Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
1 1 1 j 1. DEBATES - Wednesday 27 February 1985 Mr Speaker, I expected to hear and expect to hear a great deal during the debate about money being paid back, interest being paid back and Myilly Pointtype fantasies relating to thousands and thousands of jobs. We have heard it all before but I fail to see how the Chief Minister, skilled though he .is at fabrication and manipulation, even with a shyster's interpretation of that press statement, can make it say anything other than what it says. On 25 January; the Chief Minister conducted a briefing for the Territory media after the elections -and revealed much of the government' sactual involvement in financing the purchase of the casinos - actions that he had been responsible for personally as Chief Minister and Treasurer - and those statements completely refuted the evasions and false position created by his statement in November. What happened between those 2 dates that enabled the Chief Min.ister to say in January what he denied had happened in November? The answer, of course, is that 2 elections took place. In January 1985, 2 pressures were mounting on the Chief Minister. We knew where the money had come from. From mortgage documents, company searches and other sources, we knew that guarantees had been given by the government - the government that said those guarantees would not be given - and we said so constantly. By that stage, many senior Northern Territory public servants knew it as well and they did not enjoy it very much. The Chief Minister deceived us all in November. He went into hiding for the whole of the month of December but, by January, he had to come out-and tell us what was happening. He was forced into that position, not only by political pressure that was building on him but by the requirements of the Northern Territory Financial Administration and Audit Act. The Chief Minister knew that, by the end .of January, 2 very significant statistics would be published in t.he Northern Territory Government Gazette, as required by the act: casino tax collections of $245 and, under the Treasury listing, Casino Properties Trust payments of $51.2m. Be in no doubt, Mr Speaker, that the disclosures he was forced into making in January were merely another attempt to mis1ead and confuse Territorians. As we all know, the Chief Minister played a very minor role in that press conference. I imagine he hid behind senior public servants of the Northern Territory Treasury and the NTDC because he wanted to use people who had at least a little credibility and it was their job, not his, to disclose the 'arrangements' Mr Speaker, the performance at that conference is illustrated ina transcript I have here. Journalists at the press conference asked, among other things, 3 simple but important questions: 'What is the net increase to the Northern Territory Development Corporation's loan guarantees; what is the interest bill on the loans to the trust; and what is the net tax loss resulting from the new tax arrangements?' The answers were: 'Don't quote me; I can't answer that, I'm sorry; and I can't give you that figure'. Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister and Treasurer said on 25 January: 'The government makes no apology for the manner in which the casino deal is being managed'. He should be censured for that if nothing else, but I will accept that position. We do not expect apologies and we do not want them. What we want from this government are explanations which have still not been forthcoming. The Northern Territory's new Chief Minister, before he even announced that he had appointed himself as Treasurer, already had his fingers in the till. In fact, he did what many a rogue before him had done. He had taken money that was not his, put it on a long shot and prayed that the horse would .come home. Fortunately for the government, that horse came in last Friday but, as we now know, it was on 3 legs. This allowed the Chief Minister to put the money back in the till before he was caught red-handed here in the Assembly. After personally 27
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