Leader of the Opposition
Member for Karama
On 17 February 2015 I spoke in Parliament about the chaotic CLP Government.
I contrasted their lack of policy and vision with the work we have undertaken to build our policies for the next election.
Our Labor team has been listening to Territorians and will continue that conversation so Territorians can have confidence that their voice is heard.
Here’s the speech:
I welcome the statement from the Chief Minister. Much of it, of course, we have heard before. A few new items are glimmers of the Chief Minister’s musings and a whole lot of imagination. The Chief Minister likes to think big. I guess the problem is Territorians simply do not trust what he says, have not seen him deliver on anything other than chaos and dysfunction and no longer believe him. At a time when Territorians should be reaping the rewards of a strong economy they are instead struggling under the burden of a CLP leader unfit to govern.
Power bills are rolling in from your increased tariffs and taking their toll on families, businesses are heading backwards financially while you fatten Power and Water profits to sell these crucial assets. Your privatisation agenda is ideologically-driven rather than responding to market and Territory needs. Your pursuit of power and greed shows an arrogant lack of empathy for the impact it has on Territorians. Labor would halt this privatisation push and immediately review crippling tariff increases imposed under your decisions that were not backed up by detailed analysis. We would halt the sale of the port and work with industry to expand business opportunities with Asia. Our existing port operates well under capacity and we would work with trade and resources industries to grow opportunities.
We would initiate a high-level task force to review the impact of the TIO sale and work with the federal, Queensland and Western Australia governments to implement the recommendations of PivotNorth to deliver an affordable public insurance model that promotes investment in northern Australia giving families and businesses the insurance coverage they need.
Building our regions means understanding the needs on the ground and peak regional committees will identify social, economic and environment priorities for a whole-of-government response and will report directly to me. Local government will be at the table and engaged in the outcomes. Your stripping of education and walking away from the investment in choices for Indigenous education has been disgraceful and must end. Labor would work with school communities, the Australian Education Union, COGSO and our educators to invest in education to secure a better future for our children. A civilised and smart society places education as a priority not a blunt budget-slashing exercise.
People who built the Territory will be valued and listened to. We will abandon your arrogant ‘my-way or the highway approach’ and reinstate engagement across all key industry groups to heed their innovative ideas. We believe in partnerships, not the self-serving approach of taking care of a select few mates. We would restore integrity and appointments based on good governance rather than the job-for-the-mates approach of this government.
Health would once again become a partnership where we engage with surgeons, doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners to promote care models based on evidence and best practice. We would get on and build Palmerston hospital, fast-tracking construction rather than bogging it down in the quicksand of a private operator model that fails to meet the needs of Territorians. We would address the tragedy of the ice epidemic by immediately installing an ice room at Royal Darwin Hospital and establishing an inter-agency task force of police, health and children and families to report within six weeks of action that can be taken to combat the scourge of ice in our communities.
We would reinstate the moratorium on pokies and review current CLP action to expand the rivers of grog in the Territory. As we have done in the past, we will again work with all stakeholders to minimise grog-related harm. Yes, we would reinstate the Banned Drinker Register and remove the expensive policy failure of temporary Beat locations. We will return to working with our fine police and restore the separation of powers so disgracefully torn down by the CLP. We will restore confidence in our electoral system by having an inquiry into Foundation 51 and strengthen electoral laws to ensure integrity in the system.
With a failure in planning and a crisis in housing urgent restoration work needs to occur with a root and branch repair. The NT Planning Commission has been an expensive failure and added to bureaucratic red tape. We would immediately embark on consultation on the Greater Darwin Strategic Land Use Plan you foolishly shelved to restore confidence and certainty in planning. The need to deliver social and affordable housing has increased with the CLP sale of public housing and failure to deliver on NPARIH housing program in remote regions. Families across the Territory have been plunged into a housing crisis that needs to be tackled and turned around. Shelter is a basic need and this has been a major failing of your CLP dysfunction.
Working with our local construction sector and encouraging innovation must occur to deliver affordable and social housing. We will be innovative and bold. We introduced affordable rental stock, but more needs to be done. Unlike your government, Labor recognises the importance of both social and economic development. We will establish peak, social and economic advisory committees to drive reforms. They will not be an exclusive mates club; they will be inclusive.
The first legislation we will introduce will be compensation for our fire fighters and it will be retrospective. It will help our fire fighters who have acquired cancer as a result of their job. It will be retrospective so that those firies with cancer now get the coverage and the support they need. It has been two and a half years of our fire fighters seeking that support from this government.
We will establish a jobs task force of both industries and unions to deliver jobs and training opportunities for locals. Territorians will come first. Our training institutions at Charles Darwin University and Batchelor Institute will be at the table with leaders of industry and unions. Inclusive government delivers better outcomes. We will work in partnership with Indigenous organisations and Land Council to realise the vast potential of Indigenous Territorians restoring respect, rather than the CLP divide and conquer mentality.
Labor will re-instate funding to the environment sector and establish an office of climate change to drive investment in renewable energy. We can do this and continue to support the oil and gas industry to promote energy security while enhancing the importance of protecting our beautiful environment. Natural resources will not be a commodity used by the CLP to enhance the profits of a few mates. Strategic and Indigenous reserves for water will be re-instated, as will Water Advisory Councils and local water allocation plans.
We will continue to seek tourism opportunities and work with the sector to improve domestic and international visitation, and restore our relationship with our neighbours by bringing back the much loved Arafura Games.
Nhulunbuy structural adjustment opportunities will be pursued to return health to this vibrant community and region. We would be a government for all Territorians that promote harmony and cultural diversity, and we would introduce 18c legislation to make racial vilification unlawful in the Northern Territory.
These are just some of the clear policy differences between the Giles approach of arrogance, exclusiveness and dishonesty. Territorians deserve a better government and Labor stands ready to govern. We are united and stable, and willing to embrace innovation while pursuing an inclusive agenda with the many Territorians who have built the economic and social fabric of our Territory.
We will encourage debate and be accountable for our decisions. We will restore decency to government and care for the people of our great Territory. My team is working on a raft of policy announcements; this is just some areas that highlight our fundamental differences to your two and a half years of policy failure.
We stand in stark contrast to you Chief Minister, who has continued as he began, in the words of his own, you lack honesty, you lack respect and you lack integrity.