Tax talk is a necessary evil
ANOTHER day, another Gunner Government review.
The only problem with this one is it's on a topic few understand due to its complexity, and few like addressing — taxation.
Due to the fact the Northern Territory is a just that — a Territory — it does not have the same revenue raising powers as federation states. It also has a far smaller population with a fewer pockets to reach into.
So when there is a dip in revenue collection, whether it is GST cutbacks or the economy takes a downward trend, it can quickly turn from a ripple to a wave.
There is no doubt the current fiscal position of the Territory Budget, if not perilous, is dangerously close. We have recorded our highest deficit ever in an economic cycle unlikely to see much sunshine in the short term.
Chamber of Commerce NT chief executive Greg Bicknell is right — the Government has four genuine options before it.
It can either increase revenue, which this discussion paper is looking at. It can decrease services which, in a community like ours where the gap is huge, is not practical. It can win the GST debate with the federal government and convince them to reinstate the $2 billion it says it's going to take ... or it can develop industries such as onshore shale gas.
From the outside, it looks like increasing taxes is the easiest option. The other stuff appears too politically hard for them to either decide or tackle.
Voters may or may not embrace this discussion process but there's no doubt they will end up paying more. They may also be sceptical that Chief Minister Michael Gunner is again out of the Territory when major policy decisions are being announced.
When he returns, it's a discussion the Chief should be leading.