The Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker said today that local communities were responding remarkably to the aftermath of Cyclone Lam, but significant support was needed.
Ms Walker visited the north-east Arnhemland homelands of Nyinyikay, Matamata and Marpuru and the community of Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island on the weekend to deliver food and check on the welfare of residents.
“Assisted by emergency services, Elcho Island residents have done a remarkable effort clearing their yards and roads, but they are exhausted,” Ms Walker said.
“There is a need for alternative shelter arrangements for families made homeless and options could include utilising existing vacant government housing and visitor accommodation on the island or providing subsidised flights to Nhulunbuy.
“There are families who can find temporary accommodation with relatives at Yirrkala, Ski Beach and Nhulunbuy and could get their kids back to school as Shepherdson College is closed for the week, if the government can assist with subsidised flights.”
Ms Walker thanked Shepherdson College staff who worked tirelessly to assist families sheltering from Cyclone Lam in the school hall.
“The school’s acting Principal Marg Fenbury and her staff have done a great job and I hope that additional support is brought to the island to help our public servants who have been working tirelessly for days,” Ms Walker said.
“The clean-up job is underway and a great effort is occurring yet it’d be good to see more practical support such as storage containers for families whose homes need repair so that their salvaged household goods can be stored.
“I also ask for the Government to assess the impact and repairs required for homelands on Elcho Island such as Gawa and Banthula so that they get assistance as soon as possible.”
Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211
Shadow Minister for Housing, Michael Gunner, today asked the Minister for Housing, Bess Price, what was being done to fast track the allocation of 134 empty public housing dwellings to Territorians on the public housing waiting list.
“Under the CLP Public Housing waiting lists have blown out,” Mr Gunner said.
“More than 600 people are waiting for public housing accommodation while more than 130 public housing dwellings sit empty in Alice Springs.
“Too many Territorians are struggling with homelessness with the high cost of living in the Territory making finding secure and affordable housing in the private market unattainable.
“It is appalling to think that while these Territorians in need are waiting, homes they could be living in are sitting empty.”
Mr Gunner said the Minister for housing was unable to inform Parliament as to what her Department was doing to rectify this situation.
Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667
Shadow Minister for Essential Services, Nicole Manison, today called on the CLP to explain how much the structural separation of PowerWater into three corporations is costing Territorians.
“Massive CLP hikes to power, water and sewerage tariffs have Territorians are struggling to pay their bills,” Ms Manison said.
“Territorians have suffered a third year of tariff hikes that hit household and businesses with a 30 percent power price hike, 40 percent water cost hike and 25 percent increase to sewerage charges.
“Before the latest 5 percent price hike in January this year, the CLP’s power and water tariff increases had ripped around an extra $151 million from the pockets of Territorians.
“Adam Giles and the CLP Government split PowerWater Corporation into three separate entities last year. A practice undertaken to prepare electricity utilities for privatisation.
“The split was carried out without any cost benefit analysis to support the separation.
“How much did the structural separation of PowerWater Corporation cost Territorians taxpayers?
“Industry insiders are telling us the structural separation costs are already at $10 million and rising. The CLP Government could say what has been spent to date, why won’t they?”
Territorians being hit with power bills this quarter are beginning to feel the full effect of the CLP’s power price hikes, Shadow Minister for Essential Services Nicole Manison said today.
Ms Manison said the CLP’s staggered price hikes are now fully implemented with the third year of tariff hikes amounting to a 30% increase to power, 40% increase to water and 25% increase to sewerage charges.
“Territorians are starting to receive their bills with another 5% price hike – and are feeling the pain of the successive revenue grab from the CLP Government,” Ms Manison said.
“The power, water and sewerage price hikes are hurting Territory families and Territory businesses.
“Before the latest 5% increase hit, the CLP’s increases had ripped an extra $151 million from the pockets of Territorians, with power tariff revenue directly raising $115M.
“This is $151 million taken from family budgets and does not account for the flow-on effects to goods and services where businesses passed on the tariff increases.
“Territory families are struggling under these massive power, water and sewerage hikes and businesses are doing it tough.
“Every day we hear from Territorians struggling to pay their bills and considering packing up and leaving the Territory.”
Ms Manison said the CLP was elected on a promise to reduce the cost of living – yet they did exactly the opposite, putting profits before people.
“Territorians are rightly concerned that the CLP has increased tariffs to fatten PowerWater profits to ready it for sale, and privatisation will lead to more price hikes, job cuts and reduced reliability.”
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, today said Adam Giles failed to defend his Government in a motion of No Confidence debate in Parliament today.
Ms Fyles said it was extraordinary that Mr Giles failed to contribute to the debate and respond to unprecedented criticism of his failure by Labor, Independent and CLP Government backbencher Robyn Lambley.
"Labor introduced the serious No Confidence motion on behalf of Territorians who are fed up with the chaos, dysfunction and infighting of the CLP Government," Ms Fyles said.
“Territorians have been shown contempt again by the Giles Government when they failed to defend their Government today - leaving the lone wolf John Elferink to defend the indefensible; their bad policy decisions, chaos, infighting and dysfunction."
CLP Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, contributed to the debate by saying ‘this is a very important motion because despite what we’d like to present to the public we all know that the political instability within our government remains unresolved.’
‘Adam Giles was voted out of the position of Chief Minister on the 2nd February just 22 days’ ago. 9 members of his team decided that they no longer had faith in his leadership. 9 out of 14 CLP Parliamentary Wing members voted to have him removed from the position of Chief Minister …. His colleagues genuinely thought he had lost touch with average Territorians, he was arrogant and his general dishonesty was eroding any respect we had for him.’
‘International convention is such that once a government leader has lost the majority support of his or her colleagues, the resign. We were advised this was unprecedented in the history of Australian political history that a leader not resign under these circumstances but Adam Giles did not resign …Instead he threatened that he would prefer to bring down our government and take us to an early election rather than resign.’
‘In addition to sacking me from Cabinet, Adam Giles sacked my adviser, a gay gentleman with a wealth of experience as a ministerial adviser, and to top it off he also sacked a disabled woman I specifically employed when I was the Minister for Disability Services.’
‘Adam Giles is not the legitimate leader of this government. No vote has been taken in the parliamentary wing since 2 February 2015. Willem Westra van Holthe remains the anointed leader based on that vote. The truth is on 3 February Adam Giles threatened his way into remaining as leader in the subsequent parliamentary wing meeting. He threatened to bring the government down and take us to an early election just 22 days’ ago rather than conceive he lost support of nine out of 14 members of the parliamentary wing.’
‘I have no faith in a government led by Adam Giles. I have stated publicly I believe Adam Giles has no integrity. I stand by that statement and that alone is enough to mean he should not hold a position of community leadership’.
‘Certain members of this government and even the federal parliament do not seem to understand the community expects more from its leaders than getting drunk at topless bars of telling bare-faced lies.’
The Member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, said that the CLP, ‘drown under a pile of debris caused by Cyclone Giles’.
Ms Fyles said that Territorians were fed up with the Giles Government cuts to education, health, public service jobs; hikes to power water bills, sale of TIO without a mandate and the ongoing disputes with essential frontline staff.
“An early election is the only way to fix the mess created by Adam Giles and the CLP circus he purports to lead," Ms Fyles said.
“It was extraordinary, and yet another example of the arrogance of the CLP Government, that the majority of CLP members did not speak to the motion and explain to Territorians as to why they should be the Government of the Territory.
“Or is it a case of abstaining from debate as to not further expose the deep divisions of the CLP Government?
"Have the CLP members chosen the route of ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’?”
Member for Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker has called on the NT Government to set up an Emergency Response Centre in Nhulunbuy as a priority in the wake of Cyclone Lam.
Ms Walker said a temporary ERC in Nhulunbuy could provide the critical assistance and disaster recovery services to people in the East Arnhem region affected by Cyclone Lam.
"We still await news from some communities about the extent of damage from the cyclone which even though downgraded is still active," Ms Walker said.
"Establishing an Emergency Response Centre in Nhulunbuy, the major centre in closest proximity to the affected regions, will enable a timely and coordinated response to remote communities as they come to grips with the cyclone damage.
"Over the last couple of days I have been able to maintain phone contact with a number of remote communities including the coastal homelands of Mapuru and Nyinyikay which also bore the brunt of the cyclone.
"Residents there report they are safe and well.
"Little detail is coming from Galiwin’ku at this stage though I understand there are thankfully no reports of injuries.
"However concerns remain about the extent of the damage with at least six homes destroyed; power lines down and extensive debris across the community.
"Thanks and praise goes to police and emergency services personnel, staff from the Bureau of Meteorology and residents right across Arnhemland for their timely and calm preparations which no doubt minimised potential harm and made sure residents were as safe as possible.
"Grave concerns remain, however, for Galiwn'ku residents in particular, and it is vitally important that when safe to do so, a full assessment of community needs is fully resourced so that post recovery plans are put in to place as soon as possible.
"Our people are strong, brave and resilient but will need a whole-of- government support and effort to fully recover.”
Ms Walker said she was pleased to hear that the new housing built to code under Labor had stood up well in such destructive winds.
"Good shelter is essential in our coastal communities and it reinforces the need for a continued housing program," Ms Walker said.
Assaults in Darwin are up 8.4% while Motor Vehicle Theft was up 22.8% in Darwin and a staggering 44.9% in Palmerston.
“The CLP’s law and order policy seems to be finding two dates that show the best reduction in figures, rather than having any real ideas to prevent crime in the first place.”
“Temporary Beat Locations (TBL’s) have been a success in lowering crime statistics – but they are unsustainable – the cost - both in dollars and resources from Police - makes them just that – temporary.
“The CLP need to tell us what their long term solution to alcohol related crime is and it can’t just be turning a T into a P and calling them Permanent Beat Locations.
Territorians know that there is a crime and alcohol problem in the Territory and they want answers – not police checking licenses at bottle shops.
If they want to stop banned drinkers bring back the BDR and free up police to get back to doing police work – not being bouncers.
Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, has called on the CLP Government to respond to growing community concern over the epidemic of methamphetamine “Ice” abuse in the Territory.
Ms Lawrie has asked for the immediate establishment an “Ice Room” at Royal Darwin Hospital which has construction underway now to expand the Emergency Department.
Ms Lawrie has also called for an interagency taskforce of Police, Health and the Department of Children and Families to recommend urgent actions to tackle this scourge.
“Territory families and frontline workers are dealing with a growing Ice epidemic that is affecting and harming Territorians,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Ice related property crime is also on the rise with Territory Police confirming that Ice users are motivated to steal to support their drug habits. (NT News 8 January 2015)
“Immediate focussed action is needed to combat this growing crisis.”
Ms Lawrie questioned Adam Giles in Parliament Question Time today about whether he would immediately implement measures to tackle the scourge of Ice in the Territory.
“The first step that needs immediate action is improving facilities for medical staff to manage patients on Ice who present to their Emergency Departments,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Nurses and doctors on the frontline need support and appropriate facilities to treat patients that present to them while under the influence of Ice. This facility is critical for the safety of hospital staff and patients.”
Ms Lawrie said that the Chief Minister was failing to understand the need for a multi-faceted approach that included Police, Health and support services for families.
“A multi-agency taskforce consider education and awareness, training for frontline professionals and support services. Who do families turn to and what support can they receive for early recognition and intervention?” Ms Lawrie asked.
“Our Police and nurses are doing a great job in tough circumstances. Let’s give them the tools and support they deserve. Let’s help families who are suffering the consequences of this scourge.”
The Leader of the Opposition, Delia Lawrie, today gave notice of a no-confidence motion against the Government which will be debated next Tuesday.
“Territorians have lost confidence in Adam Giles and his CLP Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“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.
“Territorians are fed up with the CLP Government’s constant infighting, dysfunction and chaos.
“The events of the last couple of weeks have proven to Territorians that they are not a priority for Adam Giles and his CLP Government.”
Ms Lawrie said Territory Labor has listened to Territorians and if given the opportunity is ready to govern for Territorians.
“In Government Territory Labor will work to undo the damage to the Territory caused by Adam Giles and the CLP Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Labor would halt the CLP’s privatisation push and immediately review crippling PowerWater tariff hikes that are an intolerable cost of living burden for families and businesses.
“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'd 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, QLD and WA governments to implement the recommendations of Pivot North to deliver an affordable public insurance model that promotes investment in Northern Australia giving families and businesses the insurance coverage they need.”
Ms Lawrie said Labor in Government would work with school communities, the Australian Education Union, COGSO and our educators to reinvest in Education to secure a better future for our children.
“We'd restore integrity to Government and appointments based on good governance rather than the jobs for mates approach of the CLP Government,” Ms Lawrie said.
“We will return to working with our fine Police and restore the Separation of Powers so disgracefully torn down by the CLP.
“The first legislation we will introduce will be compensation for our firefighters with cancer and it will be retrospective.
“We would get on and build the Palmerston hospital - fast-tracking construction rather than bogging it down in the quicksand of private operator models that fail to meet the needs of Territorians.
“We will work in partnership with Indigenous organisations and Land Councils to realise the vast potential of Indigenous Territorians, restoring respect rather than the CLP divide and conquer mentality.”
Labor is committed to reinstating funding to the Environment sector and will establish an Office of Climate change to drive investment in renewable energy.
“We would address the tragedy of the Ice epidemic by immediately installing an Ice room at RDH and establishing an Inter-Agency Taskforce 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,” Ms Lawrie said.
“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 will be a government for all Territorians that promotes harmony and cultural diversity and we will introduce 18C legislation to make racial vilification unlawful.
“We will consult with and listen to Territorians.
“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.”
Shadow Minister for Government Accountability, Natasha Fyles, today said the Opposition welcomes Adam Giles’ backflip on rushing ahead to privatise Darwin Ports.
“The Territory Opposition has consistently called on the Government to halt their asset sales program and consult with Territorians,” Ms Fyles said.
“Territorians know they cannot trust Adam Giles to operate in their best interests, given his track record of rushing to privatise TIO without any form of public consultation.
“We are yet to see the terms of reference and details of the committee, but on first glance we wonder if five weeks is long enough for proper consultation.
“This timing suggests the Chief Minister is engaging in a cynical exercise with the report due on the eve of the March sittings, ready in time to push through the sale legislation.
“A good place to start is for the government to immediately release its business case and cost/benefit analysis, which they should have done before they announced this late last year.
“While it is great to see Adam Giles is trying to change his approach but Territorians are not naïve and know that the cautionary tale of the fate of the now disposed QLD LNP Leader, Campbell Newman, would be influencing Giles’ about face.”
Ms Fyles said the Privatisation of Darwin Port will have a detrimental effect on the cost of living for Territorians as Territorians will foot the bill of freight increases of commercial rates.
Ms Fyles said the Darwin hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Privatisation of state and territory assets and new infrastructure will be held on Monday.
“Territorians do not want their public assets privatised,” Ms Fyles said.
“The Senate Inquiry will hear evidence about the CLP’s actions to sell TIO without a public mandate under the guise of attracting federal government incentive payments and concerns about the potential sale of other Territory assets.”