Parliamentary record : Part I debates (14 August 1990)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 14 August 1990 and accept the honourable minister's suggestion that we adopt a bipartisan approach on this issue, because it is sorely needed. Members opposite need to real i se that thi smatter is important and that there is as yet no solution at hand. Although, as the member for Stuart said, the measures will not be implemented in the short term, once these sorts of programs are on track, they are very hard to derail, which is what we have to do if we are to save our manufacturing base and to ensure that Territorians can continue to live here without being burdened by insufferable costs. Mr SETTER (Jingili): Mr Speaker, the transport system in this country is in a shambles and the shambles has been becoming gradually worse and worse. We have heard about the sea transport problems that this country has experi enced over many years now. Senator Bob Colli ns, the Mi n i ster for Shipping, tells us that he will solve all of those problems within the next 12 or 18 months or else depart the scene. More importantly, what we are talking about today is the ISC Report into Road User Charges which, I be 1 i eve, the federal government sees as a panacea wh i ch wi 11 solve a 11 of the problems that have been created by its neglect over the past 7 years. I say 'its neglect' because the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The facts show that, during that 7 years, road funding has decreased dramatically in a whole range of ways. During its period in office, the Labor government has almost totally neglected road development and the upgrading of roads. What will happen if the recommendations of this ISC report are implemented? We will see inflation in this country increase dramatically. It will not result only from the charges that follow from those recommendat ions. Because of the confl i ct between Iraq, Kuwa it, Saud i Arabia and others, there is a distinct possibility t,hat oil prices will go through the roof. In the 1 ast week or 10 days, there has been a 4 per 1 itre increase in petrol prices at the bowser. A freeze on petrol prices was imposed by the federal Treasurer a few days ago. That will be in place for on ly about 3 weeks. Once that is 1 if ted , and if the confl i ct in the Middle East is not resolved in the short term, we will see the cost of fuel increase dramatically. On top of the additional charges proposed to be imposed by this report, we will see inflation in this country go through the roof. That particularly affects the top end of the Northern Territory and the Northern Territory in general. We do not have any alternative means of transport. In the Top End, we depend entirely pn road transport. As the minister indicated, based on the recommendation of the ISC report, that will mean an increase of up to $2000 per annum in costs to the average taxpayer in the top end of the Northern Territory. Fortunately, the people at the bottom end have rail. We should have a railway too. In 1983, Mr Hawke said that, if elected, his government would continue to construct the railway which was a 1 ready under way, courtesy of the Fraser government. That was one of the first promises that he broke. We are at the mercy of the road transport system. We now see this impost being added on top of everything else. I indicated earlier in my comments that the responsibility for the present s i tuat i on ~an be sheeted home to the federal government and its po 1 i c i es . When it came to power, the fue 1 exc i se imposed by the federa 1 government was around 5 or 6 a litre. Today, it is something like 26 a litre. However, that same Hawke government has cut road funding by almost 30% in real terms. I feel sorry for the Greiner government in New South Wales. There have been some horrendous road acc i dents in New South Wales in the last year or so because the standard of the roads in New South Wales, and indeed in most other states of Australia, has hardly improved in the last decade. The original concept of the fuel excise was that that 9759
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