Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, said 2014 showed a nasty and arrogant Giles Government failing to deliver for Territorians.
“Territorians have had to suffer a terrible year under the worst Government ever,” Ms Fyles said.
“Arrogant Adam Giles and the CLP Government have betrayed the trust of Territorians by selling off TIO without a mandate.
“They’re driving up the cost of living with huge hikes in power and water bills and another round of increases are slated for 1 January, 2015. The average family has already had to find an extra $2000 a year to pay these bills.
“TIO’s new owner Allianz says insurance premiums will increase for many policy holders by 200 percent or more.
“And, before the ink was dry on that dud deal, they’re moving on to their next target, Darwin Port. If the Port is privatised, every business knows the cost of all goods that move in or out of here goes up.
“This year Territorians have been left with no confidence that the CLP Government operates with any transparency or accountability. Serious questions on the allocation of water licences, land deals and Foundation 51 have been dodged and the Inquiry into political donations nobbled before it could even begin.
“Three CLP members walked out of the CLP in disgust at their antics early in the year and two Ministers have been publically disgraced.
“The merry-go-round of CLP reshuffles continues with Territorians watching to see if Dave Tollner will be let out of the naughty corner.
“Education in the Territory has taken a major hit with schools forced to cut teachers, support staff and programs under the new global school budget policy which gives them even less to pay the bills.
“Palmerston residents are no closer to having access to their own hospital and are now told it’s going to be privatised.
“RDH is still suffering bed block, double bunking, pressure on the emergency department and bungled hospital car parking.
“The Territory’s Child Protection system is in crisis. A record high of 900 children are under the care of the Department of Children and Families. A backlog 1,160 case reviews are overdue.
“Vulnerable Territory kids are suffering because the CLP Government refuses to properly resource and support the child protection system in the Territory.
“On Saturday it will be one year since Rio Tinto announced the closure of the Alumina Refinery in Nhulunbuy and one year since Adam Giles and the CLP Government turned their backs on the residents of Nhulunbuy and the region.
“Bush electorates are still waiting to see the big CLP promises of infrastructure and jobs delivered.
“The Chief Minister has failed to get anything for the Territory from Canberra’s infrastructure fund.
“Two years in and they continue to cut the ribbons on Labor-legacy infrastructure projects. Small businesses are suffering due to CLP budget cuts and a lack of new projects in the pipeline.
Ms Fyles asked how much more Territorians can bear from this incompetent CLP Government.
“Self-interest has motivated the CLP Government this year while Territorians struggle.
“It is appalling that the CLP Government put more effort into plans to sell off Territory assets than to resourcing front line services, supporting local businesses, and ensuring Territorians aren’t forced to move interstate for cheaper living and more employment opportunities.”
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Shadow Minister for Education, Nicole Manison, said many Territory schools will experience cuts in 2015 at the hands of the CLP Government under their Global School Budget policy.
“Under the CLP Government’s Global School Budgets there is not enough funding and schools are having to cut teachers, subjects and support for students,” Ms Manison said.
“That means crowded classrooms for our children with even less support for our teachers – our schools are under serious stress.”
The President of NT Council of Government School Organisations, COGSO, Gerard Reid on speaking about Global School Budgets told ABC radio today that ‘we're greatly disappointed that this is essentially being used as a smoke screen for another round of ferocious cuts in the last two weeks of the school year. So it's left us looking a little but uncomfortable and quite disappointed with the whole approach and feel like we've been rather used’.
The President of the Australian Education Union, NT Branch, Jarvis Ryan also told ABC radio today that under the Global School Budget model ‘some of the bigger secondary schools, Darwin High School, Casuarina and so on are many hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red and what that will mean is the loss of dozens, you know if not more than 100 positions across the Territory as a whole and what it means is that a lot of contract teachers, temporary teachers who are contacting our office who are despairing because they won't have a job next year’.
“This is despite the Education Minister Peter Chandler promising that no school will be worse off under global school budgets,” Ms Manison said.
“The reality is that schools are now worse off and they are having to make cuts for the third straight year under the CLP Government.
“The Minister needs to honour his promise and make sure schools are not worse off in 2015.
“Principals and School Councils are now having to make tough decisions around who to cut so they can get their budgets into the black.
“Education is vital to the future of the Territory and it is an area already cut to the bone under the CLP Government.
“That is another brutal process for many school teachers going into Christmas.”
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, today condemned the CLP for moving to introduce legislation that will allow for the sale of our Port the day after it sold TIO amid community outrage.
“Arrogant Adam Giles is showing utter contempt for Territorians who are fighting his public assets sales agenda – first he sells our TIO and now he moves to sell our Port,” Ms Fyles said.
“The sale of TIO will hurt many Territorians living in flood, storm surge and cyclone zones now left to the whim of a private insurer Allianz instead of the safety net of our public insurer.
“The sale was a con. Adam Giles promised TIO would stay Territorian – it’s now German. Adam Giles promised TIO guarantees – yet no legal guarantees on insurance premium prices or coverage exist. Adam Giles promised it would reap a 15 per cent recycling payment from the Commonwealth yet that doesn’t exist. Adam Giles failed to listen to Territorians who overwhelmingly wanted to save our TIO and crashed through with the sale.”
Ms Fyles said that serious questions on the sale still remain.
“We suspect it was no coincidence that on the same day Adam Giles is forcing through the sale of TIO he distributes a Ministerial Statement outlining cuts to the Workers Compensation Scheme which would see injured workers’ benefits reduced that make the insurer more profitable,” Ms Fyles said.
“Adam Giles refused to answer my question today: Did Allianz know about the proposed Workers Compensation changes prior to the TIO sale?”
Ms Fyles said that the CLP are showing utter contempt to Territorians by now pushing ahead with plans to sell our Port.
“Labor worked hard to make the port profitable. The oil and gas boom is just now delivering results and is beginning to deliver a great income stream for our kids’ future, if we can keep it in public ownership,” Ms Fyles said.
“Our Port is worth much, much more to us over the long-term rather than a one-off sale.
“Selling the Port – whether it’s a sale or a sneaky 99 year lease which is a sale by another name – will bring commercial rates for freight that will drive up the cost of living for consumers and businesses.
“What’s next? Do Territorians have to nail down everything we own to stop him selling off our Territory?
“Territorians will have to keep up the fight to keep our valuable public assets ours.”
The Shadow Attorney General, Natasha Fyles, today called on the CLP Government to come clean and explain whether it has discussed moves to cut workers compensation entitlements with its new MAC administrator Allianz.
Ms Fyles said that the CLP circulated a Statement on Workers Compensation today - on the same day it moved to rush through the sale of TIO.
“Is it a coincidence that the changes - which will benefit Allianz who are already a major worker’s compensation player in the Territory - are being tabled today?” Ms Fyles asked.
“Will the government come clean about what discussions were held with Allianz about these changes in the negotiations to sell TIO?
“Once Allianz acquired TIO, it will dominate the worker’s compensation insurance business in the Territory.
“Actuaries valuing TIO for Allianz will no doubt have placed a value on the future liabilities of worker’s compensation as part of their due diligence.
“These legislative changes proposed by the Chief Minister today will greatly affect that liability. Were Allianz given a private briefing on these amendments?”
Ms Fyles said that the Chief Minister’s statement about the changes is very short on detail.
“Everybody knows the devil is always in the detail in these matters. But we are concerned that the changes will allow insurers to throw people off worker’s compensation with an inadequate lump-sum payment after only two years,” Ms Fyles said.
Ms Fyles said that she is concerned that the timeframe isn’t long enough for a proper medical assessment of how much longer treatment will need to continue to ensure that injured workers are able to return to work.
“The Government itself says that 66 percent of claims involve less than 1 week off work. Of the remaining claims 56 percent will be back at work in less than 6 weeks and less than 5 percent of claims extend beyond 52 weeks.
“We are looking at a very small number of claimants who require workers compensation beyond 2 years. But for them and their families, the weekly payments and medical and treatment costs are critical.”
Ms Fyles welcomed the Government’s response to repeated Labor calls for appropriate workers compensation for firefighters who contract cancer due to their work but reiterated a call for a fairer retrospectivity to cover existing firies affected and queried a cut-off date.
“We desperately need a fair workers compensation system for our firefighters and the CLP are still dragging their heels and failing to adequately cover our firies’ needs.”
Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie today joined hundreds of Territorians in the toot to save TIO car rally that circled Parliament House.
Ms Lawrie said while Labor fought the sale efforts of the CLP Government in Parliament, Territorians continue to bombard social media with their disgust and anger over the TIO sale.
“Adam Giles is being described by many as arrogant and Territorians are asking if they can sell the CLP,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The community anger over the CLP betrayal of Territorians is very strong and yet the CLP continue their arrogant crash through approach to sell TIO.
“We’ve been presented with news of the sale yesterday and legislation to give effect to the sale is expected to pass on all stages today instead of the usual month timeframe to consider its implications and consult.
“This is an extraordinarily arrogant Government who show utter contempt for the will of the people – they are failing the most basic test of democracy.”
Ms Lawrie said that the community were furious that many commitments made by Adam Giles over the sale had been broken.
“Our TIO safety net insurer is being sold to a German company – it’s not remaining Territorian as promised,” Ms Lawrie said.
“There are no legal guarantees to secure our ongoing insurance product needs to cover flood, storm surge and cyclone, instead Adam Giles is expecting to Territorians to trust his ‘good will’ discussions behind closed doors.
“Bitter experience elsewhere has shown private market insurance failure and Territorians face the very real prospect of massive insurance premium hikes in vulnerable areas where we need affordable insurance the most.
“The actions of the CLP to ram through sale legislation on urgency today are unconscionable and against the will of Territorians.
“Labor will fight the sale of TIO every step of the way through Parliament but sadly there is yet to be a CLP member to cross the floor to prevent the sale.”
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today slammed the CLP for its betrayal of Territorians in deciding to sell TIO without a mandate and against overwhelming public calls to keep our insurance safety net.
Ms Lawrie said that the decision to sell TIO to German insurer Allianz and the banking arm to People’s Choice shows the CLP has utter contempt for Territorians.
“Our unelected Chief Minister, Adam Giles, clearly doesn’t care about representing Territorians who overwhelmingly are strongly opposed to the sale of TIO,” Ms Lawrie said.
“This is a sale motivated by greed, with the CLP desperate for a quick cash-grab to splash $150 million prior to the next general election.
“The CLP have torn up democracy to pursue profits before people. They have no mandate to sell TIO and are ignoring the impact it will have on families and businesses across the Northern Territory.”
Ms Lawrie said that TIO is a profitable business that provides and insurance safety net for families and businesses in high risk areas of flood and storm surge and provides a competitive product which keeps cyclone coverage affordable.
“The Giles spin on selling TIO hasn’t revealed how long sale conditions remain in place to keep the TIO brand, product coverage, jobs and corporate sponsorship in place,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Is it a three-year condition of sale as indicated on 7.30 NT by Deputy Chief Minister Peter Chandler?
“Show us the details of the sale of our TIO Mr Giles.
“How much will Territorians pay Allianz to manage our Motor Accidents Compensation Scheme?
“Why has the CLP ignored thousands of Territorians, the Chamber of Commerce, Motor Vehicle Traders and the Federal Government’s Pivot North report which all were arguments against the sale of TIO?
“Why hasn’t the CLP held forums throughout the Territory and sought a mandate for sale by holding a referendum?
“Territorians are outraged that the CLP Government are pushing ahead with the TIO sale and showing utter contempt for their needs and views.”
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, today said Adam Giles and the CLP Government are treating Territorians with contempt as they push ahead with plans to sell TIO next week.
“TIO belongs to Territorians and they do not want to see it sold,” Ms Fyles said.
“A poll of 405 Territorians in the electorates of Port Darwin, Fong Lim, Brennan and Greatorex last night showed 80 percent of Territorians are against the sale of TIO.
“But Adam Giles and the CLP Government are arrogantly ignoring the call of Territorians to keep TIO a public asset."
Ms Fyles said that Deputy Chief Minister Peter Chandler as much as admitted on 7.30 NT last night that TIO will be sold with criteria keeping it intact for three years.
“Showing their utter contempt for Territorians the TIO sale criteria protects our local insurer until after the next election.
“This means the CLP Government can pretend nothing has changed in TIO in the lead up to the 2016 Territory election while they use the proceeds of the sale for pork barrelling – then after the election TIO will be gone forever.
“The CLP Government does not care about the damage they will have caused and the pain they will have inflicted on Territorians to achieve this."
Ms Fyles said the Members of the CLP’s job is to represent their constituents, and their constituents are against the sale of TIO.
“Members of the CLP Government will be going against the wishes of the very people who elected them if they vote to sell TIO next week in Parliament,” Ms Fyles said.
“It is not too late to save TIO.
“Territorians are calling on Members of the CLP Government to do the right thing and cross the floor to vote against the sale of TIO.”
Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Lauren Moss, today said the CLP Government continues to fail in delivering responsive and appropriate standards of protection for our children.
“Territory kids are being let down by the CLP Government,” Ms Moss said.
“The most recent example is their failure to ensure the protection of a young woman in the care of the Department, who subsequently became pregnant to an older man who has since been charged.
“This incident has now been referred to Police and the Children’s Commissioner.
“This is the inevitable consequence of the CLP Government’s cuts to the child protection budget, high staff turnover nearing a staggering 25 per cent per annum, allegations of staff bullying, failure to meet agreed standards of face to face contact with kids in care and failure to maintain up to date care plans for all children in the child protection system.
“We also continue to see increasing notifications of child neglect and child abuse with an expected 400 more children requiring care in the next 12 months.”
Ms Moss said it is time for the CLP Government to get its priorities right.
“The CLP Government needs to build on the investment of the former Labor Government in Child Protection to ensure that the Territory does not go backwards in protecting our children,” Ms Moss said.
“The Chief Minister is happy to spend $30 million every year on spin for himself and the CLP Government while Departments and their staff work tirelessly, focusing on the need to reduce child neglect, to protect vulnerable children and to provide appropriate care for children under the care of the Department of Children and Families suffer cuts.
“Territory kids deserve better.”