Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)



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





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 - Tuesday 11 November 1986 will appreciate their introduction. I understand similar arrangements are very popular with drivers in most Australian cities. It may be of interest that, while the level of subsidy required for the Darwin Bus Service has been increasing in dollar terms over the last few years, we have been able to turn that around this year. The estimated subsidy is down from $3.264m to $3.215m. In real terms, this is a much more significant result than it appears in straight dollar terms. In fact, the operating cost per bus kilometre has been reducing steadily in real terms from $1.51 in 198182 to $1.43 in 1985-86. Another new initiative in the transport area that I would like to mention is the METAL program which stands for Motorcycle Education, Training and licensing and its purpose is obvious. This is an attempt to stop the incredible waste of life which we see every year from motorcycle accidents. The aim, of course, is to educate riders in good road habits and skills. It wi 11 cost $154 000 in 1986-87 to set up and administer. I hope that there would not be 1 member in this Assembly who would not support our efforts in that area. One of the most significant items in the the Department of Transport and Works budget for 1986-87 is the increase in funding for repairs and maintenance. The allocation has increased by $6.3m from $31.5m in 1985-86 to $37.7m. There are general increases in all areas of the department's operations: public works to maintain government buildings and other assets - up from $10.7m to $14.5m; maintenance of the water and sewerage system - up from $2m to $2.4m;and maintenance of the roads system - up from $18.8m to $20.9m. The gradual decay of the nation's public assets is a problem for all governments. In Australia, as in other countries, allocations to repairs and maintenance since World War 2 have not been sufficient to retain assets in good repair. The cynics amongst us would say that that is because politicians can't cut a ribbon over a newly-repaired pothole whereas they can receive public recognition for opening a new project, whether it be a road, bridge, school, health centre or recreational facility. This government recognises the need to maintain properly the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public assets that have been provided since self-government in 1978. The increased allocations for repairs and maintenance are proof of that. Mr Speaker, the final area of the Transport and Works budget that I would like to comment on is its revenue-raising operation and the charges which the government has set for services. All members will be aware that, prior to the end of the 1985-86 financial year'ithe government took separate decisions to increase water and sewerage charges, bus fares on the Darwin Bus Service and charges for motor vehicle registrations and other services such as drivers' licences. I think it is important for members of this Assembly and the public to understand why. The government derives no joy from having to increase charges. However, our financial situation is such that it is impossible to continue subsidising these services at past levels. It is, of course, government policy that, where possible, the user of a service provided by government should bear the cost of that service. It is also our view and the view of the Commonwealth Grants Commission that we must move towards levels of charges that are comparable to those in the states. The increased charges will move us in the right direction to satisfy these policies. Revenue from water and sewerage services is estimated at $20m in 1986-87, up from $12m last year. We. are changing the water charging system to one 839