Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007

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Parliamentary Record 12


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




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 Wednesday 14 February 2007 3836 MOTION Note Paper - Treasurers Mid-Year Report, 2006-07 Continued from 28 November 2006. Mr MILLS (Blain): Madam Speaker, in responding to the Treasurers mid-year report, I acknowledge comments that have been made about the Northern Territory economy. I premise my comments on the assertions of members opposite, particularly the Treasurer and those who form ranks behind him - the Labor Party cheer squad - that what has happened in the Northern Territory is a result of extraordinary discipline. They all nod in earnest agreement - yes, extraordinary discipline. For anyone who can read, there is an element of management that is required of the high office of government, but there is a large dose of good luck. It is the same good luck that has positively affected the economies of Western Australia and Queensland. Western Australia, in particular, like the Northern Territory, has been a large beneficiary of the resources boom. You cannot in all honesty stand up and crow about your great economic achievements - as can be discerned from the Treasurers mid-year report - being the extraordinary sole achievement of this Labor government. I will say it again: there are elements that are required of the high office that the Treasurer and this government hold. However, more reference to the good luck element would allow us to take a more realistic approach to ensure that we make hay whilst the sun is shining. It is those issues that need to be addressed. Once again, issues rise to the surface of this report, such as the need for sound economic management to control certain factors that are inherent in boom times, such as inflation. Those measures have been largely controlled by interest mechanisms that have been applied federally, external to the Northern Territory. The national economy has been robust and well managed. The case is far more in the court of the good management of the Australian national economy. You will not find anyone who would disagree with that proposition. It follows the capacity of different state Treasurers to follow sound economic management at a national level. Underneath that is the resources boom that has benefited some states more than others. When we look at the report, we find that there have been unexpected surpluses. They flow on because of the national economy performing strongly and, specifically, the resources boom that stimulates local activity in the Northern Territory. That is one reason why we have unexpected surpluses. They are not a result of good discipline; they are a result of good fortune. What do you do with these surpluses? The surplus comes to light most notably in the budgeting for a deficit, the expectation that you are going to fall short of your mark, and then to find lo and behold - you have a surplus. That erodes the concept of good discipline. You have an expectation of a deficit and, blow me down, you have more than you expected. Why do you have a surplus? I have already mentioned the factors. Running through the centre of this, undergirding the good fortune that has been crowed about by this government - quite insincerely, I allege - is the GST, which has been a very useful element for this Labor government to be able to conceal the river of gold that flows into the Territory economy as something of their own creation. The truth is that most people who manage their own businesses have a sense of the ebb and flow of fortune in the Territory. They know that this is the case, and they will enjoy it whilst it flows. They will require genuine discipline and sound economic management in the long term by those who govern this administration. It was this very government, in opposition, that railed against the GST. The GST has now flowed and they are using it as an platform to create the impression that they have been extraordinary managers to create this wealth, rather than the CLP who did a terrible job. The truth is that the GST did not flow at that time. They conceal that deliberately and that is the dishonesty that really irks me and any person who wants to look at the truth about the economic fortunes of the Northern Territory. Those matters that have been asserted with all earnestness from members opposite, from whom I would expect more, know that is the case. The last budget presented to this Chamber by the former government did not have the GST flowing through the centre of it. This government had it from the beginning, yet uses that windfall dishonestly to create an impression that there was a deficiency as the result of poor management by the former government, and now there has been extraordinary discipline and great management. Yet, through the heart of this lies a strong national economy, a strong resources boom - nothing to do with yourselves - and GST flowing right through the coffers, way in excess of anything that ever occurred before. Some of you who do not read or think about these things will think it is true. Some of you who know the facts will still nod dishonestly and assert that it is true because it scores a political point. Scoring a political point is the object of the exercise, is it not, honourable members? Scoring a political point and strengthening your political position to advance your political prospects. That is the objective, is it not? Not to