As the full second year of the dysfunctional CLP Government comes to an end the Opposition is counting the cost for Territorians.
The CLP have spent another year breaking their promise to reduce the cost of living, and from 1 January, Territorians will feel the pain in their hip pocket.
“Under the CLP hikes to power, water and sewerage charges the average family has had to pay an extra $2000 per year.
“From tomorrow, Territory households will have to brace for another 5% jump in power, water and sewerage costs.
“The power and water hikes are also hurting small business, particularly those struggling retail businesses unable to pass on the costs.
“In the bush it is even worse, where already families pay more for food than most other Australians, and these costs will keep rising with increasing power prices and operating costs for bush stores.
“The CLP had a choice between making Power and Water financially sustainable or making it profitable – and they have chosen profits over people,” Ms Fyles said.
Under the CLP price hikes, power charges increased by 30%, water increased by 40% and sewerage is up by 25%.
“The CLP’s hikes to power, water and sewerage charges are making the cost of living even harder for all Territory households.
“Essential services are just that and Territorians are being forced to pay more so the CLP Government can increase PowerWater profits to ready it for sale, with the CLP this year not ruling out a sale of this public asset.
“Just like they sold TIO, the CLP will sell our PowerWater without any concern about the impact on Territorians once this is sold, including higher charges and more blackouts.
“Under the CLP, the cost to buy a home has increased by 4.5% over the last 12 months, and first home buyers will be squeezed out of the market even further with the CLP cuts to first home buyer grants,” Ms Fyles said.
“Under the CLP the dream of owning a home is being put even further out of reach.”
“As well as paying more, Territorians are experiencing disruptions and cuts to essential government services like education and health.”
“Our schools have borne significant cuts to teaching and support staff positions. Under Global School Budgets set to start in January, many schools are facing more teacher cuts and less subject choices for students, cutting our education system to the bone.”
“There has been no real progress in improving remote Indigenous education and now another Minister for Education has been appointed to clean up the mess.”
“Programs supporting vulnerable families and children at risk are crumbling and resulting in an alarming and rapid increase in Territory children taken into care.”
“Child protection is going backwards with over 1000 reports unresolved while the CLP are more focused on cost-cutting rather than reducing the number of kids at risk of neglect or harm,” Ms Fyles said.
“Our health system continues to struggle with overloaded hospitals, continuing delays in access to treatment at our hospital emergency departments due to a lack of hospital beds and cuts to remote health services.
“The only improvements to our health system, after 2 years of a CLP government, have been projects approved and funded by Labor governments here and in Canberra.
“The CLP continue to talk up Northern Development, and allocate free water rights to CLP mates despite concerns from other stakeholders, but has made little progress in real regional economic development
“Territorians living in the bush are still waiting for improvements to roads and other infrastructure promised in the 2012 election. Again, they have only seen projects completed that were approved and funded by previous Labor governments.” Ms Fyles said.
“And the CLP continue to sit on the report of the Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking); the key current environmental issue for many Territorians.
“The CLP promised to be an open and accountable government, but that has been the biggest joke of 2014,” Ms Fyles said.
Media contact: Sonia Peters 0437 762 881
**Increase to housing costs: Territory Economic Review December 2014 www.treasury.nt.gov.au
30 December 2014
CHANGES TO FIRST HOME BUYERS GRANTS COMING
Changes are coming to the first home buyers grant in the Northern Territory.
After January 1, first home owners can no longer access grants to buy existing homes. Previously Territorians could access $12,000 for homes in Urban Areas and $25,000 in other areas under the first homer owners grants.
“The CLP are once again making it harder for Territorians to buy homes and stay in the Territory,” said Shadow Minister for Housing, Michael Gunner.
“When the CLP came to government and axed the first home owner programs like Homestart Extra and My New Home first home buyers plunged almost 40% in the NT.”
“In fact, first home owner finance applications are still dropping - 10.6% in the last 12 months- I am worried that with this change, it is even going to get worse, come January 1.” *
“With house prices continuing to rise – 4.5% in the last 12 months - along with rent rises and power and water charge increases what are the CLP doing to help keep Territorians living and working in the Territory?” **
* Housing Finance for Owner occupation brief October 2014 www.treasury.nt.gov.au
** Territory Economic Review December 2014 www.treasury.nt.gov.au
29 December 2014
Giles needs to explain Foundation 51 donations
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability Natasha Fyles today called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to explain why the CLP hid hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations.
Ms Fyles said the CLP's Foundation 51 scandal was deepening with the latest disclosures that it received significant donations from property developers that have only now come to light.
New disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission by former CLP fundraiser Graeme Lewis now expose Foundation 51 as a financial entity directly supporting CLP election campaigns.
“Incredibly CLP President Jason Newman is still in denial about the role of Foundation 51 and legal obligations to report election funding, saying that Graeme Lewis’ new disclosure does not prove Foundation 51 was ever an associated entity obliged to report CLP election funding.”
“Mr Lewis himself has said he made the new disclosures based on legal advice that he should do so, in the face of election funding inquiries by both the Australian and Northern Territory Electoral Commissions.”
"The CLP shamelessly deny that Foundation 51 operated as an Associated Entity while its Director Graeme Lewis admits that's how the slush fund operated," Ms Fyles said.
A November 2012 email from Foundation 51 Director Graeme Lewis to then CLP President Braedon Earley has also highlighted that contributors to Foundation 51 were clearly ‘aware’ and ‘did stipulate’ that funds raised would be ‘devoted to NT elections’ and other CLP support.
In another email, dated 26 March 2014, Mr Lewis also said it would be a shame to replace Foundation 51 with ‘garage sales’ to provide ‘adequate resources’. Mr Lewis said “I have made the Chief Minister aware of this probability, much to his concern”.
That same email also noted that “The Foundation has already contributed significantly towards the activities of the Blain by-election.”
"Only a full Inquiry under the Inquiries Act with an independent former or current Judge will get to the bottom of the relationship between the Country Liberal Party, Foundation 51 and the CLP government” Ms Fyles said.
"We have a serious stench surrounding this CLP Government when their own former Treasurer admitted that political donations opened his door."
In October this year, just a day after the Giles government shamelessly voted down a Legislative Assembly motion for an independent inquiry into Northern Territory political donations, former Deputy Chief Minster Dave Tollner told ABC radio that he worked on the basis that ‘your donation will open my door if you ever need to talk to me about something or other’.
"If Adam Giles has nothing to hide then he would immediately instigate an inquiry with judicial powers," Ms Fyles said.
"Instead we're discovering a political donations scandal played out between Christmas and New Year when the CLP could hope Territorians are distracted by the holiday period.
"This is a disgrace and it's time we uncovered the full links between Foundation 51 and the CLP Government."
On the eve of Christmas 2014 Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Member for Barkly, Gerry McCarthy, on behalf of the Territory Labor team, wishes all Territorians and visitors a safe and happy Territory Christmas.
"Christmas is a great time to enjoy the company of family and friends, to reflect on the year gone by and to plan for a happy and productive 2015," Mr McCarthy said.
"It is also a time when many Territorians are travelling and a time to be especially careful on our roads.
"It has been great to see so many people travelling on holiday in the Territory including lots of holiday traffic along the Stuart Highway and passing through my home town of Tennant Creek.
"This is a fabulous time for catching up with old friends, making new friends and supporting Territory businesses on the track, but it is also an important time to be especially careful on our roads and highways.
"None of us want to remember this Christmas with sadness so it is timely to make an extra effort to be safe, including a careful watch for water on the road after local rain and other unexpected hazards.
"And, of course, it is a time to be especially careful not to drink and drive.
"Christmas and the holiday period is time to enjoy the company of family and friends, but plan well and always make sure that includes a safe trip home from all your Christmas and New Year festivities.
"Let’s all enjoy a great time with our family and friends but let’s also make a real Territory effort to stay safe, look after our loved ones and be able to look back and remember this holiday season with joy and happiness.
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
The NT Police Crime Statistics ending October 2014 reveal that it has taken no less than 797 days for the CLP Government to get violent crime down to around the same levels they inherited them in 2012, a far cry from their promise to reduce crime by 10 percent each year.
“Since taking office in 2012, we saw an explosion of crime when the CLP Government irresponsibly scrapped the Banned Drinker Register; cut the police budget; closed police beats and failed to deliver the promised 120 extra police,” Shadow Minister for Police, Lynne Walker said.
“Crime went out of control; and 2013 was the most violent year in Territory history.
“For over two years the Territory suffered while the CLP Government lurched from crisis to crisis with no direction on how to tackle the crime scourge.
“The CLP broke their promise of 120 extra police, and tried to claim the 94 police given to the former Labor Government by the former Federal Labor Government was part of that commitment, despite there now being 61 less police than there were at the same time last year.
“Darwin and Palmerston are bearing the brunt with record levels of violent crime – with 2220 crimes against the person occurring in Darwin alone in the past 12 months.
“The CLP have also abandoned the Alcohol Policy and Mandatory Alcohol Treatment portfolios to avoid accountability on the biggest social issue in the Territory, alcohol misuse.
“Where crime still rages, with an increase in house break-ins of 37.7 percent in Darwin, and Alcohol related assaults up 7.3 percent in Palmerston, 10 police officers have been removed and sent to Katherine to man bottle shops – which is stretching police resources even further.”
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Lauren Moss, today said as the Northern Territory’s first ever Children’s Commissioner, Dr Howard Bath, is farewelled as he exits the role, no indication has been made as to who will occupy this role in the future.
“Dr Howard Bath has worked tirelessly over six years for the safety and well being of vulnerable children in the Northern Territory,” Ms Moss said.
“Dr Bath, who trained as a clinical psychologist, has extensive experience which has included consultancy and training to address the needs of children and young people at risk prior to taking on this important role.
“He co-chaired the Board of Inquiry into the Child Protection System in 2009, and has been an exceptionally strong advocate during his time as Children’s Commissioner.
“It is clear that Dr Howard Bath is highly respected by his peers and I thank him for his continuing efforts to make a difference for our most vulnerable Territorians; children.”
Ms Moss said it was the Children’s Commissioner’s Annual Report in November this year which revealed the backlog of over 1,000 unresolved cases in the Child Protection System, a situation which requires urgent attention.
“The Commissioner provides important independent monitoring of the Child Protection System and notifications are on the rise,” Ms Moss said.
“It is important that the CLP Government make clear their intentions for recruiting to the role as a matter of priority, so that the sector can have certainty on this in the New Year.”
Shadow Minister for Senior Territorians, Lauren Moss, joined parliamentary colleagues today at the popular annual Seniors Christmas Lunch hosted by NT firefighters.
Ms Moss thanked our hard-working firefighters and the Kalymnian community for putting on another spectacular lunch.
"It's such a special occasion when the community comes together to ensure our Senior Territorians have a wonderful Christmas," Ms Moss said.
"Each year the Kalymnian Hall is filled with the joy of Christmas as our elderly are entertained and provided with plenty of festive cheer.
"It's important to take time across this special festive season to reach out to the elderly in our community, and to thank them for the enormous contribution they make to our society."
Ms Moss said she enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside other members of Parliament to serve our Senior Territorians.
"It is truly wonderful to see our highly respected and caring firefighters pull together this special Christmas lunch," Ms Moss said.
"It's a unique facet of the Top End to see Firies work with the Kalymnian community to host a day of fun, food and laughter.
"Christmas is a time to celebrate and give thanks for all that we have and the Seniors Christmas lunch is a fantastic occasion to do just that."
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles today, said industry rumours are rife that the CLP are planning to sign off increasing poker machines on January 1 without any consultation with the community.
“According to industry sources the CLP will triple the number for machines in pubs to 30 and raise the number by 25 to 70 for clubs,” Ms Fyles said.
“This expansion triples the number of pokies in pubs and adds another 25 machines to club venues.
“Under the changes the Government will set the Electronic Gaming Machine license purchase price at $50,000 per machine.
“A cap was placed on pokie machines in 2008, capping the total number of machines at 1190 across the Territory.
“Under current arrangements pokie machine numbers are capped at 10 for pubs and 45 for clubs.”
Ms Fyles said the CLP Government’s planned expansion of pokies comes despite significant concerns in the community about the impact on problem gamblers and their families.
“Any increase in the numbers of pokie machines should involve community consultation and an independent assessment of social impacts,” Ms Fyles said.
“Territorians lost in excess of $68 million on pokie machines in pubs and clubs alone in 2013-14 across 1181 machines, equating to $57, 627 per machine, up 12.6 per cent on the previous year.
The Territory already has the highest proportion in Australia of pokie machines per 1000 people, at 12.9 compared to the national average of 11. *
The NT Gambling Prevalence Survey undertaken in 2006 found 90 per cent of respondents believed the numbers of gaming machines should be reduced or stay the same. This is the only comprehensive report documenting community attitudes towards gambling in the NT.*
“Research shows problem gamblers are more likely to play pokie machines over any other form of gambling,” Ms Fyles said.
“The CLP Government is not taking the wellbeing of the community into account and can only see the revenue generated from gambling."
(* Amity Community Services Discussion Paper, August 2014.)
The Member for Nhulunbuy, Lynne Walker, today said Shepherdson College on Elcho Island may be left with eight too few teachers at the start of the 2015 year due to the troubled roll-out of Global School Budgets.
“At Shepherdson College some 14 teachers have been told to pack up and be ready to go by tomorrow,” Ms Walker said.
“Flights and removalists have been booked for these teachers out and they have vacated their accommodation.
“But now the Department of Education is saying they made a mistake in their allocation of the Global School Budget and eight of those teachers no longer need to be cut.
“Why did the Government not cancel these removals on Tuesday when the Chief Minister announced the Education Minister would review all schools global budgets?
“How many other schools are losing teachers because of mistakes?
“This is an expensive waste of resources and causes unnecessary chaos and confusion for Shepherdson College and our local community.”
Ms Walker said that good teachers in our remote communities should be supported rather than sacked due to the bungling of Education under Minister Peter Chandler.
“This chaos has deeply affected a great school community at the end of a year when they should be celebrating success and getting ready to enjoy the Christmas break,” Ms Walker said.
“It is inexcusable bungling and further proof that the CLP education cuts are being rushed with a disastrous impact on our school communities.”