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 cutting back on services. In the budget speech given to us by the Treasurer, we were given an undertaking that services would not be cut back. It concerns me that this has happened. A further issue I will take up with the Minister for Transport and Works in the committee stage is the Impadna-Idracowra-Horseshoe Bend Road that features in the 1984-85 report as deferred but does not appear in the capital works report in the 1985-86 annual report. I draw that to the minister's attention and forewarn him that I will raise it in the committee stage. To turn to the portfolio responsibilities that I bear for the opposition - namely, lands, housing, transport and works and central Australia - I advise the relevant ministers that I will be raising particular issues in the committee stage. In respect of housing, I raise as a query the fact that this budget reveals that the Housing Commission's appropriation has risen by 15% in real terms. The appropriation for 1985-86 has been increased for 1986-87 by 15% in the context of decreases in many other areas such as health, education and welfare. Certainly, that demands a little explanation and I will raise that in the committee stages. I noticed in Budget Paper No 6, with respect to the economic statement delivered in August by the Treasurer, that there are some fairly surprising comments with respect to activity in the building and construction industry. In his explanation of the downturn in building activity in the Territory, the Treasurer made much of the point that building approvals per capita remained higher in the Northern Territory than elsewhere in the country. I think that that deserves closer attention in the context of this debate. The fact of the matter is that, because of the shape of the housing market and of the sparse population of the Northern Territory, per capita figures are not necessarily indicative of building activity. They do not provide a reliable measure for comparison between what is happening in the Northern Territory and what is happening elsewhere in the country. To take the example of the recently completed magistrates' court in Darwin, I do not think that I will get too many complaints from members of the government when I point out that, in the area of non-residential buildings, the building of a magistrates' court for a regional population of under 100 000 does not give a fair reflection, per capita, of building activity in Darwin vis-a-vis building activity elsewhere in the country. Equally, in the residential building area, the per capita comparison is not valid because the structure of the housing market in Darwin and in other centres in the Territory is quite different to that in other places. I note that the Minister for Housing is conducting a seminar, presumably in response to this downturn in the building industry, particularly in the residential sector. I trust that it will be worth while and, to throw a bouquet to the government, I do appreciate the invitation to speak at that seminar. I should say parenthetically that one sometimes gets the feeling that these onrushings of the bipartisan spirit overwhelm the government when it is forced to confront a hard issue. I note with some interest that the Minister for Housing is enthusiastic about a bipartisan approach to the housing issue when he has problems, just as the Chief Minister was enthusiastic about a bipartisan approach to the proposition of statehood when it was a question of the need to explain the issue to the entire Territory population. When the Minister for Education visits communities in my electorate or arranges for FEPPI to meet in communities in my electorate, he might demonstrate a similar bipartisan spirit. Or, when the Minister for Community 833
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