Debates Day 4 - 20 August 1975
Parliamentary Record 5
Northern Territory. Department of the Legislative Assembly
Debates for 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT; 1st Assembly 1974 - 1977
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
pages 457 - 498
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES-Wednesday 20 August 1975 particularly from the areas that vitally concern my own responsibilities and interests in this Assembly, I can only say that I am extremely appalled at the complete lack of sensitivity to what this community is all about in the Northern Territory, particularly in the Darwin situation as a result of cyclone Tracy. Whilst the Budget papers have given many glowing figures of the excellent rehabilitative and social work that the government has undertaken, at many millions-I think $70m in the last financial year-and proposals for many more in the coming one, when we get down to looking specifically at the actual operation of the functions of the way in which we are to get back to a normal type of life, then I am afraid the Budget leaves me with a great deal of concern and a great deal of real worry about how the people of the Territory and the institutions of the Territory are going to be able to operate within the confines of this particular Budget. Ifwe look at the area vitally concerned with my own interest, that is community activity and involvement in the arts, we find that an appropriation of$l1O,OOO has been made for this particular year and we are informed that that figure includes $40,000 to the Australian Council for the Arts of which $20,000 is a retrospective payment for something they forgot to pay for before 30 June. Immediately we are back to $70,000 to be split between all the other community groups. They list some halfdozen: Alice Springs Youth Centre, Scout Association, tennis clubs, CW A. I have no objection to any of those particular groups, but . what about the scope of the rest of them right throughout the Territory? They say in the document that there had to be a gearing down because of cyclone Tracy, that the effect of cyclone Tracy has caused a decrease in applications for assistance. Good grief! People are only just getting organised to get their applications in. Surely they haven't taken that sort of a measure so quickly so as to not anticipate what the communities are going to want in the way of subsidies and assistance this particular year? Some of these groups have been labouring under great strain and stress with complete voluntary help and to make statements such as that is just completely naive in my opinion. Whoever prepared that brief had no control at all. When we look at local government, there are two sectors in the Budget that concern me. One is the section where the Australian Government makes a payment in lieu of rates 473 to local authorities. This year the appropriation is $100,000 compared with last year's of $242,000. We are politely told that there has been a cyclone in Darwin and whilst at 24 December there were some 1,443 departmental residences there were only 410 habitable at 30 June. What do they do? They get at the funds and they gear down their contribution to local government rates in proportion from 1,400 to 400, and they allow some $40,000 to be paid to the Corporation of the City ofDarwin. Does anybody suggest that the Corporation is not going to go on maintaining the roads, the streets, the lighting, the recreational facilities? It appears the government have one rule for themselves and another one for other people; they are going to force local government to jack the rates up on those other people who have stayed, who are going to have to service these things to make the City Corporation meet its bills. I thought local government under a Labor Government was meant to be a full partner in the federal system. If this is partnership, then it is no wonder that local government is questioning its particular role in a ridiculous game. Local Government for the rest of the Territory perhaps ought to be closely looking at this if Katherine and Tennant Creek are looking at local government offers with tremendous components of Australian Government housing and ownership of housing in their towns. If they have a disaster, if there is a wind storm through Tennant Creek which blows it away, what will local government in Tennant Creek be left with to pay its bills if they apply this? Alice Springs has been allowed a minor increase from something like $50,000 to $60,000. I suggest that this is going to be one year when I would be very surprised if the rate increase in Alice Springs is limited to 20%. I am sure that inflationary trends in this period will force Alice Springs to jack its rate up more than 20%, but of course the government has not made the provision that it is going to be able to come up with an appropriate level. Let us look at the other subsidy arrangements that are made for local government. Here again, nobody has bothered to do his homework. Obviously this document has been prepared by some newly recruited staff member in that Brisbane office; he knows nothing about the way in which local government functions in Darwin or of the top end of
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