Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today announced details of the new Labor Shadow Cabinet which incorporates the latest addition to the team, the Member for Casuarina Lauren Moss.
Ms Lawrie said a new addition to the Territory Labor team has presented an opportunity to reshuffle portfolio responsibilities as per her commitment to reshuffle annually.
“We have have added new shadow portfolios Disability and Mental Health, Climate Change, and Science and Innovation for increased focus on these challenges and opportunities,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The Labor team have excelled across portfolios held for the past year and are looking forward to taking on new challenges and meeting new stakeholders right across the Territory.
Ms Lawrie said that Deputy Opposition Leader Gerry McCarthy will continue to hold the crucial Treasury portfolio through this term in Opposition.
“My Deputy Leader has a passion for creating the best future for young Territorians and creating pathways from education into employment which is why he has the crucial business, employment and training portfolios,” Ms Lawrie said.
“But to achieve our true Territory potential we need a particular focus on science and innovation to create the jobs of tomorrow.
“All Labor members are taking on senior portfolios across health, planning and infrastructure, justice, education, Indigenous social and economic development, and family and community services to hold the government to account.
“Territorians can expect to be meeting with myself and Shadow Ministers right across the Territory as we move into a phase of engaging Territorians on policy initiatives through significant consultation.
“We are team that seeks a fair and inclusive society where regardless of background we all have the chance to achieve a healthy and prosperous life.
“My colleagues and I look forward to continuing to hold the worst Government ever to account while embracing the innovative ideas of our community.
“We will be listening and reaching out to Territorians across our cities, regional towns and remote communities.
“The Northern Territory truly is the land of opportunity but Government has a role to ensure the structures of our society provide equitable access for all.”
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, said that Chief Minister Adam Giles is refusing to give Territorians a say on his plans to sell TIO.
“We are hearing from a chorus of Territorians who do not want TIO sold, including the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce who represent businesses," Ms Lawrie said.
“But Adam Giles and the CLP Government are not listening and are pushing a crash through agenda with dire consequences for families and businesses.
“Last night in Parliament the Chief Minister said: ‘we are seeking final offers for TIO. When the final offer comes in we will move extremely quickly if we decide to make the sale’.
“Adam Giles is now trying to pretend that it is TIO that is pushing for the sale not the CLP Government.
“Adam Giles as Treasurer is the shareholding Minister for TIO and it would be his decision to take a sale to Cabinet.
“Adam Giles has his hands are all over the plan to sell TIO in return for a quick cash grab.”
Ms Lawrie said that Territorians are being denied a say in what happens to their public asset.
“Instead the Chief Minister has promoted a shopping list of things he could spend the profits of the sale of TIO on," Ms Lawrie said.
“The sale would be devastating to the interests of Territorians who rely on the specific insurance coverage provided by TIO for the Territory’s unique conditions.
“A key factor that was highlighted in Warren Entch’s Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia: Final Report which recommends an extension of TIO not privatisation.”
The Territory Insurance Office (TIO) in the Northern Territory is a government owned statutory insurance provider that has provided affordable insurance to citizens of the Territory since 1979. It provides a potential model for the creation of an insurance office covering Northern Australia. – (Inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia: Final Report)
“Public assets like TIO belong to Territorians, not the Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The CLP Government needs to abandon their quick cash grab sale plans and let Territorians have a say on the future of their public assets.”
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael Gunner, today used Parliamentary Question Time to challenge Chief Minister, Adam Giles, on his repeated denials of links between CLP slush fund Foundation 51 and the CLP Government.
“Adam Giles continues to deny links between the CLP Government and slush fund Foundation 51 despite the mounting evidence, including leaked emails, to the contrary,” Mr Gunner said.
“Today’s revelations in The Australian expose that Foundation 51 Director, Graeme Lewis, has recently lodged an electoral return disclosing contributions to the CLP’s election campaigns and admitted Foundation 51 was an associated entity of the CLP.
“Mr Lewis also admitted to a conflict of interest in being, until recently, the CLP’s Treasurer and Chair of the Land Development Corporation,” Mr Gunner said.
“In retrospect … I would probably have to answer that there was a conflict of interest,” Mr Lewis was reported as saying.
In a leaked email from Adam Giles to Graeme Lewis the Chief Minister writes: “Graeme. Let’s have a chat when you get back… I want to ensure there was no real or perceived conflict of interest with any dealing you may or may not have”.
In reply, Mr Lewis emailed to Adam Giles: ‘I really need to talk one to one with you about all this … The real issue is that, given all that is happening in the CLP, even before this last fiasco, it’s clear my time is up”.
In May this year Foundation 51 director Graeme Lewis was running a draft press release past Chief Minister Adam Giles for his vetting,” Mr Gunner said.
“Former Treasurer Dave Tollner has admitted that political donations ‘will open my door’ and when asked by the ABC isn’t that paying for political favours, Dave Tollner’s response was ‘you could put it that way I suppose’.
“Territorians deserve assurance that the CLP Government is operating in an accountable and transparent manner.
“Only an independent inquiry into political donations can provide that assurance - what have they got to hide?”
Shadow Treasurer, Gerry McCarthy, says the Treasurer’s Annual Financial Report tabled in Parliament today shows the true extent of financial pain being inflicted on Territory businesses and families.
“The CLP Giles Government is the highest taxing in our history, with the 13/14 financial year reaping an additional $81.1 million in taxes from the pockets of businesses and families,” Mr McCarthy said.
“While the CLP crows about an improved budget operating result it has come at the expense of Territorians who have seen reduced services, cuts to the all-important capital works program that fuels our construction sector and tax and tariff hikes that are filling the Government’s coffers.”
Mr McCarthy said the CLP tax grab consisted of an extra $50.1 million in payroll tax, an extra $20.8 million in stamp duties and a staggering $10.2 million increase on gambling, insurance and motor vehicle registration. (see page 112)
“It is little wonder that under the CLP, in just two years 340 Territory businesses have closed and Territorians are struggling under a crippling cost of living burden,” Mr McCarthy said.
“The Public Non Financial Corporation Sector Cash Flow Statement (page 29) shows an extra $230 million in revenue gained in our corporations … you don’t need to be Einstein to work out that is a result of the escalating tariffs in Power, Water and Sewerage that is improving the balance sheet of our corporations but sending Territorians broke,” Mr McCarthy said.
“The General Government Sector budget has a 13/14 deficit of $62.5 million compared to a $247.8 million deficit in the 12/13 financial year (page 25) which is an improvement of $185.3 million.
“So the CLP crows about strong financial management but when you stack up a $185.3 million reduction in the deficit against a $187 million gain from the extra $81 million boost from taxes, an additional $22.9 million in GST and $83.5 million gain in other Commonwealth payments we certainly aren’t getting the results they are trying to present.
“In addition the Government benefited from a $39.5 million increase in mining royalty collections due to the combined effect of the moderation of the Australian dollar and increased commodity prices and production levels and a further $22 million from an as-yet undisclosed legal settlement.
“Of concern to our construction sector would be the reductions in the Government’s capital works spend of $98 million (page 112) so it’s not surprising that the sector is saying businesses are increasingly desperate for work.”
Mr McCarthy pointed out that the overall improvement since the May 2013 Budget “is largely the result of the revised timing of the handover of the $521 million Darwin Correctional Precinct from 2013/14 to 2014/15, increased taxation revenue and the revised timing of Commonwealth-tied funding and associated expenditure between years. The result was further influenced by a reduction in net capital payments during the year and the improving financial position of PWC.” (page 15).
“In short, the highest taxing government in our history is reaping the benefits of a massive $81million tax take from Territorians, slashing the construction program that literally builds our Territory and fuels our critical construction sector and the power, water and sewerage price hikes,” Mr McCarthy said.
“All of this while the CLP has taken the axe to crucial services such as education and health. It’s a grim outcome for Territorians.
“With all their chest beating on debt the truth is out … the 12/13 net debt was $3.1 billion with a net debt to revenue ratio of 58% and despite all the pain inflicted on Territorians the 13/14 net debt is $3 billion with a net debt to revenue ratio of 53%.” (page 9)
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today again called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to give Territorians a say on their public asset privatisation plans.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government are hell-bent on selling the Territory’s public assets for a quick cash grab despite the negative effects it will have on Territorians,” Ms Lawrie said.
“TIO is in Adam Giles’ sights and if sold would leave Territorians, especially those in flood and cyclone-prone areas, vulnerable without the affordable and timely insurance coverage with TIO.
“The long term lease of Darwin Port by a private operator will lead to increases in cost of living for Territorians who would suffer the impact of rising port prices - with livestock, resources, cars and household goods at greatest risk of commercial rate imposts.
“The sale of any utilities assets under PowerWater Corporation, as shown in other jurisdictions, will lead to increased tariffs and reduced reliability.”
Ms Lawrie said that jobs and employment conditions of Territorians would be under threat in the event of privatisation.
“Once a public asset is sold all control is out of Territorians hands,” Ms Lawrie said.
“There is no way of guaranteeing that a new private owner of a Territory asset will preserve the employment conditions that were previously agreed to under public ownership.
“We’ve already seen employees of Darwin Bus Service stripped of entitlements by the private owners only months after the CLP Government sold the service.”
Ms Lawrie said the CLP Government needs to give Territorians a say in what should happen to their assets.
“Public assets belong to Territorians not to the CLP Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Territory Labor has repeatedly called on Adam Giles to take his privatisation plans a referendum or to the next General Election to give Territorians a say on their public assets.”
Opposition Whip Michael Gunner says the Opposition would be holding the Government to account in this week’s Parliamentary sittings over its litany of broken promises on the Foundation 51 Inquiry, asset sales and the cuts to police numbers.
“Territorians are fed up with the CLP backflips that go to the heart of a failure of good governance,” Mr Gunner said.
“Chief Minister Adam Giles deceived the Member for Nelson into believing an Inquiry into political donations and Foundation 51 would be held and then attacked him when he was accused of being a con man.
“Leaked emails add to a growing mountain of evidence that slush fund Foundation 51 is directly linked to the CLP and has contributed significantly to funding election campaigns, and Adam Giles was keen to shut down any kind of inquiry which could have revealed serious breaches of the NT Electoral Act,” Mr Gunner said.
“The CLP clearly has something to hide because the full blown independent inquiry into political donations has been gutted to be nothing more than a watered-down analysis of legislation by his own Department of Chief Minister.”
Mr Gunner also said the Government’s double talk on asset sales was further proof of its deception.
“Under questioning from the Opposition last week Adam Giles admitted he has been considering the sale of TIO since March,” Mr Gunner said.
“Territorians deserve to have a say in whether they want their assets sold given the CLP had no privatisation plans at the last election.
“Labor is calling on Adam Giles to halt his planned asset sales and put the new-found policies to either a referendum or the 2016 general election.”
Mr Gunner said nothing was sacred under the CLP who showed they are tearing up election commitments.
“Police numbers have shrunk by 60 in the past 12 months, on top of the Government’s broken promise to employ 120 new police,” Mr Gunner said.
“With violent crime running at record levels in the past two years, we need more Police on the beat and not another broken promise.”
Media Contact: Michael Gleeson 0400 096 924
Shadow Minister for Public Employment Natasha Fyles, today called on the Giles Government to establish an Independent Commission against Corruption following Dave Tollner’s extraordinary cash for access admission yesterday.
“Mr Tollner’s admission that donors to his political campaigns were given priority over anyone else is exactly why we needed an independent inquiry,” Ms Fyles said.
“Things are grim when Clive Palmer is now talking about establishing a Senate Inquiry into the CLP’s Foundation 51 donations scandal.
“Adam Giles can short circuit this now and immediately announce the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“Mr Tollner’s admission calls into question every decision of the former Treasurer.
“If this is how Dave Tollner did business, how many other Ministers in the Giles Government operate the same way?
“Every Territorian ought to be able to have confidence that political donations do not influence the way in which Government decisions are made, but there is now a cloud over every decision the Giles Government has made.”
Ms Fyles said it was now incumbent upon Chief Minister Adam Giles to come clean on whether he also has a cash for access policy.
“The size of a constituent’s wallet should have no bearing on whether or not they are granted access to a Government Minister, let alone a Deputy Chief Minister or Treasurer," Ms Fyles said.
Media contact: Michael Gleeson 0400 096 924
The Leader of the Opposition today moved to censure the Chief Minister, Adam Giles, for his actions to cover up an inquiry into political donations, the details around a $1million payment to the Tiwi Land Council his plans to sell public assets.
“The Chief Minister has repeatedly denied links between CLP slush fund Foundation 51 and the CLP yet emails leaked show $200,000 was used to fund CLP election campaigns,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Territorians are left wondering what has the CLP got to hide after they used their numbers in Parliament to prevent an Inquiry into political donations?
“The dust had barely settled on the Casuarina by-election before Adam Giles was taking out full page advertisements spruiking the sale and long term lease of the Territory Insurance Office and the Darwin Port.
“If Adam Giles and the CLP Government had nothing to hide and were confident that their decisions to sell public assets were in the best interest of Territorians, then why were they not upfront with Casuarina residents before they went to the polls last weekend?”
Ms Lawrie said the CLP Government had sunk to new lows these Sittings and questions about Foundation 51 political donations, the $1million Tiwi deal and public asset sales would be pursued in the interest of integrity and transparency.
“Territorians deserve a Government that operates with transparency and accountability,” Ms Lawrie said.
“In Government, Labor will establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“When challenged to establish an ICAC today Adam Giles ruled it out. When challenged to establish an inquiry into political donations in the last four years, Adam Giles ruled it out. What has the CLP got to hide?”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, said it was appalling that the CLP Government voted down a law to send a clear message that racial vilification is not acceptable in the Territory.
Yesterday CLP Government voted against the Leader of the Opposition’s amendments to the Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act and widespread community support from Territorians for protection from racial hatred.
“The Territory is proudly multi-cultural and our community groups supported inserting racial hatred protection laws into our NT Anti-Discrimination Act," Ms Lawrie said.
“But it is an unfortunate reality that racism and bigotry exists and six complaints have been taken to the Human Rights Commission.
“No Territorian should be subject to racism, hatred or bigotry.
“No Territorian should ever be subjected to racially offensive abuse, speech, material and images."
Ms Lawrie said given global conflicts and acts of racially motivated violence being reported in southern states it was upsetting that the CLP Government could not recognise the need to include protection for Territorians in our own law rather than be subject to the Commonwealth whims.
“Because the CLP Government voted down the amendments to the Territory’s Anti-Discrimination Act the Territory remains the only jurisdiction which does not have anti-vilification provisions in legislation," Ms Lawrie said.
"This means the Territory is left vulnerable if the Commonwealth makes changes to Federal Law pertaining to discrimination as they proposed to do earlier this year.
“A bill reducing Federal protections has been introduced into the Federal Senate yet our own Minister for Multi-cultural Affairs Peter Styles denies that this remains an issue.
“It was disappointing that the CLP Government would not do what was right for Territorians. I call on the Government to introduce racial vilification protection laws in the Northern Territory."
The Giles Government sank to a new low today and disgracefully used its numbers in Parliament to avoid an independent inquiry into political donations and Foundation 51.
Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said the Government was now involved in a full scale cover-up to hide the activities of the CLP slush fund Foundation 51 which has failed to declare political donations to the CLP as required under law.
Ms Lawrie condemned the CLP for its culture of corruption following the leaked emails which suggest criminality known at the highest levels of the CLP.
“What does the CLP have to hide?” Ms Lawrie asked.
“This inquiry had the chance to clear Foundation 51 and the CLP if they had done nothing wrong, but the CLP can’t afford the truth to come out and preferred to show they simply cannot be trusted.
“The CLP strung along the Member for Nelson until after the Casuarina by-election and then brutally crunched through a motion to rescind the Inquiry into political donations.”
Ms Lawrie told the Parliament that prima facie Foundation 51 had breached the NT Electoral Act by failing to declare $200,000 in donations to the CLP prior to the 2012 General Election.
“The facts are now in the public domain. An email written by Foundation 51 Director Graeme Lewis admits that ‘the contributors were clearly aware, and did generally stipulate that the funds raised would be devoted to NT elections in 2012 or thereafter’.
Ms Lawrie said that another Graeme Lewis email from March 26 this year said: “The Foundation has already contributed significantly towards the activities of the Blain by election.”
The leaked emails from Foundation 51 director Graeme Lewis described former Chief Minister Terry Mills as having a ‘directorial role’ in the slush fund and also showed that in May this year he was vetting a draft Foundation 51 press release past Chief Minister Adam Giles.
“The CLP have trashed any trust the electorate could have in them. They waited until after the Casuarina by-election to scrap an inquiry that could have exposed the details of the relationship between Foundation 51 and CLP election donations that were not declared,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Only a full-scale inquiry could have got to the bottom of this scandal. Labor will introduce an Independent Commission Against Corruption if elected to return integrity to government.
“The paper exercise of an investigation into electoral legislation and systems is a whitewash and this is a disgraceful action by the CLP.”