Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 November 2015

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Parliamentary Record 24


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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Hansard Office

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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 Thursday 19 November 2015 7411 Enough about the hospital. I know a little about this; it is happening. The roadworks around the intersection have been going on for some time. The the civil contracting groundwork has started on the hospital. It will come out of the ground and will be on time. The Minister for Health has told this House many times, and the media, that it is progressing according to plan. I will go back to some other Members interjecting. Mr WESTRA van HOLTHE: They love talking about that. It comes back to what I said before: lots of interjections from members opposite, but remember those who doth protest too much trying to steer the conversation away from something that is going well, that will be successfully implemented under this government, which you guys could not manage to pull off in your time. You can criticise us all you like, but at the end of the day we will get the Palmerston hospital built where the Labor Party could not. It is as simple as that. I want to pick up on a few further things the member for Nelson mentioned in his contribution. The government realises that INPEX will come off the boil, so to speak, in the number of people it employs as it progresses through its various stages of completion. That is why the government is working desperately hard on the next big projects. It was heartening to be a part of this government when the Chief Minister announced on Tuesday the NEGI, the North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline project. That is a project, obviously not in Darwin, that shows this government is thinking about the next big thing for the Territory. We know the gas industry in the Northern Territory will be the economic powerhouse for our jurisdiction, and may well make us one of the largest gas producers, in time, in this nation. In order to do that we need the necessary infrastructure in place. The NEGI is part of that, of course. In answer to the member for Nelsons question, yes, of course we are thinking about post-INPEX, as opposed to the former Labor government, which was a one-trick pony when it came to the economy. It had no idea, no clue and no vision about what would occur post-INPEX. I daresay there would be nothing like the North East Gas Interconnector Pipeline project on the agenda for the Northern Territory had the Labor government been re-elected in 2012. It was a government that was lacking in vision and a forward strategic plan for the Territory in how it would use its power as government to support an economy that should have been growing. Now, under this government, it is growing and doing extraordinarily well with the lowest unemployment in the nation, the highest participation rate and an economy that is seen as going extraordinarily well. The other thing the member for Nelson talked about was local businesses struggling despite the fact that in general terms the economy of the Territory is doing well. Yes, member for Nelson, I acknowledge and I am sure the Minister for Business would also acknowledge that not all businesses are doing well and going gangbusters. I can think of a couple of local companies and businesses in Katherine that are not going as well as some others. Sometimes businesses are subject to the cycles of not only the macro-economy, but various smaller sectors of the economy. In the case of Katherine, I can fairly safely say that those businesses are struggling as a result of a couple of things that have happened in our local economy. One of those is the downturn in the iron ore industry, which resulted in a number of small iron ore mines closing down around the Katherine region. That has had an impact on local businesses. A downturn in the general situation of those hard commodities mined in the greater Katherine region, aside from iron ore, is affecting small business. Even something as simple as the cucumber green mottle mosaic virus is affecting our local melon growers. That is a $60m industry and a lot of money not being spent in the Katherine economy. Then the law and order policies we introduced with TBLs, the temporary beat locations, has seen a complete change in the demographics of Katherine, particularly visible on the main street. That has also had an impact on some small businesses in town. That all said, the government makes no apologies for the introduction of the TBLs. It has made an enormous difference to the township of Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. We do not resile from the fact that assaults, domestic violence, hospital presentations and police calls to violent offending are down. St John Ambulance is about as half as busy. We make no apologies for that. I suggest to those businesses affected that they look at their business models. Businesses in the Territory are tough and resilient. That is particularly true of those in Katherine. I am sure many of them have survived by being adaptable. They need to make sure their business model is contemporary and suits the environment in which they have to operate. The October Business Month is a fantastic event. It was an initiative of the CLP government 21 years ago, and we are going from strength to