BudgetReply2016

Budget Reply Speech 2016

Budget Reply 2016

PDF of this speech is available here.

 

Madam Speaker

 

It’s safe to say that there is much that Territory Labor and the CLP disagree on.

 

But if there is one thing the Chief Minister and I agree on and it’s this.

 

On August 27, the people of the Territory will face a clear choice.

 

Today I lay out the agenda for a Territory Labor Government and a clear vision for the Territory I want to lead and live in.

 

A Territory that is confident and growing, that values its people and natural resources, where we say good bye less and hello more often.

 

A Territory that invests in our children, setting them up for a healthy and productive future, with a government that understands investing in education and is the key to unlocking this future.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Territorians are crying out for a Government worthy of their trust.

 

I understand that winning this trust means trusting Territorians.

 

A Territory Labor Government will create the certainty and confidence we need to create and support jobs in partnership with the private sector.

 

We are a team united in a common cause of putting the Territory and our people first.

 

A team that believes our best days are ahead of us and we can achieve and overcome anything we put our minds to.

Madam Speaker

 

There is one thing stand in the way of creating a better future for all Territorians.

 

And it’s the CLP Government sitting opposite us today.

 

Madam Speaker

A little under four years ago Terry Mills and the CLP were entrusted with the great honor of leading the Northern Territory.

They were given the responsibility of leading a Territory brimming with opportunity.

We were growing faster than anywhere else in the nation and consistently number one in economic reports across the country.

Our important and valuable public assets were strategic levers and we had made steady and sustained investments in education, in health and in housing and delivered improvements for the lives of Territorians.

The Territory was led for those 11 years by a Labor Government creating that opportunity.  While being far from perfect we always put the public interest ahead of private interest.

Madam Speaker, Territorians were entitled to take Terry Mills and the CLP at their word when they voted for a change of Government and a change of leader in 2012.

Territorians were entitled to expect that the Chief Minister they voted for would still be their leader in 7 months’ time.

We were entitled to trust the CLP to support Territory jobs

We were entitled to expect our strategic public assets would not be sold against our wishes.

We were entitled to trust the CLP to continue to invest in education, health and housing.

We were entitled to expect the public interest would come before the private interests of the CLP, their mates and the chosen few in the Government’s inner sanctum.

It’s absolutely clear that this trust was misplaced.

Every day under this CLP Government has been a betrayal of that trust.

We were betrayed when this Chief Minister stabbed Terry Mills in the back while he was in Japan representing the Territory.

We were betrayed when the CLP sold our TIO and our Port, against the clear wishes of Territorians.

We were betrayed when the CLP took an axe to education and refused to continue investing in health and housing.

We were betrayed when the CLP continually put the interests of themselves and their mates ahead of the interests of Territorians.

Madam Speaker

This breach of trust represents a much broader failure of leadership, one which is inflicting enormous damage on the Northern Territory and making it harder to seize our incredible opportunities, and to confront the complex challenges we face.

A Government without integrity is a Government without credibility.

And a Government without credibility cannot provide the leadership we need to secure our future.

The Northern Territory needs a Government with credibility if we are to create jobs and build economic security in an increasingly volatile and dynamic global economy.

We need a Government with credibility if we are to successfully invest in our children and confront the unacceptable education, health and employment outcomes right across the Territory.

A Government without credibility simply cannot build the partnerships we need to successfully meet these challenges.

And it’s these partnerships – with the Commonwealth and other states and Territories, with our friends right across Asia and the world, with NGOs, business, industry and unions, with indigenous Territorians and environmental groups – that are the key to unlocking our opportunity and creating a better future.

Madam Speaker, as a Territory kid, born and raised, who has lived, learnt and worked right across the Territory I know we are at our best when we stick together.

I know that if you treat people with respect, if you are genuine about listening and understanding, we can build the trust and partnerships that allow us to confront any challenge the Territory faces and make the most of our boundless opportunities.

This is the Government I will lead if Territory Labor wins the trust of Territorians on August 27.

It will be a Government that listens to, and respects Territorians.

A Government that is open, transparent and accountable.

And importantly, it will be a Government with plans to tackle our immediate and long term economic, social and environmental challenges.

Madam Speaker

Over the last 12 months I have begun outlining Territory Labor’s plans for our future.

I have outlined:

Our plan to create jobs and support local business in the immediate, medium and long term.

Our plan to put Children at the centre of Government and invest in the early years to improve health, education and employment outcomes in the long term.

Our plan to restore integrity, trust and confidence in Government in the Northern Territory

Today I will expand these plans and how they will meet the considerable challenges Territorians face in the coming months, years and decades ahead.

I will also outline how we will work to fix the enormous damage inflicted upon the Territory by 4 years of CLP Government.

Delivering these plans takes a team united in purpose, and focused on stable and mature Government that always puts the Territory people first  

When last in Government Territory Labor delivered seven surplus budgets in a row.

We will deliver these plans in a fiscally responsible way which supports jobs and Territory businesses.

GROWING THE ECONOMY

Madam Speaker

We are facing difficult and challenging economic times.

To quote the Chief Minister himself, the Territory economy is “in a bit of a hole.”

This is a hole that has been dug by the CLP Government… and it is larger than they are prepared to admit.

The CLP’s mismanagement, driven by the distraction of scandal and infighting, has taken away the focus needed to do the necessary hard work and grind of Government.

Territorians have seen this. It has been written up in the NT News, screened on the ABC and Channel 9, broadcast on Mix FM.

And Territorians have cringed as we have watched our government ridiculed for its lack of integrity and its instability.

This attention to self-interest rather than the Territory’s best interest has led the CLP to fail in the most important economic job they had to do - to prepare the Territory for the post Inpex construction phase.

The fallout of this failure is being felt by Territorians.

Yesterday’s budget was an excuse for the damaging loss of certainty and confidence that has swept through Territory business. It is a tidal wave that has not yet receded and the loss of jobs, the loss of population and the loss of confidence in our future falls at the feet of the CLP.

Madam Speaker

For the first time since the late 1990s the number of jobs and the work available in the Territory is falling.

This is driving a population exodus.

Since the CLP took office, 8000 more people have left for interstate than have arrived here. This is an all time and tragic record.

Our population growth is the lowest in the nation.

Five major national leading economic organisations have now reported their deep concerns about the Territory, its lack of jobs and population loss.

The March 2016 Deloittes Access Economics Report:

“Car sales have slumped. Population gains have dropped … Job levels … fragile. Room occupancy rates … slumped. And … retail turnover growth has been on the back foot for over a year now.”

The Manpower National Survey on employment:

“Job seekers can expect the weakest hiring climate since the region was first measured ...”

The Real Estate Local Market Report shows that the sale of houses and units right across the Territory have plummeted. House sales have dropped by 37% in Darwin, 47% in Palmerston and 50% in Alice Springs. Unit sales are worse.

The Real Estate Institute of the Northern Territory has said these are the lowest figures since records began.

The Sensis Business Confidence Index has attitudes towards Territory government policies at -7%. 

Worse still, expectations for the year ahead are the lowest nationally at -29%

The Commonwealth Bank Commsec State of the States has the Territory economy slipping from first to third and with a downward arrow.

The Bureau of Statistics shows that there are now 3 600 fewer people in jobs in the Territory economy than there were this time last year.

Madam Speaker

Every statistic speaks to the damage inflicted on Territorians and their families by CLP incompetence.

The cost of the CLP’s bungled policies, the bungled Buy Local scheme is immense.

It may cost us our small manufacturing base. Steel fabricators are being undercut by southern competitors and dumped steel from China.  

That’s 60 businesses with 500 direct employees relying on them for work.

And once this industry goes, it goes forever.

I have sat down with contractors who are taking on work at cost just to keep their employees in a job.

The CLP Government have continually pulled the wrong policy levers.

They raised power prices by 30% overnight, breaking their election promise and increasing the cost of living for every Territorian and the cost of doing business in the Territory.

They wrecked the gas deal with Rio Tinto destroying hundreds of jobs in Nhulunbuy.

By his own words the Chief Minister is tricky and plays games.

This has cost us in negotiations with the Australian Government.

Being tricky and playing games explains why Queensland and WA got $97 million of the $100 million Federal grants for Beef Roads and the Territory got just $3 million.

Being tricky and playing games explains why the North Australia Infrastructure Fund Headquarters went to Cairns and why the Territory ended up with just 1 representative on the NAIF Board.

Being tricky and playing games explains the CLP’s failure to claw back the massive cuts in funds for health and education that the Australian Government has made.

Actions speak louder than words - the CLP has fundamentally destroyed any confidence or credibility the Australian Government has in the Territory.

That leaves us cut adrift from the Developing the North Agenda and increases the work the next Territory Government must do.

Madam Speaker

The February stimulus package was a belated admission by the CLP of the harsh reality being experienced by Territory businesses.

But the arrogant refusal to listen and acknowledge this reality for so long means this stimulus is too little, too late for many Territorians and their families.

Madam Speaker

It is time for the endless reshuffles and scandals to end and for the real work of Government to start

If elected Labor will act immediately to:

  1. Get money flowing through the local economy
  2. Create certainty through proper planning and stable, competent Government
  3. Restore confidence by listening to Territorians and delivering tangible results

 

 

Madam Speaker

 

The Territory economy is in a much deeper hole than this CLP Government has admitted. We know from the Territory’s own budget books, Budget Paper Number 2, page 6- “Going forward, employment growth is expected to soften…”

 

Unless we address the failure to grow jobs and the need to create more jobs over the next two years, the Territory is in deep trouble.

 

Labor believes that in two years we will be able to transition the Territory economy from the Inpex construction phase through to the new defence investment stimulus.

 

But between then and now the government must act to grow jobs across the Territory.

 

To do this Labor will fund an additional $100 million in infrastructure spending to create and support jobs.

 

We will fund this stimulus by not proceeding with the Government’s intention to place $100 million of additional Port money into the Territory Infrastructure Development Fund.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Labor’s infrastructure expenditure will be targeted to locals, on smart, small capital works projects and repairs and maintenance right across government that give locals the best chance of getting the work.

 

We will provide this stimulus through a real Buy Local policy that will see projects and tenders written with schedules that drive local content right through each tender. 

As the Chamber of Manufacturers says unless you get your tenders and their schedules right, local content can still be minimised.

 

Labor will also ensure that these tenders and contracts are properly audited to ensure local business is receiving their share of the work. And if you fail, you will be black marked.

 

Unlike the CLP, Labor will heavily invest in remote housing in indigenous communities using our own funds to leverage local jobs and further Commonwealth and private investment.

 

Labor will bring forward significant funding for our proposed Room to Breathe NT program that will see additional outdoor living areas, verandahs, granny flats and other rooms onto existing housing through communities.

 

$20 million a year will be put into this program.

 

The CLP has talked big on housing but has failed to deliver with just one new additional house in remote communities since July 2014 under the national partnership agreement.

 

Labor’s long term investment in remote housing will total $1.1 billion over 10 years.  It is the most significant commitment by any Territory Government in the history of the Territory.

 

It will create local jobs.

 

And it will reduce the cycle of poverty that is intertwined with poor housing.

 

Madam Speaker

 

The CLP’s decision to create a statutory authority to administer remote housing funding is bad policy.

 

Labor will work directly with locals.

 

There are local indigenous businesses and enterprises more than capable of doing this work.

 

We will not set up another layer of bureaucracy and move people further away from decision making.

 

Labor will save $1million and will abolish this CLP idea.

 

Labor will also use the $100m stimulus funds to implement our infrastructure commitments to creating an iconic national arts trail.

 

$10 million will be allocated to works in East Arnhem for upgrading art galleries in communities in that region.

 

$10 million will be provided for an extension to the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre in Katherine.

 

During our first term Labor will also provide a $10 million extension to the Nyinkka Nyunyu gallery in Tennant Creek and will develop, for delivery beginning in 2019-20, the iconic national Indigenous Art Gallery to be based in Alice Springs.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Labor has been inundated by schools supporting the idea of

$300 000 of flexible funding to meet the needs of schools – every school has needs.

 

These funds will be provided over four years and will be supported by $5 million over the same time period for our vital homelands schools.

 

 

There will be an injection of funds into upgrading, repairing and maintaining sporting stadiums, grounds and facilities right across the Territory. This will include:

 

  • Upgrading Marrara with $3 million for facilities to provide strong support for growing women’s sport.
  • Additionally Labor will provide a package of further upgrades to Marrara that will be detailed in the future.
  • A capital grants program of $5million per year for ablution blocks, scoreboards and shading for ovals in remote communities.
  • $5 million for an upgrade of sports and recreation facilities in Tennant Creek to add shade and shelters at the pool and skate park, a facelift to the old tennis courts to create a multipurpose sporting facility including netball and provide basketball rings in various community town camps. This will be part of a package addressing youth in that important regional centre, and
  • Lights at Gardens oval and Nightcliff oval

 

Madam Speaker

I wish to turn now to Labor’s plans for first home buyers.

The CLP made a critical mistake in scrapping first home owner support for existing houses and units.

Yesterday they made a half step towards recovery but it is not enough – it is too little, too late.

Labor intends to provide a significant injection into the housing market and into jobs in the Territory by providing real incentives properly targeted to first home owners.

Under a Labor Government first home buyers will not pay stamp duty on the first $500 000 of their purchase on existing homes. 

This will see them receive a $24 000 tax break.

First home buyers going into a new home will retain the existing $26,000 concession.

House and unit prices will be capped at $650 000.

In addition to this stamp duty relief for the next two years Labor will provide $10 000 to first home buyers purchasing an existing home to undertake home renovations.

Labor also recognises that it can be hard for first home buyers to set up their first home. Up to $2 000 of the $10 000 can be spent locally on buying household furniture and white goods.  First home buyers going into a new home can also access the $2 000.

These renovations and purchases must be made locally.

This will mean that first home owners under a Labor Government will receive $34 000 to put back into the Territory economy.

Madam Speaker

Labor’s plan for $10 000 in home renovations is fairer and better targeted than the CLP’s $2 000 grant for home renovations.

Taxpayer’s funds should go to people who need the money. We think first home owners need this assistance more than I do, or the Chief Minister does.

And the programs devised should be workable. A grant of $10 000 is a real grant and will stimulate real work. It will see a very significant increase in work for tradies and small contractors right across the Territory.

The $20 million allocated by the CLP to that program will be used to pay for Labor’s stamp duty relief and renovations grant.

 

Madam Speaker

 

In addition to creating jobs in traditional areas of employment Labor wishes to stimulate the innovation and creativity of Territorians by investing in our people and in infrastructure that supports innovation and renewable energy.

 

Seizing the opportunities presented by revolutions in renewable energy and technology, particularly digital technology, currently sweeping the global economy is a key challenge for any plan to create and maintain high-wage jobs.

 

If elected, Labor will give Territory innovators the support they need to create jobs here in the Territory.

 

We will encourage local angel investor groups, connect innovators through the development of hubs and also support innovators directly through an Innovator in Residence program and seed funding.

 

Madam Speaker

 

I have outlined Labor’s stimulus proposals that will get the money flowing locally again.

 

The second task is to rebuild certainty in the Territory economy.

 

We will repair the damage done by 4 years of CLP incompetence, infighting and arrogance.

 

We will put a stop to revolving door Cabinets, fractious infighting and policy by thought bubble, inconsistently applied in impossible timelines.

 

We will engage the public service, the business community and the broader Territory as a whole to provide proper planning underpinning the growth, development and diversification of our economy.

 

We will have an economic blueprint in place – The Northern Territory Jobs Plan.

 

Our Jobs Plan will focus on broadening the economic base of the Territory by investing in our traditional strengths and in new and emerging industries.

 

A Labor government will work to expand agribusiness, the resources industry, tourism, international education and defence industries.

 

We will also invest in industries emerging from our specialist health experience in tropical and desert health and in Aboriginal bush medicines. In the products of our amazing culture: of our art, food and fashion. And the experiences we will form from making solar and renewable energy work in the Territory.

 

We will create an outward looking, trade focussed economy.

 

And our economic plans will have buy-in from all sectors.

 

Labor will hold an economic summit in 2017 that will frame Territory Labor budgets into the future.

 

This summit will hear the voices of all industry sectors and people living in all regions as smaller local meetings are held leading up to this summit.

 

From this summit I will sign up to 10 year plans that provide certainty to the community to industry that have been fully tested and fully consulted. That guarantees we are all moving in the same direction. That the public dollar being spent unlocks private sector investment.

 

This is how we grow, together, as a confident Territory.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Our infrastructure plan will focus on four key investment priorities:

 

  1. Creating a stronger transport and logistics grid for the Territory.
  2. Upgrading tourism product across the Territory.
  3. Investing in the infrastructure that supports innovation and renewable energy in the Territory; and
  4. Investing in social infrastructure especially education, health and housing.  

 

Madam Speaker

 

Labor believes that tourism is crucial to delivering more jobs for Territorians.

 

However contrary to CLP spin, there is no doubt that the Territory’s tourism industry is patchy.

 

Despite a massive increase in Chinese tourism across the nation the Territory sees very few visitors. 

 

As part of our stimulus package Labor will add an additional $5 million over two years to the tourism budget to develop a specific industry led Asian tourism attraction drive.

 

Additionally we will focus on developing and growing our relationship with India - an important tourism market that has not been developed to date.

 

The Territory is now home to thousands of Indian people. We proudly have a Member of Parliament of Indian descent – the member for Casuarina.

 

Labor is well placed to lead this pivot to India connecting our local residents with their homeland and building a bridge between our communities that will lead to more tourists, more trade, more international students and a strong growth plan for the Territory.

 

Additionally to boost our long term attractiveness, Labor will undertake a major infrastructure investment in renewing our tourism product.

 

We will encourage private sector investment in tourism but we recognise that this is one area in which the government does need to play a significant role.

 

Madam Speaker

 

I have outlined how Labor intends to grow jobs by getting money flowing through the community immediately. I have also outlined how we will build certainty in the Territory.

 

These policies will build confidence in our economy and help us create jobs.

 

But this confidence and the long term health of our economy is put at risk if we don’t ensure we protect our natural assets now and for future generations.

 

Madam Speaker – bad environment policy is dumb economic policy.

 

The CLP have shown that not only can’t they be trusted to protect our environment, but they are incapable of understanding how important a healthy environment is for our economic future.

 

Labor’s approach to fracking, to environmental regulation and to protecting our precious water resources shows we understand how important good environmental policy is to economic security.

 

Labor also understands the threat and opportunities faced by climate change.

 

A Territory Labor Government will adopt a renewable energy target of 50% by 2030.

 

We do so because we recognise the enormous threat posed by failure to act, for the environment, for our economy and for the future our children will inherit.

 

But we do it because we also understand the enormous economic and employment opportunities for the Territory in becoming a world leader in solar and renewable technology creation and adoption.

 

Labor will be releasing more details of our renewable energy plans in the coming weeks and months.

 

But I can guarantee Territorians that at the centre of our renewables plan will be a publically owned Power and Water.

 

And Territorians should be under no illusion about what a returned CLP Government means.

 

It means no matter what they say before the election, just like TIO and just like the port, Power and Water will be sold by the CLP.

 

Territorians should have confidence in what their Government says. We will return that confidence.

 

These are the principles of our economic plans, to get the money flowing again locally, to provide certainty and to restore confidence.

 

I have set a future Labor Government two substantial tasks, one is growing the Territory economy to create and support jobs. The other major task that lays before us in Government is transformational, an investment in our children that sees the Territory overcome our generational problems and sees our children achieve their best possible futures.

 

Let me turn now to Labor’s proposals to place a focus on the Territory’s children.

 

CHILDREN- HEALTH AND EDUCATION

 

In my Budget Reply speech last year I said that the Labor Government will be defined by the way we looked after children.

 

Over the 12 months since that time Labor has hosted community forums on this issue across the Territory. It is clear that the community shares our view on the importance of our youngest Territorians.

 

We believe that it is critical for all Territorians to have the best possible start in life and for our schools and education system to be nation leading.

 

Madam Speaker

 

An investment in early childhood program is a plan for the long term future of the Northern Territory.

 

If we implement the right programs, that are evidence based, that are coordinated across government agencies and the non-government sector, we have a much better chance of securing a more prosperous, decent and fair future for all Territorians.

 

The aim of Labor’s early childhood program is to invest in the health, education and wellbeing of children from before birth until they reach school age.

 

So they can be school ready from day one, term one, year one.

 

To do that, we need to radically change the way Government organises its priorities.

 

A Territory Labor Government will have a Minister for Children in the Deputy Chief Minister and the Department of Chief Minister will play a leading role in improving social services on the ground.

 

We will produce a comprehensive early childhood plan together with experts, providers and communities.

 

It will be measurable, it will be transparent and we will set targets so we put children on the path to lifelong good health, the curiosity and creativity for learning and reduced disadvantage.

 

Madam Speaker

 

I can announce today a key element of our Early Childhood Plan. There will be further announcements in coming weeks and months.

 

Labor will extend the Nurse Family Partnership Program that is delivering great results in Alice Springs and surrounding towns through the Central Australian Congress.

 

The Nurse Family Partnership program is a respected, evidence based, sustained home visiting program targeting vulnerable individuals and families.

 

Support starts before from before birth, with regular nurse led home visits to support the health and development of a baby to toddlerhood, supporting parents every step of the way.

 

This program is associated with reduced maternal smoking, improved home environments, less involvement with child protection, increased employment, reduced welfare services, less substance use, and reduced criminality before the age of 15.

 

This is a program that can transform lives.

 

Not only does it invest in children, it invests in their parents and families.

 

The Australian Government has already committed to expanding this program in another 5 locations across the Territory.

 

Labor will leverage on this commitment by partnering to deliver a further 5 locations in our first term of Government.

 

We have allocated $8 million over 4 years to roll out this program.

 

We want to see hubs established in Darwin, Tiwi, Wadeye, West Arnhem, Maningrida, as well as East Arnhem, Katherine out to Ngukurr, the Barkly, as well as services in Central Australia expanded.

 

Labor’s commitment alone will deliver an extra 30 child and family health nurses and 15 aboriginal family support workers to support an expanded rollout.

 

When the 5 sites are operational, Labor’s commitment alone will deliver ongoing services to more than 500 children and their families each and every year.

 

Madam Speaker

 

If there is a silver bullet for breaking the cycle of poverty and dysfunction it is education. And yet what we have seen from the CLP is massive cuts.

 

The Minister says it is about results not money but Labor has undertaken extensive discussion with the education community and we can say, categorically, that the cuts to education have been so severe many of our schools are in deep stress.

 

The loss of 164 teachers at the very time we need to be investing in education is mind boggling.

 

Labor will invest in children and in education.

 

This will be the single biggest investment we will make in recurrent expenditure in our first term in office.

 

We will also refocus indigenous education and support teachers in their efforts to teach students and get better outcomes by investing in a strong school behaviour management program, early intervention and disability support.

 

Madam Speaker

 

A Labor Government will re-invest an additional $124 million into Territory schools over four years beginning on January 1, 2017.

 

 

 

This will be made up of:

 

  • $20 million each year directly into school budgets putting back into schools the teachers cut by the CLP..

 

  • $8 million per year into early intervention, behaviour management and disability support in schools- putting back staff and resources cut by the CLP

 

  • $2 million per year to create a program of school sport, arts and health across the Territory.

 

  • $1 million per year to support schools with Business Managers so Principals can focus on educational leadership, supporting staff and students and working their community, rather than getting stuck behind a desk having to deal with administration work.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Importantly Labor intends to change the direction of the CLP’s indigenous education approach by returning decision making to indigenous people through the introduction of community led schools.

 

This will reverse the Territory Government’s actions that have taken more decision making away from communities.

 

This principle of local decision-making is underpinning our policy approach and is part of a personal belief that if you want Territorians to trust you, you have to trust them.

 

 

Madam Speaker

 

That leads me to the third job of a Labor Government: restoring trust and integrity to government in the Territory.

 

It is simply sad that restoring trust must be a job on the to-do list for the next Northern Territory Government.

 

No one needs to be told of the scandals that have beset this Government.

 

Four years of the CLP’s dodgy deals, jobs for mates and an arrogant disdain for transparency and accountability has seen Territorians’ trust in Government hit rock bottom.

 

Never before has a staff member of any Territory Government been charged with corruption.

 

Never before have we seen a Chief Minister accusing the police of plotting a coup against him.

 

Nor have we seen the blatant rewarding of mates with plum jobs or the deal to give massive water rights to the CLP candidate for Lingiari.

 

 

 

Madam Speaker

 

Labor will introduce a Northern Territory Independent Commission Against Corruption.

 

It will:

 

  • Be independent from Government
  • Have broad ranging and self-referral powers
  • Have the power to compel witnesses and documentation
  • Have the power to investigate matters which took place prior to its establishment.

 

Labor understands the creation of a Territory ICAC involves complex legal and administrative issues and we look forward to considering the recommendations of the Anti-Corruption, Integrity and Misconduct Commission Inquiry being conduct by Mr Brian Martin QC.

 

Madam Speaker

 

We also understand that restoring trust in Government requires tackling the perception that large donations influence important public policy considerations, that private interest can trump the public interest.

 

It’s definitely not helped by the disgraceful conduct of the CLP around Foundation 51 and the Chief Minister’s refusal to be up front about his involvement.

 

Nor is it helped by comments like the Treasurer’s that opening your wallet opens the door to his office.

 

Over the coming weeks I will announce the most comprehensive reforms to electoral donation laws in the Territory’s history.

 

These reforms will give Territorians the confidence that the public interest, and not the size of your wallet, determines public policy in the Northern Territory.

 

It will also ensure that the disgraceful Foundation 51 episode can never happen again.

 

Madam Speaker

 

Labor understands that restoring trust, integrity, certainty and confidence in government takes much more than these specific measures.

 

It requires a respect for Territorians and a faith in trust in our community to make decisions which are in their and the whole Territory’s long term best interest.

 

That’s why the Government I want to lead will listen to Territorians, will collaborate and not dictate, will build partnerships and will strive to give Territorians, particularly in the bush, more power to make decisions about their future.

 

I understand that trust is a two way street. If a Government seeks the trust of Territorians, it has to put trust and power in their hands.

 

This is the Government a vote for Labor this August will deliver.

 

Madam Speaker

 

I can guarantee Territorians that the program I have outlined today will be paid for within the existing expenditure envelope announced by the CLP yesterday.

 

The last Labor Government had the foresight to ensure that there would be a public process by Treasury – the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook– where we will submit all our promises and our savings before the election. Our costings will be publically available.

 

Territorians can have full confidence that we will be a responsible Government.

 

After all, Labor is the Party that has delivered seven surplus budgets.

 

Madam Speaker

 

The choice at the next election is clear.

 

A choice between a Territory Labor Government that invests in kids or a CLP Government that doesn’t.

 

A choice between a Territory Labor Government that invests in schools or more CLP cuts.

 

A choice between a Territory Labor Government with a real plan for jobs or a CLP Government that will sell valuable public assets.

 

A choice between a Territory Labor Government that is open accountable and transparent, and a Chief Minister allergic to the truth.

 

I have faith in the judgment of Territorians and I know when we work together, with respect and understanding, the limit for the Territory is the sky.

 

And I look forward to continue working to gain the trust of Territorians over the coming months.