Territory Stories

Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020



Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020

Other title

Parliamentary Record 27


Debates and Questions for 13th Assembly 2019 - 2020; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory




Debates and Questions

Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8321 The government is trying to do the right thing; it is doing what the National Cabinet has agreed to. The Territory has some special restrictions on how it can operate as does the ACT. I think the federal government has some restrictions. I can see where the government is coming from, but it is difficult to know if there are any implications or repercussions in this legislation that may be matters that we cannot fully investigate. I understand this legislation is complicated; the people at the briefing said it is. They have been working very hard to get it here, and I am happy with that. They were criticised by the media and others that they were slow to bring this in. It took a bit longer to get this legislation through because of issues we have that the states do not have. Regardless of that, we needed a bit more time to take in this legislation, even if it was put off until this afternoon. If we had heard more of what the minister said about it in her second reading that would have been a better way of doing things. I will listen to the response from the minister. I will probably have a few questions for the minister, unless they are answered in the consideration in detail. I know for sure that business tenants are struggling. They are doing their best; they are takeaway now. They do not have people sitting out the front. Even the local pub at Coolalinga does not have a licence to sell takeaway liquor. You can see how it hurts. At least the Howard Springs Tavern has a licence to sell takeaway alcohol, but if you have nothing but takeaway and you have a whole pub sitting emptyoutdoor, indoor, the bar area, all closed downand have to rely on takeaway, it is hard work. What worries me in this whole thing is not the state of health of the community, but the businesses that are struggling. I see it in business owners faces when I meet them; they might be smiling, but they sacked people they did not want to sack. They are doing their best to keep their heads above water. That is why the philosophy behind what you are doing is that one way to help them is to reduce the rent. If people can at least earn enough money to put food on the plates at home, pay some of the bills and keep some people employed, it is far better to have those people still operating than end up with a supermarket that is empty simply because people have gone broke, left and will never come back. What the government is trying to do is good, but the it is hard to work out whether there are any repercussions that might not have been worked through as well as they should have. Mr McCONNELL (Stuart): Madam Speaker, I support this bill. We are dealing with a pandemic, a declared health emergency, in the Northern Territory. That means that the systems of government need to work the best way they can. I am not sure that they are. I think there are a few things we need to think about. First, we are talking about people. There has been some good, informative and cogent debate so far, but it has been very dry debate about instruments of law passed by this place. That is our job, but we need to remember that we are here to represent the people as wellshare some peoples stories. I was talking to a friend of mine who works as a barista and wait staff at a restaurant in Alice Springs that has closed. She went from working about 60 hours a week to no hours. At the beginning of this situation she had about $5000 in the bank; she now has less than $50. She may be eligible for the JobKeeper or JobSeeker allowances; I am unsure of those things, but that is a real story of a person who lives in a rental property. People who are landlordswe do not need to categorise them by our political world view. Most of the landlords I know are very good people. Most of them are private individuals. There are some corporations, of course, and we have seen leadership from them as well. I was talking to someone the other day who owns two, maybe three, investment properties in Alice Springs. They are not rich or massive slumlords taking advantage of their tenants. They are actually using their resources to invest in our community to provide opportunity for people who need a private rental. Those people are hurting. Not only do they have people in their residential tenancies who cannot pay their rent, but they have also lost a lot of their other income, whether they are retirees who trade on the stock exchange or have money in the bank and the interest has fallen through the floor. We are all hurting in this together, which is why we need to continue to work on it together. I give a shout out to some of the bigger commercial landlords in Alice Springs. Leadership was really shown by the Yeperenye corporation, which immediately gave rent relief to its most affected tenants in its shopping centres in Alice Springs. I thank Yeperenye for that leadership and contribution to the community. That is the sort of spirit we want to continue to work in. We have all shown a lot of latitude and forgiveness in this situation and we need to continue to do that. We know that all the actions we take collectively