Territory Stories

Questions Day 4 - Tuesday 28 October 2014



Questions Day 4 - Tuesday 28 October 2014

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Parliamentary Record 15


Questions for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016




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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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QUESTIONS Tuesday 28 October 2014 863 I now refer it to the government. Can local government charge rates to Power and Water for their facilities within a council area to offset Power and Water charges to councils for street lighting? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Nelson for his question. There is no doubt an ongoing issue of concern within local government about Power and Water seeking to charge local government for Power and Water assets, such as the price of electricity. It is only fair and reasonable councils pay for power and water, like mums and dads and businesses have to pay for power and water across the Northern Territory. It is only fair and reasonable that if local government uses power, they should pay for it. In regard to your question about whether rates should be able to be charged on Power and Water assets, government does not have a position on that, in particular. It is Ms Lawrie: However Mr GILES: Do you give up? Ms Lawrie: You are hopeless! Madam SPEAKER: Opposition Leader, withdraw that. Ms LAWRIE: I withdraw. Madam SPEAKER: Thank you. Mr GILES: However, it is something we need to look at, from a government point of view, regarding who is charged rates and who is not. A number of businesses, organisations and so forth across the Northern Territory do not pay rates, sometimes in a competitive environment and sometimes in a non-competitive environment. I have asked Treasury to do some analysis of who pays rates and who does not to see whether we can achieve a better system where everyone has a level playing field on rates. We will, obviously, acknowledge that many exclusions will be made, such as for religious institutions, which do not pay rates in the Northern Territory. There is a range of people who do not pay rates, but we are looking at it now. I will not give my personal opinion, but it is fair and reasonable that all people operate on a competitive and commercial basis when it comes to paying that. Yes, councils should pay for their power. We have been very careful in deciding when to roll that out. We have held back a number of those decisions and are still holding some back. How rates are applied is an important question. I do not think it is anything that has been fully debated in the Territory before. There are many exclusions. If we wanted to have a sensible debate about that, it is only fair and reasonable. I am still waiting for an analysis paper to advise me who is in, who is out and so forth. There is anecdotal evidence about one-third of locations within the Alice Springs town boundary someone might correct me here may not pay rates. The numbers are something like that. A large number of people do not pay rates. It is not fair, particularly if you are a business competing with a not-for-profit business operating in the commercial environment. That is challenging and something we have to look at. Stella Maris Site Expressions of Interest Mr KURRUPUWU to MINISTER for LANDS, PLANNING and the ENVIRONMENT Your department recently conducted an open and transparent expression of interest process for the Stella Maris site that included advertisements in the NT News. At a union rally outside the Stella Maris site over the weekend, the Maritime Union claimed the reason they had put in a bid for the site was because the process asked them to detail their ability to carry out their project. Is the minister aware of an MOU proposal and other alternate matters to conduct the EoI process? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Arafura for an interesting question. It comes to the point of how Labor and the unions see public monies and assets today as something that should be gifted away, with no questions asked. I will unpack this for those interested. On the eve of the last election the Minister for Lands and Planning, the member for Barkly, happily walked to Unions NT and had them sign on the same day an application, with a cheque on the back, to the Department of Lands and Planning to gift Stella Maris to Unions NT, basically rent-free, for the next 10 years, with an option to extend. When that file was on my desk, did I think it was strange? Yes. Did I think it did not stack up? Yes. I made the call, and this government stopped it going any further. The government decided this should go out to an open expression of interest process. The question now, for the public record, is: does the member for Karama, the Leader of the Opposition, support the member for Barklys actions before the last election, in the way it was handled? Does she have her hands all over it, or will she condemn the member for Barkly and come out with what she would do?

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