Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie will travel to Timor Leste tomorrow for the official opening of a new hotel in Balibo and senior ministerial meetings.
The Balibo Fort Hotel is part of a project to restore the old Portuguese colonial fort built between 350 to 375 years ago.
In addition to visitor accommodation, the project includes a cultural centre and museum, a café and restaurant and visitor information centre.
“Balibo, situated close Timor Leste’s western border, was the last refuge of five Australian-based journalists employed by Channel 7 and Channel 9 who were killed on 16 October 1975 during the invasion," Ms Lawrie said.
“The hotel and visitor services will provide income, employment and training opportunities for the community. Profits are also returned to the community through the Balibo Trust."
Ms Lawrie acknowledged Australian investors who include the industry superannuation fund for journalists and media workers, Media Super, Channel 9, Network 7, the Harold Mitchell Foundation and Rotary Victoria.
"The restored fort and hotel will bring tourists to the region, which will provide a welcome boost for the local economy,” Ms Lawrie said.
During her visit to Timor Leste Ms Lawrie will travel with the Australian Ambassador Peter Doyle and meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hernani Coelho, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Mr Alfredo Pires, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Mr Kalbuady Lay.
"The Northern Territory enjoys a wonderful relationship with Timor Leste - our closest neighbour," Ms Lawrie said.
"I have a strong and enduring relationship with the Territory Timorese community and look forward to strengthening people-to-people, tourism, business, cultural, administration, education, health and trade opportunities in the future."
Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211
Palmerston residents deserve Northern Territory Government infrastructure funding support in the upcoming budget, Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie said today.
“Our fastest growing city deserves better than to be left swinging in the breeze wondering if the Territory Government will support critical infrastructure,” Ms Lawrie said.
“The CLP Government has failed to respond to a Palmerston City Council request for $6million to enable it to proceed with upgrades to Goyder Square, the Boulevard and plan the future of the Palmerston pool.
Ms Lawrie said that Palmerston Council requested the funding late last year but the silence had been deafening.
“Despite the CLP being in government thanks to the support of Palmerston residents they are left wondering when infrastructure upgrades will occur and they are now watching the Palmerston hospital construction blow out by years,” Ms Lawrie said.
In its last term of Government Labor delivered about $50 million, working in partnership with Palmerston Council to upgrade and build major infrastructure including the new Palmerston waterpark, and state-of-the-art sport facilities including AFL, tennis, netball, soccer and rugby league. “Labor recognises that Palmerston needs infrastructure funding support from the Territory Government to meet the needs of this dynamic city,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Under the CLP there is just a void of uncertainty, it’s getting so bad that the council is considering shelving these infrastructure projects.”
Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie today paid tribute to Hannah and her team at the East Arnhem Real Estate for being named National Small Agency of the year.
"This is the first time an NT business has won this award, so that makes it really special,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Like all in their community, East Arnhem Real Estate’s owner Hannah Seaniger and her two colleagues have had to overcome major setbacks to win the award.
“The November 2013 announcement of the shutdown of Rio Tinto’s local alumina refinery by August 2014 saw the local economy and population contract. It was the major employer in the town employing the bulk of the working community.
“The population of Nhulunbuy has fallen from 4000 to around 1500-1800 since then. Rio Tinto itself estimated that the closure would take around $300 million out of the local economy.
“East Arnhem Real Estate needed to adapt to the shrinking local economy and changing population demographics while striving to retain a viable business that can continue to support the community through their property management and realty sales service.
“Hannah was cheered on by the two tables of Territory representatives at the awards in Perth last Thursday night.
"I add my hearty congratulations and best wishes for the future to Hannah and the whole Nhulunbuy community. This is a shining example of excellence in adversity."
Owner Hannah Seaniger is in Darwin until Friday 20 March for media interviews.
Contact Hannah Seaniger on: 0438 898 222
Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211
Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie said today that Federal CLP funding cuts to indigenous organisations will set indigenous employment targets back and harm regional economies.
“Indigenous organisations, businesses and services that work with our communities are still assessing the impact of Senator Nigel Scullion’s IAS cuts," Ms Lawrie said.
Ms Lawrie called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to stand up for Territorians and fight to have cuts to programs reversed because early indications are that jobs are at risk.
“With Adam Giles' new-found awareness of Indigenous Affairs he must come clean and explain what jobs and support across the Territory will be lost under the Scullion knife," Ms Lawrie said.
“We’re hearing that there are cuts to Indigenous ranger and land management programs that have been an outstanding success story in creating employment and caring for country.
Ms Lawrie said that currently there are about 320 people delivering ranger programs across the Territory.
“Ranger groups provide confidence to traditional owners that land and sea management is being attended too and if ranger funding applications have been rejected the consequence would be dire,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Indigenous organisations throughout the Territory are today counting the cost of a CLP Senator wielding cuts to programs and a CLP Government in the Territory that has failed to stand up for them.”
Leader of the Opposition Delia Lawrie and Shadow Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Lynne Walker visited Galiwin’ku, Ramingining and Milingimbi this week to see the impact of Cyclone Lam and recovery efforts underway.
Ms Lawrie said that the impact of Cyclone Lam was significant and praised the efforts of local residents who had endured a very harrowing night and then quickly went into clean-up mode.
“It is a miracle that no-one was seriously injured during the cyclone and the overwhelming feeling of relief among these communities was tangible,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Everyone had praise for PowerWater who were often the first on the ground to work diligently to restore essential services.
“Co-ordination centres were quickly established in each community and I have nothing but praise for local service providers – councils, schools, health and RJCP – worked with traditional owners to tackle the enormous task of clearing trees and assessing damage. The remote arborists have been magnificent.
“I acknowledge hard working public servants who are busy behind the scenes assisting with systems and logistics to support those at the front line of cyclone affected communities.”
Ms Walker said that her community of Galiwin’ku were relieved they had two cyclone shelters that provided sanctuary.
“I thank the Shepherdson College principal and staff and Marthakal Homelands Resource Centre for a great effort to keep residents safe and cared for during the cyclone.
“The entire community has worked together to take on the enormous task of clearing roads and access to homes and community buildings and temporary shelter at the oval is welcome. The big question is what comes next.
“We have a lot of homes that need to be repaired or replaced and people are asking what the construction program is. This is work that needs to be planned and I look forward to receiving advice from government.”
Ms Lawrie said that Galiwin’ku had enormous challenges ahead for the replacement of destroyed housing just as Ramingining and Milingimbi has the task of replacing damaged school buildings.
“Our communities are resilient but the construction task is significant and it will take resources from Territory and our Federal Government working together,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Labor stands committed to working with our communities to seek a reconstruction program that will replace destroyed buildings and homes.”
Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said Territorians are asking why they pay hefty power bills for a system of increasing blackouts.
“The CLP has spent more effort breaking up PowerWater than having a system that can deal with single points of failure like an interrupted gas supply," Ms Lawrie said.
“Territorians were left scrambling for information for hours yesterday afternoon before alerts started to roll out from Minister for Essential Services Willem Westra Van Holthe.
“With the heightened focus on our power supplies after the disastrous system-wide blackout in March, Territorians are entitled to expect a more reliable supply and backup system.
“Questions are being asked about the maintenance of our generation and distribution system.
“What exactly was the cause of gas failure at the Blacktip offshore platform? Why didn’t the dual back-up generators cope effectively with the load?
“The Minister revealed the CLP waited to inform Territorians this afternoon after knowing earlier. How long was information withheld from Territorians?
“We all remember the catastrophic power failure earlier this year and the devastating impact this had on businesses and households.
“Thanks to the great efforts of PowerWater workers electricity was restored but the Government must invest in a reliable back up system to avoid these sorts of potentially catastrophic events.”
Media contact: Mandy Taylor 0414 634159
Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said the chaos caused by the rushed split of PowerWater by the CLP Government was evident as the first round of split bills hit Territorians.
“As the first bills are going out from Jacana Energy, many Territorians have found to their shock that their former direct debits to PowerWater no long apply to their electricity bills,” Ms Lawrie said.
“PowerWater didn’t give customers the option of transferring their prepayment onto the electricity component of their bill and just left it at the water and sewage component.
“Some Territorians are finding out they are in credit for their water bill but owe large amounts for power.
“The CLP ran an expensive advertising campaign reassuring residents and businesses that the split of utilities wouldn’t affect them but this is not true.
“To make it even more confusing some Territorians are still receiving consolidated bills from PowerWater while others are receiving the two separate bills.”
Labor candidate for Casuarina Lauren Moss said pensioners and low income earners were being hit particularly hard by the direct debit fiasco.
“Many people on benefits use direct debit to pay their power and water bills and are only now finding out they have only been paying off the water and sewerage,” Ms Moss said.
“Power and water charges are a big part of the increasing financial pain Casuarina families tell me they are struggling with.”
Ms Lawrie said PowerWater should have been directed by Chief Minister Adam Giles to write to consumers who paid by direct debit to inform them the payment no longer applied to the electricity component.
“The CLP Government didn’t bother to tell Territorians they would need to set up a new system to keep paying off their ever increasing power bills,” Ms Lawrie said.
“Now we have businesses and families getting a double whammy of more expensive power and finding out their direct payments haven’t been paying off their bill.
“Adam Giles is again showing he cares more about profits than people with the rushed split of PowerWater.”
Opposition leader Delia Lawrie has called on the CLP Government to take real action on tackling the tragic rates of youth suicide in the Northern Territory.
Ms Lawrie was speaking at a Darwin Region Indigenous Suicide Prevention Network walk to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, where she was joined by Labor’s candidate for Casuarina, Lauren Moss.
“The Gone Too Soon report was tabled in Parliament in March 2012 but the CLP Government has still not released its plan and committed funding to tackle youth suicide,” Ms Lawrie said.
“I have thanked the CLP Government for releasing today an Action Plan but it still contains intentions more than action and the sooner a government and community Reference Group to implement action is created, the better.
“The former Labor Government committed to establishing a working group to identify areas for improvement and a report was due to be tabled by the end of June last year.
“Sadly, under the CLP there has been no report tabled and I have called on the CLP to introduce its report to the October sittings of Parliament for debate.
“The Coroner’s office called for the establishment of a suicide register. This has still not happened.
“Tragically, the Northern Territory has the highest suicide rate in the country and young Indigenous men and women are particularly vulnerable.
“The CLP Government needs to take real action to implement the recommendations of the Gone Too Soon report.”
Opposition leader Delia Lawrie has called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to reveal the details of the deal that lured Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu back to the CLP.
“The Chief Minister has been caught out, assuring Territorians this morning there were no inducements made to the Member for Arafura,” Ms Lawrie said.
“No promises, no nothing’, Adam Giles told media.
“But Mr Kurrupuwu revealed on ABC radio today that he’s been promised roads and other infrastructure for the Tiwi Islands.
“The CLP Government hasn’t delivered on their big promises to the bush and they need to be honest with Territorians about the cost of these new commitments and how they will be paid for.
“What projects will be scaled-back or mothballed to pay for the big promises?
“While investment in the bush is always welcomed, Adam Giles must be open and transparent about how much the deal with the Member for Arafura is costing Territorians and where the funding is coming from.
“Shoring up Adam Giles’ leadership may come with a hefty price tag.”
The World Today ABC Radio 9/9/2014
Reporter: And have you been promised anything? There's been talk of a new road.
Member for Arafura: Well, that's a new road on the Tiwi Islands, two budgets it's coming soon. We sat down and we talked about it and, because I promised them, this Government promises.
Reporter: And do you know what the road would be worth?
Member for Arafura: Ah, I'm not quite sure, but it's been committed to me yesterday. So I stick by what the agreement between Adam and I.
Media Contact: Mandy Taylor 0414 634 159
Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie has called on the CLP Government to rule out selling off any of the NT’s Parks and Reserves under moves to commercialise the Territory parks estate.
“The Territory’s national parks are some of our biggest assets, a treasure trove of natural wonders enjoyed by locals and visitors,” Ms Lawrie said.
Labor candidate for Casuarina Lauren Moss said residents loved the Casuarina Coastal Reserve and don't want to see it commercialised.
“Under the CLP’s Expression of Interest, the reserve’s enormously popular turtle release program is identified as a potential commercial opportunity," Ms Moss said.
“Does this mean Territorians may have to pay to participate in what has to now been a free activity?"
“Given this Government’s record with undercover deals, Territorians are right to be suspicious about their plans to make money out of our assets without laying the plans on the table.”
Ms Lawrie was speaking today at Casuarina Coastal Reserve, one of the 52 national parks, reserves and conservation areas in the Northern Territory.
“Hundreds of thousands of people visit this reserve every year, with local families and visitors taking in the beautiful sunsets, picnicking, cycling, flying kites and enjoying the spectacular natural setting," Ms Lawrie said.
“What impact will the CLP’s plans to commercialise parks have on places like Casuarina Coastal Reserve?"