Shadow Minister for Public and Affordable Housing, Lynne Walker, said urgent action is needed by the CLP Government to remedy the public housing crisis currently being experienced in the Territory.
“Housing affordability in the Territory is getting further and further out of reach,” Ms Walker said.
"There was a huge drop of 15.7 percent in first home owner finance commitments in June this year.
“Cost of living pressures coupled with high rental costs and house purchase prices, the absence of schemes like Homestart Extra and My New Home which were scrapped by the CLP, are meaning more Territorians are becoming reliant on public housing.
“Wait times for public housing have blown out dramatically; in Darwin have risen to almost seven years for a 1 bedroom non pensioner dwelling. The wait is over eight years in Katherine and over 12 years in Nhulunbuy for the same accommodation.
“There are 1,678 people on the public housing wait list in Darwin and 577 in Palmerston alone.
“There is already a shortage of public housing stock, which will get worse with stock being sold and no new construction of public housing dwellings occurring.
“This year’s budget papers also show that proceeds from asset sales for the Department of Housing to be up by $9 million ($13.450m up to $22.450m).
“The Minister for housing, Matt Conlan, needs to explain how many properties will be sold and whether these funds will be reinvested in new public housing stock?”
Ms Walker said more needs to be done by the CLP Government to provide a solution for the current housing crisis.
“Homelessness is becoming a cruel reality for more and more Territorians,” Ms Walker said.
“Support services like St Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army are exhausting their resources to fill the gaps and provide essential support and emergency relief but real, long term solutions are needed.
“Affordable housing needs to be a priority for the CLP Government.”
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today said rising Northern Territory unemployment was a direct result of the CLP Government’s failure to have any plan for the Territory economy.
Ms Lawrie said that the Chief Minister Adam Giles’ complete focus on glossy brochures and expensive ad campaigns was hurting Territory business, Territory families and the Northern Territory economy.
“Territory unemployment now sits at 4.8 per cent, up from what it was when the CLP came to office in 2012,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The closure of 340 businesses in the same period is an indictment of the CLP Government’s management of the Territory economy.
“Instead of focusing on slogans and spin, Adam Giles need to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs for Territorians.
“Where is the CLP Government’s jobs plan apart from looking after CLP mates and old boys?
“Where is the next big project to sustain the economy over the next 10 years?
“Territorians are paying the price for this Government’s nepotism, laziness and arrogance.”
Shadow Attorney General Michael Gunner said today that as it appears that the Attorney General is not prepared to properly discharge the responsibilities of his office, he needs to step aside and the Chief Minister and Cabinet need to do it for him.
“The Chief Minister needs to step up, the Attorney General needs to step aside and an independent inquiry into the conduct of Mr Maley needs to occur,” Mr Gunner said.
The Northern Territory Bar Association have made clear their concerns in relation to Mr Maley’s conduct since his appointment in September 2013, citing his apparent involvement with the Country Liberal Party as a director of Foundation 51 Pty Ltd as well has his action in handing out how to vote cards for the Country Liberal Party at the recent Blain by-election and have called for an independent inquiry.
Mr Gunner said judicial conduct must be above reproach.
“As a Magistrate, Mr Maley, needs to be free from the appearance of political allegiance to provide Territorians with the assurance that he is and is seen to be carrying out his duties independently of the Government and without the appearance of bias,” Mr Gunner said.
Mr Gunner said it is important for everyone that the questions around his conduct since his appointment are answered.
Peter Maley has admitted that being a member of the CLP and a Magistrate at the same time was inappropriate and has since done the right thing by resigning from the CLP.
“An independent inquiry into Mr Maley’s conduct will provide the public the reassurance they are entitled to receive about his independence.
“The Chief Minister and Cabinet need to allow this inquiry to happen. Without it the questions about the independence of Mr Maley raised by the Bar Association will remain unanswered.”
Shadow Minister for Essential Services, Nicole Manison, today said that the introduction of a new private power station will not mean cheaper power for Territorians.
“This will not mean a family living in the Top End can expect cheaper power bills,” Ms Manison said.
“The new power station that is set to be built by Northern Power and General Electric near Weddell is unlikely to result in lower power prices for Territorians.
“In other jurisdictions where utilities have undergone structural separation and privatisation the result was higher costs and reduced reliability of service.
“This is another step towards the CLP Government’s ultimate goal of privatisation of PowerWater.
“The new power station will sell the electricity they generate to energy retailers who will be focused on making profits, not providing affordable reliable services for customers.
“Electricity and water are essential services for Territorians, and need to be reliable and affordable.
“They should not be used as profit making tools for the CLP Government.”
Member for Nhulunbuy, Lynne Walker, today said Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions appear to have been left out of the CLP Government’s Developing the North plans.
“The CLP Government’s major economic policy for the Territory is void of any real plans for economic drivers for Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions," Ms Walker said.
"This region has been left without key direction since the announcement by Rio Tinto to curtail their Alumina refinery operation in November last year.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government have turned their backs on Nhulunbuy and the surrounding region.
"Developing the North forums are being held in every major Territory centre but Nhulunbuy.
"And advertising for the Developing the North policy to a national audience has left Nhulunbuy off the map completely.
“Is it a case of out of sight out of mind for Adam Giles and the CLP Government?"
Ms Walker said for nearly nine months the residents of Nhulunbuy have had to suffer the inaction of Adam Giles and the CLP Government.
"Residents are still waiting for the CLP Government to provide answers to what their plans are for the future of Nhulunbuy," Ms Walker said.
“Tourism ventures have been announced yet the CLP Tourism Minister, Matt Conlan, has not even visited the region.
“The Territorians living in Nhulunbuy and the surrounding regions deserve better."
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Ken Vowles, today said that further evidence has arisen that the CLP Government is pushing ahead with their privatisation plans for Darwin Ports.
“The CLP Government has begun a baseline review of Darwin Ports; they are clearly sizing up this important public asset for sale,” Mr Vowles said.
“Treasurer, Dave Tollner, confirmed earlier this week on ABC Drive that they “haven’t ruled out privatisations” for all of the Territory’s public assets.
“The CLP Government is hell-bent on selling off the Territory’s assets for quick cash grabs and the Darwin Ports is in the crosshairs.
“The privatisation of the Darwin port is an attack on jobs and cost of living in the Territory.”
Mr Vowles said that the privatisation of Darwin Ports would have a detrimental effect on Territorians; especially those employed at the ports.
“If a private company was to take over the operations of the port infrastructure in Darwin Territorians would be at the mercy of their commercial decisions,” Mr Vowles.
“Territory businesses transporting goods through the port will have to pay transport costs determined by a private profit-seeking company – increases in transport costs would be passed onto Territorians to bear.
“Workers at the port previously covered by NT Government EBA’s would lose the security of their current working conditions.
Mr Vowles said the CLP Government is pushing to sell the Territory’s public assets without a mandate.
“The CLP Government does not have permission from Territorians to sell off their valuable assets,” Mr Vowles said.
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Ken Vowles, says Casuarina residents can send the CLP a message that our major assets are not for sale.
Mr Vowles said revelations by Treasurer, Dave Tollner, on ABC Drive yesterday that "we're looking across the board at all of our assets" and that "we haven't ruled out privatisations" would raise alarm bells with Casuarina residents who are already suffering under an arrogant and out of touch CLP Government.
“Adam Giles and Dave Tollner must tell all Territorians what their plans are to sell TIO, our retail and generation utilities and the Darwin Port Corporation,” Mr Vowles said.
“It’s simply not good enough to say everything is on the table but give no further detail – these are valuable public assets that belong to Territorians, not the CLP.
“Territorians are rightly concerned that the arrogance and secrecy around the CLPs plans means a fire-sale is on the cards - which means we all end up paying more for services such as freight, power and insurance.
“This Government has form when it comes to gifting CLP mates plumb jobs and valuable public assets at a massive cost to ordinary hardworking Territorians.
“Dave Tollner then poured fuel on the CLP’s dysfunction by refusing to rule out a tilt at the Chief Minister job after the Casuarina by-election.
“Casuarina residents will soon have a chance to send the CLP a strong message that this arrogant and out of touch government needs to stop hurting Territorians and address their concerns instead of spending all their time feathering the nest of their CLP mates."
Shadow Minister for Health, Nicole Manison, today said that visitors and staff are fed up with chaotic car parking conditions at Royal Darwin Hospital.
“The CLP Government’s paid parking debacle at RDH is ongoing and instead of burying their heads in the sand about it they need to get on and fix it,” Ms Manison said.
“Patients, visitors and staff at RDH are having to battle to park their cars and navigate the flawed and confusing paid parking system.
“Unpredictable and lengthy Emergency Department and Outpatients wait times cause difficulty navigating the paid parking system. As a result Territorians are being fined for overstaying and the CLP Government is hiding the extent of this revenue raising.
“What is the revenue that is made from the parking system and infringements? The CLP need to explain what this chaos is costing Territorians.”
Ms Manison said the CLP Government has failed to solve the problems plaguing RDH.
“RDH is under immense pressure both inside with the bed block and blown out emergency department wait times and outside with the chaos in the car park,” Ms Manison said.
“These issues cannot be ignored any longer - the CLP Government needs to tackle the health chaos.”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today said that rumours were rife that the CLP Government is planning to sell TIO without any consultation with Territorians.
“Industry sources say the CLP Government is pushing ahead with their plans to sell the Territory Insurance Office, and in a cynical move plan to tell Territorians after the sale,” Ms Lawrie said.
Ms Lawrie said Territorians had made it clear through the largest petition in Territory Parliament history that they want TIO to remain a public asset.
“Territorians fought to save their TIO and the CLP Government has no mandate to sell,” Ms Lawrie said.
“TIO provides Territorians with insurance coverage specific to the unique conditions of Territory life including crucial cyclone and flood coverage.”
Ms Lawrie said the CLP Government does not have a mandate to sell TIO and has called on the Chief Minister Adam Giles to categorically rule out the sale or take their asset sale plan to the Casuarina by-election to give Territorians a say.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government need to come clean with Territorians on their plans for TIO,” Ms Lawrie said.
“If the rumours are untrue then the CLP Government needs to absolutely rule out sale.”
“The upcoming Casuarina by-election will give the CLP Government the chance to gauge just how little support they will have from Territorians to sell TIO.
“Be honest with Territorians and give them a say in what happens to their public assets.”
Shadow Minister for Education, Natasha Fyles, today called on the CLP Government to ensure that Territory students do not miss out on science education engagement and interaction given the reduction in CSIRO Education programs.
"Federal budget cuts to CSIRO science education and outreach programs that target the Territory, mean hands-on science programs will no longer be delivered to school age students from the NT Education Centre," Ms Fyles said.
"Territory students should not have to miss out."
Ms Fyles said engaging students in science education can play an important part in the Territory's future.
"Science education will play an important part in the future of the Territory," Ms Fyles said.
"Under the former Labor Government, science education was boosted with the establishment of the North Australian Centre for Oil and Gas, in partnership with the Charles Darwin, to train Territory students in this growing science-based industry.
"It is important to foster Territory student’s interest in science through programs like those offered at the CSIRO Education Centre.
"Hands-on science is effective in sparking interest in science, which can be the first step in a young Territorian's pathway to a career in research and development.
"This pathway should not be stymied because of liberal budget cuts.
“Mr Chandler committed, during estimates, to lobbying Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, to ensure the CSIRO program stays in the Territory but has failed to deliver an outcome for Territory students.
"The CLP Government needs to ensure that Territory students have access to the same federally-funded education opportunities provided to interstate students."