29 July 2015
Territory Labor Leader, Michael Gunner, welcomed today’s comments by the Independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, supporting Territory Labor’s policy on overseas Ministerial Travel.
“There needs to be more checks and balances. There needs to be 100 per cent accountability. I think what Labor Opposition are proposing is right on the money; reporting before you go and reporting when you come back is a basic necessity in terms of transparency.”
-Robyn Lambley, Independent Member for Araluen, 29 July 2015 – ABC Radio
“I call on Adam Giles and the CLP to adopt Territory Labor’s overseas Ministerial Travel to be open and transparent with Territorians,” said Michael Gunner.
“In relation to overseas Ministerial travel in Government, I recently announced that a Territory Labor Government will:
“There is no question that under the CLP the public’s trust in Government is at an all-time low.
“This policy applies effective immediately to all 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
Today, Labor Leader Michael Gunner announced the next town-hall style forum involving the community and a range of experts, the focus being strengthening transparency and openness in Government
“This is part of our town-hall style forums which we are holding across the Territory on a range of topics across the NT,” Michael Gunner said.
“We will be following on the successful town-hall style forums on Early Childhood Development, again bringing together a panel of experts from a range of fields and the wider community to participate. Labor wants to listen.
“I believe openness, honesty and integrity in government will be one of the key issues in the 2016 NT election. I am committed to returning a sense of trust between elected officials and Territorians.
“Labor has committed to the introduction of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) but there are a range of opinions and comments on what more can and should be done.
“I am seeking public participation in the forum, which will be led by a panel of experts, facilitated by Mr Tas Liveris of the NT Law Society.
“Issues which may be explored include, but not limited to:
WHEN: 6pm, Monday 24 August.
WHERE: Hilton Hotel on Mitchell Street, Darwin City
 Participation on the panel is not taken as an endorsement of Territory Labor but as an expert contribution to debate that will potentially help shape policy.
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
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.
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
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.
I have publicly outlined reforms to overseas travel by Ministers.
To restore public trust in Ministerial travel a Labor Government will ensure that:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Michael Gunner said that these rules apply effective immediately to overseas Shadow Ministerial travel taken by Labor Opposition.
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.
Territory Labor Shadow Ministry follows.
Territory Labor Shadow Ministry
Leader of the Opposition
Northern Australia Development
Police Fire and Emergency Services
Open and Transparent Government
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Attorney-General and Justice
Racing Gaming and Licensing
Sport and Recreation
Lands and Planning
Employment and Training
Science and Innovation
Arts and Museums
Regional Economic Development
Mines and Energy
Asian Relations and Trade
Parks and Wildlife
Family and Children’s Services
Disability and Mental Health
Senior and Young Territorians
Corporate and Information Services
Public and Affordable Housing
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael Gunner, said pressure was mounting on Chief Minister, Adam Giles, to stand aside Attorney-General, John Elferink, over the Peter Maley affair, pending an independent inquiry, following a chorus of criticism from all of the Territory’s law associations.
“The Bar Association, Law Society and NAAJA have all weighed into the controversy,” Mr Gunner said.
“Yesterday on ABC Radio NT Bar Association President John Lawrence made it clear that it was untenable for a magistrate not to sever connections with a political party immediately upon being commissioned as a judicial officer.
“He stated that the longer Attorney-General, John Elferink, resisted calls for an independent inquiry into Peter Maley’s conduct, the more compromised he will be.”
Mr Lawrence said on ABC Radio: “Mr Elferink’s the Attorney General, he’s the first law officer, he has responsibility for the maintenance and the integrity of our legal system. He has to forget now that he’s a CLP Cabinet Minister, his duties now lie pursuant to these same ethics to now look after the integrity of our legal system…”
Mr Gunner said there was great concern within the legal profession. Cecil Black, the Secretary of the NT Law society stated: “Where issues are detrimental to people’s confidence in the Courts it is not in the interests of Northern Territorians that they continue to be fodder for public debate and comment.”
The Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) supported the Bar Association’s call for an inquiry, stating: “NAAJA regards it as appropriate for the NTBA to have raised these issues in the interests of ensuring public confidence in the administration of justice and to ensure that the judiciary is seen to be independent from government.”
“The Chief Minister needs to take urgent action to restore public confidence in the Territory’s judicial system,” Mr Gunner said.
“It’s unacceptable that the legal fraternity’s concerns are being so arrogantly dismissed by Adam Giles.
“He needs to listen to the experts on this and not take such a strident political position to protect his Attorney-General, who must be stood aside while Cabinet appoints an independent inquiry.”