WHAT A BUNCH OF MUPPETS
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.
OUR SAY P12
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