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BUDGET REPLY SPEECH 2015
BUDGET REPLY SPEECH 2015

Mr Michael Gunner MLA - Leader of the Opposition

Budget Reply Speech - Wednesday 29 April, 2015

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

Introduction

Mr Speaker,

I rise today to speak on behalf of the thousands of Territorians who know they deserve a better Government.

Territorians deserve a Government with integrity and a Chief Minister that they can trust.

A Government that understands education is the key to unlocking the potential we all share.

A Government that has a plan to create and secure safe, high wage jobs for all Territorians.

A Government that invests in delivering health services right across the Territory because it’s the fair and decent thing to do.

And a Government that trusts and respects local decision making.

Mr Speaker

Labor is the party of jobs, growth, health and education.

We share the confidence of Territorians about our future and the determination to tackle the many challenges that lie ahead.

Today I will outline the values that would underpin the Labor Government I want to lead, and begin to give shape to some of the key policies we will develop with Territorians over the next 16 months.

These values will underpin Labor budgets.

We will listen to the aspirations of Territorians, and channel their ingenuity and creativity into strong policies for good government.

We look forward to having this mature conversation.  

 

Restoring Integrity to Government

Mr Speaker

Territorians want and deserve a Government they can trust.

An open, accountable and transparent Government is essential for this trust to exist.

Without confidence in the integrity of public officials and without confidence in Government processes, it will not be possible for the Territory to meet the considerable challenges that we face and to grasp the opportunities that we share.

Not only is open government the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

Open Government and the trust that it builds is the bedrock for the partnerships and collaboration we need as a community to improve the lives of all Territorians.

It is the only way we take advantage of modern technology and find new ways of connecting, engaging and organising Government.

Open and accountable government is a core Labor value.

That’s why we passed the Territory’s first ever Freedom of Information laws and introduced the first budget estimates process.

When the CLP came to power in 2012, they inherited the most open and transparent system of Government in the Territory’s history.

... and they have trashed it every day since.

Territorians do not trust this Chief Minister or his Government and hold no faith in the political institutions which are supposed to serve them.

Trust is critical in this budget, as it has been framed by the Chief Minister and the Treasurer. And they are asking Territorians to trust them to deliver the services Territorians need.

But they cannot- there is a trust deficit between this CLP Government and Territorians.

And there is a trust deficit between the Chief Minister and his colleagues.

The Member for Araluen said, and I quote:

“I have no faith in a government led by Adam Giles. I have stated publicly that I believe Adam Giles has no integrity. I stand by that statement. That alone is enough to mean he should not hold a position of community leadership.”

She went on to say:

“In addition to having no faith in the Chief Minister, I have no faith in the Treasurer, nor do I believe he is an appropriate person to be a leader in our community.”

Removing the stain this lack of integrity has left across our body politic requires a new approach to governing the Territory.

An approach that restores integrity, shines light on the processes of government and regains the community’s trust in our public officials and government.

Labor has begun to outline how we would begin this task in Government.

On coming to office Labor will introduce an independent body to deal with allegations of corruption, a body at arms lengths from politicians and public officials.

It will be called the Northern Territory Anti-corruption Commission.

This body will be structured to suit Territory circumstances.

My colleagues and I will seek input from Territorians into its shape and practice.

A body such as this is now an important feature of jurisdictions around the country except the Northern Territory- and this is a situation that should not continue.

Mr Speaker

I have publicly outlined reforms to overseas travel by Ministers.

To restore public trust in Ministerial travel a Labor Government will ensure that:

  • All travel will undergo evaluation from the public and private sectors regarding the benefit of the travel to the Northern Territory.
  • These assessments will be made available to the public.
  • Prior to departure, the Minister's itinerary will be published, removing the ability to sneak off on secret junkets.
  • On return from overseas travel a full Parliamentary report on the trip will be provided by the Minister and will be made available to the public.
  • Costs associated with the Minister's trip will be made available to the public.

This is surely a basic set of rules that any government committed to accountability would undertake. Only a Government allergic to accountability would object to these rules.

The community must have confidence that all Territorians are treated without fear or favour by Government, and that the resources of Government are always employed in the public interest. They have the right to know that their dollars are being spent properly.

We will have further to say in the coming months about how we intend to restore integrity to Government and we look forward to discussing and refining our plans with Territorians.

 

Education

Mr Speaker

Labor believes that education and training are the most important keys to changing people’s lives.

Unlike the CLP, we will invest in them.

Invest in the knowledge, creativity and ingenuity of Territorians. This is the best insurance in a complex, uncertain and volatile world.

And it’s the only way we can hope to fulfil our potential as a community.

My government will create a world class education system.

It will be planned in consultation with the educational experts we have and the community as a whole.

It will be long term. It will be a long journey and it will take time. We acknowledge that there are no quick fixes in education.

We will ensure good evaluation processes are also in place.

Investing in education today requires patience to see the results but we will make that investment. 

The focus of our investment will be in our schools.

This government has made a lot of mistakes but none has been graver or more damaging to the future of our community than the attack on Territory schools.

I see it in every school council that I attend, every assembly, every event.

My colleagues and I hear it in the anxiety expressed to us by parents, teachers and principals.

Schools feel battered.

Educators feel they have borne the main brunt of every cut the government has made.

The CLP has ripped $82 million in real term from Government education since 2012.

The latest CLP budget cuts $7.5 million from Pre Schools and cuts $12 million from Primary schools.

Mr Speaker, this must stop.

I will detail Labor’s plans for investment in schools over the coming months.

I will do so in consultation with educators, students and parents.

 

Children

Mr Speaker

In addition to investing in our schools  Labor will be investing in knowledge, science and creativity right across the community, economy and at all stages of peoples life – before school, pre and primary school, secondary school, university, training and lifelong learning.

But I intend to define the next Labor Government by its commitment to the children of the Northern Territory.

The years between birth and four years of age are the most crucial in determining future educational, health and social achievement.

Get it wrong in these years and the impact can be life-long.

Get it right and the impact WILL be life-long.

I intend to lead a government that heavily invests in our youngest Territorians.

Just as our government, public service, non-government organisations and community come together to meet challenges such as cyclones I will bring the Territory together to address the future of our children.

It will be done collaboratively, in partnership with parents, educators, non-government organisations and service providers.

It will be done through engaging the Australian Government.

Labor will have a detailed, integrated, whole of government policy that drives our support for children.

This early childhood policy will have the goal of ensuring that on day one of term one of year one at school every child is able to learn, ready to learn and given the chance to unlock their potential.

This policy will work to support all children across the Territory.

It will ensure that those children who begin life behind due to social circumstances will be picked up and supported.

We will ensure that those who don’t reach the benchmarks by age 4 continue to get the support they need in the following early years.

It will also ensure that those who begin life comfortable, loved, protected and supported have the support to excel.

Investing in this stage of Territorians’ lives is the only way we will start to turn around the crime figures, educational disengagement, poor health, anti-social behaviour and substance abuse that confronts our community.

It is not just an investment in the future of those children, it is an investment in the future harmony, cohesion and productivity of our society.

It is a long term challenge.

And it will be hard.

But it is the right thing to do and Labor will do it.

This package will form a centre piece of our policy work over the next 12 months.

Among many other things it will see increased investment in the Families as First Teachers policy, another Labor success story.

It will ensure that all government agencies act together in a joined up way.

It will remove the silos between health and education and will focus on the child and their needs.

And we will work seamlessly with all levels of Government.

I look forward to detailing the elements of this policy in the future.

 

Health

The right to be healthy and to be able to access quality health services is a core Labor value – Labor in the Northern Territory and Federally has a strong track record of delivering better health services.

From delivering Medicare and saving it from attacks at the Commonwealth level, to building the Alan Walker Cancer centre, securing funding for the Palmerston Hospital and investing expanding health services in the bush, Labor stands for healthier Territorians.

Investing in healthier Territorians is also the corner stone of a smarter, more prosperous and more harmonious community.

The 2015 Budget fails the health test.

We know that health costs rise higher than inflation.  You really need to put in around 7% extra every year just to keep pace.

Last year the Government spent $70 million on primary health care last year. This year they are budgeting $64 million.

Our Top End Hospitals have been cut by $4m.

When you combine this budget with proposed slashing of Federal funding to this critical area there must be alarm about the support for health services.

The Federal government’s shift in hospital funding from an activity-based model that recognises the reality of health needs across the Territory, to a population based model with our funding determined by numbers is a bad, bad decision especially for the Territory.

I have outlined Labor’s approach to shifting the long term effort by investing in Territory children. We must tackle the causes of ill-health before it reaches our health clinics and hospitals.

In the meantime I expect Government to get on with the job of providing decent health services and building the Palmerston Hospital, hospital construction that would be well underway under a Labor Government.

The CLP has missed every deadline for the Palmerston Hospital.

Labor wants the government to get on with its promise of an upgrade to the existing children’s ward. We have seen little progress on this front.

Similarly we have seen no progress in the development of a new private hospital in Alice Springs, as promised by the CLP.

There is no progress in securing new funding for additional aged care beds, especially in Darwin, to help provide adequate services for our ageing population and reduce bed block in RDH

No movement on the CLP promise of a new Katherine hospital.

No progress in improving morgue facilities in the bush.

Critically we see continuing delays in the CLP accepting $10 million dollars in new federal funding for support of renal patients in the bush.

There have been five ministers for health. And this constant rotation and distraction has removed attention from the work required to get the health job done.

The CLP need to just get on with the job.

The most vulnerable Territorians deserve so much better from their Government.

 

Empowering local decision making

Mr Speaker

How we empower people living in the bush is an important decision for government.

Labor has listened to Territorians in the bush and in Government we will restore local decision making to the people on the ground.

A Labor Government will work with community members, the Chief Magistrate, magistrates and the legal profession to allow local courts to hold community courts where appropriate.

Under this model senior local community members will be invited to assist the court with sentencing. This will help empower community members to participate more fully in the justice system.

This will be a significant formal advancement on the informal arrangements some magistrates and community leaders already have that properly recognises the importance of traditional leadership and decision making.

We recognise every community is different and any move to change current arrangements will be done in careful consultation with communities.

In coming months we will make further announcements regarding restoring local decision to Territorians living in the bush.

 

Jobs and Training

Mr Speaker

Securing safe, well-paying jobs has been the Labor ethos for the 124 years of our existence.

Ensuring that our economy is strong and providing jobs and that people are skilled and ready to take them on is at the core of Labor’s values.

We have a solid record of driving training and job creation.

We have delivered major projects against the odds.

We delivered large infrastructure budgets focussed on supporting small and medium sized businesses as well as large projects because we acknowledge that they are the life blood of jobs across the Territory.

However, investing in infrastructure alone is not enough. Government’s need to invest in training so that Territorians can reap the benefit of the jobs that have been created.

One of the most important tasks a Government can undertake is to transition a student from school to a job or an unemployed person from unemployment to work.

In Government Labor will re-introduce Jobs Plans that focus on strategies to provide strong jobs growth and set clear jobs and training targets. That plan will be developed in partnership with industry, unions, investors and the community.

But critically, that plan will be backed up by a training plan that develops and skills Territorians from school age through their life.

The development of the Northern Territory will be hampered if we do not invest in training.

Labor will train Territorians to take on the jobs created by economic growth. Territorians must benefit from the riches produced by growth. Our priority will be to ensure that local people, as much as possible, benefit from the available jobs.

I went to school in the Territory, university in the Territory, got a job in the Territory and I want other Territory kids to have the same opportunity.

To achieve this Labor will invest in vocational learning and vocational education and training in our schools.

70 per cent of Territory students transition from school to a job or further training at the end of their 12 years of education.

We will ensure that those young people are supported by providing the opportunity for them to gain skills they need.

We will bring our schools, industry and business together to ensure that these pathways to the workforce and into the economy are clear and supported.

Mr Speaker

I believe that planning is essential for the post INPEX construction Territory economy.

We are already seeing the effects of this reality. In its budget yesterday the Government sought to diversify the economy.

I support this approach.

What is required is a sensible plan, created together with the business community and clearly articulated to Territorians.

The Chief Minister has to give up his addiction to thought bubble policies and quick fix deals.

The future economic growth of the Territory depends on proper planning.

I know that there are jobs to be created in the pastoral and rural industries.

There is no doubt that the efforts of successive governments in creating strong overseas live cattle trade markets as well as the growth in demand for meat by the growing middle class of Asia provides a shining opportunity for our beef industries.

Government must continue to cultivate those markets and I support the efforts by the Deputy Chief Minister to do so.

Importantly Government must have the infrastructure in place to ensure that the beef industry can get its product to markets- and that is through better roads and improved port infrastructure.

Roads are vital to all areas of the economy and continued investment in roads will have a strong push from a Labor Government.

However, unlike the CLP, we will not be driving the expansion of the Port by selling it or selling a lease. Our recent study of Ports shows there is an alternative approach.

Beyond the beef industry the rural sector in general provides strong opportunities. I understand the significant work that is being done to develop horticulture in Central Australia. This is particularly the case with new industries such as almonds.

Work is also being done in the west of the Territory linking us to the Ord project.

Labor supports the work being done by the people engaged with the Developing the North program. This combined public sector and industry approach is a good one.

Strengthening the tourism sector, developing the relationship with Asia, supporting the expansion of the mining industry and ensuring that our red tape is not a hindrance to development has been a bipartisan approach for decades. This will not change.

We may disagree from time to time about some of the elements but Labor believes in jobs and development and we clearly demonstrated that in government.

In looking at these larger industries we cannot ignore smaller industries including important micro industry development in indigenous communities.

Labor supports the work being done to develop community based fisheries industry across the Top End.

Territory Labor also has a strong record of protecting and looking after workers through appropriate conditions and safeguards – including a fair and decent workers compensation scheme.

Territorians injured and incapacitated deserve fair and just compensation.

It’s the fair thing to do. It’s the decent thing to do. It’s the Labor thing to do.

The efforts by the CLP to water this down through the changes to the Territory workers compensation scheme passed just weeks ago will be repealed by a Labor Government.

 

Budget Responses

Mr Speaker

Today’s budget, especially the fiscal position of the Government is not the result of planned economic management by the Country Liberals.

It is about spending the returns achieved by selling off the TIO.

This is the same approach that the Government will take to other Territory assets and it is not supported by the Labor Party.

Selling off the silver ware has never worked as a strategy for proper economic management.

It certainly does not get to the underlying issues that Territorians struggle with each day.

The Government’s fiscal position going forwarded is also predicated on GST figures that I would best describe as vulnerable.

Should Western Australia get its way or the national mood on the GST carve up change then those very minimal surplus figures are unlikely to be achieved.

The 2015 budget indicates our GST position shifted negatively due to population decreases. Population growth is predicted to be slow.

This will damage our fiscal position over time and says to me that the Government needs to have a strategy in place to attract more people to live and work in the Territory as a matter of urgency.

One of the key underlying reasons why we are losing population is because of the cost of living, especially the cost of power.

The budget has failed to address this.

It has failed to reduce crime by 10% every year.

It’s failed to provide the promised infrastructure in bush communities. It lacks the innovation required to address the growing public housing waiting lists.

This all stands in stark contrast to the push by CLP Ministers to travel in high class around the world.

We’ve seen the Minister for Health spend $45 000 and six weeks in the United States while the child protection system crumbles around him.

We’ve had the Minister for Education jet between London, New York and Honolulu, at a time when he has cut the budget to schools.

And we’ve seen the Minister for Housing spend $50 000 living it up at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, while she depletes the Territory’s public housing stock, and breaks her commitment to deliver housing in remote communities.

Nothing could paint a clearer picture of the CLP Government’s priorities than this obscene waste of taxpayers’ money.

Territorians know they deserve better.

 

Conclusion

Madam Speaker, the Territory has a bright future.

We are a place of incredible opportunity.

But we also face many challenges.

Only a government with the right values and the right priorities can work with Territorians to meet these challenges and opportunities.

Territorians cannot afford an arrogant and untrustworthy CLP Government, focused on themselves and more interested in junkets overseas than investment in jobs, health and education.

Labor can restore trust in Government.

Labor will invest in Territory children.

Labor will invest in jobs, health and education.

We will listen and consult as we develop the policies Territorians want and the Territory needs.

We look forward to continuing this conversation with Territorians as we work together to build a better future for all.

 


RESTORING INTEGRITY TO GOVERNMENT
RESTORING INTEGRITY TO GOVERNMENT

Leader of the Opposition, Michael Gunner, said today that Territory Labor will restore integrity, trust and accountability in Government.

“There is no question that under the CLP the public’s trust in Government is at an all-time low,” said Michael Gunner.

“The CLP's numerous travel scandals provide a clear point of difference between Labor and the CLP.

“My team is committed to a continuous package of reforms called 'Restoring Integrity in Government'.

“Territory Labor will be making regular announcements about the content of our ‘Restoring Integrity in Government’ package.

In relation to overseas Ministerial travel in Government, as part of the Restoring Integrity in Government reforms, Territory Labor will:

  • Undertake rigorous evaluation from the public and private sectors about how the proposed overseas Ministerial travel will benefit the Northern Territory.
  • These assessments will be made available to the public.
  • Prior to departure, the Minister's itinerary will be published, removing the ability to sneak off on secret junkets.
  • On return from overseas travel a full Parliamentary report on the trip will be provided by the Minister and will be made available to the public.
  • Costs associated with the Minister's trip will be made available to the public.

Michael Gunner said that these rules apply effective immediately to overseas Shadow Ministerial travel taken by Labor Opposition.

“Territory Labor will create an unprecedented level of openness and accountability because Territorians want and deserve a Government they can trust,” said Michael Gunner.

Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794


NEW LABOR SHADOW GOVERNMENT
NEW LABOR SHADOW GOVERNMENT

Leader of the Opposition, Michael Gunner, today announced details of the new Labor Shadow Cabinet which includes a new shadow portfolio: Open and Transparent Government.

Michael Gunner said that the new shadow portfolio is key to returning trust to elected officials.

“Territorians want and deserve a Government they can trust and an open, accountable and transparent Government is essential for this trust to exist,” said Michael Gunner.

“Open Government and the trust that it builds creates the bedrock for the partnerships and collaboration we need across our community if we are to improve the lives of all Territorians.

“Without confidence in the integrity of public officials and Government processes, it is impossible for the Territory to meet the considerable challenges that we face and to grasp the amazing opportunities that we share.

“Not only is open government the right thing to do, it’s the smartest way to run Government.

“I lead a re-energised team with a passion to do great things in the Territory and hold a bad CLP Government to account,” said Michael Gunner.

Media Contact: Gino Luglietti 0401 119 794

 

Territory Labor Shadow Ministry follows.

 

 

 

Territory Labor Shadow Ministry

Michael Gunner
Leader of the Opposition
Major Projects
Northern Australia Development
Shadow Treasurer
Police Fire and Emergency Services
Open and Transparent Government
Business

 

Lynne Walker
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Health
Tourism
Public Employment
Statehood
Women’s Policy
Attorney-General and Justice

 

Natasha Fyles
Opposition Whip
Corrections
Alcohol Policy
Racing Gaming and Licensing
Sport and Recreation
Lands and Planning
Infrastructure
Climate Change

 

Gerry McCarthy
Employment and Training
Science and Innovation
Local Government
Community Services
Natural Resources
Environment
Arts and Museums

 

Ken Vowles
Indigenous Policy
Regional Economic Development
Resources
Mines and Energy
Primary Industries
Fisheries
Transport
Asian Relations and Trade
Central Australia

 

Nicole Manison
Education
Heritage
Parks and Wildlife
Essential Services
Defence Support
Government Accountability

 

Lauren Moss
Child Protection
Family and Children’s Services
Disability and Mental Health
Multicultural Affairs
Senior and Young Territorians
Corporate and Information Services
Public and Affordable Housing

 


HUGE INCREASES IN TERRITORY BREAK-INS
HUGE INCREASES IN TERRITORY BREAK-INS

Shadow Minister for Police, Lynne Walker, today said the NT crime statistics released today show there have been alarming increases in property crime in the Territory.

The NT crime statistics show a massive increase in break-ins across the Territory. There has been a 23.7 percent increase in domestic break-ins Territory wide; with an increase of 67.9 percent in Darwin,73.2 percent in Palmerston. Along with a rise in commercial break-ins of 103.7 percent in Palmerston, and 20.7 percent in Alice Springs.

Vehicle thefts have also increased by 27.9 percent; with a 38.4 percent increase in Darwin, a 55.8 percent increase in Palmerston. 

Ms Walker said recent events have also highlighted the worrying levels of property crime and youth antisocial behaviour.

“Sadly many Territorians know from their own experiences that more needs to be done to tackle property crime in the Territory,” Ms Walker said.

“The Easter break saw increases in criminal activity, especially in Alice Springs, which has led to the formation of a taskforce to identify the root causes of this activity.

“The CLP Governments cuts to youth services, cuts to school holiday programs, are clear areas that need to be addressed by this taskforce to prevent future criminal activity.”

“While alcohol related crime has reduced statistically on the whole for the Territory, it is still a major issue for Darwin - which saw a 5.8 percent increase - and Palmerston, where access to alcohol by problem drinkers remains unfettered,” Ms Walker said.

“Territorians can see with their own eyes the scourge of alcohol fuelled violence and domestic violence in the Territory.

“The CLP Government’s limited alcohol management policy, of posting Territory Police at the front of bottle shops, while making small statistical gains, it cannot be ignored that it is draining on police resources, and is not sustainable.

“The Member for Katherine, Willem Westra van Holthe, revealed the Katherine Alcohol Rehabilitation facility will not be going ahead further narrowing the CLP’s armory to tackle problem drinking to unsustainable Temporary Beat Locations.

“The CLP Government needs to find a solution that is broad and holistic and acknowledge the constant recommendations by experts and calls to reinstate the Banned Drinkers Register – such as that by outgoing Police Association President, Vince Kelly.

“Territorians want the CLP Government to move away from their kneejerk reactions to tackling crime and adopt well thought, multifaceted long term strategies.”

 

Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667


ADDRESS THE CAUSE OF YOUTH ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
ADDRESS THE CAUSE OF YOUTH ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Lauren Moss, today welcomed the announcement of a holistic approach to youth at risk initiated by the NT Police, however condemned the comments in recent days by Minister Elferink, using a fear based campaign around child removal.

"It is simply outrageous that the Chief Minister and Minister for Children and Families, John Elferink, are leaping to the removal of children from their families in response to increased anti-social behaviour by children and young people. A fear campaign threatening removal of children does not get to the heart of these issues," Ms Moss said.

"The Minister has previously attributed an increase in child protection notifications to overzealous reporting by Police and yet now wants to use child removal as a threat.

"The care and protection of children should always be first and foremost about the welfare of children.

"If children are at risk, our Police and child protection workers should be attending to that as a part of their normal work; not as part of a political law and order campaign.

"Alice Springs social workers have been calling on the government to support and maintain youth outreach services that help identify children at risk. Instead of a measured and well informed plan all we have seen from the government is a knee jerk reaction to a known problem, threatening to take children into state care.

"Under this CLP government child protection is under increasing pressure with an $8m budget cut and a rapidly growing number of unresolved cases already in the system.”

Ms Moss said the CLP Government cut funding for youth and community services, including youth outreach services operating at night.

“The CLP Government’s cuts to youth services, cut support for school holiday programs, and policy decisions that put front line police officers in front of bottle shops, have contributed and exacerbated this issue,” Ms Moss said.

"It is time for the Minister to stop his grand standing, to take his responsibilities seriously and to address the increasingly slow follow up of real child protection notifications and act on the ‘Growing Them Strong, Together’ recommendations.”

 

Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667


ADAM GILES MUST COME CLEAN ON FOUNDATION 51

Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie said today the Chief Minister must end the cover up on CLP slush fund Foundation 51 and finally tell Territorians the truth about its shady operations.

   Adam Giles has persistently denied that there is any relationship between the CLP and Foundation 51 – but this is not true.

In the Legislative Assembly on 7 May 2014 Adam Giles said “There is no direct connection between Foundation 51 and the Party.”

“But late funding disclosure returns lodged with the NT Electoral Commission indicate the CLP received hundreds of thousands of dollars of support from Foundation 51.

“The Chief Minister is a member of the CLP Management Committee and it is inconceivable he did not know about Foundation 51 donations to the CLP,” Ms Lawrie said.

A leaked email from Foundation 51 Director Graeme Lewis to then CLP President Braedon Early indicates that as long ago as November 2012 the CLP Executive Committee was aware of the extent of the financial support Foundation 51was providing to the CLP.

But this financial support was not disclosed as required by the Electoral Act until the CLP was pressured do so by leaked emails, questions in Parliament from the Labor Opposition and media scrutiny.

In the email Graeme Lewis stated “Like you, I will be mortified if this information becomes widely known. It must be closely held for obvious reasons.”

And in an email on 26 March 2014 to the Chief Minister, Graeme Lewis said that “He (the Chief Minister) and I have on many occasions discussed the matter of the Foundation and he is well disposed to having the Foundation continue its activity.”

"The CLP is adopting a deliberate strategy to distance itself from the Foundation 51 but Territorians will see through this deception” Ms Lawrie said.

“The Chief Minister should tell Territorians and the Legislative Assembly the truth about Foundation 51 and stop the deception.”

Foundation 51 is being investigated by the Australian and Northern Territory Electoral Commissions and the NT Police.

Media Contact:  Sonia Peters 0437 762 881


GILES FAILS TO DELIVER ON PROMISED EXTRA POLICE

Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie today said the Giles CLP Government’s 2015 Budget fails to deliver the 120 extra police promised by the CLP before the last election.

“The Chief Minister and former Police Minister has failed to deliver on a key promise to the police and our community, when across the Territory we are seeing rises in crime, with house break-ins, car thefts, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled assaults.

“The budget funding announced does not even fill current vacancies in the force – let alone the 120 extra police promised.”

Police numbers have gone backwards under the CLP, last year the Police Annual Report showed numbers fell by 61.

 “The CLP are running out of time to deliver this commitment before the next election, and this cynical ploy indicates they have no intention of keeping to their commitment.

“This budget announcement is a slap in the face to our hard-working police, right across the Territory, and is another example of how the CLP can’t be trusted.

The Police Association, representing police members, have clearly identified “the government is not meeting its election commitment, it’s a commitment that they made and now they’re trying to spin their way out of it.” *

Police Association President Vince Kelly also said, “a bit of honesty and integrity from these guys would go a long way or alternatively simply meet your election promise.” *

“Our police force is bearing the brunt of poor CLP policy on alcohol that is seeing police officers being used as a replacement for the Banned Drinkers Register – it is unsustainable and is negatively affecting police resourcing and morale.

“Last year’s $9 million in funding cuts to crime prevention and general policing under the CLP is adding to the difficulties for police to respond to crime,” Ms Lawrie said.

In Government, Labor delivered an extra 434 police officers and a further 94 extra officers, funded by the Federal Government, providing in total 494 additional police, growing police numbers by almost 50 per cent from 2001.

* Mix radio, 9 April 2015

Media Contact:  Sonia Peters 0437 762 881


GILES FAILURE ON ALICE CRIME

 

Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said today the Giles CLP Government’s failure to address crime and antisocial behaviour in Alice Springs was impacting on local business and residents.

 

“It is an indictment on Adam Giles and his failed CLP policies that a weekend where taxis were pulled off the streets because of rock throwing, visitors assaulted, houses and businesses vandalised and broken into and large groups of young people were roaming the streets of the CBD late at night can be described as nothing unusual,” Ms Lawrie said.

 

“Adam Giles has a litany of broken promises to Alice Springs and sadly it is residents and businesses who are paying the price.

 

“Youth after hours services were slashed by the CLP Government and the results of this ill thought out policy are obvious with young people out on the streets late at night, reports of vandalism and graffiti and businesses and residents calling for action.

 

“Earlier this year Adam Giles promised funding for youth services – but money has still not been released.

 

“He says the Town Council will be conducting youth patrols with Congress, but there are few details on how this approach will work, when it will start and where the funding is coming from.

 

“Even members of his own Government are saying they got it wrong, with the CLP Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley saying it was a mistake to scrap the YSOS program.

 

“Adam Giles refuses to even acknowledge there are issues with crime in Alice Springs, instead making claims that the town has never had it so good.

 

“He is arrogant and out of touch with what is going on in his own backyard and Central Australia deserves better.’

 

Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241211


CLP FAILS CHILD PROTECTION

Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie has called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to urgently reinstate child protection and early intervention funding to address the child protection crisis.

“The number of child protection notifications falling through the cracks is at crisis levels, and on current trends will more than triple since the CLP were elected,” Ms Lawrie said.

“This follows savage CLP funding cuts that has seen massive job and capacity loss across the child protection system, critically at the important preventative end.”

“Latest figures indicate 1347 child protection notifications were not completed within the mandated 28 day timeframe in just the first six months of this financial year, up from 389 over the 12 months ending 30 June 2012.

“Every notification requires a response and it is not good enough for the Minister John Elferink to whitewash these numbers and suggest the problem is due to police over-reporting”

“The CLP have shown the have the wrong priorities. In just this year’s budget $8 million was cut from crucial prevention support services and the agency, while the Chief Minister added $30 million to his department and spends millions on self-promotion.

“The sector has seen significant funding cuts resulting in the loss of preventative programs.

“It has been reported 90 jobs have been lost from within the child protection system, and staff turn-over at 30 per cent, is creating a capacity crisis in the Children and Families Department.

“Caseload targets are 20 per worker, yet it was revealed in the Estimates process last year that under the CLP, some caseworkers had more than 50 cases to manage and no child protection office in the Territory met the target, a situation that has since likely worsened.

“The CLP have abandoned the recommendations of ‘Growing them Strong, Together’ report that focused on building child protection response capacity and early intervention and preventive programs, to prevent child abuse occurring and strengthen parenting support.

“Labor calls for an independent audit of child protection, including action on the ‘Growing them Strong, Together’ recommendations to address the current crisis.

“It is clear the Minister is not up to the job of protecting children when he states the core function of his agency is “the ambulance turning up at the crash scene.” *

(*) John Elferink MLA, Parliamentary record, 10 June 2014

Media contact:  Louise Connor 0438 241 211


NGUKURR SUFFERS CRUEL FUNDING CUTS

Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie has called on Chief Minister Adam Giles explain what he is doing to ensure crucial programs at Ngukurr School aren’t abandoned followingIndigenous Advancement Strategy funding cuts.

“I have been asked by parents at Ngukurr to speak out on behalf of their school to try and save the nutrition program and horse program that have failed to receive important ongoing funding,” Ms Lawrie said.

“I have met with community leaders in Ngukurr who are dismayed and shocked with CLP Senator Nigel Scullion’s decision to cut funding to two key programs supporting students and providing local Indigenous employment.

“The Nutrition program and Horse-Riding programs are delivering great outcomes for children and providing local jobs, but will face closure under the savage IAS cuts.

The Nutrition Program provides breakfast, recess and lunch, it supports five local jobs and is jointly funded by parents and the school, but will lose federal funding of about $200,000 per annum which makes it unaffordable to run.

“This funding decision fails to take into account the fact families are living in very overcrowded conditions, many with family living in the kitchen area that makes it unable to function and it provides a school canteen to ensure children are fed which is crucial to learning outcomes,” Ms Lawrie said.

Ms Lawrie praised the Riding Program which is has created two local jobs and is credited by community leaders as being a great support to school attendance and providing a pathway for students to employment in the cattle industry. This fantastic program is facing the axe due to a $230,000 funding cut.

“Ngukurr School is in the top six of Northern Territory remote schools for student attendance, averaging 74 per cent, yet the programs that support attendance are being cut,” Ms Lawrie said.

“Remote students and local Indigenous jobs are losing out under CLP Senator Nigel Scullion’s cruel funding cuts and the Territory Government need to ensure sustainable funding for these programs. If Senator Scullion ignores this need then the CLP need to ensure funding in this coming Budget.

“The CLP Giles Government received funding under IAS, but Adam Giles is yet to say what that funding is for. Is he willing to ensure these two crucial school programs are funded?

“Adam Giles has broken every promise he’s made to the bush. It’s time he stop the funding cuts to valuable services that support children to achieve great education outcomes and a pathway to employment, while employing local residents.”


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