Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 November 1986)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 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 - Thursday 27 November 1986 Auditor-General's Annual Report and the Treasurer's Annual Financial Statements. This year, we received an annual report and, a week or so later, the Treasurer's Annual Financial Statements Report. In the Auditor-General 's words, the government was not able to get the information ready in time. Mr Speaker, what do you see when you assess the contents of the Auditor-General's report? You discover that the Auditor-General finds that the government could not balance its books for the last financial year. The current balances and investments held were $107 463 more than shown on the government books. The cash balance showed $64 214 more than did the books. We can be grateful that, in both instances, the government had more money than it expected to have, but it is still clear that the money and the records do not balance. In such a loose system, the error could as easily have been reversed. The end result was that the books had to be adjusted artificially to make them balance. The books of the Northern Territory government had to be adjusted artificially, a practice that would not be tolerated in a public company let alone in a publicly accountable body using taxpayers' money. It is a scandal that this government, with its resources, cannot balance its books. But that is not the end of the story. Statement 6 details the government's guarantees and associated contingent liabilities. Contingent liabilities, as we all know, is a very pertinent and burning issue in this Assembly. The government proudly boasts in the foreword to statement 6 that it is a more comprehensive and informative statement than is generally prepared by other governments in Australia. We have heard that so often. The problem with this more comprehensive and informative statement is that we have no idea how accurate it is because the Auditor-General states that he has been unable to form an opinion as to the completeness and accuracy of the information from which statement 6 has been prepared. He is not prepared,'in other words, to give statement 6 - which deals with contingent liabilities - a clean bill of health because, for the second year in a row, the government cannot get its act together and provide the information. Mr Speaker, that is disgraceful and yet another example of this government playing fast and loose with the money of the taxpayer of the Northern Territory. This concerns one of the most controversial areas of government financial dealings - as the honourable member for Barkly knows to his cost yet, for the second year in a row, the government cannot get it right and cannot obtain the approval of the Auditor-General to show that it has got it right. It cannot provide the information required by the Auditor-General in order for him to make a fair assessment of the extent of this government's contingent liabilities. Mr Speaker, that is shameful. It is disgraceful and it is letting down the Northern Territory taxpayer, to put it very mildly. And then there is the question of quarterly accounts. The September quarterly accounts are just out. The budget said we would obtain $lm from casino taxes this financial year. Let us forget for a moment that, if Federal Hotels had been there, we would have obtained $4m from casino taxes this financial year. But, how much did we receive, Mr Speaker, as a contribution to this $lm in the July, August and September period - the first 3 months of the financial year? We obtained $350 in casino taxes paid to the Northern Territory government in the first 3 months of the financial year. Mr Speaker, that is bad enough. But what is worse is that it cost us at least $125 000 to collect that amount and to provide regulatory services for the casinos. Not only are the casinos still continuing to enjoy a tax holiday, we are paying for it, not only in terms of forgone income but also in actual income that is spent to ensure that they run a proper show. There is 1501

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