Sunday Territorian - - FRONT PAGE - HAY­LEY SORENSEN Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter hay­ley.sorensen@news.com.au

IT is up to the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Govern­ment to dig it­self out of the fis­cal hole it has dug for it­self, says the Com­mon­wealth.

Trea­surer Nicole Mani­son will fly to Can­berra this week to ask her fed­eral coun­ter­part Josh Fry­den­berg for in­ter­ven­tion to get the fi­nances back on track.

But his of­fice con­firmed the Ter­ri­tory would have to stand on its own two feet.

“The Com­mon­wealth will an­a­lyse the re­port re­leased by the NT La­bor Govern­ment and the Trea­surer looks for­ward to meet­ing with the NT Trea­surer next week to dis­cuss how the NT Govern­ment will bring their bud­get un­der con­trol,” a spokes­woman for Mr Fry­den­berg said.

On Fri­day, Ms Mani­son re­leased her “Plan for Bud­get Re­pair” in­terim re­port which con­tained no plan to re­pair the Bud­get fur­ther than an am­bi­tion to keep ex­pen­di­ture growth to half its cur­rent rate for the next decade. The re­port pro­jected net debt would grow from $3 bil­lion to $35 bil­lion by 2030 if ex­pen­di­ture con­tin­ued to grow at its cur­rent rate.

Ms Mani­son again put the blame for the pre­car­i­ous Bud­get sit­u­a­tion on re­duced GST rel­a­tiv­i­ties.

Mr Fry­den­berg’s of­fice pointed out that the NT was in line to re­ceive $258 mil­lion ex­tra across eight years un­der the leg­is­lated GST changes, in ad­di­tion to the $260 mil­lion top-up pay­ment.

Ms Mani­son said she still in­tended to head to Can­berra to try to prise more money from the Com­mon­wealth.

“To not keep them up to date on im­por­tant Ter­ri­tory work and is­sues would not be re­spon­si­ble,” she said.

“I make no apol­ogy for stand­ing up and ad­vo­cat­ing for the Ter­ri­tory.”

Speak­ing to me­dia yes­ter­day for the first time since the bomb­shell was dropped Chief Min­is­ter Michael Gun­ner said the Ter­ri­tory wouldn’t beg the Com­mon­wealth for a bailout.

“We now know there’s no white knight in Can­berra,” he said.

“We should not ex­pect some mir­a­cle so­lu­tion from the Aus­tralian Govern­ment. We know what the cir­cum­stances are in front of us now. Next Bud­get we’re go­ing to have to make some tough de­ci­sions.” Mr Gun­ner de­fended his Govern­ment’s fis­cal man­age­ment and said he didn’t ac­cept any of the de­ci­sions he and his party had made were in­cor­rect. Not mak­ing those de­ci­sions “would have meant Ter­ri­to­ri­ans wouldn’t have jobs”, he claimed.

“I ac­cept com­plete re­spon­si­bil­ity for ev­ery de­ci­sion we’ve made in Govern­ment.

“I know why we’ve made those de­ci­sions; it’s about putting Ter­ri­to­ri­ans first.”

Mr Gun­ner said bud­get re- pair was al­ready un­der­way and he was pre­pared to make “tough de­ci­sions” to get fi­nances back on track, though he ruled out power price hikes or cuts to the pub­lic ser­vice.

“We think that’s the way to crash the Ter­ri­tory econ­omy and we can’t af­ford that,” he said. Hold­ing de­part­ments to their bud­gets had been the “hard­est part” of bud­get re­pair, he said. Ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Chief Min­is­ter lat­est an­nual re­port, Mr Gun­ner’s own de­part­ment added 36 full time po­si­tions to its staff in a year, in­clud­ing 8.5 ex­ec­u­tive level jobs.


Pic­ture: Dig­i­tally al­tered

Top row: Dale Wake­field, Ker­mit the Frog, Gerry Mc­Carthy, Lau­ren Moss Mid­dle row: Natasha Fyles, Ken Vowles, Eva Lawler Bot­tom row: Se­lena Uibo, Michael Gun­ner, Nicole Mani­son


North­ern Ter­ri­tory cab­i­net min­is­ters pose for a photo with the Ad­min­is­tra­tor of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Vicki O'Hal­lo­ran fol­low­ing their swear­ing-in cer­e­mony

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