurer touched on this issue earlier in his remarks. If you rush your land release, if you have too much land out there, you distort the market, you devalue the assets that Territory families are sitting on, which is primarily their home values, of course. Therefore, government has to be very tuned in to what the industry is saying regarding land release requirements and, at the same time, have a sound assessment basis in which to release land. We have had a strategic plan to release land in Palmerston in an area we will call Bellamack. That land release is going to come online in the 2007-08 financial year. It is in keeping, as you heard the Treasurer say earlier, with the cyclical timing of when we will have to have some 600 additional lots coming on to the market to be turned off. I was at the Lyons subdivision just recently, and there is an incredibly impressive rate of growth at that subdivision. Defence Housing has a fantastic subdivision there. There are some 700 lots in Lyons alone, with 350 lots out to public auction. We have 350 lots turning off in the northern suburbs, and we have some 500-odd lots still to be turned off under existing subdivisions of Rosebery and the like in Palmerston. As I said, there are another 600-odd lots to be turned off in Bellamack in the 2007-08 financial year depending on the mix of development leases. A key issue we look at within our land release schedule is housing affordability. The government has been doing some modelling, working across agencies - my agency, Treasury and Housing - to look at what mix of conditions we could attach to development leases to encourage home affordability. In discussions I have had with significant developers in the Northern Territory, I have to say I have been impressed with the view they have taken to the issue of housing affordability. I am looking forward to some very exciting proposals under those development leases regarding potential home affordability, including packages for first home buyers. Interestingly, the HomeNorth scheme provides a
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