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
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 27 November 1986 by the magically multiplying cattle of 001100, and it would be funny if it were not so serious. It is serious because perhaps the Northern Territory taxpayer has lost close to $lm because of government ineptitude on those 2 deals. At Annaburroo, we seem to have lost a prize breeding herd, an integral part of the grand plan for a buffalo industry. It has just disappeared. We do not know where it is. The Minister for Lands is not prepared to tell us because the police are still looking at the matter. We are left in the dark and it is only one of many examples of where we have been left in the dark. On the other hand, the government, in selling off a mustering contract at 001100, understated the numbers so greatly that the contract cost the taxpayer about $0.75m in lost revenue. We all know these are hard times. The Treasurers, both Northern Territory and federal, are at pains to tell us how hard things are. It is in hard times that, traditionally, there is a greater need for assistance to the poor, yet effectively this government has reduced the welfare budget by about $600 000. That decision is a clear statement of this government's attitude to the needy and those who require real support and assistance. The community assistance programs cover areas of much concern to this Assembly, such as youth services, material assistance, crisis intervention, child protection and rehabilitation for child offenders. Mr Speaker, need I go on? We can afford lavish fees for foreign consultants but we cannot afford to maintain real levels of expenditure for those Territorians who need them most. It is a case of priorities in tough times and, unfortunately, the lower-income people of the Northern Territory know where the government's priorities are. The Chief Minister has shown clearly his desire to dodge issues and duck his responsibility to manage his Cabinet. His is a record of complete ignorance and incompetence. I will use only recent examples. The Minister for Health embroiled the government in a major controversy over the letting of an aero-medical contract. The Minister for Lands lost a herd of buffalo at Annaburroo. Anywhere else in Australia, with the possible exception of Queensland, ministers would lose their jobs for that level of incompetence. What happens in the Northern Territory? Ministers do not lose their jobs; public servants get a kick. What has happened to the concept of ministerial responsibility when things go wrong? Mr B. Collins: It never existed here. Mr SMITH: It never existed here, says the member for Arafura. Certainly, it does not exist under the stewardship of the present Chief Minister. If things go wrong, kick the poor old public servant. Do not kick the minister, because that might be too embarrassing politically. Mr Speaker, if you are going to run a tight and effective ship, you sometimes have to kick ministers. I put it to you that we have had 2 good examples recently where 2 ministers should have been kicked and, in fact, should have had their portfolios removed from them. This government is accountable. It is not giving us that account. It is not performing in a manner that even acknowledges that accountability. This is entirely unsatisfactory and deserves the censure of this Assembly. These sittings of the Assembly have been nothing but a continual display of showmanship. They have presented nothing but an exhibition of creative avoidance on the part of the government. It has paraded and postured and attempted to draw public attention away from the real issues. It has attempted to focus on grand projects and yet it cannot or will not account in 1505
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