Debates Day 6 - Thursday 15 May 2014
Parliamentary Record 12
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 15 May 2014 4485 them $900 in four years time people will be asking how the hell can we deal with all the debt? Look, federally, at how quickly things turn around. We saw 11 years of sustained economic growth with the Howard/Costello government working diligently, living frugally and putting money away to the point they had $60bn in the Higher Education Endowment Fund, $50m sitting in the Future Fund, the Telecommunication Mr Wood: That is the wrong budget. Mr TOLLNER: No, I am talking about federally in 2007 and how quickly things can turn around. There was money in the Telecommunications Fund and Australia was in surplus. We had a number of surplus budgets, one after another. We then had the election of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, and Kevin Rudd again in a period of six years, and in that time we went from a surplus budget with money in the bank to now being $667bn in debt. These guys crow about that as if it is an achievement. It is not, and there is nothing to show for it except probably another 20 years of budget cuts. They were mailing cheques to dead people. We now have the pink batts inquiry. The main thing was getting money out the door with no concern about how it was being spent and if proper checks and balances were in place for some of the programs. The Territory got some reasonable infrastructure out of the Building the Education Revolution. The former Territory government did a reasonable job of administering that money, but we have seen what happened in the rest of the country. What a shambles! What an embarrassment! All that money was wasted. The NBN fiasco $50bn for technology that will be defunct in 10 years time but we had to have it. Kevin Rudd called us the smart nation. How smart was that? We see the same thing occurring in the Territory. The great legacy of the previous Labor government in the Northern Territory is a prison. The Minister for Correctional Services is pretty thrilled he has the best prison in Australia, prison Mahal, the six-star prison with every whiz bang thing under the sun. Is that the type of legacy you want to leave; the greatest thing you have done for the Territory is build a prison? How appalling. Madam Speaker, we have taken a different direction with this budget. We have aimed to do three things, and, as I said at the outset, it is about securing our childrens future. The first thing to do is make sure we do not pass them debt. We made a concerted effort and, whilst I would like to take all the credit, that is not fair. The reality is every minister, every chief executive, every manager of a government department has done their fair share of heavy lifting, worn pain and taken flak, but we cut an enormous amount of waste from the public service. I like the way the member for Nelson reminds everybody they now have $200 sport vouchers. Why is that? That is not money we do not have. That is savings we made which enabled us to do it. We cut the debt legacy by $1.3bn saving us $55m a year. Adding $5m for the Sport Voucher Scheme is not a big ticket item in that context, but is due solely to the tough decisions this government has made. Not only are we looking at paying debt, we are looking at supporting families. Part of the Sport Voucher Scheme is about supporting families and reducing the cost of living for families, making it easier for people. It is a cost families do not have to pay. It is the equivalent of getting $200 tax free in your bank account. It is also a wonderful way of ensuring kids enjoy an active and healthy life whether it is playing soccer, footy, cricket, basketball, swimming lessons for toddlers, learning the clarinet or joining the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides. All these things are important to a young persons development. We make no bones about supporting families; we are proud of the way we support families. Childcare is very expensive in the Northern Territory; people with young children know that. For two working parents or single mums or dads it is difficult to make ends meet. Whilst no other jurisdiction in the country provides a childcare subsidy, we do and have expanded it. We have increased the subsidy and have expanded it to include family day care as well, making another 1000 places available. The third point is our focus on economic development. We have an imbalance in the Northern Territory between the public service and the private sector. The Northern Territory is overly reliant on the public service. We are a little out of kilter and are blessed because to rectify that we do not have to sack people, we create more private enterprise. If we were in an economically mature jurisdiction it would be difficult to get private enterprise to invest money and expand private enterprise, but in the Northern Territory there is an enormous amount of blue sky. We can quickly open mines, get farms operating, tour businesses operating, help people into private enterprise and attract more private investment. That is another advantage we have in the Northern Territory which does not exist in any other part of Australia. They are the three things: reducing Labor debt, cutting the cost of living and driving economic growth across the Territory. This budget is clearly focused on those three things and I am
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