Territory Stories

Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 17 June 2015



Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 17 June 2015

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Parliamentary Record 21


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 Wednesday 17 June 2015 1099 to $30.6bn. Retail spending was also steady in April at $256m. We also saw the largest increase in vehicle sales of any jurisdiction in Australia for May at 0.8%. I mention that because that is bad news for the Opposition Leader. It is great news for the Territory, however. Last month the Opposition Leader was in the media talking down our economy again, saying it was in crisis because car sales had dipped in April. This is what you call cherry picking statistics. We have the largest increase in vehicle sales of any jurisdiction in the nation, yet the Opposition Leader feels it is his right and obligation to cherry pick those statistics. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates, at 4.5%, the second-lowest in Australia. Our economy is clearly outperforming the rest of the nation. We are determined to ensure it stays strong. The Chief Minister and others on this side of the House have been working hard to diversify the economy, to make sure there are jobs for Indigenous Territorians especially Mr GUNNER: A point of order, Madam Speaker! Standing Order 113: relevance. Will you apologise to Sandra Lew Fatt for putting her out of business? Madam SPEAKER: Sit down, that is not a point of order. Mr TOLLNER: I will not even respond to that. This year we are spending $1.4bn in the economy, putting in place essential infrastructure - roads, bridges and those types of things. This government has a plan for the economy and we are doing well. Madam SPEAKER: Minister, your time has expired. Travel Closure of Agencies Mr VOWLES to CHIEF MINISTER Yesterday Sandra Lew Fatt, who has been a local travel agent for 45 years, said she would close the doors of her family business as a result of the CLPs decision to hand all government travel to corporate agencies. Your government made the decision to wipe out local travel agents and hand that business to interstate corporates without discussing it with them. Can you please explain to Ms Lew Fatt, and other agents, why you did this without having the decency to consult them or at least try to understand what it means to them? ANSWER Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Johnston for a very serious question. If I can answer it without any interjections I am happy to explain it in full detail. When we came to government about $30m per annum was spent on travel. There was no process for how that was spent. There is TRIPS, a travel booking system, and GAS, an accounting system which pays the bills. When travel was sought, a department would contact a local travel agent and try to identify the flights and accommodation. There was no value for money paradigm put over it and no reason why any specific travel agent was picked. That was for about $30m, and some travel agents had a lot of money while some only had a bit. We recognised problems in the process. There was no value for money question in that regard. About 12 or 18 months ago we changed the system to the Corporate Travel booking system ... Ms Fyles: Did it go to tender? Mr GILES: Let me answer, you asked the question. It went to tender and we asked all government departments and agencies to utilise the system. To date, just over 90% utilise that system. About 14 travel agents in the Territory of the 29 still receive bookings from Corporate Travel. About $5.1m is being spent this financial year. Of the $5.1m across those 14 travel agents, forgetting the 15 who received nothing, one travel agent received $3.1 to $3.2m worth of expenditure and another received $1.2m to $1.3m. The others received around $300 000 or $200 000, and others $45 000. One received $3000 and another $678. I tell you that because there was no fair and equitable system around why one company gets $3m out of the $5m while another gets $1m, one gets $200 000 and one gets $600. The system was not right. That is why we are working to fix it. That is why I announced yesterday that from 1 July everybody will be going through the Corporate Travel system. In September we will put out a tender seeking a new Corporate Travel business to start on 1 January. I encourage all Territory travel agents to work together to tender for that. The Department of Business and other agencies will assist you to come together. In the interest of fairness, equity, value for money, openness and transparency we had to fix the system because it was a bad system. As I said, $30m of government money was being spent on travel through a friend ringing a friend - good, bad or indifferent - to get through to a travel agent.