Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 11 November 1986 advertisements in both Britain and New Zealand have brought a good response and I expect to have a senior horticulturist in the Territory in the very near future. I would like to refute a statement made by the member for Koolpinyah that the Department of Primary Production appears to have lost direction and is somehow not doing the job that it is charged with fulfilling. Discussions that I have had with officers of primary industry departments in other states indicate that our officers are held in very high regard and that our research work is at the forefront of research nationally. However, I do not deny that more could be done if money were available. All departments suffered funding cuts this year. The Department of Primary Production is no exception. It is difficult to accommodate all the needs. However, under my direction, the department will continue to provide good support to the industry it serves. The member for Koolpinyah indicated that there had been a blowout in the administration area as opposed to other services, and that is simply not true. If the member bothered to read the full list of budget papers before us, she would recognise that there are quite clear explanations for apparent blowouts in both salary payments and administrative and operational expenses. I might add that salary payments are across the board. They are for all those people who are undertaking research in extension services in the field. These are the people that are working at the front door, helping people on the land. The increase in salary payments only reflects the normal increase flowing from the national wage case right across the board. There has been an increase and it is reflected there. In line with other departments, we are reducing the number of employees and will have achieved our target in the very near future. I believe we are as far advanced as any other department in doing that. It is ludicrous to say that that has blown out by some unusual means. We are down in capital items, but so is almost everybody else. Often, capital items are reflected 1 year and, the next year, there appears to be a dramatic cut. It only means that the infrastructure required is in place and no more is required. Of course, there are things the department would like to have that it cannot have. Hopefully, it will be possible to get them next year. The other services relate mainly to the BTEC program. $16.4m of the $17.1m is for the BTEC program. That is a separate fund and is not subject to normal allocations of funding to the Department of Primary Production. Cuts in all areas are representative of funding cuts across the total allocation, and research and extension services have suffered no more, and in some cases less, than administration. This year, the Department of Primary Production has gone to program budgeting which will give a very clear indication of what we are spending in all areas, and we will be able to judge the effectiveness of our programs from program budgeting. There will always be knockers and there will always be those who will pick up the tune and play it to others, but the achievements of the Department of Primary Production and ADMA will continue to sing louder.ADMA has been handed responsibility for a number of areas that were managed previously by the NTDC. I refer to BTEC, type D loans, drought relief, and development loans associated with the industry, among others. These loans and assistance measures are flowing to industry following a delay in the full handover of responsibility for this function. ADMA's marketing of produce is aggressive and achieving good results. 854
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