Debates and Questions - Day 1 - 24 April 2020
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES AND QUESTIONS Friday 24 April 2020 8367 They are the concerns I would be putting forward to the government. Whilst people understand what the government is trying to do, we need to see the effect of those changes on the budget. In the long term, we need to see how we will retrieve that money, if I can put it that way. Somewhere along the line, we need to pay. How, when and for how long it will be done are the issues this bill raises. It is important that we hear from the Treasurer about this good news for businesses to help keep costs down and keep them going as best they can. But we need to keep our feet on the ground. In reality, what will this cost the budget? What are the plans for government to bring this back to normality at some stage? Mrs LAMBLEY ( Araluen): Madam Speaker, I will make a few comments about the Utilities Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 before the House this afternoon. Like the previous speakers on this side of the House, I will support this bill and I am confident that my two colleagues from Territory Alliance will also support this bill. There is no doubt that we need to provide relief for businesses and, potentially, domestic customers for their power, water and sewerage bills. Of course, that is up to the Treasurer to work out what that looks like. It is an opportunity to reflect on the state of the utilities over the last three or four yearsTerritory Generation, Power and Water and Jacana Energy, which are the three parts of the original Power and Water. There has been a lot of controversy within Territory Generation over the last couple of years. Last December, we saw the Treasurer sack the board of Territory Generation for blowing the budget. That is the word we got publicly; there may have been other issues. More recently we saw the Treasurer sack two CEOs connected with Power and Water. We were told at the time that it was because of similar issues with budget and management of the finances. When the Member for Blain and I were the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, one thing that we uncovered early in our time in 2012 and 2013 was the fact Power and Water was costing Territorians a huge amount of money and that a lot of the Territorys finances were leaking through Power and Water. It required a great deal of reform. I am not convinced that the reform has been done. From the outside looking in, it seems like these entities, or at least Territory Generation and Power and Water for that matter, are still problematic. There are still some profound structural and systemic problems within those entities, which is costing Territorians a huge amount of money. When I read that you were proposing to make these amendments, it alerted me to the fact Territorians need to be aware that our utilities are a source of great expense and problems for the government and ultimately for them as the taxpayers. The point has been made already by previous members of the Househow are we travelling with Power and Water and Territory Generation? The last report we had on the economic and fiscal analysis of the Territory dates back to November 2019 the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. There was an annual report somewhere in the mix, but we need to understand and take a close look at what is happening with these entities, particularly if the revenue stream for these utilities will be reduced. There needs to be transparency. The Treasurer had the opportunity in her explanatory statement to provide some sort of information about the fiscal position of these utilities entities, but she did not. Even though we are in the middle of a crisisthe Coronavirusit is still important that the Treasurer of the Northern Territory provides an explanation on the finances. It is not your moneynot the Gunner Labor governments money. It is the money of the people of the Northern Territory. You need to at least give an indication of when you intend to provide us with some data and information on the current state of the finances of the Territory. Last month we saw you scrap the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook, which always precedes an election. You scrapped the budget. You scrapped estimates, which is two full weeks of scrutiny of government departments from top to bottom. Instead, you talk about monthly Public Accounts Committee hearings. Over the last three-and-a-half yearsI have never known the PAC to be so dormant, ineffective and unproductive. All of a sudden it comes into favour. You are letting them do something of use. There were attempts to refer a number of hot topics to the Public Accounts Committee over the last three-and-a-half years, which the government blocked. You did not want to be scrutinised on that level.
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