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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)


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 - Wednesday 27 February 1985 They have been given the opportunity there. I think it is time the government addressed that question to ensure that our kids are given the same opportunity. It is the biggest employment area in the Northern Territory at present and I do not think we are making enough of it. We have the clout, particularly through the generous government assistance that has been extended to these operators, to make more of it and give our kids a better chance. Mr Perron: They like importing labour. Mr SMITH: It is easier and cheaper. Mr Speaker, a number of references have been made, particularly in the press, about the lack of hospitality and training school facilities in Darwin. I cannot understand why the government will not commit the necessary resources to establish some sort of facility in Darwin. It does not have to be a spanking new building but, in my view, it should provide some place that is suitable for training courses to be run for the hospitality and tourist areas. Mr Harris: It is being done. Mr SMITH: Well, thank you very much. I have not been made aware of it. There has not been any public comment on it as far as I am aware. Also, I ask the Minister for Education to provide us with an update on what is happening with the position of director at Gillen House. That is a highpowered position which was advertised some months ago at a salary of $40 000 to $41 000. It indicated that the government had had a change in attitude to Gillen House. The government indicated at the time that it wanted to move on it quickly. Again, I have not seen any appointment made to that position and I would like to know what is happening. Mr Speaker, the Chief Minister may be able to help me with my next concern which is in relation to restrictions on employment. I refer to the matter of payroll tax. I noted with some interest that he intends to introduce a bill tomorrow to amend the Pay-roll Tax Act. Perhaps it will address my concern. Everybody agrees that payroll tax is an iniquitous tax. In fact, what it does is tax employers for employing people. I think that, in a perfect world, everybody would like to get rid of it. Unfortunately, we do not have a perfect world and I commend the government on the initiative that it took 3 or 4 years ago to reduce the rate from 5% to 4.5%, the lowest in Australia. But what has happened is that our exemption threshold - the amount below which the tax does not apply - is also the lowest in Australia: $150 000. In the states, their exemption threshold ranges from $170 000 to $420 000. The end effect of that is that, for annual payrolls up to $300 000, Territory businesses pay more payroll tax than similar businesses in any state. In the Northern Territory, an employer with a payroll of $300 000 would pay $11 250 compared to $10 833 in New South Wales and $4166 in Victoria. Mr Speaker, an annual payroll of $300 000 would pay between 15 to 20 workers. There are not many businesses in the Northern Territory that employ more than 15 to 20 people. What we have at present is a payroll tax system that is structured so that it hits the majority of Territory businesses harder than they would be hit anywhere else in Australia. When you consider that we have the second highest weekly earnings in the whole of Australia, and that district allowance is included in payroll tax calculations, Northern Territory employers are hit very hard indeed. When you consider that the Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that, between 1974 and 1981, payroll tax increased from 1.5% of the total hourly cost of employing labour to 4.2% of the total 55